Furry Companions: The Story of My Dog Part Two

A few months after my stricken need of a furry companion, my mom told me she found a dog in the newspaper that we might go out and look at. The dog was a stray and the people had found her wandering around lonely without an owner. They wished they could keep her, but since they’d just gotten a dog, they couldn’t keep her. They wanted someone to take her so they wouldn’t feel bad for taking her to the pound.

When we got to the house, it was like love at first sight. She was black and white with long hair to the ground like a sheep dog. They said she was a cock-a-poo, but she looked like she had a different kind of spaniel in her with her long legs.

I wanted to take her home right away, but my parents told me no. “We’ll let you know by Tuesday if we want her.”

For the next couple of days, the only thing I could think about was Dominoe. I knew as soon as I looked at her that I wanted her. That Sunday I asked them if we were going to go back and get her. I can’t remember what was said, but eventually we went back over and got her.

I was so excited to bring her home. After we had her checked out by the vets, we brought her home and fixed up a dog cage with blankets. For the first few weeks she didn’t bark or make a noise, like a shadow. I was a little disappointed: I wanted her to be energetic and playful. This wasn’t permanent, however. Not long afterwards, she became the noisy, energetic dog that I always wanted.

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Keeping Up the Search

There are many conversations in my life, mostly about jobs. The jobs we’re working, the jobs we’re getting, and the jobs we’re searching. Mostly searching. It’s frustrating, really, looking for a job. It took me about nine months to finally get the job I’m currently working. I jokingly say it took about as long as having a baby, and just as frustrated. You’re excited to finally find a job, but the process is hard and heavy.

When you have a master’s degree, the fall is even harder when you don’t get a job you think you’re qualified for, especially when it goes to someone who doesn’t have the degrees you have. You’re happy that they’ve got a job, but you’re frustrated that you weren’t considered first. But that’s how the job market is. You can have everything that a person is asking for, but they choose to like something in someone over someone else.

So, what is the consolation? Don’t give up. Keep searching, keeping applying, keep going. Don’t let them forget about you. If you do, they couldn’t be bothered to remember you. Someone else is keeping the wheel squeaky.

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House Matters

The house is a four bedroom, two and a half bath house with a kitchen, dining room, and living; a basement and crawlspace included. Calling it big is an understatement. The rooms are bigger than the average bedroom, but I wouldn’t notice unless I was in someone’s house. When you get used to the space, you tend to sprawl out, gaining more things to fill it out. And then, when you go to a smaller house, it feels just a little cramped.

I’ve lived in this house since I was seven. We moved here from the house across the street. That one was tiny and when it rained, it smelled of the cats the previous owners kept. I don’t remember the house much; few memories are kept in a place where one resided at a young age. I went back a couple years ago and it was small. I remembered the family room and the kitchen. I even remembered my playroom, but little else.

This is America. We get used to bigger things, bigger houses, bigger jobs. Bigger everything. And once we go back to the past, back to something smaller, it feels a little tight, a little small. So why not go for something bigger, something grand? The future is held wide open and in the present we are continually growing and changing, even if we don’t notice it at first. It’s only when we go back that we realize our old houses were small. The shell doesn’t quite fit.

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A Place Called Home

They say food is the center to every family story. In my family, food was (and is) the center of how we survived as humans. My mom never did like to cook, but always did because my parents and I needed to sit down as a family and eat together. You know, the traditional family sitting where people ate and talked about how their day went. Food was never an art in my household. You cooked it, you put it on your plate, and you ate it. No visual appeal, just tasted like it’s supposed to taste without any added fanfare.

In spite of all this, I loved mashed potatoes. If it was my choice, I would have my mom cook it every day. Mashed potatoes just seemed so, well, ordinary, but I loved it anyway. When I felt sick, I wanted mashed potatoes. When I was feeling down, I wanted mashed potatoes. There’s just something warm and solid about mashed potatoes, something comfortable and homelike. And if it was served with some chicken and rice, my day was complete. The aroma filled the house, making my mouth water and longed for just one bite.

I remember this meal because it represents my home life and that means comfort. Not the nasty dirty hole filled with worms and dirt, but the place where you can snuggle up on the couch and read a good book. Nor is it dry and empty, filled with sand. This is the place where antique furniture fill the house and old paintings and photographs line the walls. This is the place that looks lived in, where everybody is welcome and good stories are made.

