Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Fate Worse Than Death

School is out and I've been working a little bit more at my part-time retail gig (popular plus size store). We have our loyal customers - they love the fashion and fit and we rank as one of their favorite places to shop.
We also get a lot of new customers - the ones that feel they have to excuse their fatness. "I just had a baby." "I had surgery and now I can't fit into my size 10s." "I'm on a new medication and I've put on 20 lbs." They go on and on about how they've never been this or that size before but someone told them they just had to try this store. Some of the customers are so self-deprecating you would think they beat their dog or park in handicap spaces. I've always said there are worst things to be than fat - such as ugly or ignorant or stupid. For the most part, though, people believe obesity is a fate worse than death.
I would like someone just to come in and say, "I eat too much, I don't exercise and I'd like to buy some new clothes."

Monday, December 29, 2008

Kindness of Strangers

I sat in the orthodontist office the other day and listened in amazement as a First wife and Mom had a conversation with her sons' new (young and pregnant) stepmother. They seemed like best friends, exchanging antecdotes about the boys, horrifying birth stories, and thanking each other for the thoughtful Christmas gifts they had exchanged. The Mom even promised new Mom a gift of a housekeeping service once the baby is born.
One hears such horror stories about new wives and old wives that I was just tickled that sometimes it does work out. A little skeptical, but still..........

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Last Christmas

Looking at my son put out cookies for Santa and setting out celery on the front steps for the reindeer, I realized that this is probably the last Christmas any of my kids will believe in Santa Claus. I know the arguments against letting your kids believe and I know the real meaning of Christmas, but there is just something so pure, so awesome about a little kid believing in Santa and reindeers and elves....I guess, it's the trusting innocence I'll miss.
These days, my girls are so surprised when something I suggest makes sense. Half the time things I say just circle around their heads in pretty little arcs waiting to be stored in the file marked "Mom - no damned idea what she's talking about". To them, I am an ATM and chauffeur and sometime maid and cook.
J still thinks I'm knowledgeable, although any questions about Star Wars are fielded to his Grandpa and Uncle R.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Amusing Articles and Such

1. "A Cougar Stole My Man" Cosmo Magazine
This one was especially funny. Young women going on and on about these older, tired women (one caked her make up on to look younger; one didn't dress hip enough) flirting with or stealing their men. Obviously, the old hags had something over these impossibly young, hot women.
2. "Hairy Chests are Hot Again"
Yay! Men should have hair (not pelts, I'm not saying men should be part bear) - no man should wax or shave or otherwise diminish their chest hair. Opposites attract and all that. I don't want a man smoother than me. Otherwise, I would just date women.
3. "Large Rats Sniff Out Landmines" National Geographic
Genius. Some smart guy taught rats how to sniff out landmines. Apparently, dogs are messy and heavy (they end up tripping the land mines as they find them). The rats are easy to train, breed easily, and manage to smell the land mines without getting themselves blown up. Very green. Reusable rats versus disposable rats.
4. "I Didn't Know I was Pregnant" I saw this on Discovery Health Channel.
No explanation needed. This was one incredulous hour of fun!

Disclaimer - the quotes aren't really quotes, more like paraphrases of what I could remember

Monday, December 15, 2008

I'm the man of the house.

We are a household of women with my eight year old son being the only male - the bonafide underdog. So, me, being the Mom, the older sister, the home owner - it is up to me to me take care of things. When a family of ants decided to move into our mailbox, larvae and all, I was the only one who would go near it. I had to retrieve the mail, spray and scoop out the remains (with my son shaking his head, "Mom, you killed the babies. They didn't even have a chance to live.") Not only did I have to kill the ants, but I had to feel guilty about it too.
When the AC started leaking and it rained in my house, I had to be the one to google "what to do when you have a ceiling leak and you don't want it to collaspe". I even got on the ladder and pinned the string to guide the water into the cooler I had set up to catch the water. What a waste. The ceiling still collasped.
I had to buy the lawn mower and the leaf blower and then I had to teach myself how to use them. I have to prune the trees and spray the Round Up.
It's not all bad though. I did get to paint my bedroom purple and I didn't have to set up the surround sound (even though the house is pre wired). And I can spend whatever I want on decor.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Time to Accessorize

