Into the East

The musings of an academic who lived and worked in China and Japan in the Fall of 2004. Now she's home, and decided she wants to keep blogging!

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Grief for a Friend

A good friend of mine just suffered a horrible loss -- her beloved dog was hit by a car and killed. I can give you the link, but it's tough stuff to read. I cried through the entire thing. To boot, she had to put one of her cats to sleep just recently. Truthfully, other crappy stuff has happened this past year as well. My heart goes out to you, Airyn!

I think the worst thing for me about Airyn's post is the guilt she feels about it. I don't think she should feel that. Bad shit happens sometimes and we just have no control over it.

I've had two dogs run over by cars before. The first, when I was seven, was actually the dog my Dad grew up with. Teddy was old, and in recent times just hadn't been himself. He was no longer scared of thunder -- most likely because he was losing his hearing -- and his mobility was down. It was the last day of second grade, and mom had, for some strange reason, taken this happy day and scheduled a dentist appointment! Teddy liked to lie under our van in the shade. We got in the car, Mom beeped and Teddy left his spot. Then, as she began to pull away, Teddy ran under the car, and was run over. It was awful. Teddy was dead, and Mom felt awful, and Pat, who was 5 at the time, didn't seem to care because he didn't realize what had happened.

I think to this day I still believe that Teddy did it on purpose to end his life and whatever suffering he had, but that is most likely a delusion I made up to make myself feel better. That's okay, though. I think we're allowed to do that when loved ones die.

The second dog was Beau. Pat and I had bought him for my parents to keep them company -- when I was in college. We got him at a shelter, and he was a great dog! Black lab mix. He loved to fetch balls and run in our woods. My parents tried to keep him on a leash, but he would find a way out and would then run around without a collar on. So, he got to explore and run around. Occasionally this would get him into trouble. One day he trotted home with a neighbor's chicken in his mouth (not dead yet). Another time he got shot at for going after someone's sheep (I grew up in the country, huh?). About 10 years after we got Beau, he didn't come home one night, which had never happened. Mom searched and searched, but didn't find him until a couple of days later. He was lying on the side of the road, curled up, like he was sleeping. Very peaceful looking, actually. Probably the spot he crawled to after he got hit and the f-head who hit him kept driving. I think Beau had a pretty great doggy life -- and given the kind of dog he was, he would have been miserable cooped up. He died because of it, but he truly lived because of it too.

RIP, Zephyr, and Teddy and Beau.

I do not want to face the die when I have to write about the death of one of my own dogs. I know it will be a heartbreak.

Puppy Blogging...

In puppy news, Hamlet had his neutering surgery last Monday and seems to have come through with flyng colors. He doesn't seem to notice the stitches, and it's difficult to keep him from doing the running that he wants. We've taken him for several walks -- Keith and I go with him and Othello. Unlike Othello, he has not yet figured out marking, or, in fact, stopping! He just wants to go full tilt!

He also had laser surgery on his nose -- the nostrils were very narrow (stenotic nares) and they just widened them a bit. They're still a bit swollen, but I'll try to post a before and after when they heal. Perhaps we are the only ones who could even SEE the difference.

Hamlet and Othello are getting on pretty well. Hammie loves to lick Othello's ears (see above), and always initiates the rough housing between them. But Othello is playing with him for longer stretches. They seem to love starting to play on the couch when I'm sitting there, and at times
it gets pretty rough!

New Orleans

Keith and I were married in New Orleans at this hotel, and honeymooned there. I have such fond memories of wandering the French Quarter and exploring this unique American city. I am just sick about what happened there. And I am angry about the response. I realize that the situation is more complicated than either the left or the right make it out to be, so let's even presume that getting all the troops and supplies couldn't have happened until Friday (as it did).

Does that mean that the administration should treat the situation so cavalierly, as is my perception? You have the president flying over the region in Air Force One on Wednesday and not making a personal appearance until Friday? The head of Homeland Security thinks the situation is going fairly well, when people appear to be starving at the Convention Center? And the head of FEMA denies those people are even there??

Even if you can't get the troops and supplies, doesn't it make sense to, I don't know, MAKE AN APPEARANCE to the area of the worst natural disaster of our time???

Monday, August 08, 2005


I don't think I believe this man's explanation for why he didn't notice he'd left his wife at a gas station...

