12/1/08 Shanghai 3:46am
I hope this journal finds you all well. Amidst a devastating financial downturn, the beginning of a new US presidency and much continued political and social upheaval in the world, it’s a struggle to remain calm. The world seems to be exponentially spirally downwards with calamities and problems being borne faster than solutions can be thought up. However, I still have hope that we can make a difference if we continue with prayer and take action in the right direction.
The first of December brings a lot of anticipation for many people, including myself. With the arrival of Christmas and the New Year, my upcoming months will be preoccupied with the production of my album. During the latter half of 2009, I will turn my focus to my film, which I will share with you later on when the time comes.
If I haven’t already mentioned in previous statements, the majority of the songwriting for the new album has been completed and, so far, I only need to write 3 to 4 more tracks and the songwriting process will be complete. The next stage of my production entails working on lyrics as well as putting the arrangements together. This will be a heavier, more rock oriented album and, therefore, I’ll be playing more guitar myself than on previous albums. The concept of this album has evolved quite a bit since its inception a year ago though the core has not changed. I’m very excited with the concept of this album and I only hope that I can dutifully translate it from my mind and heart for you. Being that it’s a “concept album” means that there’s much more than what is on the surface while, hopefully, not being a burden to it. I’d never want to make a concept album simply for the sake of making one or, even less nobly, for the sake of being cool or academic. The concept of the album should serve to unite the songs and emotions so that they come together to form a more powerful sum of the parts. Some albums are comprised of songs that have little bearing to each other but, on this album, most of the songs evolved from a singular yet related “concept” and motif. I think once the album is completed and in your hands you’ll understand more clearly what I’m talking about.
I don’t recall making any public statements on the recent passing of my dog, Lucky, but I gather that some of you may have heard about it somehow. On 10/30/08, Lucky was put to sleep as he was in very poor health due to a previous heart condition. I was in Asia at that time and couldn’t return to LA but my parents flew back and alongside a friend, Joanna, accompanied Lucky in his final days.
We had known that Lucky had a heart murmur condition as far back as 4 years ago. However, this was something the doctors said could not be treated and was something we could only observe and hope wouldn’t worsen. As the years went by, Lucky didn’t seem to be affected very much with only a few symptoms such as hacking and some occasional languidness. He was still very much playful, active and would enjoy walks around the neighborhood. Seeing the occasional cat or squirrel he would still want to give chase even though I knew it was more to demonstrate his bravado. We were never really sure how old Lucky was but from his dental condition the doctor guessed that he would have been around 13 years old when he passed away. Lucky was a stray dog in Taipei who used to roam the alleys around my father’s old office until one day my dad decided to buy him a house and take him in. Lucky wasn’t a large or menacing dog but he held his own and was a “street fighter” in the neighborhood. Before we took him in, my father used to always recall seeing Lucky head to head with other dogs or proudly leading a pack of dogs down a street. Like any “street” dog, Lucky had a certain edge about him shaped by the years of living amongst the elements. However, around his master and the few people he trusted, his loyalty and sweetness was unmatched. After a few years living at my dad’s office and then eventually at our Taipei home, my dad and I decided that we would immigrate Lucky to Los Angeles to spend more time with me there. I still remember the days when Lucky would accompany me at my office and studio, staying up late with me during my late night writing sessions. Patient, understanding and quiet, Lucky would follow me wherever I went and I enjoyed our late night walks around the park near my studio probably just as much as he did. One thing that everybody always remarked when they saw Lucky was how young he appeared to be. Especially after a trim, Lucky looked like he was just a baby and people were always shocked when I revealed his true age. Because he was a stray, Lucky was a mix of quite a few breeds. We never really cared what the exact mix was but just that he was adorable, handsome and so considerate. Lucky was a very frugal and content dog, he never begged for food like most dogs do and didn’t like to play with toys at all. Getting him to chew a bone was nearly impossible and because of that his teeth suffered as with many strays. I guess the only thing that Lucky needed was love from the people around him. Sometimes if you were to just look in his eyes with affection that would seem to make him happy as he would tilt his head slightly as if smiling.
The two months before Lucky’s passing was when his heart began to trouble him and when we started to notice things changing for the worse. He was put on medication at that point which seemed to relieve certain symptoms but two weeks before Halloween it seemed that nothing we did helped much. He stopped eating, sometimes had difficulty controlling his urinating, and was too tired to even walk out of the house. We consulted the doctor several times but it seemed that we had reached the end of the road. It was a very tough moment for all of us but we didn’t want to see Lucky suffer and his quality of life diminish to nothing. Lucky didn’t make a fuss about anything and just quietly sat on his pillow often staring into space. We didn’t know if Lucky was in pain but we knew he wasn’t happy.
A few days after both my father and mother flew back to see Lucky, my dad made the final decision along with the consent of the veterinarian to put our loved dog to sleep via injection. My dad chose not to be in the operating room so my mom and Joanna stood by to see Lucky off.
Those of you who have or have had pets and have seen them pass away know the sadness and difficulty in seeing them in pain. The helplessness an animal experience is sometimes greater than a human as they can’t express themselves verbally. They can’t make the voluntary decisions and, thus, leave us to their care. The passing away of even a dog reminds me of how fragile life is and how inescapable we all are from mortality.
Let us celebrate life but also unselfishly and graciously let it go when the time comes.