Dealing With Doggie

It’s turned into an unfortunate habit.  The diminutive dog, struggling to secure its position of importance in the household, occasionally decides to soil the Persian carpet that runs the length of the ten-foot long corridor of our apartment.  The hardwood floor beneath it is not dried out yet, although its varnish has worn away some time ago and its lackluster surface begs for protection from infrequent onslaughts of urine.

Two black circles have formed in the corner she prefers.  I noticed them when I was about to roll up the carpet and take it to the cleaner. Embarrassed, I laid the carpet down again so my landlord wouldn’t see them during an unexpected visit.  I know from experience that urine spots on wood floors can only be removed by sanding them out.  We had a wired-haired dachshund back home while I was growing up that was about fifty or so pounds heavier than normal and was never housebroken — she did her businesses wherever she pleased, and whether indoors or out made no difference to her.  She had a mildly villainous streak, but this one, this neurotic Chihuahua, is not as bad.  So long as I keep her under control.

My wife is lackadaisical at best when it comes to training Chi Chi.  She praises her for urinating in a small pan filled with high-tech super absorbent kitty litter made in Germany. Though when she pees on the linoleum floor near the front door, she is never admonished.  We simply sop up the urine as quickly as we can before one of our guests arrives, my wife using a wet rag soaked in a weak bleach-water mixture or me, with old-fashioned paper towels to get the job done pronto.  I keep insisting that my way is more practical and less of a headache, but my wife is more stubborn than the dog. No matter how many times I preach to her about the virtues of training a dog to go outside, she resists in hearing my gospel.  Doggie is great, she says, what a beautiful little puppy, mommy loves the baby, mommy wants to eat the baby (in a playful way, not the voracious, although a Chihuahua if prepared properly with ample seasoning would unquestionably be tasty, I imagine).  I’ve told her countless times that I can’t do everything — work all day then come home and train the dog by night.  Although thanks to me Chi Chi understands a fair share of commands, a few of them being to jump, to go inside if she’s in the bedroom, to come, to go “walkies” and to get down, in other words off the furniture, not to mention the all important “no.”  My wife hasn’t yet taught her one word, she’s still thinking of something she wants her dog to do on demand.

Training a puppy is a demanding task that is not for the feeble.  It requires willpower and patience, both of which my wife regrettably lacks.  As a result the puppy, nearly a year old now, is blatantly asserting her dominance.  She barks at my wife when she’s seated at the dinner table or even when she’s walking about.  Then I am exposed to the abhorrent site of my wife’s calf being made love to by this feisty, pint-sized bisexual canine.  At first I thought the dog was enduring some kind of hormone imbalance that was related to her first heat cycle that is just about winding down.  But an Internet search using omnipotent Google confirmed that she was demonstrating she had the dominant role in their relationship.

The crucial thing with dog training, which is essentially rearing, is to make the dog understand from the beginning who is the “alpha,” or in layman’s terms the boss of the pack.  In our household there are three of us.  The dog understands, thankfully, that I am indeed the alpha and what I say is the rule of law.  She, in her mind, is next in line of command, leaving my wife at the rear of the pack.  The situation I now find myself in is needless to say delicate.  I need my wife to regain her position, or even better, to surpass me and take the helm.  I don’t mind being the beta, and she understands this as I tell her on a daily basis that she definitely needs to be the boss of at least the dog (I let her think she already is mine). If only her sentimentality caved in somewhat to show her the way…

I read somewhere that the most effective household products for getting rid of urine odor and most importantly, confounding the doggie in locating her spot to pee are white vinegar and baking soda. Although the latter is rather cheap, white vinegar can be a bit pricey but the stuff I found is certainly potent and seems to do the job nicely. She absolutely abhors the smell of it, as does probably any non-human creature on earth.  My technique is to soak up the urine from the carpet using paper towels, which takes a few minutes since I apply two sheets at a time for maximum absorption. Once that is done, using a spray bottle I dampen the area with white vinegar, then let that sit for some time before coating the spot with baking soda. That stays on for a minimum of 15 minutes, although yesterday I left it overnight before I finally vacuumed it off.  The problem is that she can either find another spot for peeing on the same carpet or else use the linoleum floor, and she urinates regardless of whether someone is looking. But she is tricky. Chi Chi placates us when our attention towards her is beaming by peeing in her “litter box” as a way to receive an award, usually a slice of apple, a spoonful of her homemade mock harissa  or some vitamin-fortified treats that my wife found in a pet store.