Monday, August 01, 2005


How are the dogs getting along you ask? Well, these pictures were taken just over a week ago, and show some progress. Othello does let Hamlet lie next to him. Hamlet likes it, and chooses to lie near Othello. Othello does NOT yet choose to lie next to Hamlet. This situation was a bit rigged. Keith plunked Hammie next to Othello after we got off the couch. They stayed like this for a surprising 45 minutes! Hammie napped, but Othello really didn't -- it takes a lot for him to fully relax by Hammie. However, I was able to putter about the kitchen and they both stayed on the couch! Wow!

Othello likes it a lot less when Hammie nips at him and tries to get him to play, which happens every single morning. For me it's like reffing a boxing match. Don't let one put the other in a hold or commit an illegal move. Separate each to his corner and then start the next round.

Overnight, Hammie's bladder's going 6 1/2 hours or so. It might be able to go longer, but we haven't pushed it. He rarely pees in the house. Last time was Friday, when he peed on the couch. He has, however, peed in his crate several times. We are hoping it is just because he drinks like a camel and we aren't timing his potty breaks well after a long drink. We'll see how long he can go during the day -- I have to be on campus for 5 hours the next few days, which means about 5 1/2 hours without a potty break. Let's hope his bladder holds...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I Love Baseball

Last night I was reminded why I love baseball so much.

Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay. Sox are in first place with some pitching woes, Tampa Bay, dead last in the division nearly 20 games behind the Sox. So, naturally, in the ninth inning, the score is tied 3-3...

With one out, the number nine hitter, Graffanino (new to the Sox) singles, and is replaced by a speedy pinch runner, Stern. Great! The top of the order's coming up and Damon gets a hit, sending Stern to third. First and third, one out, and the next batter hits a slow roller. Crap! Double play ball -- but Damon was running and won't be out! Instead, Stern gets caught off the base, froze like a rabbit and was tagged out without even trying to score. Okay, but there's still runners on first and second, two outs, and our big guns coming up to the plate. Ortiz, my man, the best man to see in the ninth, walks! Oh well. Still.

So, the moment. Bases loaded. Two outs. Tie score in the ninth. Manny Ramirez is one of the guys you want up here -- he already has three grand slams this year alone, and something like 17 or 19 lifetime. He makes around, what, 20 million bucks a year? Fearsome hitter.

The tension is there because anything can happen. No one knows how it 's going to end. Sure, I can also envision the pop-up or the ground out -- but since the miracle of last year, I absolutely envision Manny belting a homer, giving it his typical long look as he flips the bat and heads into his trot. I know it can happen that way.

The adrenaline is pumping, and that moment before the pitcher throws the ball feels like it's lasted a lifetime already, with another one to come. The possibilities, although finite, seem limitless. There's agony and ecstasy etched in that moment. Hope. Faith. Fear. That tingle of anticipation -- the fluttering in my gut and the wringing of my hands. That moment? That's why I love baseball. Agony? Ecstasy? Which will it be?

Manny flies out to end the inning.

And the Sox lose in the 10th.

But no matter the outcome, I do still love baseball.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Coccydynia.... if you saw that word in the subject line of an email, would you delete it? Sounds like spam for sure!

Coccydynia is essentially pain in the tailbone (coccyx). And I'm starting to wonder if that's what I have. The pain has certainly improved in the last 10 days, when standing up was a real chore. But lately improvement seems to have stalled, and I went trolling for information. Apparently one of the most common causes of coccydynia is a fall... though women often experience it during pregnancy or childbirth. That pesky coccyx is just in the way of baby and delivery.

It was somewhat relieving to see some of the exact symptoms I've been experiencing on the website:

"Pain during or after sitting, the level of pain depending on how long you sit..."

"Acute pain while moving from sitting to standing..." [oh yeah, baby]

"Deep ache around the coccyx..."

Let's hope I have a mild case that resolves in the next few weeks (apparently some people have pain for years!) In the meantime, I'm buying myself one of those cushions

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Othello Talks to a Friend for Perspective

To find out how Othello might be adjusting to the puppy, let's listen in on his phone call to his doggie friend, Trixie. (What? Your dog can't talk on the phone?)

To translate the woofs and sneezes we made use of Babelfish -- doesn't everyone?

Othello: Yo, Trix! I need your help!

Trixie: What's up, O?

Othello: Well, it's something you have some experience with -- my people brought home a new... thing to the house. It looks a lot like me, but smaller.

Trixie: Well, O, you should know that's a puppy! Baby dog. And I'm sure he's not as cute as you are! I've never had a baby dog in my house -- just Enya, and the baby human.