I work part time at a store that sells plus size women's clothing - L.B. I started working there because I needed something besides my kids and school. I'd been bookkeeping forever (preparing taxes on the side) and I wanted something other than numbers. Besides, I get a great discount.
My colleagues are a great bunch of women. There are skinny fat girls, fat fat girls - ranging from ages eighteen to nearly fifty. We sometimes get drinks together, go dancing, or just hang out. Yesterday, two of us accompanied Miss K (she's 19) to go get her tongue pierced. Other than my ears, I having nothing pierced. I do have two tattoos - I got one when I was eighteen, then one shortly after my husband died.
Anyway - I was curious - so off we went. Miss C (she drove) had her tongue pierced ten years ago, so she was our resident expert. We roll up to a popular tattoo/ piercing salon in the Virginia Beach area about 9:45 on a Saturday night, all dressed up in our business casual work clothes. Poor tattoo parlor guys - I'm sure they didn't know what to expect.
So, Miss K fills out the paperwork, signs the release form, and sticks out her tongue. Yikes. That's a big hole they put in your tongue. 12 gauge. (They use a smaller needle when you get an I.V.) Lots of blood too. Wow. But, hey, it looks great. Plus it's one more thing to buy jewelry for.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Love Christmas, but....

I am starting to really, really, really dislike December. My husband passed away December 16, 2006. His funeral was held on December 22nd. Starting to see the connection?
I've been blaming my late start in decorating and shopping on final exams. There is some truth to this - my kids are lucky that they eat and their clothes are clean. Studying has taken up a lot of my time. Honestly, though, I don't have the energy. The first Christmas was a complete fog - we all just wanted to get through it. Last Christmas wasn't much better. Angry much? How do you help your kids get through the 1st anniversary of their father's death? Go to dinner? Bake cookies? Ignore it?
I keep asking Thomas why he couldn't have been a little more considerate. No one should die in December.
And still - two years later - things aren't much better. My sister and I tried to watch a movie last night. P.S. I Love you. What a great idea! A movie about a widow who receives letters and such from her husband beyond the grave. I made it to the scene where she receives a birthday cake from him three weeks after his death. C has already told me that she's not coming home on Tuesday. She has decideded to spend it with her boyfriend and his family. M just won't discuss it and J just doesn't want to see me cry.
I got a call yesterday from C's guidance counselor - she's suggesting group grief counseling. Great. What a fun bunch of phone calls that'll be. It is so hard to deal with my babies' grief when, sometimes, I can barely handle my own. It sucks being the grown up.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

She really is a quarter-of-a-century old.

My sister looks unbelievably young. Jailbait, middle school young. My fourteen year old daughter looks older. She always gets carded. Not a cursory glance at the ID, thankyouverymuch carded, but "Just a second, I'll be right back" carded. Sometimes there's a manager involved. No one takes her seriously. No one. Store clerks, police officers, school officials. No one at my kids' schools ever wants to hand my children over to her. She gets asked out by high schoolers and grown men tend to bypass her (that whole jailbait thing). E can wear make up, heels, flat iron her hair - still she looks like she's been playing in Mommy's closet.
Everyone tells her that she'll be thankful later that she looks so young. They complement her skin and tell her how lucky she is.
But this rant isn't about her, it's about me.
I am 35. I don't look 35 - I, too, look younger. Unless my baby sister is standing next to me and then I look like her mother. I think that's why I never get hit on either. What's scarier than a single mom with three kids?..........a single mom with four kids.
The other day, my sister, Dad, and I were out together. The clerk at Pearle thought Dad, another one who looks young for his age (I'm telling you, these are some fantastic genes!), was my husband and that E was our teenage daughter.
Now, tonight, she's asked me to meet her and some work friends for a drink. At least, this is a bar she frequents and we'll be able to avoid the police. Unless, of course, someone mistakes me for her mother.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Bananas in Pajamas

