09/20/2012 01:23 pm ET Updated Sep 20, 2012

On Torture And Parenting

After E. and I smoked a cigarette each on the patio steps, we went back inside and began to drink beer in great gulps. We set up the backgammon board and played with a combination of intensity and absent-mindedness, forced to count out intervals we once had memorized. Jessye Norman’s voice soared to sing the last line of the third of Strauss’s four last songs, “Tief und Tausendfach das Leben,” but through it all, upstairs in her darkened nursery, our 6-month-old daughter cried, and through it all we heard her.

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