Frank Chen

Frank Chen

email newsletter #12

dog training, eating alone

dog training

I've been figuring out how to bring Speck (our dog) onto planes these past few weeks in preparation to have him travel with us.

There's been a ton of hemming and hawing on my end trying to pick a carrier, and no shortage of Googling to figure out if TSA or the gate attendant would stop us and demand that we turn around. The answer is still, “I don't fucking know” 🤷‍♀️ because it seems like every airport, TSA, and carrier has different specifications.

First things first. We had to get him a carrier and have him be ok with us stuffing himself into a TSA-approved sausage sack. So the first few steps were me casually trying to measure him in different positions.

Problem is, Speck is really awkwardly shaped - long body, leggy, with a deep chest. Easily could make a bridge to the other side of the room if he tried but also can fit inside a pastry case next to the donuts and blend in. He also likes to contort himself into really weird positions.

Yeah, I think you get the point.

In the end, the easiest method was to just to go by weight, and of course the airlines like to make it easy for us - Speck straddles the "legally allowed" weight for in-cabin travel - 20 pounds.

Honestly though, seeing these pictures don't really make me super confident that he's gonna like getting stuffed in a bag and jammed in a metal tube with a bunch of insufferable humans. Our first training session certainly didn’t inspire confidence. Let’s hope this guy never has to back into a parking spot. We’ll never get anywhere on time.

It was a rough start, the kid likes his freedom. 😆 Despite him looking solidly stupid here, Speck picked things up pretty quickly.

3-4 days of focused training and he’s getting there. Ah, the wonders of positive reinforcement (and a fuck-ton of treats). It’s a shame we can’t train TSA or the airlines to get their shit together.

eating alone

As I’m writing this, I’m eating alone at a bar in Barcelona - I’m pretty much the only person in here right now. Spaniards eat late, and well, I’m not Spanish.

In my 2022 year in review, I actually wrote down to consciously take the time to have dinner outside the apartment, alone, 1-2 times a month. There’s this interesting mix of discomfort and also gratifying solitude that I don’t think I’ve ever really experienced. Perhaps it’s just making the time and space to actually not sit in front of the television and also to not have any sort of human conversation (aside from being courteous to your waiter) that’s satisfying to me in the moment. If you were to slap a “goal” on this kind of behavior, I’d say it helps to sensitize to uncomfortable situations, especially since there’s some stigma (perceived, maybe) on eating alone in the States.

But let’s not slap a goal on that. I enjoyed a solo-dolo, relaxing 45-minute dinner, all by my lonesome. I even got to read a few lines of poetry and take some notes. I can’t ask for anymore more.