Monday, September 28, 2009

Ode to my Dog

My poor dog Schon (pronounced Shawn) will soon be gone from this life. I know it sounds vulgar and sad, but truth is, he has a tumor in his heart and is given only 3-4 weeks to live. If he had it removed, they would have to repair his heart, but the tumor is too big right now so is inoperable. This to me, really made my heart stop. He is 12 years old, about 80 in dog years and though he lived a long life, a part of me still hopes that he can still survive. The shock of his impending death made me weep for about half an hour where I couldn’t stop the tears. When I heard of the bad news, I was on a plane on my way to Martha’s Vineyard to attend a wedding, a time when a new adventure and phase in life begins, and yet I was being faced with the end of another’s life, the life of my sweet Maltese, Schon.

Why was he given a ‘human’ name? Well, Schon is pronounced S-h-a-w-n, and my sister thought she was being clever by giving him a special spelling, but really, it confused everyone. Whenever Schon was lost and we put up “lost dog” signs, neighbors would mispronounce his name and say "Skon or Swchon", and it would take days to retrieve him.

Poor Schon has escaped twice from our house. Because he is a house dog, when he goes outside, he sets out immediately to explore, but since he doesn’t know where our house is by memory, he gets lost easily and loses his way back. Every time he’s been lost, it’s been a massive ordeal to find him. We’ve had to stop everything, make “lost dog” signs and then spend the next anxious, worried few days waiting for him to come back home and praying for some compassionate family to find him and return him to us.

As I reflect on Schon and our memories with him, I thought for a minute “If I was Schon, I would do the same thing!” I would run out of the house, make my presence known, and have a grand adventure in life. I would venture out and see the world, see what is in store for me, live with other people, and get a taste of someone else’s life. I think Schon’s spirit was very similar to mine. Schon was a loving soul that yearned to see the world and in his lifetime, got to see just enough. I’ve taken him hiking, long walks at night and during the day, get a taste of the neighborhood, and meet other pooches like himself. First time I took him out, he didn’t know what a fire hydrant was, and barked at one for a few minutes. After the fire hydrant didn’t respond, he gave up, and walked away. I laughed during the entire experience because he was so sweet!

The truth is, Schon has inspired me to spread my wings and fly and to never stop my curiosity for life, trusting with earnest and innocent eyes that life would always work it out for me and I would always land on my feet. He really had a heart of gold, and I realized that this little dog who had a tumor in his heart had really touched mine.

I thank Schon, who has lived with my parents for 12 years, for blessing us with his spirit and giving us unconditional love. I thank him for being our little guard dog, always ready to attack any intruders to our home, and stand guard at our side.

I thank Schon for all the love he gave me, and I hope the whole world knows how much I loved this dog. He will forever be my guardian angel, and I’m sure he’ll be blessed to be an angel in heaven as well.

My mom always said that having pets are sad because eventually they all die, as humans do, but I truly feel that my life has grown and I better understand what unconditional love is because of Schon. As Anais Nin said, “your life expands and contracts according to one’s courage,” and because we all had the courage to love Schon took and took that risk to love, our lives have become richer and our hearts bigger because of him.

Thank you Schon for being a part of my life. Thank you for being such a good friend, for being an unconditional love in my life. Every time I saw you, you were always embracing me, despite my faults. That’s the beauty of animals and that’s why we should treat them well. All sentient beings on this planet deserve the same love and respect we give to human beings. We should love them, embrace them, and give them a good life. I ask that God in heaven will take you to a wonderful puppy dream world and a fantastical puppy heaven so you can meet your old friends again.

I love you, and will miss you. And all of us, grieving in our own ways, want to tell you that you were loved.

Love,

Panney

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Touch of Romance, a Piece of Colonial History…..Welcome to Edgartown!

Getting to Edgartown is not for the faint of heart. First of all, you have to fly from wherever you are in the world, land in Boston’s Logan airport, and then face one of two very precarious forms of transportation: a very small, 8 seater puddle jumper plane or the notorious vomit-comet (aka the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard Island where Edgartown is located). My husband and I were headed to Edgartown for a wedding and couldn’t wait for our trip to begin! We decided to hop on the small Cape Air plane for our 40 minute flight to paradise. And you could see why. Everywhere you went, flowers were in bloom, the air was fresh, the ocean was inviting, and seagulls flew threw the air. Edgartown is the largest of six small towns on Martha’s Vineyard, and the most popular to host the fairytale-like weddings popular on the island. When we arrived at The Harbor View Hotel, I wasted no time and decided to explore. The weather outside was a typical New England summer: hot, humid, and unpredictable. I saw everything a tourist could squeeze in one afternoon. I saw the Edgartown Lighthouse, which was a lovely memorial dedicated to children who lost their lives too young, walked into town to witness the Old Pagoda Tree and St. Andrews Church where the first NAACP chapter was founded following Bobby Kennedy’s death, and let myself wander around town. There was a nice quietness in the air and I could see why people came here to retire or vacation. It was so quiet, you could actually hear your thoughts! As I immersed myself at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and strolled along the streets, exploring the historic sites, I felt a sense of calm and contentment washing over me. This was a wonderful place to relax and unwind from the stresses of LA life.

