Kindred Spirits, Pt. 2

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Mar 25, 2005.]

Judi is a morning person. That makes sense. She’s worked with animals most of her life, and they don’t normally wait to get up. I, on the other hand, am not a morning person. Thus I woke to the sound of giggling. The giggling was my daughter, talking Judi’s ear off, and it was music to my ears.

You see, this was why I was there. I wanted these two people to meet. For I am not as close to my family as I remember being as a child. Oh sure, part of it was growing up. Unfortunately though, much of it has to do with . . . ugly things I don’t want to get into.

But I have a lot of wonderful, warm feelings about some members of my family, and one of the ways I have worked to keep those feelings alive is by introducing those members of my family to my daughter. Like Judi.

Judi reminds me of warm summers in the sun, the rushing water of the river sliding across my skin, feeding goats early in the morning, and horses.

Did I mention that the Brat is animal crazy?

And Judi loves animals.

It was destiny that Judi and the Brat became bosom buddies.
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My mom stayed until lunchtime. Her and Judi stood around talking, while the Brat went off exploring with the dogs. I walked around some, followed the Brat some, but really just exploring and taking pictures.

We were hoping to go horseback riding. The Brat had only been horseback riding once before, and never had been on a horse by herself. I hadn’t been on horseback since I was a teen. Judi rides horses for a living and keeps a stable of five on the ranch with her. Unfortunately the horses were being ornery or something. Normally they show up at the crack of dawn to be fed, but even by that afternoon they still hadn’t shown their faces.

So we explored some more. Walking down along the creek, up over hills, down through the pasture we went. Sometimes we were followed by the dogs, sometimes it was just me, sometimes we went our separate ways. It was a really beautiful day. The sun was shining, the sky was clear. I couldn’t have asked for a better day really.
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It wasn’t until later, while we were sitting down to a dinner of pork chops and artichokes that the horses showed up. All day the Brat bugged Judi about the horses. Judi was amazingly patient with her. I, of course, had to play along and thus accused her of actually not really having horses. That they were a figment of her imagination. Heh. Right.

Now the Brat is suddenly done with dinner. First we’re starving, then all of a sudden the horses show up and now she’s full. Hmmm. Amazing how that works. Soooo, she actually had eaten a lot and she would never had let me be if I didn’t let her go down to see the horses. Me, being the hard ass Marine that I am, well I let her go. LoL Okay okay. So I’m not the hard ass Marine I used to be. Have you seen my daughter though? Well then. Phffft!

Now Judi had to go down. Still in the middle of eating her dinner and she wants to go down. Bless her soul. I told her that the Brat waited all day and thus the Brat could wait ten more minutes for her to finish her damn dinner. So she relaxed and finished her food as we watched as the Brat made her way down to the barn to see the horses, the dogs trailing along in her footsteps.

Did I mention Judi’s dogs? Oh! I have to talk about the dogs! Judi has three dogs. Uno – the goat dog that didn’t want to be a goat dog. Pup – Well, the pup of course. And Blue – the three legged herder dog.

Uno is the one there on the right. A reddish color. The goat dog that wasn’t. See, down the road there’s Image hosted by Photobucket.com this big goat ranch. Goats all over the place. I understand the goat meat is the new alternative. Either that or it’s traditional in cultures that are making their way here to the U.S. and so it’s a profitable business. Goats are cheap to keep. But in this wild country on the edge of the technology capitol of the world, goats have to be protected. Goat dogs don’t do anything except guard the goats. As you drive down the road next to the goat farm you’ll see lots of dogs. They’ll run up to the fence and bark fiercely at you as you drive by.

They don’t have much to do with humans though. They’re sort of in their own little world. But Uno. Right. Well it seems when they first put him in with some goats, to get use to them? Well it seems that he didn’t really take to ‘em. The way Judi tells it, he turned his nose up at them and was just like, WTF???? So they were going to put him down and someone offered to keep him. Then he started wandering Image hosted by Photobucket.comdown to Judi’s place. The guy who adopted her finally just took his dish and food and stuff down to Judi’s with a little huff. *laugh* Judi told ‘im that if he wanted to be Uno’s owner he should act like it.

Then there’s Pup. He’s not even a year old. Still getting beat up by the other two dogs, Judi adopted him when some city folk brought him to a friend of hers. Seems that the herding dog got ran over twice in the city while chasing cars. They thought it best that he get a home in the country where he can have more room to run around. Hmmm. Think 2000 acres is enough room? LoL The friend of Judi’s decided that Judi needed another dog. Or something like that.

