Posts Tagged ‘judging’

About Face

I am in my 60’s. Not terribly long ago, a woman told me she ‘bet I used to be attractive’. I can handle that. I DID. Now, I am older. I am not as upset about that, as I am that people are unaccustomed to what we should really look like as we naturally age.

I saw Goldie Hawn on TV today. Face-lift. I remember when Mary Tyler Moore got hers. It broke my heart. I watch some cooking shows. Sandra Lee suddenly looked very odd. Honestly, I thought she had been in a fire. Nope. Face-lift.

As I see women changing their entire facial structure, I question for whom they do this. I used to wonder the very same thing about men who wore toupees. Did they sleep in them at night with the person they loved most? Probably not. They wore that stupid looking fake hair or did a ‘Donald Trump’ every morning for the people who do not really matter. Why is that?

We are the baby-boomers. We are supposed to have more answers than our parents had. We are supposed to be more perceptive. Why in the world are we afraid to be ourselves? Why are WE pretending to be younger than we actually are instead of showing how well we can age? I am perplexed.

I stopped coloring my hair a year ago. I know it ages me. I look so much better with my hair hi-lighted. Now, there is no mistaking that I am an elderly woman. Nevertheless, I AM an elderly woman! I recognize that 60’s isn’t the end of the path but when we start retirement, get our social security and have problems remembering and falling and driving, why should we be trying to look like we are a decade or two younger? If we were acting this way in our 40’s we would seem daft or drunk. If men could really see what a woman is SUPPOSED to look like as she ages, maybe they would stop trying to date women 20 years younger than they should. Maybe. Ok, bad example.

While I am on that subject, why do older men need to date younger women? Everyone knows how foolish they appear. They are trying to ‘borrow’ the youth of that younger woman to appear younger themselves. They are trying to appear more virile. They are trying. Trying. If you need a pill to have more sex than your body can accommodate, you are too old to be having that kind of regular sex. It is not the end of the world. It is just a slowing of a chapter in a section. We all live.

So, as I watch women I have admired throughout my generation, I am saddened. Too many of them have decided they cannot stand to be their age. They are pretending to be of a different age while all of us watch, distressed at how fake our generation is threatening to become. We do our daughters no favor.

Gloria Steinham had it right at one time: ‘This is how I am supposed to look’ or something to that effect. I felt the same way for ages. I let myself be what I was supposed to be. How sad that our society does not. How sad that again, men are telling us we are not ok unless we do ‘this or that’ and sadder still is that women do it to each other. When Marlo Thomas got a face-lift, I was heartbroken. Another woman who is supposed to be secure, brilliant, honest, talented, and beautiful. She used to be.

Yep, I used to be attractive. Looks fade. I hope I have managed to cull more than the skin on my skeleton for the next chapters of my life.

Joan Rivers aside, how often are you disappointed in the women you once admired because of plastic surgery? Plastic: doesn’t that say it all?

take only if needed

People watch me in the grocery store. Decades ago I was watched because I was attractive. Now, it is a different situation: I am on food stamps.

Women watch what I place on the belt to checkout. I have no shame. I am so grateful for the financial help right now. I get food stamps. Thank YOU.

I have had no income for almost 2 years. I felt guilty to ask for help. A social worker suggested it and I am grateful. I get food stamps!

So many people have misconceptions about government help. My dad once said that anyone homeless just did not want to work. As a single woman, I knew better. I was part of the huge group. Missing one or two paychecks would mean I could not pay my bills. I was a flight attendant. To some people I earned great money. The thing is, when you travel for a living, you also spend more. The cutbacks at our airline were legend. We began flying more and earning much less. I knew I was on the precipice. My dad simply did not understand. It was black or white. More importantly, having never been in such a situation, it meant that nobody honest could. He was mistaken.

When my airline job crumbled, I began working in earnest, to pay my mortgage. Amazingly, the phone company, the utility company, and many others worked with me. They saw my huge credit history and knew I was not a bum. They put bills on hold while I reconnoitered. The mortgage company sent me a letter. If my payment was late, they would foreclose. Just like that.

I took every job I could. I did landscape work, I sold sandwiches from my trunk, I cleaned gutters and downspouts, weeded flowerbeds every evening, walked dogs early every morning, watered gardens while owners were away. On the weekends, I washed and waxed cars. It was hard. 7 jobs every week. I earned enough to pay my mortgage. I got food at the local food bank. It was humiliating. The woman handing out the choices gave me peanut butter. I cannot eat that. When I suggested she save it for a woman with children, she told me that I must not be very hungry. Humiliating.

The difference between then and now is that I was only 38. I had my entire life ahead of me and was strong smart and industrious. Now I am 61. I am not so good physically or mentally. I get food stamps.

I see women in the store, using their stamps, and look at their choices. I am not being critical; I am trying to learn. So many things are not included but you have to buy them to exist. No cleaning supplies. No light bulbs. Light bulbs in my home are a huge expense. Moreover, they are expensive. I try to buy CFL’s but now it is prohibitive. No pet food or cat litter. No personal hygiene products. No laundry detergent or softener sheets or bleach. Just FOOD. I am beyond grateful. I get food stamps.

I do not smoke but I certainly see the huge cost. People addicted to cigarettes have to feed that addiction. They have no choice. You do not stop smoking because you have run out of money. It is as powerful an addiction as heroin or meth. Your body makes you continue. You have no choice. Stopping is so difficult and society already hates smokers so the added shame of the addiction feeds the problem.