I found some of the oldest houses on Martha’s Vineyard dating all the way back to 1850, and had ice cream at a local hot spot (cause it was hot!), and smelled the roses (finally). I mean, this was the land of the Kennedys and there was something wholesome about the place. Edgartown was everything I thought it would be: sweet, charming, conservative, and white! Every house and building in town was painted white, some with black window shutters, but each had a porch to enjoy the stunning views. After a day of exploration, I was getting hungry and since seafood is supreme in Edgartown, I decided to try it. I ate at the Seafood Shanty and tried the New England creamy clam chowder, the infamous lobster roll sandwich, and topped it off with a warm cup of sweet, mint coffee at MacPheils down the street. Yum! What a fantastic way to spend my day!

My trip was certainly off to a great start!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

"Don't be a Bridezilla"

Bridezillas. I never thought I'd meet one in my lifetime, but as luck would have it, I finally met my Bridezilla at a wedding recently where I was friends of the groom. The groom was Chinese, the bride was Vietnamese and the wedding, a reflection of what was to come. It was the first time at a wedding where only one side of the family was represented, and what it made everyone feel, was a slight discomfort during the entire day’s festivities. The wedding ceremony was conducted in Vietnamese and the pastor’s English was so bad, that the groom’s side barely understood what was going on. It was almost comical as it was a Catholic ceremony, and we could not follow what was going on because of the language barrier. The only thing I heard and understood was “I do” which I guess is the most important part of the ceremony anyways. It was almost a relief when the ceremony was over, as it was virtually incomprehensible. I certainly thought” Things are sure to get better after this.”

But no, it just got worse! After the ceremony, we headed over to the bride’s house to witness a tea ceremony. At this point, I thought “Ah, now we’ll see the balance of the groom’s culture with the bride’s culture. This will be the Chinese part of the wedding day.” But much to my surprise, the tea ceremony was also in Vietnamese and representative of the bride’s culture once again! Man, this wedding day was really blowing me out of the water. I always thought that weddings would be a nice reflection of both sides of the family, bride and groom. Whether you were part of a different culture or not, both would be considered and represented, and if representing both was too difficult, or the bride and groom decided to go neutral, then the wedding would be in English, since everyone basically understood the English language growing up in America.

I started getting worried about my friend. I thought, “man, this is the first day of the rest of his life, and it looks like his wife is going to wear the pants in the family from here on.” Good luck to my buddy! He had no say in the wedding planning, and even if he mentioned that he’d like to have his family and culture represented, perhaps his wife shut him down? Who knows!

In any case, we ventured onto the reception and, thankfully, things picked up a bit but all of the speeches were in… Guess? Vietnamese! So once again, I had no idea what was going on, no comprehension of what was being said, and when anything was happening. It was a true lesson in going with the flow! Not being able to listen and comprehend the words of the ceremony, the speeches, the bride’s family, for most of the day, it was a day of trusting one’s feeling and paying attention to the emotion of the day rather than the ritual. So in that, there was a blessing that evolved from the wedding day because all in all, I think all weddings are special days.

But a word of wisdom to our future brides, as a married woman to a bride-to-be, the wedding day is a reflection of your first day as a Mrs. Something, marrying into the family of your husband. There is a theory that the wedding day is the bride’s day but I tend to disagree. I believe that in this society now, things should be more equal, and the wedding day should be a reflection of the love of the bride and groom, and representative of both the bride and groom, if they are from different cultures. If they are of the same culture, then well, it will be easier to plan, but it would be best to be considerate of your groom’s family as you plan the wedding. Get on their good side now, make them feel comfortable, show them that you will be a considerate wife because you are considerate of them and their family. If you fail at this and during your wedding planning and neglect your groom’s family, then well, you’ll face the music later, or rather the gossip.

So to all our bridezillas, we love you and wish you the best. But a word of caution. What comes around, goes around, and you want to start this new life together on the right foot, stepping in the right direction. Just my two cents!