I attend the local community college five mornings a week. My classes are full of all sorts of graduates trying to save money, middle agers in the midst of changing careers, young, old, rich, poor. There are Jaguars next to the Tercels, Mercedes next to the Fiestas.
People come to class in all sorts of dress. There are those in their Baby Phat or head to toe Volcom. This being Virginia Beach, hoodies and flip flops are de rigueur. Some wear make up, some wear none. A few guys gel and shellac their hair, some don't bother to comb it at all. And, of course, this is college, so a few roll in wearing their jammy pants (Sponge Bob and snowflakes are popular right now) and bedroom slippers, hair pulled in a messy bun, an aura of sleep surrounding their bleary heads.
All very understandable.
What I can't wrap my mind around are those in coordinated sleep wear and pageant makeup. If you can arrange your hair in face framing tendrils and apply layers of black eyeliner, then you can throw on some jeans and a sweater. Even some cute sweats, they have great ones now with sparkles and little pink dogs. If you can match your slippers to your PJ top, then you can wrangle up a pair of sneakers. Or even matching flip flops.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Eight Things.......

Ok....I've been tagged
1. I married young. I was eighteen, not pregnant, and had known my husband to be for two months. We were married for fourteen and a half years and produced three beautiful (and smart) kids together.
2. I am abnormally close to my family. Maybe it's because I am part Filipino, but my family and I are inseparable. It drove my husband mad. My brother is temporarily relocated to South Dakota - we speak or text everyday. My father lives twenty minutes away - he spends two or three days a week at my house. My sister lives with me and has no plans to move out. In fact, we are so close that....
3. My sister and I share the same bed. She has her own room, but we bunk together at least three or four times a week. Granted at any given time, there is at least one or two kids with us and maybe a dog.
4. I can make balloon animals. Monkeys, bears, poodles and giraffes. And dachshunds.
5. Favorite things....rainy days, country music, The Beatles, fuzzy socks, furry Crocs, Skor bars, clean sheets
6. Not so fond of.....peas, cats, people without manners (May I get a "please" or "thank you" every once in a while), having to be the one in the house to kill the spiders, cold feet, mopping floors
7. I have loved only two men in my thirty five years. My high school sweetheart and my Thomas. Well, okay, three, but I don't talk about him.
8. I am a people pleaser. Unless you've made me your enemy. So I will not tag anyone else. But feel free to tag yourself.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The more I see of man, the more I like dogs. ~Mme. de Staƫl

Phoebe. Winston.
It's taken a little bit, but I think they finally like each other. Let me rephrase that, I think Winston is finally able to tolerate Phoebe.
We adopted Winston from the Humane Society in Reno, NV when he was just nine weeks old. He's five now, a bit of an old man.
Phoebe came to live with us in April of this year, she was 11 months old. She's just a big puppy - 130 some pounds of furry stupid.
Winston is well-mannered. He doesn't jump on people, he's completely house broken, he doesn't beg or bark too loudly, he gives paw and high fives.
Phoebe? Not so much. She drools copiusly and it took some time to teach her that she couldn't take food out of the kids' mouths. When she eats, bits and pieces get stuck in her jowls to later drop on poor Winston's unsuspecting head. She jumps up on strangers (that's what Bullmastiffs were bred to do - knock people down) and generally frightens all the neighborhood children. Though, everyone has learned she is harmless, she just wants to play.
Play. I've yet to find an indestructible toy for Phoebe. She loves stuffed animals. She rips their faces off, eyes first, and leaves them in the family room, lifeless shells of their former selves. She adores plastic bottles...anything from 2 liter soda bottles to the things that cranberry juice comes in.
She catches food. Unlike Winston who will calmly let any morsel slap him in the face before bending down to politely eat it, Phoebe catches things mid air. My dad found this out when he was tossing sausage casings into the trash the other day. It's to her advantage since I sometimes won't feed her directly for fear of her caustic saliva.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

She's brown and fat, she must be....

I'm an unusual mix - half Filipino, the other a half a mix of Spanish, Native American and Welsh. It confuses people. Strangers have always always asked me ,"What are you?". There's usually some type of office pool when I start a new job. It's disconcerting.
When I was young and skinny, I confounded people. Maybe I was Filipino, but I was too tall (5'7" - yes, I know, not that tall, but as a Filipino woman (Filipina) that is almost Giant status - my mom topped out at 4'11" and a half). Possibly Latina or Hawaiian, something different. I was stopped in bathrooms, malls, people would stare at me.
Now I'm a bit older and a lot fatter. I still get Latina and Hawaiian, now I get Samoan. Samoan? Why Samoan? Because I have brown skin and eyes, black hair and I'm fat? I get it all the time. So I googled Samoan people and then Samoan women. They seem to have the same ratio of skinny and fat people as other ethinicities.
Any explanations?