And finally, there’s Blue the three legged dog. Another herding dog with a beautiful coat and different Image hosted by Photobucket.comcolored eyes, Blue is the apple of Judi’s eye. He’s about twelve years old. Getting up there. So it wasn’t a good thing when Judi couldn’t find him one night and in the morning found him with a leg almost torn off from a bear goring him. Because she is on a fixed income, and he is so old, Judi had a hard decision. Put him down? Surgery? Or take his leg off? Well, it’s not like you don’t know the answer to that question. Judi tries to take on that air of hard ass when it comes to her animals, but stories like this one are very telling of her personality.

We’re very much alike in that way. I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to have such a long conversation with Judi before that weekend. Not as an adult surely. So I think it was surprising to me that we are so much alike. Free spirits of a sort. Both of us have bucked the traditional. Both of us learned to stand alone, away from the family and the restrictions that they wanted to bind us with. Yet at the same time, our family was the core of us. They still held that something that made us able to buck that family system, while at the same time supporting our family when they needed us to.

We also have the same attitude about men. We both lived in a man’s world, smack dab in the middle of so much testosterone that we grew balls, yet retained a bit of girlishness underneath the façade. We both loved men in our lifetime, yet were content to be ourselves without them. And now, both of us are persuing our dreams. Hers for the kind of retirement she’s always dreamed about, mine to be viable in a job that satisfies me and my need for a stable environment for the Brat.

Now where was I? The horses. Right.

Well, I couldn’t just sit there while they both went down there to see the horses. I mean, I was trying to act all cool and stuff, like it was no big deal to see the horses. But I think unless you live around horses all the time, seeing the horses is always exciting. So we all went down to see the horses. Judi to feed them, the Brat to gawk, and me to . . . well I just wanted to touch them. Now that the horses were back we could go horseback riding the next day! Yipee!

We spent the evening playing cards. Just as my great-grandmother taught me to play cards, so did the Brat’s great-grandmother teach her to play cards. She is a big lover of card playing. We do it often in our house and try to take a game or two with us when we go on trips and stuff. We played together for a while, then I retired to crochet and the two crazy people played and cackled at the table.

Our evening ended just like the last. The darkness enveloping us with it’s quiet coolness, while the frogs chirped endlessly to each other. The last thing I remember seeing was Orion’s belt as I craned my neck to look out the window at the stars I had forgotten were there.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Kindred Spirits Meet – Pt. 1

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Mar 23, 2005.]

This is long overdue. I originally wrote this over three weeks ago, when the Brat and I visited my cousin Judi. I had a math test soon after that, so this got put on the back burner. Now here it is . . .

Image hosted by Photobucket.comJudi was fifteen when she left home. I’ve never thought to ask her why she left home. Her reasons were her reasons, and I really don’t think that it matters all that much almost forty years later.

What I do know about Judi is that she didn’t take an easy path. At least within the framework that the “regular” world lives in here in the United States.

You know. Go to school, go to college/get a job, marry, have two point five kids, the house, the picket fence, the Hawaiian vacation . . . in other words, Yuppieland.

Instead she headed to the hills. Literally. She’s spent most of her last thirty years on one ranch or another, taking care of the animals or just doing what needs doing on the ranch. She’s been married three times and has collected countless people who call her “friend.” She makes enough money to support herself and her animals and that’s it. She doesn’t need much else, and is happy to live just the way she is.

Judi is my cousin. Unfortunately, over the years I haven’t been able to see her all that much; but each time I do it’s like walking back into the past when she wraps her arms around me.

I hadn’t seen Judi in about four years until this weekend. About a year ago, after my Aunt Doris passed, she set herself up on a ranch in Tuolumne. The entire ranch is about 2000 acres and belongs to a family she’s known since she was in her twenties. They’re allowing her to build and rent some acreage on their ranch.

Image hosted by Photobucket.comNow she lives in a small trailer, and is building a large workroom off of it. The workroom is going to be for her leatherwork. One of her hobbies is making saddles and leathergear for horses. So she’s building a room so she can make it into a side business.

Outside of her small trailer is a small pond with the barn further down on the left, the horse pasture over the hill on the right, and if you look closely you can see the Duckbill Creek running by.

While she’s only fifteen minutes out of town, it’s a rough fifteen minutes, and four wheel drive is recommended. Unfortunately we drove in to Judi’s in my mom’s Mustang. *Not* a vehicle I would recommend for the country roads. In the dark, we got lost. Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Now I’ll say here that the person who lives in the city has a wildly different concept of what “just a little farther” means versus say oh, someone who lives out in the middle of NOWHERE. So it’s not surprising that the dark, combined with the very rough roads made us wary of going any further than we did.

