Thursday, April 9, 2015

Started my morning with some Boston subway racial tensions

This morning on my way to work, I witnessed an interesting scene on the subway. The more I think back about it, the more I find it to be pretty illustrative of racial issues in American society.
My morning commute starts deep in the suburbs of Newton - one of the largest well-off middle class suburbs of Boston. It is also predominantly white. I get on the train and make my way all the way to the back to find a seat. The car is still semi-empty. All the way in the back of the train there are two black dudes. One of them has a hard hat on the seat next to him. I sit down one seat over so that he wouldn't have to move his stuff and get my book. From snippets of their conversation I can gather that they are both coming back from a job because they are talking about time sheets, etc. They are not anyhow threatening but they are louder than what people on this subway line are normally used to. The train slowly gets more and more filled as we move towards Boston. Eventually a hipster looking white guy wants to sit on the seat currently occupied by the black guy's hard hat. Aware of this, the dude takes his stuff and moves it out of the way. The white dude sits down and somehow get's in the black dude's way in the process. Instead of saying anything the white guy is totally silent basically just treating the black guy like an inanimate object. He is trying to avoid confrontation by not even making eye contact or acknowledging the other person as a human being. This doesn't sit well with the black dude and he says something grumpy. A short exchange of unpleasantries follows which ends with the black dude saying "I will knock them stupid glasses right off your face." It doesn't escalate further than that threat though and we all keep riding on the train. A few stops later the white guy leaves and there is a seat available now. Some woman stares at it and walks away to sit elsewhere. The black dude follows her with a "What are you so scared off? I won't do anything." He turns to his friend "They are all so scared..." At this point in time I decide to be a smart mouth and say "Well, you did just threaten to knock the glasses off someone's face like 5 minutes ago." The dude starts to laugh "Yeah, I guess I did, didn't I..." His friend is cracking up too "She got you there man!" The three of us chuckled at this situation and went our separate ways when we got to Park Street. End of story.
That's it. There was no villain and no victim. Did one of them provoke the other with what can be described as inconsiderate and rude behavior? Sure. Did the other immediately threaten with physical violence? Yes. Who is at fault? Hard to say. But both parties left this situation with feelings of resentment towards each other. Thoughts?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Funny Dog Adventures: Maggie and Janie (and Sheeba)

I think the time has come for me to start sharing some of the stories from my pet sitting adventures. I'll begin with my current charges: Maggie and Janie. Maggie is a little spunky papillon mix and Janie is a big lab-ish something-or-other. In the grand tradition of dog family dynamics little Maggie is the bossy alpha and big Janie is a gentle goofball. They also have a gorgeous black cat Sheeba that suffers the presence of plebeian dog creatures with poise and grace. 

dog sleeping couch
cute dog papillon mix begging

dog and cat friendship
Sheeba completely mortified by Janie's affection
Maggie and Janie are foodies There isn't a food-related subject that they are indifferent to. Every time I go to make something in the kitchen, they follow me and observe. They sit there and watch my every move with the same interest as my culinary academy graduate ex would watch Iron Chef. They are curious about the end result and the process. If there were a "call and vote" option for them, they would totally do it. In a way it actually makes the insufferable cooking activities more fun for me. It's like I have my own private cheer squad. I can almost hear their thoughts... "You are putting an egg in your spinach??? This is so amazing! I wish I had an egg in my spinach. You are a food goddess and we worship your every move!"
cute dogs begging for food
Janie (left) and Maggie (right) cheering my cooking efforts
Seeing how my feelings towards cooking are similar to my feelings towards root canals (as in let's get through this process as quickly and painlessly as possible and never think about it until we actually have to do it again), having the girls there does make things more fun.

For meals all four of us sit down together. I sit at the head of the dining room table, the cat Sheeba sits on the table facing me, and the dogs sit on either side of my chair. While the dogs' interest in joining the festivities is purely gastronomical, Sheeba the cat is actually there for a chat. She enjoys her privileged position on the table since dogs aren't allowed there. My ranking in her eyes is higher than the dogs' probably because I am allowed at the table as well. We aren't equals in her eyes, but at least I don't embarrass her like the dogs do by barking at the mailman. I think Sheeba views me the way a millionaire views some worker bee - she knows I try hard and she almost respects my effort. The dogs in her eyes are just free-loading idiots who don't even aspire to be cool and sometimes (oh gawd!) even chase her. 

At night big Janie is supposed to sleep in the crate but she doesn't want to. Dogs are amazing manipulators. I consider myself pretty immune to their efforts, but Janie puts on such a sad face that I don't have the heart to drag her in the crate by force. Now sleeping with two dogs in the bed is tricky. You have to establish the boundaries right away. I recommend splitting the bed into human side and dog side. 
awkward sleeping position with dogsAt first I tried the "I take the middle half and dogs get the two quarters on either side" technique. In the morning I felt like that one really awkward tetris piece- you know the one that doesn't comfortably fit anywhere no matter how you turn it. The dogs were sprawled out on either side, and any time I had to turn and disturb them they sighed in a very dramatic fashion. 
The next night I split the bed into East vs West wing situation and the night went relatively disturbance free. I represented the prosperous West while the dogs were in the more densely populated East. Since their side was missing formal leadership Maggie tried to usurp the power and started the morning by humping her sister's face. Let me tell you, nothing gets you out of bed faster than humping you are not a participant of. I think I may have stumbled upon a new alarm clock idea. It's a little difficult to execute but very effective.

Janie and Maggie spend most of their days sitting on the back of the couch in the living room and keeping an eye out for trouble. After all every passerby is a potential Stranger Danger alert. They do that while I it in a chair and write about their funny adventures.