Othello: Well, maybe you can help anyway. I can't believe how annoying this... puppy thing is. He won't freakin' leave me alone. I'm just sitting there, you know, scratching an itch, and he won't stop pestering me. Jumpin' on this, bitin' at that -- it's like he thinks I'm his own personal piggy or something. And you know, I’m cool with this thing and all—I mean I have tried to show some restraint with this guy—but when he went for my kibble I had to give him a bit of the ol’ Othello smack down.

Trixie: O, you are waaaaayyy too protective of your kibble...

Othello: Look, enough with the Kibble problem crap , ok, we’ve hoed this row before--I do NOT have a kibble problem! I can quit anytime I want, I just choose not to.

Trixie: Yeah, yeah, whatever you say.

Othello: And I’m not done here—get this, the other day I'm just out in the yard, doing my business – that is,TRYING to do my business…

Trixie: Oh yeah I’m smelling the business all right….

Othello: So as I was saying, I’m getting ready to drop some turd nubbins and there he is interrupting the quality time--not once, not twice, but three times! I’m beginning to think I need one of those rooms the humans use.

Trixie: Come on dog, you need to loosen up. *grin*

Othello: Most of the time he's in his crate -- which, by the way, is a lot bigger than mine! -- but it's getting worse! The other night I hopped up on the bed -- and he was THERE too!

Trixie: O my dog, you need to chill. You gotta be the bigger dog here. It sounds like the little guy is here to stay—so you got two options. You can either spend the rest of your time resenting the intruder, or you can open your paws and let him in the pack. I mean Enya and I were both a little put off by the little human, but once we took an objective look at thing we realized there was an upside—more treats. Look O, I suggest you try working the situation. I bet if you give the humans what they want it can net you 5…maybe even 10 extra treats a day. Give it some thought, dog.

Othello: You know Trix, for a mixed breed you sure are smart.

Trixie: Back off the pedigree, midget dog…

Othello: Yeah, ok. Well gotta bark —I think I hear the mail man….

Trixie: Ok, later…

--- While I can take credit for the idea, Keith wrote most of this post!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

A Literal Pain in my Ass

With a puppy comes an earlier schedule. Because of the light, I don't mind getting up at 5 am as much in the summer as I would in the winter, but I guess I'm not really on my best game at that hour...

This morning I was doing the early pug shift at 5, taking Hammie and Othello for their food and "out" bit. I was coming down the stairs, actually ruminating about a (hopefully) near future, when Hammie can walk down the stairs by himself just like Othello. After all, it can be awkward carrying a dog down stairs, you could fa--

And before the thought was out of my head, I was down. Hard. Slipped and planted my butt on a step and slid down a couple more for good measure!! Hey, were those thoughts prescient? Or merely ironic?

Othello, who had been walking beside me, got tripped up and slid to the floor unharmed. He bounced right up and wanted FOOD now. (That's how you know pugs are okay.) And somehow I had managed NOT to try and grab the handrail but instead keep a hold of the puppy, who was also completely unharmed physically, but perhaps a bit spooked.

I immediately realized my good fortune as the adrenaline flooded my system. As falls with pug puppies go, it was better than the time I tripped down the stairs at my sister-in-laws house while holding Othello. Othello came out unscathed while I sported a lovely sprained ankle for a few days.

I managed to get both pugs out and fed, but as I went to sit down to play with Hammie a bit -- OUCH! -- I suddenly realized that while the pugs were okay, I was going to be... well, a might sore in the buttocks for the forseeable future. I never realized how many things we use those glutes for -- sure sitting down, standing up, bending, etc, but coughing?!! And how can it hurt when I just do nothing?

I'll count my blessings, but am moving gingerly for the next few days... and from now on: HANDRAIL!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Beijing Cab Drivers

I was just reading a blog with a post about cab drivers in Beijing -- many people were commenting on how awful the cab drivers are and how they are often unwilling to take people places. (sorry, the only way I can make the link work is via Google's cache!)

While I did run into cab drivers who didn't want to take me somewhere in Beijing, I also had an amazingly GOOD experience with a cab driver...

One of our students had her pouch with her passport, cash credit cards, money etc stolen from her at the post office one day.

After robbing her, the thieves apparently hopped into a taxi, and at their destination left all of the items, except the cash, in the back of the cab (silly thieves -- that American passport might have been worth something!).

Well, among the items stolen was her ID card from BeiWai, which noted the name of her dorm.
The cab driver brought all the items back to her dorm! Passport, credit cards and all. She ended up losing about 300 yuan (about $37) in cash, and that's it.