We did make it in the end though. Judi’s friend came out and had us follow her. So we were only three hours late is all. Needless to say, we were hella’ hungry. Judi was supposed to have cooked us dinner, so we didn’t eat along the way.

All three of us had beans dancing in our heads. We had been hoping that Judi might cook this family staple. Amazingly enough, the family mental grapevine must have been working overtime, because when we got there, Judi had piping hot beans on the stove waiting for us. Add to that corn bread with real butter and we had a feast! YUUUMMMY!

Now, Judi’s not on the grid. So after nine o’clock, it’s lights out. But in the darkness we talked. About the family and what they are all doing, about progress on my mom’s house, about progress on Judi’s house, and about what Judi is doing there. We talked about movies, politics, books, and just about anything else you could think of. We hadn’t seen Judi in a while. Finally, after midnight rolled around and our voices began to sound sleepy rather than just excited, we drifted off to sleep listening to the frogs chirping into the night. It was a wonderful way to fall asleep. It was almost as if I had drifted back in time, to when I was a child and still believed in the comfort and safety of family.

TO BE CONTINUED . . .

Zerophobia

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on Apr 22, 2005.]

When I was in high school and during my 1st try at college, my biggest fear was blowing out one of my knees. Of course, back then the sports I played ,(soccer, field hockey, & rugby), were a mega big deal to me. I couldn’t have possibly imagined my life without my sports. So to blow out a knee would have been tantamount to . . . well, death.

I’ve gotten past that. At age thirty-mumble~mumble, I have activities that aren’t quite as hard on the body as say . . oh, rugby. Soooo, I think I can lay to rest my old fear of blowing out a knee. Now I don’t always go around discussing my fears with people normally; I mean, I really, truly don’t have many major fears.

Okay. I’m a little freaked out by bugs. But what chick isn’t? (The Brat doesn’t count. She’s weird.) I have a small fear of heights, but it’s not debilitating or anything. I mean, I’ve done rapelling in the Marines and stuff. Shoot! I’d even love to learn how to skydive one of these days if I get the chance. Mice & rats are a little icky, but I like hamsters. So rodents aren’t a major problem.

Overall I thought that I was pret-ty fear free.

I was thinking that until this afternoon anyway.

I was thinking that until I decided I needed to check out the My Fresno State website to check my email there. I’m still really in the middle of the whole getting admitted-oh-my-gods-there’s-so-much-FUCKING-paperwork stage of my relationship with Fresno State, and I’m supposed to check in there about every week to make sure all my ducks are in a row.

After checking everything out I saw a major minor problem with something new that showed up. Seems that Fresno thought that even after completing several English classes successfully I still needed to take an English placement test. Now this little problem has been fixed. But in those moments before it was, I found a fear I never realized I had.

You see, I realized that my biggest fear is transferring to Fresno State, signing up for classes, going to my first upper division English class, turning in my first paper, and just completely failing to come up to the standards of the University.

Of course, the couple of colleagues I mentioned this to scoffed at the idea. How could I possibly fail? Not to mention the tons of data that shows that transfer students coming from a community college are usually more prepared than the juniors who have been going to the same college since they were freshmen.

But what does data mean in the face of a fear such as this?

What if all of those English instructors I had, who I was friends with way before I ever stepped into their classroom, were just humoring me? What if they gave me A’s because they liked talking with me? What if they gave me A’s because they liked my personality? (What?! It could happen!) What if they gave me A’s because they were my friend and they just couldn’t bear to give me a bad grade?

I mean, quite honestly I’ve been scoffing at my English department for a couple of years now. How could I possibly write a crap paper in about four hours to get an A? Don’t they know the meaning of quality? Why were they giving me A’s?

Okay. I have to note here that I’m not writing this to get you to praise my writing skills here. Number one, the writing I do here is radically different from what I have to do for an English class. Number two, it doesn’t really make me feel any better. Number three, I’m just not looking for praise here. So please don’t.

For about three years now I’ve been getting these bogus A’s in every English class I’ve taken, and now I’m just terrified that it will all come back to bite me in the ass when I walk into that first classroom and turn in my first paper.

Looking at the degree requirements for my major, I’m exhilerated and panicked at the list of classes.

Exhilerated by the thought of spending sooooo much time reading and writing. Two of my most favorite things in the world to do.