Medications. I take a ton of them. Between my brain injury, my blood sugar, my Cholesterol, my general stress of life circumstances, bills and an impending divorce, I take a ton of meds. They are not food. They are not covered.

I buy wine. Yep. I buy wine. I do not buy it nearly as often. I do not buy the 35-dollar bottles I used to get. I buy 6-dollar wine, on sale. Right now, it makes me almost feel normal. A few days a month, I can have wine with dinner again. Like things used to be. Before I got food stamps, before my life turned upside down.

You get a certain amount per month. Nothing more. It is up to you to decide how to parcel that money. I cannot pay for gas for my car, cannot pay for my utility bill, and cannot pay to see my doctor or light, cool or heat my home. No cosmetics or bath products. I can buy certain foods.

Next time you are shopping, look at your cart as you check out. Bear in mind that many people will not feel you have the right to certain things in your basket. They might judge. If you are on food stamps.

I am on food stamps. It is a huge relief.

what are you thinking?

I live in Spokane, WA. The US Figure Skating Championships are here, and I am normally in a front row seat. I have followed skating avidly since the mid 80’s. Fortunately, for me, attending championship contests have been constant. If I were not able to be in a great seat, I would watch it on TV, never missing a second.

Last night a very nice friend of mine took me as her guest to the championships. It was wonderful to see again.

However, what I actually experienced was not what I was accustomed to seeing.

I’ve mentioned before that I suffered a TBI (traumatic brain injury) a couple of years ago. It really has changed my life, my outlook, and my future. Last night I recognized it has also changed my past.

My mom had Alzheimer’s. Horrible disease. She lived in Fla and I lived in Colorado, then Oregon, now Washington. Farther and farther away from her, needing to be with her, hating to see what she was.

I made a decision about my visits with mom: I would meet her wherever she was. Toward the end, she had no clue who I was. I would watch her before I approached, to get a feel for how she ‘was’ at that moment in time. she would look at me, blankly, smile, and ask how I was. that’s mom. the more ill she became the more she morphed back into her ‘hostess’ mode of making others comfortable. because she did this so well, most people had absolutely no clue she was so ill. she managed to fool people for almost 5 years, with this disease eating away at her memories, her being. Now, visiting her in the lock-down ward was always unsettling. I wanted to scream, I’m ALEXA!! I’m your DAUGHTER!!. that would have done no good. she simply did not know me anymore. so, I decided to try to get her to like me, every time I visited with her. she had always helped everyone, everywhere. huge volunteer, all of her life. I decided that whenever I ‘met’ her, I would try to get her to enjoy my company. for an Alzheimer’s patient, that is no small feat. they are angry, frustrated, isolated, and tired of being bossed around. they have no clue who anyone is and they want ‘out’. I would go to her, smile, call her by her name, and beam at her, “HI”. she always responded favorably.

Sometimes, rarely, she would chat, laugh, and almost manage conversation. Alzheimer’s robs people of their ability to use their words. I learned to listen to her cadence and her tone. Amazingly, I usually could converse with her, on her terms. All I wanted was for her to like me. just for that ‘time’.

A brain, robbed of its use is not pretty. People do not act the way we expect them to or the way we are accustomed to them acting. When I injured my brain, my husband had his hands full. I had outbursts, my language went to the gutter, I was angry, crying, unable to do things and unable to figure out why. The doctors had warned us several times but until you live it, you really don’t ‘get it’. When I was going through this with my mom, I was still intact (almost brilliant, or at least really smart, IMHO). I just wanted her to like me. I loved her enough for both of us. I wanted her to like my company. So, we would chat. Sometimes we would hold hands. She had no idea who I was. I was careful not to intrude. I just wanted to be with my mom, or whoever she was at that time.

Sometimes I would visit her and it would go really well. So, I would stay longer than normal. Those rare times were golden and I didn’t want to miss a second of them. We would talk and laugh, her conversations would make little sense, But she liked me. She was happy in my company and I was thrilled to almost see a piece of her, coming through. If anything or anyone interrupted her, she was lost again. Sitting with a stranger. I would start from the beginning. again.

Brains are pretty interesting. she was ‘there’ in pieces. The pieces weren’t necessarily the good ones. My brain was here but not functioning very well. As a result, I was difficult and unable to care for myself.

Now I have the after-effects. my marriage is in shambles, over essentially. My brain has returned as much as it will manage we believe. If I am tired, I cannot form sentences. My spelling ability has completely vanished. I was an English whiz, math whiz, science whiz. Now, I cannot multiply. Sometimes I cannot add, no matter how hard I try. I spoke 4 languages, I seriously struggle with my English today. It’s just the way the cookie crumbles. I’m mobile, I can drive and run errands and cook and garden. I am just a bit more diminished. That’s life.

Last night I realized I don’t know a damned thing about skating. That was astonishing. My friend had gone with me as my guest years before. she evidently relied on my knowledge to help her understand the competition. It made me remember the first month I was here in Spokane, the championships were here (Skate America, I think) and I took my very best friend to every event all week. She was an athlete but knew absolutely nothing about this sport. So, I explained to keep her appraised. Last night, I could not answer the most basic questions. that was stunning to me. I simply don’t know anything much about this sport I have spent thousands of dollars on for 25 years or so. I’m a newbie.

So, just like my visits with my mom, I decided to just be ‘there’. I decided I don’t need to be in charge, don’t need to know the answers, don’t even need to know the questions. I could just be there, with my dear friend, watching a program of great challenge and superior athletes. I had been here the month I moved to Spokane, and now, 8 years later, as I am making my plans to depart, I was here again, but a different person, in every way.

