So the first thing I did, after unpacking and talking to Doug, was walk Riley to California.
Oh it felt good to walk fast in the March wind, nothing on my mind except winding down, nothing looming, no big talks or forced sociability or huge dinners where I might or might not succeed at making small talk. Just walking with my dog.
He was so good. I brought training treats, and he was perfect for the bicycles, perfect for the other dogs being walked, perfect for the children with strollers. Every time we encountered a Situation, I'd hold my treat-filled fist down, and he'd either walk along, nuzzling my hand like I was a Pez Dispenser, or he'd sit and allow me to feed him.
He didn't bark once in the hour-long walk.
And then, just three blocks from home, a huge yellow dog (untethered, and unwatched) leaped out of an open minivan and jumped on him and rolled him and barked and lunged.
It happened very quickly--the minivan owner had just dropped some people off at a house, and she was standing up by the front porch and had, for some reason, left the dog in the open van.
I shouted. Hey! Hey! Hey! as the huge dog tried to maul Riley, who looked completely surprised. Riley barked, but was not aggressive.
I started to haul him away (still shouting, Hey! Hey! like a mad woman) and the owner ran over and hollered at me. "No, you stay!" she said. I understood her--she meant that if Riley and I left, her dog would give chase--but I did not like being told to stay as though I were her dog.
She grabbed the enormous dog and hauled it away. She muttered, "Sorry," as she passed.
I made Riley sit, and I gave him some treats. It was clear he was not hurt. This was the most important thing, but I was still furious.
We made a wide detour around the van and set out for home. I was furious. The van started up and passed us slowly. The woman did not say anything as she drove by. Riley and I walked the rest of the home. I was furious. That was an hour ago, and I am furious still.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
The efficient hotel staff slid my bill under the door in the middle of the night. Now I see where a cell phone would be useful.
I have made four phone calls during my stay--two to the cell phone of a woman I was on a panel with (we were trying to meet to talk about our discussion), and two back home to St. Paul.
Cost for four phone calls, none of which lasted more than a couple of minutes: $82.35.
I imagine I will get reimbursed, at least for the two phone calls to my fellow panelist. But man. A cell phone would have been handy. And, I think, cheaper. Here's today's morning view from my fabulous window: A cloudy day. Rowers going past. Looks like Sunday, doesn't it?
Now I am off to one more talk, and then the airport. Must shower. Must pack. Must get coffee.
UPDATE: I had breakfast this morning with a journalist from chile and one from puerto rico. they said that being at nieman was good for them because they could see first-hand that the crisis in newspapers isn't happening to them alone, but to everyone.
so, a silver lining! i guess...