I LIKE HOUSES but not house parties. I think it's because I'm bad with people but good at putting up walls. But now that the pandemic has forced me to spend an entire year pacing like a laconic labradoodle inside the walls of my home-turn-well-appointed-penal-institution, I'd do anything the hear my withdrawn walls reverberate with the chatter of the handful of friends I've kept in touch with over the past year.

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SPRING WAS REALLY showing off at the mid-March open-air fundraiser at the Ivy Leaf Farms in South Houston — almost as if it were trying to make up for its recent shortcomings. But can you really blame weather? Of course you could, but weather is weather. Weather will never learn to care about us, our travel plans, our comfort, our acres of blueberry bushes. Yet we're all obsessed. Did you hear what weather did? Boy, I wish he'd notice me.

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YOU THINK YOU know how a shot is going to feel. At this point in life, I have had innumerable shots —the injection kind, not the concentrated dazzle of dizziness that precedes a morning spent sending apologetic text messages. Allergy shots, flu shots, immunizations — these are not foreign to me. And yet, there I found myself, a grown man, jumping back, yelping in pain.

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