Chi Chi is not hard to please, which is obviously a good thing.  But getting her to pee where she should on a consistent, regular basis is extremely challenging. I suppose the challenge is part of the fun in having a dog to begin with.

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Insomnia in Meghri

I single-tapped this note below into my trusty Nokia flip phone early Sunday morning, September 27 during my visit to Meghri, Armenia.

I’m in meghri, staying in misha’s house, it’s extremly clean and the family hospitable. The purpose of my trip was to bring sergey here as he has never been. It’s 2.23 am and i can’t sleep at all, although i am tired. Might have something to do with the homemade apricot vodka. There’s lots of ground to cover tomorrow, sunday. It’s nearly 400 km to yerevan, about 8 hours driving time with short breaks. Flying to boston from europe takes less time. Tomorrow we will see the town and its environs. We’ll arrange to take some persimmons and pomegranates back with us. This is pomegranate country, the fountain of pomegranates. There are trees everywhere, growing like weeds. Seems like they spread on their own, a natural divide and conquer mechanism. Unchecked and the trees will devour the whole south of syunik. May take some time though, years or centuries. Who planted the first pomagranate tree here anyway and for what reason? For his own amusement perhaps? Maybe he wanted to conquer the world with pomegranates one millenium at a time. What a disturbed, depraved mind . Hard to imagine death by pomegranate. And i love them, since i was a little boy, eating the kernels plucked from the crannies that my mother filled into a glass bowl for me to devour with a teaspoon. My mom taught me proper table etiqutte at an early age. I can only recall eating chicken wings broiled with a garlic and lemon dressing with my fingers. That and popcorn. I remember each time a kernel exploded in the pot i would leap in sync in place. When will i finally sleep?

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An Expectant Father

My wife’s six months pregnant. I am still striving to comprehend that I am about to be a father in the not-too-distant future. My days of insouciant roaming and oblivious fantasies are about to come to an undesired end. Actually, the fantasies will continue unabated, there’s no stopping imagination and the creative processes that grasp on to your spirit, jerking you forward at an insecure moment when you lament that you have nothing else to express, to produce. If anything, I will probably crank out a lot more literature than I do at present. For one thing I will always have incentive–after all, I will be responsible for feeding and clothing the kid. My mother told me when I sprung the good news that Anush was pregnant that “it had to have happened sometime.” Right, time to grow up, at 37 years of age.

Perhaps it was a wise decision to postpone having a child for so long. It was not an easy feat to find a woman who would endure putting up with my eccentricities while deciding that it would be quite fun to have a baby with me. That took quite a while, but it was worth the trouble getting it right the second time. My wife is so wonderful that at times I wonder how possible it is to be such a fervent, fantastic person. I can’t find anything to complain about her, even when she’s acting up she still makes me swoon. You can’t be angry with her, it is not possible, she’s never guilty of wrongdoing, she doesn’t lie, she doesn’t bitch and moan like most of the other women I have known do. She is an angel, but a pregnant one at that making her not all so innocent.

They tell us the baby is going to be a boy. People take one look at her abdomen and immediately declare it. They are somehow able to deduce from the shape and position what the sex of the child will be, or else they have a strong instinct for such things. The sonographer made it official about six weeks ago. We’ve been trying to choose a name but have run into some stumbling blocks. I insist that the baby have two names, one of them being my father’s and the other of her own choosing, naturally influenced by my advice of course.

It is a strange thought that I will finally have to take on the responsibilities of fatherhood, not because I am not enthusiastic about the new phase I am about to enter in my life. It’s just that I didn’t actually believe that my paternal instincts would actually be applied so late into adulthood. I figured there would always be something to impede my desires to be a parent–namely my still developing career and my wife’s own professional interests. But she also had a strong desire to be a mother, and we were indeed trying in earnest to conceive a child.