And it was OK.

A Picture is Forever

The Division of Licensing has been beating me. This has caused me great angst because although they are not as official as many agencies, they DO control my ability to operate a vehicle. Additionally, many businesses require your driver’s license to identify yourself. As we move toward the obvious, a public identity card, some states have already declared that a driver’s license is not an identity card. Interesting. Nor is your social security card.

I just want to drive.

I went to the license office almost 2 months ago, all geared up to take the written test and get a new license. Did not work that way at all. They said I just needed to hand in my old license, prove my identity, get my photo taken and I would be finished. They did not even care if I could see. They did not care if I knew the driving regulations in their state. Seemed excessively easy.

I had looked at their website, learning what I might need to take along for ID. The website examples are to bring a utility bill in applicant name, to the correct home address. A passport not expired longer than a year. A military ID. A federal employee ID. A current driver’s license from another state. They offer many identity choices. Two very long lists of them. I have never had a problem proving who I am so I did not expect a problem here.

This is something with which few men will identify. My name is Dorothy Alexa Marguerite Conway. Society puts women in a spot after they marry. People in quite a few places can actually change a woman’s name, to make their filing system work more easily. When I married, I was 50 years old. I owned several houses in my name, owned my car, was buying another home, in my name, was an officer of the court, in my name, had 4 passports (you know, my name). So, since I already had 4 names, did I want to add a 5th? No, I really did not. My name was so long that no government office or form would accept it as it was. Therefore, someone (a typist) would make a decision to shorten my name. Think about that. Long name. 3 of the names can easily be misspelled. As a result, the typist usually drops a name. so, I have ID that shows me as Dorothy M Conway, as Alexa M Conway, as DA Conway, as (my favorite) DAM Conway, as Dorothy Alexa Conway. There are more, believe me. So many combinations available. I have too many names. I have never had a problem proving who I am, getting licenses in several states and territories.

This was easy. I went in with my current driver’s license. It identifies me as Alexa M Conway Smith. Yep. Smith. Why? Well, because a well-intentioned young woman in Oregon added Smith to my last name, without proof of my identity, without a marriage certificate, without any substantiation that I had increased the size of my name. She recognized my husband, and then she just did it. When she handed me my Oregon license, it said smith, behind everything else. I gulped. I was looking for the first time at a name that was foreign to me. My brand new husband was standing next to me, beaming. She was beaming. I was silent, not wanting to hurt him or her. I thanked her and we went on our way. Today I would like to have her take that name off my license. Not just because he is having a very public affair. Not because we are heading toward divorce. Not even because smith is such a common name and it increases the difficulty of my identity. Nope. Just because it was never my choice and because I liked my name just fine and it irks me that a woman is so easily re-identified in this society. She did not change HIS name to conway-smith. Only mine. Uh huh. I am one of those.

So, the license office here did not like it that my name was smith on my license but not on my social security card. Well, duh. I never legally changed my name! But, you know who did? My health insurance company. Someone there decided that I would be easier to find if my last name was the same as my husband’s. Just like that, my records all went to smith. So now, I have to help them find me. Sometimes it is conway-smith, sometimes its smith. We never know. It is an Easter egg hunt. Then, amazingly, my insurance company that handles my auto insurance, my homeowners insurance and my credit card, began to call me conway-smith. Wow. Another ‘somebody’ just decided it was easier. The first time we got our insurance cards, after I added my husband to my accounts, the cards came in my name, with his name listed afterwards. He had a fit. This did not work for him. It was my account. Everything had been mine. I added him to my accounts. Now, he was mad because things came in my name.  I had to call them, asking that they put his name on things equally. The woman I spoke with completely understood. I explained to my husband that women deal with this all the time and he really should put his ego in check. It was not a big deal. He would have none of it. Therefore, when she put his name onto my accounts, she also changed my name. Again, I was stunned. I was also conway-smith.

I am at fault here for not fighting for my identity. However, I married for life. I knew I could handle the little upsets that might come along with the name situation. Now, things are different. I do not like seeing his name on my things. It hurts. I do not like the feeling I get, knowing my husband is living with someone who decided my marriage was not as important as her wants. I want to be rid of the ‘Smith’ stuff. However, that is a personal issue. Right now, I just want my new driver’s license. This is a fight.

I arrived in the licensing office with the following: my current license, an expired passport (the latest one was in an envelope, headed to salt lake city for renewal), a federally issued photo ID, two bills (utility and trash) mailed to me, at my home address, my auto insurance card and policy, in my name, at my address. Armed for anything, I took a number and waited. They would not accept my ID.

I went back 3 days later, better armed. This time I was carrying 3 passports, including the one that had been in the envelope to be renewed. This office caused an urgency I had not experienced in a very long time. I also took my airline ID, federally issued, with my photo. I took my court photo ID, 4 bills, a letter from the IRS written to ME, at my home address, with my social security number, and my full name and they would not accept it.

I went 7 times. By now, the people recognize me by name. Nevertheless, they will not accept my ID. Finally, I won. They took my photo and sent me on my way, promising my new license would arrive by mail w/in a week. I was happy/sad. Happy to accomplish this, sad because I had given up trying to look good in my photo. The first time I had arrived straight from the hairdresser. Looking as good as was possible for my age. As the visits continued, I began doing less and less about my appearance, knowing that today was not going to be my day.

