This looks like a wonderful book about our canine companions...
For several years I was that most pathetic of creatures, a human who walks into the veterinarian's office without an animal. "Beau?" the woman behind the desk would call, and I would rise. Dr. Brown would usher me back into an examining room kitted out with a bottle of preserved heartworms and a model of the canine knee and send me off with a prescription refill and the promise of a house call when necessary. The house call would be for the purpose of euthanasia, but neither of us ever said the word.
The object of our discussion, a black Labrador retriever with the ridiculous AKC name Bristol's Beauregard Buchanan, was at home sleeping on an oriental rug in the foyer. The rug smelled. So did Beau. At this late date there was not much reason for him to appear at the vet in person. His sight and his hearing were mostly gone. But he had retained the uncanny ability to know when a certain phony lilt to my voice as I snapped on the leash meant we were headed to that place where his prostate was once examined. After that memorable visit, when he emerged from the back of the veterinary office with the fur on his spine raised as though he was a Rhodesian ridgeback, he had made me a figure of fun on crowded New York City streets. "You're really pulling that dog," a man once said, stating the obvious near a bus stop on Broadway. It was true; Beau's white-coat syndrome took the form of systemic paralysis, so that he turned himself into a solid seventy-five-pound block at the end of the leash, like one of those wooden pull toys for children, but bigger and more obdurate. When we finally made it to the waiting room, he would begin to shake and shiver and shed his coat, so that the other patients and their people were enveloped in a haze of fine black fur not unlike a cloud of gnats.
I did not miss those forays, although I mourned the increasing infirmity that made them impossible. As Beau grew old there was no way, other than the dog taxi that advertised on the vet's bulletin board alongside the cards for homeless kittens and lost mongrels, to travel those few blocks. He moved as though his back legs were prosthetics to which he had yet to become accustomed. The very last time he sensed we might be heading to the dog doctor, he lay down on the front stoop and refused to budge. He wasn't going to make that mistake again. Neither was I. I've put in my time around people whose bodies were failing, who were clearly marooned in some limbo between illness and death. I hated the way the medical profession felt obliged to continue to poke, to test, to treat, even when cure or comfort was not in the cards. With people, it's assumed you'll do everything; with animals you have the luxury of doing the right thing. A Supreme Court justice once said that one of the most important rights is the right to be left alone. After nearly fifteen years of loyal companionship, Beau had earned that right.
It's a shame that obituaries and eulogies come only after people are gone and unable to appreciate them. How many times after a memorial service have you said of the deceased, "She would have loved it"? Rumor has it that certain celebs, knowing The New York Times writes important obits well in advance, have tried to get a peek at their own. Their expressed rationale is fact-checking, but I suspect it has more to do with self-esteem. How many inches of type? What sort of coverage? And, in the world of the preeminent and the prominent, the big question: Will the story run on the front page with a picture?
Beau, of course, will have no idea what I say about him, although he always seemed to understand that a laptop in its case near the front door meant a trip to the country, which, even in his old age, gimpy as he was, sent him into a fandango. Besides, when I talk about him I'm really talking about me, about us, about our family, about our life together. Dogs provide many services in the lives of human beings, even human beings who don't need a dog to lead them through their daily routines or to keep predators away from their sheep. In dog shows, the class of dogs who do those kinds of jobs are still called working dogs, but most of them don't work anymore in those particular ways, nor do many hunting dogs hunt. (The classification of certain animals as toy dogs, however, remains accurate.) The job so many dogs really perform is to allow us to project our feelings upon them, to assume they are excited or downhearted or lonely when we are. "He's so much happier when he's out in the country," my husband always liked to say about Beau. And maybe he was right. But I suspect it is he who is happier in the country, and he liked the idea that he and Beau were of one mind.