Now that the baby is expected I am coming to grips with the reality that awaits me, and the prospect of being a father is less daunting by the day. We are already making preparations, like trying to locate my wife’s baby crib that has changed hands at least three times within her extended family since she grew out of it. My mother has already ordered several garment racks worth of baby clothing of various sizes from online shopping stores that will hopefully last us for a couple of years. I am already studying the aesthetic and hardwearing properties of baby carriers, a mundane, time-consuming task. Seems to obtain something sturdy yet comfortable for the child you need to spend at least a hundred dollars. Then there are all the quality baby toys to find, another chore I don’t especially savor.

The most important part of fatherhood, namely the processes involved in raising my child, will have to be improvised it seems according to the long-experienced parents I have spoke with. I can only sow seeds of basic, fundamental principles that one should foster at an early age– favoring right over wrong, understanding what it means to be good and well-behaved, and teaching the child not to lie. Music education is something I can manage without any real effort–I figure between classical, traditional folk and jazz music he will be fine until he figures out what he really likes later on in his development as a pre-teen and thereafter. I don’t want to dwell too much on silly baby songs other than what the old school Sesame Street programs offered when I was young (who after all can express distain for “C Is For Cookie?”), which are fortunately available on disc for his viewing and hopefully educational pleasure. I think my wife and I will manage quite well. For one thing she is incapable of shouting, even when she get a bit steamed with me it’s never long-lasting. So I can’t imagine her being hard on the child at all to instill discipline, which I suppose is a good thing. I on the other hand have a tendency to go through mood swings. Sometimes if flustered enough I can be quite unreasonable, so that’s something I am afraid of the child seeing or even hearing while in another room. Maybe fatherhood will calm me down so I will be less apt to be moody, I can’t say. But I know that I can do this. I will hopefully make a substantially decent father whom my child will understand, revere and love.


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Diarrhea of the Mouth

I am not a big fan of fancy words, long-winded compliments and absurd verbal conflicts. Nevertheless I’ve found myself arguing away in the land of all Armenians for trivial reasons like water dripping out of a flower pot perched on a balcony onto the hood of a car parked below, or paying a parking assistant less than I should have (or what he expected) although there is no official posted rate per hour anywhere in the city on public streets. The amount of tragic dismay I’ve had to endure with bureaucracy and blatant bullshit surpasses my own comprehension of logic, namely that conceived by the modern western world. Armenians endorse their own system of logic, which is laden with paradoxical loopholes and grandiose explanations for refraining from taking personal responsibility. Found to be faulty to the outsider or not, you better be playing along or else you be duped.

Unfortunately bullshitting is not my specialty. It’s unfortunate because I have no defenses against being dealt condescending or else haughty rhetoric. My response is often a perverted combination of outrage, scorn and black humor. I can never take people blabbering away very seriously, no matter if they’re on stage for five minutes introducing a local rock band to a crowd of oblivious teenagers in an excruciatingly annoying manner or making a long-winded toast that lasts 10 minutes longer than the 30 seconds it really should at the most.

I’m getting married again in less than two weeks, an event I am looking forward to since I love good parties and reveling. A few people have encouraged me to hire a “tamada” for the reception, who is reminiscent of a late-night talk show host or perhaps one from the 1970s, like Mike Douglas or someone similar who could tell jokes, sing some silly songs, jovially interview guests, and so forth. The tamada praises a bride and groom with such graceful eloquence as if he had known both of them since the day they emerged from their respective mother’s womb. He is an astute expert in the art of bullshitting. He can do it all—tell lame jokes, recite depressing poetry, make some sugary toasts to parenthood and the vital importance of the family, all with a wide Cheshire cat grin on his face with an obtuse outlook on life that he pawns off as having merit and importance. I reject the idea of having a complete stranger take the reins of the celebration of marriage. Instead I will leave the speechmaking, toasting and joking to relatives and loved ones, since I know it’s coming from the heart instead of the asshole.

I live in a society where men, all with a machismo complex, even the homosexual ones, call each other “brother” and “dude,” regardless if whether they are addressing friends or total strangers. They refer to each other in these terms while drinking beers or arguing over a parking space. You’re a dude in instances when you are showing contempt for someone close to you or are passing a few moments of hilarity with your buddy. And you’re a brother when you’re approached by someone lost looking for directions or preparing for a futile argument with the hidden agenda of who has bigger balls.

