Monday, May 31, 2010


As a deaf person, I am all too familiar with a hearing person unacquainted with the motions of a relay call hanging up on me. This has happened several times. A hearing person who does not know what a relay call is, or that relay is used by the deaf and hard-of-hearing to make a phone call with, often are surrounded by so many stories of phone scams, telemarketers and relay being used to con unsuspecting people out of money, etc., and so they automatically avoid receiving a relay call.

That said, on a personal level, it is extremely frustrating when I am trying to contact a company for their services or contact someone at a place of interest, only to have them say things like "this sounds like a scam" or "I don't have time for this" and they hang up. How sad they "don't have the time" to address a deaf person over the phone. I have ever since avoided these places and businesses (they have lost a prospective customer thanks to their paranoia and ignorance). However, when it is a family member who KNOWS that it is me calling (since I'm the only deaf person in my family and they know I must use relay for phone calls), it is downright offensive and hurtful when they hang up on me.

The most common situation in which this happens is at my mother's house. My younger brother and his four children live with my parents. For months, even years, trying to contact my mom by phone has stretched my patience thin. My brother has been known to answer the phone, give some remark ("I'm busy right now" or "there's nobody here") then hang up the phone without allowing me the chance to say a single word. Or, his kids will answer the phone, and since none of them are aware of what a relay call is, they hang up (that actually happened yesterday). Apparently, nobody over there has taken the time to teach those children proper phone manners. They just don't say anything after the relay operator announces the call and just hang up. Hey, guess what, kid? You just hung up on your deaf aunt!

But I never get to say a word. My ability to speak to them is cut off, because they have cut it off. They have decided they "don't have the time" to take a call from me, they don't want me speaking to my mother over the phone or they just want me to STOP CALLING. (One aunt I tried to call using relay kept hanging up on me, as well. Her husband finally answered the phone, screamed into the receiver "stop calling!" then hung up. I was deeply hurt, but you can bet I never called over there again. And, I never will. How sad even they don't understand that a deaf person in this family is trying to make a phone call using the only way she can do so: With a relay service.)

Trying to call back after being hung up on is useless. Nobody answers the phone. Not at all.

Today, I did get a chance to talk with my mother -- for all of 5 minutes. Then my dad got upset over her water being spilled on his papers, so she told me to call back in an hour while she cleaned it up and weathered another one of his fitful storms. I called back but when the phone was answered by my brother, he hung it up after learning it was a relay call. I called back, asking the operator to ask for my mom. My brother answered again and said he was busy right now, then hung up on me AGAIN. I called back a third time. This time, a woman answered the phone. After the operator asked for my mom, this mysterious female said "she's not here" and hung up.

So, I got to talk to my mom for 5 minutes today. That's it. Didn't get a chance to tell her to PLEASE explain to my stupid brother's children what a relay call is, and to give her the phone when they get a relay call. Not to hang the phone up! That is just rude. Just give the phone to her and say, "Grandma, Dawn's on the phone." Is that so hard?

But this whole thing is not just about manners. It also screams "discrimination" and "rejection." It's like they are saying, "If you can't call me like a normal hearing person with your voice on the phone, don't bother calling at all." Seriously, this is just one more thing certain members of my family reject about my deaf world. Plain and simple. It's just another slap in the face.

After yesterday's incident, I angrily decided not to call over there anymore. So why did I call over there again? Am I really that desperate for their kind of rejection and mistreatment? Am I a sadist for punishment? No. I called over there again because I desperately want to talk to my mother. My mother does not have email. She is not on the Internet. She has no cell phone, either. And writing letters would be useless; I doubt anyone over there would give them to her. Or if she can even mail back a reply. So phone calls are my only way to reach my mother.

And, unfortunately, nobody else over there seems to want me to call on the phone. They just hang up on me without giving me a chance to say a single word.

My mother lives in Illinois. I live in Oregon. I have not seen my mother for 3 years and what makes it even worse is that the cancer she has been fighting for decades is just getting worse and worse. Some days are good for her. Other days, not so good.

Would be so nice if I could maintain just one connection with her. Let me talk to her. Please, let me talk to my mother.

Mom, I love you very much. I didn't get a chance to say that on the phone today. I cry so many times because I can't see you and I am sad and angry I can't see you and that my attempts to call you are met with such rudeness from so-called "family." You will have a special place in my heart forever and I promise to come visit you as soon as I can. But even in spirit, please know that me and the kids are there with you. We miss you terribly and hope you will hang on until we can come and see you in person. I will always love you, Mom. Even if I can't ever say that to you again.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Busy week

This week has been sooooo busy! Thus why I have not updated this blog for quite a few days.

