Small pleasures escaped the days during my first week of unemployment. And then last Friday I learned of the earthquake in Japan, then tsunami, and now, of course the chilling news about the meltdown of Japan's nuclear power plants. When you're unemployed you watch a lot of television, and read a lot of news. I sift through these tidbits all day long in between applying to jobs, fixing lunch, and finally putting on different sweats (from the ones I sadly slept in) to take the dog for a walk. I've been watching what's happening in Japan with a sort of frozen half-belief, but it wasn't until today that I actually cried when viewing a clip of the devastation. And it was from The Today Show, no less! Not some venerated newscast! And about a dog! Jeez. I don't know what this says about me - or about other people who cried at the same clip - but there's something so innately vulnerable about animals and particularly dogs: they have no clue what is happening yet they nurture nonetheless. Their loyalty is startling. I talk to my dog, Penny, throughout the day and her ears always perk up at the sound of my voice. We cook together, get the mail together, greet our neighbors together, and together we wait for Matt to get home. She's my best friend.