I decided whatever picture I had was fine. It was not. Nevertheless, I still felt good about the achievement. That feeling lasted 3 weeks. By then my license was long overdue. I had travelled to Florida to help my aunt Dot, with a flimsy little temporary license that caused much dismay to the airline screeners. Their dismay caused lots of searching on my personal being.

I had no license waiting when I returned. I began to fret. I started calling the licensing division. That’s fun. It is also fruitless. I scoured their website for information and actually found a link that says contact us here if you have not received your license! What foresight! I ‘clicked’ and wrote. I sent my full name, address, date of application, old license number, and state, last 4 digits of my social. 3 days later I got a note back informing me that I needed to send my name, address, last 4 digits, date of application, old license number AND new temp license number. Otherwise, no help for me. Incredible but people NEED jobs and without this time consuming effort on her part, she might not appear to be as employable. I found the last puzzle piece and sent the note back.

She wrote. She did not like my ID. I would not receive my license. Noooooooooooooooooooooo. I wrote again, begging, offering meals, trying to be her friend, trying to learn anything that might help me work through this latest glass ceiling. No good. She finally told me to go to the social security office, change my name, get a new card, then start the process again. Amazing. This is where we live. Amazing. They all know I am really ME. Nobody will make a decision.

Today I went back. I was fully armed. Now I carry things in a large overstuffed envelope. I learned online that the office has an ‘identification specialist’ who has the authority to make a decision.

I went to one of ‘my people’, asking for the identification specialist. She was very nice. Sorry to learn I had not gotten my license. She was also perplexed that I had actually corresponded with someone who could supposedly help. She questioned me about that frequently. I kept explaining exactly where to find it on THEIR website. I was getting nowhere. Then, I began to cry. Really cry. One year ago, my dad passed away. It has been on my mind. Maybe that spurred the tears but my frustration level over them refusing something so basic, simply because the person making the decision can ‘choose’ to ignore the obvious, has beaten me down. I need them. They do not need me. I do not want to break the law but I WILL drive. I MUST drive. I am alone. I need things. Driving is the answer.

Two men began to eves-drop and move in closer. The customer next to me dug out a Kleenex. By now, I was well into the ‘ugly cry’, no stopping me. Two more men, one who had helped me several times, became part of the ‘employee circle’. Everyone is questioning and trying to help. Finally, one man (maybe he was actually the Identification Specialist!) made the decision. I would get a license! I was beyond thrilled. I asked him out for drinks immediately! He had the good sense to ignore me.

Therefore, I am waiting for my new license to appear in the mail. I know what you are thinking: why would this time be any different? What makes me think it is actually going to be sent, when that ‘person’ is lying in wait to refuse me? I will tell you exactly why: because they took my picture again, because I looked like shit, because I had not washed my hair or put on make-up, because I had sobbed, let my nose run, and had a horribly red face. Yes, this license will come. This picture will follow me for years. Forget the name, forget the hassle, and forget the 8 trips to DOL. It is all about the picture. I have never looked worse in my life. One guy offered to take me to a beauty parlor across the street to let them ‘try to fix you up’. One of the male employees actually said “Alexa, (like we’re good friends), do you have any makeup in your car?” when ‘the picture guy’ got ready to take the picture, he looked at me and asked if I needed ‘a minute’. I was crying! I said ‘a minute’ would not do me a bit of good.

This license will arrive. I won!

This is CRIMINAL!

I was raised by a cop. I was raised to know things are only black or white. Never grey, never beige. Black. White. Stop means STOP, not slow down. Criminals are the enemy. Rules are made to be followed.

You get the point.

My brother and I have borne the brunt of not coloring outside of the lines.

My aunt became a criminal, in her words, several years ago. Although she had prepared judiciously for retirement, she could no longer afford her medications. Except in Canada. She confessed to me several years ago that she had begun to purchase by mail, across country lines and was therefore, a criminal.

I have many friends who favor the legalization of marijuana. I am in favor too. I think once we legalize it, the government will start taxing the crap out of it, and maybe we can decrease the deficit. Maybe we won’t have the huge amount of pesticides being imported from Mexico, South America and the like. Maybe we can actually manufacture something in THIS country and not spend money importing. and…medical marijuana has made an impact on many lives. The very lives that would have gleefully prosecuted anyone who smoked pot next door. However, evidently those in great pain, or people who no longer wish to eat even, or people who have true anxiety problems, are benefited by marijuana. So, even your granddaddy can be a criminal. In my opinion, pot should be treated the same as alcohol and other drugs. Common sense. doesn’t mean criminal. My father would disagree.

I just opened something illegal.  I asked someone to get it for me. I knew I would love it. however, I didn’t access it for quite some time. Today I did. And I’m proud. And I’m thrilled with my personal freedom. If I am arrested or turned in, I have decided to finally take a public stand and go to trial.

I brought dishwasher soap across the border. ‘Cuff me Dano’.

I am an environmentalist from way back. our particular state outlawed detergents with certain ‘agents’ in them. Women all over this state tried to embrace the new soap. Unfortunately, it sucks. It does not get the food off of our dishes. I think it’s probably accurate to say that at least 98% of households have experienced the ‘new environmentally safe dishwasher soap’ because it’s the law. By now, we have all run out of the ‘other dangerous kind’. and, by now the higher majority of households have come to realize that the new stuff doesn’t get our dishes clean. We want to want to use it. It does not do the job we are paying it to do. We are sorry. ‘hands-up!’