Jen has had baseball practice twice this week. It's been raining nearly all week! Today, miraculously, it did NOT rain. At all. I was in shock! It had rained every day for almost 2 weeks. I made sure the kids had plenty of playtime outside to make up for all the times they couldn't play outside because of that rain. And because it has rained so much, our backyard is starting to look like a jungle! Seriously, things are growing out there that I didn't know were growing out there. It's, uh...kinda scary. My poor dog, a chihuahua, has a heck of a time trying to travel through all that super-tall grass. Some interesting plants have been growing in the front yard, as well. Alas, Jen's tree, which we planted a few weeks ago, is not growing so well. I told her that some trees take a long time to grow. (I read that the bamboo does not grow at all during the first 3-5 years.)

So besides baseball practice and cursing the rain, I had my birthday this week. It was on Tuesday. I wish I could say it was a great birthday but the day itself was not so great. Jennifer had two meltdowns, the first of which left me so emotionally drained that I ended up in tears. It was so hard. The kids hadn't been able to buy me a gift and I totally understood, of course. Their dad just didn't take them to get anything. I told them they could make cards, but I guess they forgot because that didn't happen. A lot of my friends and family on Facebook wished me a happy birthday, though, and that just made my heart smile. I also had a smile at baseball practice that day, as I do love the sport and it was fun to watch and nice talking with the other parents. Hubby had taken us out to lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant, The Mission. While that was nice, it would have been better if the children had behaved. Jennifer kept moving around in her seat and hiding her face under her baseball cap (we had to remove it twice because she would not look up at us when speaking) and Jesse kept climbing up out of his seat. At one point, he spilled his milk on the table. Hubby felt bad and later emailed me apologizing that it didn't go better. I told him it wasn't his fault and I still appreciated the lunch. Later, the kids and I celebrated my birthday with cake and ice cream and I was just so very, very grateful to be celebrating my birthday with my babies. Earlier, I had been down about not having any family around to celebrate my birthday with. I did talk with my mom on the phone, and I was sad I couldn't see her. But being with my children made everything better. They really mean the world to me!

Also busy with taking care of the house. One thing I kept repeating this week? "No scooter in the house!" Apparently, Jesse has tried to ride his scooter around in the house but I keep telling him "no scooter in the house" and I might as well have been speaking in a whole 'nother language! It has been pretty frustrating. The kids being as young as they are do not realize that they can't go wild in this house and just wreck it. I like my home clean (when the kids are asleep!!) and not all wrecked up. Jennifer had a friend over this week and they just tore up the house. I was NOT happy. And hubby was not happy about how they wrecked the trimming on one area of the wall and floor. So it's been an exercise in patience trying to get the children to understand they have to be careful so they don't tear up the house.

Despite being busy, I did manage to have some "me time" this week. Started reading the book Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson (which was a birthday gift -- thanks, Millie!). Spent an hour and 40 minutes working on one of my books on one day. Read some blogs on another day. Watched the Japanese movie One Missed Call and got to take a nap a time or two (which I needed since I haven't gotten much sleep this week. Last night, I only got 4 hours of sleep.) So everything balanced out. There was a lot of busyness but quite a bit of relaxation squeezed in, too. I like being busy but definitely need to stop, slow down and recharge every so often.

I am feeling bummed tonight. I wanted to take the kids to see the movie Shrek Forever After, because that is the movie they are showing with open captions at the local theater today, but we have no money so we couldn't go. Having no money also means we can't go to the aquarium tomorrow, because they are opening a new "swamp" exhibit that Jennifer is really excited about. I guess we'll have to do those things some other time.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The only girl on the team

Today was Jennifer's first day playing baseball again. Last year, when I registered her to play, they put her into softball. I had to request that she be placed into baseball, as I had requested when I signed her up. This year, they did the same thing! Oy. Jennifer and I both think baseball is better than softball. As she said, "Softball is for sissies." (haha) Not to put down anyone playing softball (she actually has a couple of friends playing on softball teams), but we loves us some good ol' fashioned baseball. Put me in, coach!