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I don't think one has to go to the cemetery and talk to a headstone in order for the dead to hear. I talk to my dead husband all the time. I send him messages from J's soccer games and on report card days and when the girls are fighting (I sent him a string of expletives the day M dumped a bowl on C's head).
Periodically, I check with all the children to see if they need to visit their Dad's grave. C is the only one who has had any desire to visit her Dad's grave site. She's asked me a couple of times starting this summer, only to back out at the last minute. She made me promise her Tuesday night that I would take her this Saturday, and this time she didn't back out. So we drove the 45 minutes to the Veteran's Cemetery, stopping to put air in the van's tires and to buy tea. We didn't get flowers and I forgot to look up the grave site number on the letter the Cemetery sent me.
My husband was adamant about being buried. He wanted a place that his relatives and descendants could go and visit him. I've always felt differently. I don't want a big a funeral nor do I care if I'm buried. I feel that whoever I leave behind should do whatever it is they need to do to get through it all. I tried to uphold my husband's wishes. I decided to forego a graveside service and a church service because I didn't think the kids could handle it. As it went, C lost it at the viewing and the military funeral was too much for J - partly my fault, I forgot to tell him about the Gun Salute.
Anyway, we get there, hoping the visitor's center is open so that we don't have to wander aimlessly searching for his name on identical tombstones (this is the military - order is very important). No such luck. It was cold, windy and we split up, methodically checking each row, narrowing things down by dates. Lucky me, I found him and called to C. This was her thing. I asked her where she wanted me, sitting near by or far away. Far away. So I left, went to visit my Mom on the colombarium side (really I just stood there, freaked out by Dad's name (no end date) under hers).
C followed me minutes later, stoic and dry eyed. She thanked me with a hug and we left, stopping for her comfort food - chicken strips and french fries.
Every day, I wonder if I'm doing this right. How is this supposed to go? Their friends assume that I'm divorced and my kids only correct them if there is a direct question involved. How broken are my babies going to be? How bad are the Daddy issues going to be? Are they going to grow up and have healthy relationships? We've done the counseling route, will it ever be enough?
I worry about J and his survival in this household of women. Thomas died right after J's six birthday, and it's taken me some to time to pull it together. Poor J is just learning to tie his shoes and he still hasn't mastered riding a bike. Will he, they be ok? Will they be a version of normal and will they know that I have tried, will continue to try to do everything I can, the best way I know how?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Out of the Mouths of.....

Questions/ things people asked/said to me right after my husband died
"Are you moving?" "Will you have to move in with your Dad?" (translation: Did he leave you anything?)
"Are the kids ok?" "What are you going to do?" "How are you going to raise J?"
"At least he died at home."
This is one of my favorites! "Did you love him?" This was from a woman I had never met at a 4th of July party in my new neighborhood. Granted she was drunk, but still.....
"Do you miss him?" She did stop herself, apologized, said it was a stupid question and then hugged me.

Now, I've been widowed almost two years (December 16th), people ask/say things like:
"Why aren't you dating yet?" "Why don't you get married again?"
"You're doing well for yourself." This one always seem accusatory. I always feel like I'm a disappointing widow because I get out of bed everyday and I don't weep in public. Anymore.
"I wouldn't have known. You're so young."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Kids These Days

I've been back at school for a little more than a year after being out for almost 17 years. It has taken some getting used to, but, overall, not a bad experience. Progress, technologically speaking, has been great. Flash drives, Power Point presentations, OWLs (Online Web-based Learning - yeah, I thought it was some cool Harry Potter thing too). It's still the SSDD. Homework, quizzes, procrastination. Trying to stay awake in class, although now, it's because I did laundry and dishes, not the cute guy who sat next to me in Earth Science.
I have noticed one definite difference. Teachers aren't respected as much as they used to be. Or has my tolerance for bull just been lowered? I have a Chemistry teacher who does not tolerate lateness. He locks the door and begins speaking at precisely 9:30. Meanwhile, I have classmates stapling papers, zipping up bookbags, whispering back and forth with their neighbors. It burns him up! His ears turn red, he annihilates with cutting sarcasm. And still students roll their eyes and wonder why he's so uptight.
And cell phones! I would never text during lecture (although I supoose at my advanced age it is impressive that I text at all). Yet people are texting, checking out MySpace, and there are some who don't even bother to take notes.
See, I knew at age eighteen I wouldn't be able to handle college. Why waste my time in class when I could be sleeping or hanging out with my friends. These days some chose to spend so much a credit hour to do at school what I used to do at home for free.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm Still a Good Person