People do this with their children, too, trying to use them as a mirror or a foil, which is how you come to have otherwise sane men screaming instructions on Little League fields or women allowing preadolescent girls to wear just a little lip gloss, just a little blush. Most parents come to their senses sooner rather than later, so that their sons and daughters are not forced into a declaration of independence and individuality by leaving home or marrying young. But any woman who has ever lain in a birthing room and watched as, in violation of all laws of physics, an entire human being emerged from her body, can be forgiven if she has a difficult time seeing the resulting person as utterly and irreversibly separate.
For a long time I thought of myself, rather smugly, as quite good at this separation stuff. Then one evening I was providing what, it developed, was some heavy-handed help on a high school essay. In an even tone of voice, our daughter said, "Mom, I am not you." Along with "Will you marry me?" and "You're pregnant," those words are a flag flying in my subconscious from here to eternity.
Dogs, however, do not talk, or talk back, which is part of their charm in a hyperverbal age, and so they lend themselves effortlessly and endlessly to this sort of projection. So does their essential open-faced affect. It would never occur to me to assume that the cat and I have two hearts that beat as one; with his narrowed amber eyes and scarred upper lip, his prevailing mode is either contempt or indifference. When he curls around my ankles, it suggests hunger, not affection. I like this about cats; they're the Clint Eastwoods of companion animals. A dog who sits by your side craves company; a cat is doing you a favor. This is why when you say "Sit!" a cat rises and stalks out of the room. Most dogs will fall back onto their haunches, vibrating slightly, their liquid eyes locked on yours.
Human beings wind up having the relationship with dogs that they fool themselves they will have with other people. When we are very young, it is the perfect communion we honestly believe we will have with a lover; when we are older, it is the symbiosis we manage to fool ourselves we will always have with our children. Love unconditional, attention unwavering, companionship without question or criticism. I once saw a pillow that said I WOULD LIKE TO BE THE MAN MY DOG THINKS I AM. That about covers it.
So the traits we ascribe to our dogs, the stories we tell ourselves about them are, at some level, our own stories. When Beau tottered down our block, passersby saw a very old Lab with a white muzzle and a tail that seemed vaguely broken, as though all those years of wagging had worn it out. But I saw a dog whose entire life, puppyhood to adolescence to middle and old age, was inextricably entwined with those of two little boys with high, piping voices and their younger sister, who spent her formative years trailing her brothers around. I remember the three of them squatting next to a roly-poly puppy and allowing him to gnaw on their fingers. "He has really sharp teeth," the eldest said. "You're right, Quin," said the second. "His teeth are really sharp!" "Really sharp," their sister repeated.
Copyright © 2007 by Anna Quindlen.
She's quite the phoenomenon, a young Korean singer, making it in the Japanese music world. She also sings quite well in English too. Someone you should check out. Great interview and backgrounder!
I got the soundtrack off my iPhone by Wi-Fi for the new movie of the book by Gabriel García Márquez Love In The Time of Cholera... Love it! Here's the opening tune by Shakira... Can't wait to see the film!
Love In The Time of Cholera US web site: HERE
Very interesting... talking about how music uses many places in the brain simultaneously...
"Poetry is somewhere between singing and speaking," says neurologist Ani Patel. "It's using the voice in a regulated way, with pitch and time. The Illiad and the Odyssey, before they were written down, were transmitted orally - patterns have tremendous pneumonic power." ...
"Shakespeare had a wonderfully talented use of rhythm, imagery, and auditory patterns," says Patel, whose new book, Music, Language, and the Brain, was released last week. "The fact that it's rhythmic is very important because that helps us remember poems and patterns." Listening to music, Patel explains, "using many different levels of brain structure simultaneously - the rhythm gives predictably and time, and the melody gives it a temporal organization in terms of chunks that flow logically from one to the next. They connect almost like a puzzle - each part of the melody has cues that set up expectations of the next part. When we speak, we don't remember the exact words, just the gist of what someone said, but with songs, we remember every word because it uses all these other levels [of the brain]. Like a mental chain, it creates a structure - once you put words in, it makes the sequence of words much easier to remember." ....