Panicked at the thought of being called out as a fraud. Of finding out that I just can’t write. That I’m incapable of doing the work required of me. That I couldn’t possibly put together two sentences together to form a coherent thought that could possibly make any sense to any instructor I might have.

Well, you get the gist of it all.

Most people I know will tell me that I have zerophobia, the fear of nothing. I’ll tell them that they can’t prove a damn thing until I get that first paper back.

The Day Before Mother’s Day

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on May 3, 2005.]

This is my cause and I hope that you’ll take the time to help me with a little something. It will not require that you send me money, run for twenty-six miles, or five miles, or even three miles. Shit. You don’t even have to get your lazy butt out of your seat if you don’t want to. Feel free to sit at your computer and eat pringles or ho-hos while you help me with this small thing. Or run around in circles. It’s all good.

Every year since 1998 I’ve gone on a mission. I peruse the web for local radio stations, TV stations, and newspapers in hopes that they will help me spread the word. I send an email out to everyone in my address book at home and at work. And this year I’m posting it on my blog in hopes of spreading the word even farther this year.

What about?

On Sunday some mothers will be crying instead of celebrating. You may think you don’t know one of these mothers, but chances are, you do. They are all around you, at school, at work, on the street. They are your sisters, your aunts, your mothers and grandmothers.

They are birthmothers … women who have entrusted their children to adoption.

The babies who are surrendered for adoption are loved so much that their mothers make the heartbreaking decision to place them in an adoption; but once the adoption is complete, the woman who carried the baby and gave it birth and life is never acknowledged again as a mother.

Birthmother’s Day is held the day before Mother’s Day to signify that without birthmothers and their difficult choice, many adoptive mothers would not have had the chance to be mothers. About 60 percent of Americans have a personal connection to adoption. You probably know someone who was adopted, or a couple who adopted a child. But it’s unlikely you could name the woman you know who has entrusted her baby to adoption.

If you do know her, honor her this Saturday on Birthmother’s Day. If you’re not sure who she is, say a little prayer in honor of all birthmothers, and thank them for acting as all good moms do…for the sake of their children.

And how you can help in a small way to get the word out is to please post this, link to this, or if you don’t have a blog, email this to everyone you know.

Let us be invisible no more.

Thank you.

Hidden Stress

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on May 23, 2005.]

I just got back from a leisurely “lunch.” I ate at my desk earlier, but decided I needed some time away from the office and headed out to Starbucks. Amazingly enough I spent about an hour sipping on my frappuccino, with my head in my math book, reviewing for my final.

Amazing. Why? Well, at the beginning of this semester I found math to be so stressful that I found myself cracking jokes at it’s expense. Now, three months later, I find myself immersed in the numbers and the processes . . . relaxed. I didn’t look up for more than a minute or two during that hour, my mind focused on the numbers . . on getting that right answer.

Amazing.

I’ve been fairly relaxed about this whole end of the semester thing so far. I think I figured that I only have one final really. A snap, right? I mean, the papers I have to finish (from last semester) ain’t nothing but a thing. I could do those in my sleep.

Unfortunately, the stress I’ve been hiding from myself finaly reared it’s head after a phone call from my mom saying that she wouldn’t be coming down to watch the Brat tonight like she’s been doing before. I was so busy being accomodating of my mother’s needs that I completely forgot that I need to study tonight.

THE FINAL IS TOMORROW!

This dawned on me only after the phone was put down. Those last few seconds as my arm reached towards the cradle to set the headset down turned into one of those cartoons where Wile E. Coyote goes over the edge of the cliff in his desperate attempt to catch the Road Runner.

My face as the headset touched down must have looked a lot like his does just as the realization hits that he’s gone to far and is going to fall. And although he doesn’t cry when this happens, I burst into tears as I snatched up the phone to call her back, only to realize I didn’t have her phone number with me!

Well, the short of it is that she’s suppose to be coming down, although I just moments ago got a call from her telling me she’s having car problems and might not be able to make it down after all. I haven’t burst into tears this time, but I can feel them hovering, just behind my eyes.

A HALF HOUR LATER. . .

Damn. My life is ever the roller coaster. After running an errand I noticed something sitting on the corner of my desk. It was a stuff grad bear. He stands about a foot tall and is dressed in a blue sweater that says, “Class of 2005″ on the front. I picked him up and took him back to my chair, looked around . . . no card.

Who could have left this here? Hmmmm. . . a friend said she was going to have someone drop something off to me . . maybe it was her!

