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.