Patel explains that, according to a recent study by one of his colleagues, an early love of music was often traceable to a memory of a positive experience. "It was never a music lesson, but always some event with the family - at home or in a church - when music reached them deeply in a loving environment." ...
A Musical Shakespeare Evening
The San Diego Shakespeare Society presents "not only the songs of Shakespeare in their original settings, but also what music meant" to the Bard's audience.
Neurosciences Institute Auditorium, 10640 John Jay Hopkins Drive, La Jolla, Monday, November 19, at 7:30 p.m. 619-246-8735.
Me, obsessed?? ^^
MOKCHEON, South Korea — The compound — part boot camp, part rehab center — resembles programs around the world for troubled youths. Drill instructors drive young men through military-style obstacle courses, counselors lead group sessions, and there are even therapeutic workshops on pottery and drumming.
But these young people are not battling alcohol or drugs. Rather, they have severe cases of what many in this country believe is a new and potentially deadly addiction: cyberspace.
They come here, to the Jump Up Internet Rescue School, the first camp of its kind in South Korea and possibly the world, to be cured.
South Korea boasts of being the most wired nation on earth. In fact, perhaps no other country has so fully embraced the Internet. Ninety percent of homes connect to cheap, high-speed broadband, online gaming is a professional sport, and social life for the young revolves around the “PC bang,” dim Internet parlors that sit on practically every street corner.
But such ready access to the Web has come at a price as legions of obsessed users find that they cannot tear themselves away from their computer screens.
Compulsive Internet use has been identified as a mental health issue in other countries, including the United States. However, it may be a particularly acute problem in South Korea because of the country’s nearly universal Internet access.
It has become a national issue here in recent years, as users started dropping dead from exhaustion after playing online games for days on end. A growing number of students have skipped school to stay online, shockingly self-destructive behavior in this intensely competitive society.
Up to 30 percent of South Koreans under 18, or about 2.4 million people, are at risk of Internet addiction, said Ahn Dong-hyun, a child psychiatrist at Hanyang University in Seoul who just completed a three-year government-financed survey of the problem.
They spend at least two hours a day online, usually playing games or chatting. Of those, up to a quarter million probably show signs of actual addiction, like an inability to stop themselves from using computers, rising levels of tolerance that drive them to seek ever longer sessions online, and withdrawal symptoms like anger and craving when prevented from logging on.
To address the problem, the government has built a network of 140 Internet-addiction counseling centers, in addition to treatment programs at almost 100 hospitals and, most recently, the Internet Rescue camp, which started this summer. Researchers have developed a checklist for diagnosing the addiction and determining its severity, the K-Scale. (The K is for Korea.)
In September, South Korea held the first international symposium on Internet addiction.
“Korea has been most aggressive in embracing the Internet,” said Koh Young-sam, head of the government-run Internet Addiction Counseling Center. “Now we have to lead in dealing with its consequences.”
Though some health experts here and abroad question whether overuse of the Internet or computers in general is an addiction in the strict medical sense, many agree that obsessive computer use has become a growing problem in many countries.
Doctors in China and Taiwan have begun reporting similar disorders in their youth. In the United States, Dr. Jerald J. Block, a psychiatrist at Oregon Health and Science University, estimates that up to nine million Americans may be at risk for the disorder, which he calls pathological computer use. Only a handful of clinics in the United States specialize in treating it, he said.
“Korea is on the leading edge,” Dr. Block said. “They are ahead in defining and researching the problem, and recognize as a society that they have a major issue.”
The rescue camp, in a
forested area about an hour south of Seoul, was created to treat the
most severe cases. This year, the camp held its first two 12-day
sessions, with 16 to 18 male participants each time. (South Korean
researchers say an overwhelming majority of compulsive computer users
are male.) MORE
If you ladies skin regimen could use a little tweaking, check out this post from Hsuen's Xanga blog. She being Capricorn, is most complete and gives actual example photos using her own self. Her post is HERE
Men, of course, just hose themselves off once in a while... ^^