Nope. Wasn’t her. Uhhhmmmm. . . wait! There was an email earlier! I looked back at it and I realize that the subject of the email is, “grad bear.”

Duh.

In the email was simply a poem:

To my favorite graduate
As you leave this place
That you have graced
For lo these many years

Enjoy your success
For you are the best
We’ll miss seeing you at your desk.

Fresno here you come
Ready or not!
Cherie is in town
in her graduation gown!

Wow. Very cool.

I ran over to give my friend Susan a BIG thank you hug and she told me that she wants me to stick it on my desk in the very front so EVERYONE can see it!

No more tears today. Life is good

So. What’s Your Story?

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on May 25, 2005.]

I’m sitting here thinking and staring at the screen because the President’s Secretary asked me to write a blurb for graduation about my experience here. See, we’re not all that huge of an institution and graduation’s a little personal. Well . . . that and the fact that the President is too lazy to get off his butt and write a speech. Right.

So for the last two years the President’s office has asked for faculty members and staff to write a short piece about a student who is graduating so he can read it at graduation. Lucky me had someone stop by the President’s office to remind them that *I’m* graduating and how great it would be to hear my story.

~sigh~

I think I’m jaded. While I’m excited about graduating I just keep wanting to tell people to not make a big deal about it and get irritated when they stand in front of my desk and gush on for five minutes about how cool it is that I’m graduating.

Of course, secretly I want them to throw me a big surprise party and tell cool stories about me that would make me blush and make me go, “aw shucks!” But we won’t tell me anything about that. I’d just get pissed.

Sooooooo . . since I’m kinda stuck I thought I’d be able to write it better here, in this venue. The email I’ve got set up right now just isn’t working. All I’m doing is staring at the blinking cursor.

Let’s see . . .

When I got out of the Marine Corps eight years ago I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I did temp jobs for about a year, until I lucked out and found myself at Mission College for the first time. Of course, I didn’t realize that it was a lucky thing at the time. I was there interviewing for just another temp job. I got the job, and have been here since. Over the years Mission College became more than just a job. Mission became my second family.

It was because of them, my Mission family and my family at home, that I’ve made it this far. They encouraged me when I voiced my dreams, supported me when I needed a helping hand, and kicked me in the pants to get me back on track. They told me that I could do anything, and after beating it into my head for years, I finally believed them. So thanks to both of my families. I couldn’t have done it without you.

——–

Sappy, yes? Joyous.

The Graduation

[Originally posted to my blog ‘Point of Tears’ on May 31, 2005.]

First off, I was seriously lapse in not posting something about Memorial Day. Normally I’m the one sending a serious email to “All Users” at work, reminding them of the real reason they get a three day weekend in May. I didn’t even send that! [insert shocked smiley here]

So someone slap me. I would use all the hubbub going on here as an excuse, but I hate excuses.

Graduation was great! The President read my story but as if *he* were reading it about me rather than the first person way I wrote it. Of course, being the smart ass joker he is, he had to mention what a thorn in his side I am. And of course, that made my family love him. I do believe my father and step-father sat in the audience nodding when he said that. Either that or they laughed hysterically. ~sigh~ I hear that the Brat got very excited when he read my story as well. I don’t think I told her he was going to do that.

There were actually a lot of faculty members who didn’t realize I was graduating, so there was a whole crew of them cheering loudly for me when they heard my name, craned their head around to catch my eye during the ceremony, and mauled me in the processional out the door.

There was much hugging as I went up to get my diploma. Waiting in line the President’s Asst hugged me until I was out of breath, and the Board’s Asst hugged me tightly as well. (She was the President’s Asst when I first came on board.) A couple ladies from Financial Aide hugged me just before I reached the dias, and as I stopped to wait for my name to be called the Fin Aide Director pulled me down for a hug, and the VP of Instruction dragged me to my feet to give me a hug just as my name was called and then I had a short reprieve, (as I waved to the rest of those sitting on the dias (I knew most of them)), until the President pulled me in for a big bear hug.

So, when I get a chance to post pictures later, please excuse me if I looked a little rumpled. I don’t think there was more than a couple of minutes at a time that I wasn’t pulled in for a hug by ~someone~. But boy, you could feel the love. The pride. I had never realized . . . ~shaking head~ You never realize the impact you have on people on a day to day basis. You just never know.

But I saw a little bit of that on Friday and it was humbling.

Well, I’m signing off for now. I’m hungry. I’ll be back either later tonight or tomorrow. Hope everyone had a good long weekend!

Ciao!