My parents used to have a little dog named rocky. My dad always loved pets, especially dogs. He smuggled it into the house pretending it was a gift for our mom. Sneaky. My husband did the same thing one Christmas with a toaster.

my dad had no tolerance for anyone’s pet. that was the odd thing. heaven help the pet owner whose pet prints graced any part of my dad’s yard, car, sidewalk. dad would waste few seconds getting to the door to educate the pet owner. now, he had a dog. and he became a criminal.

for several years he took rocky everywhere. he tried valiantly to get his little white poodle into grocery stores, Disney world, busch gardens, movies. you name it, dad had his routine all worked out. carrying the dog straight to a young person he felt he could probably intimate he would suddenly assume that rocky had become invisible. when the employee would hesitantly point out the dog and tell my police officer father that animals were not allowed in the park, movie, airplane, grocery store, hardware store or planetarium, my dad would feign complete astonishment. “you don’t mean HIM, do you?” to the hapless employee, now caught in a web. then the sales job would start. never worked. they feared for their jobs more than they did for a story they probably heard 300 times a day. service animals only, no exceptions. if my dad were allowed to have a pet today, he would have managed to get it certified as a service animal, just to get his way.

poor rocky was the victim here. dad would walk him back to the car, in the summer heat, and leave him there. criminal.

when we were in Alabama for part of his military career, a next-door neighbor commented that he got his cigarettes at the PX. dad was infuriated. the man next door was a civilian. only military personnel can purchase on base. I was not allowed to play with my neighbor’s daughter anymore. somehow, the criminal had rubbed off on the 4th grader.

I have seen people walking their dogs unleashed. I don’t remember when I last lived where there was no leash law. normally, the law says something along the lines of “animal must be under your complete control at all times”. when I walk in our hills, I come across many dogs, loose. you slow down, hoping for a human to round the bend, hoping the dog you’ve just encountered is friendly. once the owner shows, he or she immediately assures you that THEIR precious would never hurt a fly–perhaps just lick you to death. common phrase for the circumstance. if the dog begins jumping on you, they smile and laugh, letting you know that THIS means their precious LIKES you. how lucky is this? your clothes aren’t nearly as important as the acceptance by a random animal, running loose. these people are almost without exception, wonderful people in general. nonetheless, criminals.

I am unable to get my driver’s license renewed. It’s enough to lose my good humor. I started trying about 7 weeks ago. They didn’t like my name. I have a big name. lots of letters and words. Hard for most to spell without asking. And, then I got married. It gave me my 5th name. holy crap.

When my husband and I got to Oregon, we went to get new licenses. Rule followers. Don’t wanna be criminals. The young lady behind the counter pointed out that our last names were not the same, even though we were obviously married. My husband and I exchanged smiling glances and explained we were newlyweds. When she handed me my license, I was shocked to see that she had added his last name to my license. I didn’t ask. She hadn’t asked. He didn’t ask. She did something criminal. She had no proof I was married. She had no proof my name had changed. She thought she was doing something nice and because of that, I hated to hurt her feelings by asking her to change it. I also hated to hurt my husband’s pride by appearing to refuse his name.

Now, I have no official name changing documents with which to get my drivers license. I had never officially changed my name anywhere. The bureau here required several types of ID. Bear in mind, I was not required to take a test, an eye exam, or do anything other than exchange one license for another. I was surprised because I expected a test. I would happily take one if it meant I could get a license. Because my license said I had an ‘extra’ name, they refused to allow me to be identified. They refused 3 passports, a court ID, a federally issued airline ID, 5 bills mailed to my home, in my name, a letter from the IRS to me, at my listed address, any number of credit cards, my auto insurance card…. Nothing was good enough to get a drivers license. Now, my license has expired. I am driving around with a very flimsy piece of paper, giving me a bit more time. The bureau has informed me that I need to have social security verify my identity, then I can re-start the process. Sounds simple enough but then I thought that the first time I went to get my new driver’s license. Right now I have been made to feel I’m a criminal and although I’ll continue using the dish washing soap, I’m not ready to be identified by the govt division of drivers licensing as a criminal. I’m jumping through hoops just as fast as I can buy them. what scares me so much now is that social security doesn’t think I ever changed my name. so, their record is not going to match this driver’s license. I’m frightened to pieces. Nothing else is ever going to match this Oregon license.

I think dad needs to put me in the car.

Duty and Honor, Veterans Day

today is set aside to honor all of our nation’s veterans.

veterans fill my family. my granddaddy served and was very proud to do so. my father served and made it into his chosen career. my brother served, doing two tours in viet nam. he came home a much different man than the one we said good-by to at the airport. he remains proud of his service. I am fortunate to have the coffin flag from granddaddy’s service. I remember very clearly the day it was handed to my grandmother.

my uncles served as well, but not for long. after the war, they all returned home to civilian jobs. my dad is the only one I remember in the immediate family who stayed in. except for my mother.

military families are always in flux. the people who quite often hold the family together are the spouses, the wives. when my father was in the military, women rarely got the opportunity to do more than secretarial work. the wives were sharing the military load at home.

whenever my dad would come in the door to announce we were moving, it meant my mother would have to give notice at her job, immediately and begin to pack, organize and ‘clear quarters’. this is military speak for “be sure there is no evidence that you existed in this home.” there was actually a ‘white glove’ inspection at the home and the wives had best pass it. if not, they had to work until it was exactly as it had been before we moved into the place. the wives bore such a heavy load. the military would immediately relocate the soldier. the wives would pack the whole family, get the kids’ school records, medical records (no computers in those days), find a new house the DAY they arrived at the next city, state, country, register the kids into a new school system and begin unpacking. the dad would come home from work, for dinner. not many women are up to such a task today. they would balk at the system. it’s very one-sided.

