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I was born in July, and one day has never felt like enough to celebrate the marvel of existing in this form, so for years now I have been having adventures – my favorite gifts – on many of the days in the month of my birth. Some of the best, and occasionally the worst, are documented here.

2010 McLeod Ganj, India
I've been looking forward to today's adventure for a long time. I was there in the throng wishing the Dalai Lama a happy 75th birthday. I spent a lot of my time on tiptoes with my cheek pressed against a monk's shoulder, just trying to get a decent look at the performances. I never expected to actually see His Holiness on his birthday, but that I did. He's looking very well indeed.

2009 Sajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Not all the adventures are good ones, and the train trip from Mostar was nearly dreadful thanks to knots of young men standing around smoking and drinking and blocking the view of the stunning landscape. There was a big, overbearing man who spent most of the trip somewhere else while his wife was kind enough to let me borrow his seat. He returned once to get a sandwich, which he couldn’t find in the suitcase without his wife’s help. Near the end of the journey he kicked me out of his seat and began speaking to his wife in a pushy, loud, quite possibly drunken manner. When we got off the train and she was walking away at the bottom of the stairs and he was bellowing her name, I called out to her, “Run, run, while you still can!” But she didn’t.

2008 Sillamae, Estonia
The weather is changing. It was cool last night, and this morning is overcast with sun breaking through the gloom and highlighting two white birds, gulls perhaps, circling high in thermals.
I went to Narva yesterday, and though I couldn’t seem to figure out how to get inside the castle (“Excuse me, it’s bullshit,” said the lovely lady wearing a frilly white dress at the tourist information office.) I saw everything else, including northeastern Estonia’s own dark satanic mill, Krenholm, with its massive red brick a stark contrast to the city’s grey stone defensive walls. Perhaps in all the world there isn’t a place like that border, where Hermann Castle and Ivangorod castle loom at each other across the Narva river.

2007 Granada, Nicaragua
I’m listening to a bird repeat the same loud, constant oo-whoop, oo-whoop, oo-whoop, oo-whoop, so annoying it might as well be a car alarm. A perro zompopo, the house gecko named for a dog and a leaf-cutter ant, chases a moth on the wall in the little room between my bed and the garden. It’s hard to imagine life without perro zompopos.

2005 Portland, Oregon, USA
I saw a big green insect fly into the porch tomato pot, so I summoned Sasha. I’d done this a few times already to show him the first porch tomato and some other matters of interest, and he was pretending to be inconvenienced and making it clear he was pretending. He said he was familiar with similar insects - called soldatiki or “little soldiers” - from Russia, but he’d never seen one that big or that green. “Does it bite?” I said, and he said no, you can pick it up, it’ll probably crawl onto your finger, which it did, deigning to stay a few seconds before it took off for the birch tree in a great show of buzzing. “Thank you for the adventure,” I told him.

2003 Blagoveshchensk, Russia
Slava brought me gorgeous dirt from out in the country, and I may even plant the big pressed-board box I picked out of the garbage and added to container garden on the balcony today. A few days ago he brought me delicious water from a spring. I like the stories of where these two basics of life come from almost as much as I like the dirt and the water themselves.

1993 Coos Bay, Oregon USA
The street sweeper passes right beneath my window and so I get to get up and look at it. That’s my rule.

1984 Coos Bay, Oregon USA
I sat in the dark at work in a room that wasn’t being used yesterday during morning break. I could hear colleagues talking, and eventually enough light filtered around the door that I could make out vague lights and darks, but it was lovely anyway. It was a treat to have my eyes open but to see what I see when they are closed.

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