Thursday, June 23, 2005

Vacation! Humiliation?

There will be no puppy training this week, as I'm on vacation. :-) Laev is comfortably established in a roomy kennel with a trusted petsitter caring for her and giving her zoomie times, with friends watching the place closely, and I don't anticipate any problems except massive boredom and frustration at not being able to open up the throttle as often.

I, on the other hand, am going to need to open up the throttle a little more often, after eating as we have been! See my sister's travel blog for more info. Amazing food here in Seattle!

The trip has been really enjoyable thus far, except for meeting a vacationing Japanese couple. We ended up speaking with them and they asked us to speak in Japanese, as their English was poor. Well, their English was certainly no worse than my Japanese!

"Please speak Japanese," the husband said. Alena and I froze up. I have never seen Alena freeze like that before, and I can say with some certainty that I don't think I ever have, either. Total idiocy.

"Nihongo ga zenzen wakarimasen," I managed. I do not understand any Japanese. That, at least, broke the ice, and we were able to move on from there. Roughly. I missed a lot -- an awful lot -- but I think we talked about dog training, the high cost of living in Tokyo, whether or not I've ever been bitten (we tried to discuss how I was bitten in the face and needed surgery, but vocabulary failed), and the fact that our Japanese was insufficient yet to go to Japan for one of Terry Ryan's seminars. The nadir was the point at which I used omae for a second-person address.

Let me explain that. Modern English has only one form of second-person address, "you." Most European languages still have two, a polite/formal address and an informal/friendly/condescending form. Japanese has, well, several forms. Omae is not the one I should have used for a just-introduced elderly lady. I was hastily corrected to anata. I bowed and gomen'd until I was red, but it's hard to overcome that sort of mistake.

My fault entirely. I could think of everything I wanted in Spanish, but nothing at all in Japanese. This was my first attempt at having a conversation with a native, and I just had no vocabulary at all. Of course, once we'd finished our 45-minute (one-sided) conversation and I was no longer facing them, my brain kicked back in and I could think of a lot of words I simply hadn't known a half-hour before.

A lesson to myself as a trainer -- stress does affect behavior and recall!

For the rest of the story, including a delightful bookstore, my new favorite restaurant with a killer commute, a chat with an itinerant poet hawking books, the glorious transcontinental train trip, etc., see Alena's blog as mentioned above.

Today's dog story.... I was approached by a fish-seller today who'd seen my agility shirt. He started telling me I couldn't run his dog in agility, because she was very hyper and stubborn and 3/4 wolf. Hm. Yeeee-ah. I could have told him about clicker training used with wolves, and anyway I sincerely doubted he had a 3/4 wolf (I've seen a lot of "wolfdogs," and I think maybe one of them had a wolf somewhere in the family tree, and at any rate I don't tend to think of wolves as "hyper" unless they're frantic -- which, of course, his might have been), and he was standing at a personal distance which might have been borderline acceptable in a Latin culture but was way, way too close for typical North American interactions, and so I just made a sympathetic comment about how wolves weren't designed to work well as human pets and oh, where had my husband gone?

I don't go for "I'm-so-macho-you-can't-touch-my-dog" pick-up lines.

Today's musical tracks are courtesy of "Record of Journey To The West," a techno-musical retelling of the Saiyuki legend. In Chinese. With occasional sound effects. Really, it's most suitable for our old aerobic kick-boxing routines, so Alena and I were experimenting this morning and plan to use it throughout the trip to try and combat the excess 4,000 calories a day we're taking in. ;-)


Melissa A. said...

Laura, you're in Seattle! Wish I'd known. There are some fabulous restaurants downtown. My favorite is Marakesh, at the corner of second and Bell, I think. Not too far from the Market. Also in that area is The Wild Ginger. There's a Brazilian place that's supposed to be fab, but I haven't checked it out.

Have a lovely vacation!

**A*V*A** said...

Well, I did manage a "hazukashii desu!" somewhere in there as a disclaimer, but overall, I have the feeling I was just spouting gibberish to that poor couple... Fortunately, they were very forgiving. And they told us twice how good-looking we were, so that's always encouraging! ;-)