Similarly, you can take away the pain. Armenians use this term literally, when they are showing sympathy for someone’s woe, but more often than not, someone uses the expression in the context of “give me a break” or “I’m giving you a break.” You could be buying a kilo of tomatoes and hear this from the vendor. You can even start a conversation this way, right after saying hello. Both cases are totally acceptable. But they are not terms of endearment, rather perfect examples of bullshitting by distorting words meant to be sincere that instead can be interpreted as demonstrating condescension, depending on the context.

The entire society is founded on the premise of bullshit and pulling the wool over someone’s eyes by lying and cheating. Bullshit’s the name of the game, but I’m not a player. I want them to shovel and bury it.

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Elements Of Eternity–The Film

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Elements Of Eternity–The Text

In the end, there is and will only be fire and water. As our world was created from the cataclysms of inferno, so too will our world crumble by the raging kisses of fire. Fire, the everlasting spirit, the uncompromising entity from which all essence of being has been born. Then water, in which life forms squirm from within, in utero, anticipating birth into eternity.

The eternity we seek is universal. In our anticipation of the end of our physical being, we equally shudder in fear of our spiritual destiny as well as embrace it, our souls expanding in melancholic bliss. The juggler of fate, our savior in obtaining enlightenment, exchanges fire and water through a haphazard, yet controlled continuum, the same which balances the tides of evil and good, bitterness and benevolence, rage and serenity. The flames feed the elements of malice, in turn quenched by the forgiving rains to neutralize, then manifest into the solace we seek with all our determination to obtain, finally sustained in harmony by the two opposing, yet codependent life elements.

Fire and water… the essentials of life, the forces perpetuating eternity. To be is dependent on fire and water—the fire to enable being, the water to sustain being. Sacred are the fire and water which reign supreme in the everlasting cosmos.

In fire, man looks to obtain enlightenment. He perceives it as being a miracle, a fabulous deity, which serves all purposes for the creation and sustentation of life, even in its most primitive forms. The illumination of fire is the sole vessel for transporting man towards enlightenment and inspiration.

Fire represents the essence of what man is and will continue to be.

The technological and intellectual advancement of man has come from the ability to create and sustain fire. Man’s modern devices are powered by controlled and contained, highly concentrated forms of fire. Man has proven to be entirely reliant on fire to deliver comfort and kindle the hearth. Mankind wages wars against itself with fire it invents in order to access and possess the sources of fire it does not already have.

We are unwillingly captivated by the force of fire, its destructive radiating tentacles, and its caressing cruelty. Yet we are obliged to worship fire, as slaves to its nourishing properties. Fire is our salvation, perpetuating our endurance as living, breathing organisms.

We are the sons of daughters of Ahura Mazda, living by the doctrine of the Avesta. It outlines the fundamental principles of the Zoroastrian tradition, the same that has helped to bind the roots of mankind’s modern celebrated faiths.

It is said that water comprises 90 percent of our bodies, for without the element mankind would shrivel and die, just as a leaf from the mighty oak that is no longer able to sustain itself by photosynthesis. Our bodies must be continually replenished by fluids so that the regenerative process of our cells continues. Water ensures the hydration of our skin, ridding it of toxins that we absorb in our everyday environs or from the foods we consume. Its oxygen and minerals help to protect the body’s organs from disease and premature decay.

Water is the guarantor of our persistence, as it enriches the soil to produce crops and hydrates our livestock to provide us our sustenance. And the integral component of water, namely oxygen, is the same that nourishes its sister life force, fire. Yet uncontrolled, water can also lead to man’s peril—just as it ensures life, it can also just as easily suffocate life.

So that animal life continues to exist, fire and water must remain eternal. In infinity the world will continue to change seasons as it spins on is axis, revolving around the fiery sun, the water continually nourishing our planet through precipitation and in tide with the gravity of the orbiting moon. Earth’s life forms will continue to evolve, forever adapting to the changing environs and Earth’s transient nature, forever dependent on fire and water, the elements of eternity… the elements of our destiny.

–Christian Garbis

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Carriage Of Dreams Restored

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