we now have women serving in the military, in jobs they actually aspired to and husbands staying home to take care of the children, clear quarters and maintain the home front. interestingly, not many husbands ‘stick’.

it’s hard to have your lives controlled by an agency but that’s what you sign up for and that’s what you are required by law to do. you have to be willing to support your military spouse completely because that spouse is required to honor their contract.

the kids yell, scream, threaten, and cry when new orders come in. we would have it no other way. once grown we came to recognize the value of that life. military kids (brats, we are called) can walk into just about any situation given and fit in immediately. they are friendly, natural leaders, better educated, very well rounded, and easy going. we know how lucky we’ve been. when we were in europe, the junior high and high school teachers were mostly professors. the educational standards were very high. we got smart. when I came back to the US, I spoke German fluently and only needed one class to graduate from high school. I was a junior at the time. the next year, in another state, I was speaking German and French and only needed one semester to graduate from that school. compared to US standards, our educations were pretty advanced… as a result; my last two years of school bored me to pieces. there was no challenge.

as many of us did today, I flew my flag. I think a great house-warming gift for anyone is a nice flag and a bracket from which to hang it. I leave mine on every home I move from, hoping it will inspire the next family to fly a flag as I did. as many of us  did today, I thanked vets everywhere as I came into their paths. we owe them so much. they deserve our respect and our support.

it was just today that I really thought again about the sacrifices that my mother made repeatedly during her life. she was completely controlled by an agency because she married my dad. she honored the tradition and did her part. it cost her in many ways but she never complained. my brother and I revel in the stories of our upbringing in various parts of the world. we know we were lucky.

thank you dad for your service to our country. thank you mom for always making it fun to relocate. thank you everyone who has served and let us not forget the issues it causes at home to have a part-time parent sharing the load. In a way, the veterans are everyone of us. we are all in this together.

are relationships built on suffering or friendship? does one lead to the other?

This season mostly cars and coyotes have hit the deer hard. as more and more housing is pushed onto former farmland, too many cars are on the road where once a slow country road existed.

I have always enjoyed watching the wildlife in my yard. It’s such a treat to be able to observe so many things and learn from nature.

a few weeks ago a neighbor called me. as we chatted she said, “I’ve seen too many dead bambi’s this year, hit by cars down our hill.” I concurred and we wondered aloud how the mother deer cope when this happens. oddly, you don’t really put our emotions into wildlife. they are animals. they are wild. they don’t talk to us about feelings so I guess we often decide they don’t have feelings, other than physical pain.

this season we had 2 moms with new babies. a young doe who had one bambi and another doe, a year older, who had twins. I’ve written about watching the babies all play and challenge each other in my yard, mom’s letting them get the lessons they will need, but close enough to protect if necessary.

one day, all of us noticed another young bambi, lying beside the road, hit by a car. you can’t help but feel sad. the deer were always here. the builders have put up fences, forcing the deer onto a curved road, on a hill. a recipe for disaster and disaster is met repeatedly.

we wondered to whom the bambi belonged. I learned very quickly that our doe that only had the one baby this year was now alone. that was difficult. what I watched unfold made it worse. the doe who had the twins would not allow this young mother to be around now. whereas they used to all be in the yard together, now the mom with the twins would run the other doe away. I felt so bad for that mom who had just lost her bambi.

putting my emotions into a wild animal. I know better. I admit freely that I have no clue if the mom even remembers her baby was killed. I have no clue.

watching this kept haunting me. finally, I realized I was remembering a mean neighbor from my childhood. she was just plain unpleasant. I told my mom about her and my mom just told me to ignore the woman but to stay out of her yard so she wouldn’t have any reason to complain. all of the kids in the neighborhood knew she was a meanie. we talked about her as we passed her house, some of the boys were taunting, showing they were brave.

we heard that she was pregnant. Well, that seemed weird. she hated kids; why would she want to  be a mother? this turn of events completely stymied our innocence. a few months later I overheard my mom talking to another neighbor. they were planning to take some food over to this ladies’ house. that night my mom explained that the woman had miscarried. I really didn’t comprehend that, I was in 5th grade. my mom explained that the neighbor wasn’t pregnant anymore and that actually her baby had died. then she told me more: this was the 4th time this same lady had lost a baby. my mom told me that several of our neighbors kept their distance from this woman over the years and that bothered my mother. she explained that sometimes when someone in your life has severe heartache, people pull away. almost as if you can ‘catch’ that heartache if you get too close.

everyone felt sorry for her but I was still angry over the way she had treated me and my friends for over a year. why would she want kids if she was mean to all of them?

my mom became a friend to this neighbor. she told me later to always try to look inside people more, to understand why they act the way that they do. she told me that I would probably find a really good reason and it was probably something to do with personal pain.

the neighborhood rallied to this neighbors side. they took turns bringing food because she was still in bed. it turned out that she would not have the opportunity ever again to have a baby. everyone felt sad about her pain. everyone did things to try to comfort her and her husband. when she finally began to venture out, the neighborhood went out of their way to encourage her. through such severe pain she gained friendships and support she had missed before. my mom said people were feeling guilty, trying to make up for their attitudes toward this lady for so many years. sometimes pain brings people closer, even though that pain is what pushed them away in the first place.