And maybe, just maybe, you might get a homemade meal. Perhaps some mashed potatoes.

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Roots: Bebra, Germany

Bebra is a town located in Northern Germany. Frankfurt is about about 93 miles southwest. The name of the town came from a German name meaning “Village on the Beaver River” and today Bebra still means “beaver.” It’s interesting to me that the oldest ancestor that I found came from a “beaver” town when some of my people several generations later lived on a Beaver Road.

Bebra’s first documentation, according to Wikipedia was in 786 as part of the estate for Hersfeld Abbey and the town became more popular when they put in a railroad in later years. Surprisingly it was an important railway junction for Germany. Today, the town isn’t as popular, especially after the fall of the Berlin wall when it’d once been a checkpoint between the East and the West. From the few pictures I’ve seen, it looks like a beautiful place to be, nevertheless.

There are twelve evangelical churches in the town, one Catholic church, one Evangelical Methodist church, and one Syriac Orthodoc church. I was excited to note the Methodist church since my dad’s side of the family is Methodist by default. Perhaps my ancestor went to this Methodist church in Germany and his children and grand children continued to practice even into America. Some traditions and practices never die, or so it would appear. I’d like to go back and visit just to say, this is where they walked. This is where my people came from.

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The Colorful Historical Past

I always knew I had Native American blood running through my veins, just as I always knew I was half English. Yet the fact that my grandmother’s father was half Native American and his mother a full blooded one was and is rarely talked about. A few months ago, I was talking about the matter to a black lady from work and I learned something interesting. Even in the beginning of the twentieth century, Indians faced prejudice and discrimination. So, when Native Americans signed up for the military, they always tried to check mark the box as “white” so they won’t get placed with the black regiment and thus be treated badly as so many were in the colored regiments at the time.

So today, several months later, I found my way back up to the Local History and Genealogy room at the main library branch. The room was silent, as it had a right to be and anyway, there were only three of us up there not counting the librarian. When I talked to my friend, I whispered, too afraid to disturb anyone in the library and when I talked to the librarian, I cringed as her voice boomed out that yes, the 30 free copies per visit was still in place.

As I settled into the hard backed chair, the soft tapping of the keys centering me as I looked through names of family members I only heard about, I came across something interesting. My great grandfather Maurice’s WWI card was on file on ancestory.com and he’d marked himself as white even though he had black hair and brown eyes, unusual pairing for a white man at any time in history.

I paused, listened to the silence around me. My neighbor was muttering and sighing to herself, “Wow. Strange” and other hard to interpret words. I half expected to hear thunder and applause around me when I discovered this, but there was nothing. I had confirmed what I’d been told: That even though he was clearly not white, he’d marked himself as one and gotten away with it. He was probably light enough to convince them as such.

When I got home, I told my mom of my findings. She said the same thing as my friend had said, that my grandmother had told my aunt that it was rarely talked about because being Indian meant living on margins, almost as bad if not as bad as black people at the time. She told me that when she first met him, he was sitting on the end of the couch sitting very still. My mom nearly jumped because she was expecting him to be Indian was thought, “My God, he’s sitting there just like an Indian. He could be dressed up like one!”

It’s funny how it was shameful to be mixed or even to be a person of color in those days. These days, a person is proud to be descended from Native Americans and others are proud to be people of color. I hope I can find more in the days to come.

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Conflicts of Interest

I live in a swing state. Which means when elections come around, people get very heated on what is and isn’t. Gay marriage. Women’s rights. Illegal immigration and the workforce in general (among other things).

“If you’re a liberal, everything you believe in’s sinful.”

“You’re a judgmental Christian, can’t you see that everything you’re saying’s hypocritical.”

And so it goes. People like me are often stuck in the middle. We only want to keep the peace and wonder why people can’t just get along. We shout within ourselves but never do we say it out loud. To say what we really think would disrupt the peace we long to keep.

And yet it’s we who are in the middle who make the decisions. If we had our feet solidly in one camp, we wouldn’t be one of those slates all the candidates travel to in an effort to win us over. Thus, we listen to the debates and the heated arguments. We quietly research, make our decisions and at the end of the day put fuel onto the never ending fire.

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