I go to school full time. I study a lot. I work not quite part time. I have three kids, two large dogs. I have a somewhat big house (3100 square feet) that has suffered just a little bit the past couple of months. No, mold isn't growing from the ceiling and I don't have bugs (except for the occasional wasp - more on that later). The baseboards do need cleaning, I need to hand scrub the kitchen floor, and there is a definite doggy odor. But my house is far from unlivable. CPS isn't going to be banging on my door and the health department shouldn't have any complaints either.
But if one more person comes into my house and offers to help me clean, I may have CSI at my door. Really? And it's not the sweet, "I know your awfully busy and I'd like to help" , but the more condescending, " Wow, you have a beautiful house. Why can't you keep it clean?". It's almost as if I don't deserve to have such a great house because it doesn't smell like lilacs and the floors aren't shining blinding light and singing hymns. It isn't a hovel, it's just far from spotless.
I also haven't raked yet this fall and I have a small brown spot in the middle of the front yard. Now why can't get some shirtless hottie to offer to mow?

Even the dog

Estrogen. My household teems with it. I (35) live with my sister (25), my two daughters (12 and 14), Phoebe the bullmastiff, my son (8) and Winston (lab mix, neutered). There are about ten days every month that my house reeks of short-tempered bitchiness. Remotes fly about, doors slam, objects are just flung randomly and with no apparent reason - a poltergeist? No.....just a bunch of hormonal females.
My father (59), a widower, spends almost every weekend with us. I was widowed about two years ago and Dad likes to come over and try to inject some testerone into the mix so that my son has some kind of male role model on a somewhat regular basis. Plus, Dad cooks. Food, not stuff out of boxes, but real food with fresh ingredients and spices and no powdered cheese or dehydrated potatoes. E (my sister) picked Dad up Friday afternoon and by Saturday morning my Dad was ready to grab J (my son) and run. Just run. Anywhere.
Friday night, after Family Bingo Night at my son's school, Dad wanders in to the laundry room to find me throwing towels and crying into dirty sheets. The poor man just wanted to help, to see if there was anything he could do to help. I ran him out. "YOU didn't do anything...Just leave me alone...Go away." No wonder the man smokes two packs a day, it's a wonder he doesn't drink. He then made the mistake of trying to talk to M (youngest daughter) while she was on MySpace. "Auggh, Grandpaaaa, I don't know what's wrong with her. She's your daughter." C (oldest daughter) comes in, ranting about the dog being in heat and having to Swiffer mop the foyer AGAIN. And why won't J pick up his socks, (even though her backpackshoeshoodiephone are strewn all over the game (TV) room. J has hidden himself in his room with Indiana Jones and Iron Man. He won't come out until he smells food.
It may take some convincing to get Dad over here again.

Friday, November 14, 2008 Invisible Fat Girl

It seems strange to me, but as I've gotten bigger (yes, older too), I've become harder to see. Not just by men, but by a lot more people than I thought possible. I once worked with a teeny, tiny girl who slammed into me on a daily basis. Like she thought she could walk right through me.
And at school! I'm walking through the doors of the science building at the local community college, work men milling about and a hose swings from the roof and bops me on my forehead. I kept, walking, unhurt, but not one person ( and I know it didn't go unnoticed) asked if I was ok or even giggled. Nadda. I've had doors slammed in my face, people trying to enter a door I'm trying to exit (hey - it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that only one of us is going to make it through the door and it will probably be me).
Really, not bitter at all. When I was skinny, I craved this anonyminty. I couldn't pump gas, buy socks or even read a newspaper in public without someone asking me something, men and women alike. Now, I'm in plain view, observing everything and everyone. It is amazing what one notices while being unnoticed.