I thought about her over the years, wondering how her life turned out. again, I was a kid, still learning that not everyone has a baby just because they plan.

yesterday I saw the doe. as I watched, I saw one bambi. I went onto my deck, looking for the other. they can hide so easily. then I saw another deer. I still saw no bambi. just the one, missing the twin. that was when I realized that we had lost another bambi. I’d been hearing lots of coyotes the last couple of nights. this disturbed me so much that I stayed on my deck for about 15 mins but the twin never showed.

today I saw the doe again, with the lone bambi. I saw the other doe too. I watched because she had not been allowed in the yard since she lost her baby. now I had 3 deer, one a baby and 2 adults. as I watched, both of the mothers began to walk toward the bambi. I knew someone was in for it. then, together, the two older deer began to wash and groom the little ‘left-over’ bambi. both of them. I was astonished. somehow there was no longer animosity between these two mothers. I continued to watch, mesmerized. then, the bambi began to lick the mom, then the ‘other mom’. it was beautiful. the three survivors. I no longer knew which mom was which.

maybe the mom who had the twins had been threatened by the mom whose baby was lost. I don’t have any way of  knowing. you can’t put human emotions onto wildlife. I just know that today, the two moms who had lost a child each were able to co-exist again.  I guess it was their way of bringing food over to the house, offering comfort and support.

sometimes it takes true pain to give birth to friendship. sometimes you feel it’s ok to allow someone in if they have suffered in a way you can understand. of course, you can’t give human feelings to wildlife.

knowing

I wrote once about my cat, Addie. she has always been fearful of strangers and more of men than women.  many visitors to my home have never seen addie. she’s a ‘stealth’ cat.

once, my dear aunt dot came to visit me. addie jumped up in her lap, napping along with my aunt, after her long  journey from florida to colorado. when my aunt awakened, she came into  my office and mentioned the black and white cat sleeping with her. I carefully corrected her because naturally addie doesn’t get on ANY lap except mine. I explained to my aunt that it was Throttle, the large white blue-eyed cat.

my aunt, just as carefully, explained to me that the black and white cat, with green eyes had been on her chest while she slept and was still there when she woke from her nap. she was right. addie accepted her the day she arrived. my aunt spent 3 weeks with me. she had recently lost her husband and was grieving. while she was there, addie was never far from her. she was just ‘taken’ with my aunt. it was charming and cute. it made me realize that addie had finally seen someone she knew she needn’t fear. she spent quiet times with my aunt, while I was working.

people have suggested I have a ‘way with animals’. I believe that’s true. for some odd reason, most pets take to me. the better part of this is that I am quite often able to be accepted by wildlife. that stuns me but I appreciate it.

I fed a hummingbird this year, from my hand. I loved that. last year birds began taking seed from my hand.  I’m not suggesting that the wildlife and I are making dresses, ‘a la cinderella or sleeping beauty, but I manage to get pretty close to lots of critters. I do love animals. I wonder if they recognize that like my aunt dot, I am harmless and can be trusted.

sometimes I sit with an injured bird, trying to encourage it to fly. I know it sounds nuts. I know that. but, when that little bird finally flies again, I feel great. and feeling great is never a bad thing.

I had company recently. two wonderful new friends came to spokane.  they had not visited me before, nor had they been to spokane so it was a busy time.  they are both so gentle of nature. nice people.

addie was totally comfortable with them here. she knew my husband for 12 years and was still ‘deciding’ how she felt. these two waltzed in and she just went about her life. they have no idea what a huge thing this is. nobody sees this cat. but, during their brief visit, she ate, she came into rooms with us. it was nothing short of amazing.

sometimes we need to trust. fortunately, many of us learn just how easily we can manage that. it makes the world better. it makes us all better. perception is everything.

who is really the boss? who is top dog?

are you the boss?

I was the boss way before I was ready. as a result, I was a very bad boss. how many of us have been the boss we love to hate? I have. I’m not proud. being a bad boss is still embarrassing to me. learning how to be a better boss, then a great boss is something I treasure.

when you are a good boss, you sorta run things in your specific neighborhood. you know you have power but you don’t need to prove that power. you collaborate. you are totally secure. you recognize that you were like the person you are teaching. you recognize that you have learned from someone else. you grow into being a boss. nobody can just ‘tag’ you as a boss. nobody can ‘bless’ you as a boss. you have to earn the boss title. otherwise, everyone around recognizes you are not really a boss. you are afraid and you have someone behind you, making you appear to be the boss. if that is the case, everyone sees that you have little, that you are afraid, that you cannot expect to be respected. you are simply someone ‘put in charge’ by someone else. you are still little.

I’ve mentioned before that I get to live in a magical place. I have wildlife and wonderful trees and flowers. I am fortunate. my mornings are spent on my balcony, watching the birds. my evenings on spent on the balcony, watching the deer.

unfortunately, I have a neighbor with 5 barking dogs. it’s noise. nothing but noise. the owners do not believe their dogs bark. the owners are never home. the dog barking is incessant.

one dog is living on the deck. the other 4 dogs live in pens, at the bottom of the yard. I feel sorry for the guy on the deck. it’s his whole life. he has this little space to defend and protect. the dogs within his reach are in pens. one dog per pen with an igloo to retreat to when needed.

the dog on the deck is the worst offender. he barks nonstop. all day, everyday. the owners do not believe this. how could they think their wonderful pet is a pest? they are never home when this is happening. they have been told the dogs bark and they really refuse to believe it. when they are home, all is quiet.

my belief is that the dog on the deck has so little to protect and control,  he is insecure. he cannot help himself. he has to defend his little deck. it encompasses his entire world, this deck. he has little choice but to prove he can defend it. if he barks enough, the other 4 dogs, in the pens below the deck, join him. then it’s way too loud. naturally the owners never deal with this because they simply do not believe it happens. it never happens when they are home.

what is going on here?

I have a theory.

the dogs only yell and scream when the boss is not here. they feel the need to do that, to protect the boss’ house during his/her absence. they are doing their job, in their opinions. but, they are only dogs. how big should their opinions really be? who is in charge here?

it’s very similar in the workplace. the owner (boss) doesn’t believe the dogs (managers) bark. he or she simply does not want to believe that the dogs (managers) he or she trained so well, would be so raucous. cannot be the truth. everyone else must be complaining due to jealousy or an insecurity of their own. the dogs don’t really bark. people just want to complain for attention and to cause issues for the dogs. and the owners/managers.

so, how do you handle this? the dog cannot really rule his or her domain. he or she is totally insecure about territory. as a result, they bark. they yell at co-workers, at workers under their control. they cannot control because they do not have the skills. they bark. they are afraid. without the boss or the owner, they are powerless. they pretend to be in control by making people afraid of them, if possible. that is their only weapon.

they need to be trained. until they are, they will bark, the dogs will bark and the managers, owners will pretend nothing is wrong. so who really needs to be trained?

I think we all know that answer.

Why don’t they get it? or is it me?

Friendships vary don’t they? I have learned (I think) that we have a world of ‘givers’ and ‘takers’. I am a giver. I try very hard to support others’ wishes, hopes, dreams, aspirations. I’m the cheerleader type. this is not to say I’m not selfish or set in my ways. I just have a tendency to try to do what others need.

I find myself in a world of takers. I think the two groups are like magnets to each other. Givers give and takers take so they find each other and merge. Once in a while you find a couple comprised of two givers. They seem to have true peace. It’s just my opinion but as I’m writing this and thinking of people who are married and both are givers, they DO seem really happy. Maybe because they have a tendency to volunteer more. Maybe because they are naturally supportive so they both get what they need. Maybe they see so much more outside of themselves that they get the bigger picture.

I rarely see a couple comprised of two takers. Things don’t seem to work that way. One is always waiting for the other to go get them a glass of water or something. When both need to take, who is there to give?

When I reached the age of 25, I took a hard look at my relationships. I was completely subservient in most of my relationships. I had a wonderful friend. I considered her a sister. but, she took from me. She broke her word. She missed occasions. She needed things from me constantly. The last straw for me was when she planned a party at my house, then decided to do something else instead. I was left doing all of the work for people I probably would not have invited over anyway. I cleaned house. not MY house, my friendship house. Right after the party. I started doing the famous “T Bar”, looking at what my friends did for me. The list was sad and lacking.

I decided to stop contacting these people. Our friendships waned. When I next began, one by one, to hear from them, it was a “boy, been a long time. by the way, I was wondering…..” and a request or need would follow. I had a hard time saying NO in those days. I was a people pleaser. I wanted to be liked. I usually gave in, then was angry about my newest commitment. I finally got it: this was my fault. my doing. my problem. So , I began to say NO.

It was a wonderful lesson. and, when I said NO, I learned to give little explanation. just “no, I can’t manage that” and I’d shut up. it was so effective! when I stopped doing all of the things other people needed to have me do, I gained time, relaxation, and life. it was a tonic.

Since that year, I started doing a ‘relationship garage sale’ every 5 years or so. I had to because I still attracted takers and loved them. So, I got into a habit of reassessing my relationships. It meant lots of people fell by the wayside. That was difficult for me because they meant so much to me. That made me realize I needed to mean that much to myself.

We often put ourselves last. Women are famous for it. It’s the ‘mother thing’. But, I know several men who do the same. No matter who, it is not a good way to live. You have to admit that you matter. If you cannot love yourself, how on earth can you expect someone else to love you? Doing things for everyone doesn’t make them like you more. It just tells them that they can control you. It doesn’t come with respect. Just expectation.

Being a doormat for so much of my life made me change. I can be a real bitch. I try to always be nice. I try to keep in mind that we are all messed up from one thing or another and I try to feel everyone’s pain so that I can be nicer even when they are not.

I think some of us are raised to believe we are a bit better. It’s like the ‘princess syndrome’. Some people are so spoiled by their mother or their father that they are not really prepared for life. They are prepared for people to do the icky parts for them so that they can relax. Their parents did them no favors. Usually those people have a difficult time with relationships. But, I have a difficult time with relationships too. And I’m nice. I do the icky stuff.

It’s hard to peg isn’t it? If you are an only child, you are probably a bit too spoiled for the world. Nobody is going to appreciate you ‘quite enough’. But, if you come from a large family, usually the eldest is a demi-god, given too many responsibilities at too young an age. Adored with a ‘look what WE created’ mindset. The middle kids are kinda normal, and the youngest is spoiled rotten; the parents realized he or she was ‘it’ for them so they go back to wanting one more wonderful baby, as they started with so many years earlier.

Being a giver doesn’t make you right. Being a taker doesn’t make you wrong. Those traits just make you human. What you decide to do about your humanity is what makes you right or wrong.

I need another T Bar. Titled ‘me’.