But before she could even get to her first practice, there was a bit of a hurdle I had to get over. The practices were scheduled late in the day. I was worried the kids would be playing baseball in the dark! The practices actually end right around the time I put my children to bed. I was sending emails back and forth and making a phone call about this. I was just concerned about this being so late on a school night. Finally, today, I just decided, you know what? We will give it a shot. Let's see what happens. If it is indeed too dark at that time, if it is indeed late when I get the kids into bed after baseball practice, and see if we can just wing it. School will be out soon enough, after all. Let's just wait and see.

So, that's what we did. We loaded up into the car and went to baseball practice. I was nervous about going since, after all, I hadn't been feeling well today (I had a horrible episode of bad chest pain that nearly made me pass out last night and then again early this morning -- Jennifer was even crying and scared that I was dying!). I was also nervous about yet another round of meeting hearing parents, trying to communicate with them, and explaining that I am deaf, etc. But, we went. We still went. When we got there, the field was so dang soggy. I kept sinking into the ground. It had been raining so much during the day, I wasn't surprised the ground was so entrenched. (This had been another concern of mine. I was worried it might rain AGAIN and the practice might be canceled. The coach said that, unless there was a hurricane, the practice was still on! Now, see, this is what separates a true Oregonian from some wuss running away and screaming like a girl every time it rains.) I noted some of the moms wearing rain boots and made a mental note to A: Get rain boots and B: Wear them to baseball practices and baseball games after it's been raining all day.

I met one of the parents there, a dad with two sons on the team. I was nervous about talking with one of the parents but after I explained I am deaf and must read lips, he surprised me by saying he knew a little sign language. Enough to fingerspell things, anyway. HOORAY! This made me feel a little more comfortable in trying to communicate with one of the parents. It's so nice to meet somebody who knows sign language or who, at least, can fingerspell words.

I was watching the team and tried to see if there were other girls there. I couldn't see any so I asked the dad if there were any other girls. He looked through the team and shook his head. Nope. Jennifer was the only girl on the team. But he said there were no girls there "today." I guess maybe there will be a girl added to the team later on. Or maybe not. Really, we're ok with it. I was just curious. Jennifer is used to playing with boys (she IS a tomboy!) and the point is to just play baseball. Not have some kind of "gender war" going on in the team, or anything. I started to think if there are any movies or books Jen can read about baseball teams where there is just one girl on the team and issues to deal with, etc. I guess I was just too caught up remembering the movie I'd watched earlier in the day, where there was a military operation with just ONE girl in the unit and a lot of the guys treated her like crap and gave her a lot of crap to deal with. (And, no, it was not G.I. Jane. I haven't even seen that movie!) Hopefully, her being the odd girl out won't be an issue.

Well, this dad took pictures of the team members and said he could email me the pics. I gave him my email addy. (My digi cam is still packed. UGH! Can you believe we're still unpacking?? But we are getting close to FINALLY getting 100% settled into our new house. I would really, really like to find my camera, though. Oh, and my extra spatula!) The dad I spoke with also mentioned that he and his wife run a preschool, probably because of Jesse being with us, in his stroller. I had plans to enroll Jesse into Kim's school, actually, around the spring, but I wanted to check out their school all the same. I don't even know if Kim is still doing the preschool thing! (It's the one Jennifer went to.)

Even though it got VERY COLD (I was standing there, freezing my butt off!) and my allergies started up (oh, yay), we got through the practice. It was still daylight when we arrived and starting to get dark when it was over. It was not TOO dark, though. I was okay with it. The whole thing means Jennifer's bedtime gets compromised on a school night, but it is only for two days out of the week and maybe we will get used to it.

At least she'll get to play baseball. Batter up!

Monday, May 17, 2010

The first rule: Never work without a contract

In May of 2008, my friend, Jimmy, asked me if I would do his sister a favor. She had some kind of "Miss Whatever" job thing going on and had to be out of the country. The problem was, she had a dog and could not take her dog with her. So Jimmy asked me if I would take care of the dog. I agreed. Shortly after the dog was brought over, on May 14, we discussed payment. At first, I suggested $50 a week. (This was my very first pet-sitting gig, so I was not clear on the standard rate.) Jimmy disagreed, saying $100 a month was better. Sometime later, I got an e-mail from his sister, Ruby, saying she knew she had to pay me $100 a month to take care of her dog. Sometime during her being out of the country, she sent me two payments of $200. The first went towards helping to pay for a trip to visit with my family in California. The second one, she made on May 26, 2009. In all that was the total amount of money she paid to me: Just $400 after one year of caring for her dog. And after we both agreed she would pay me $100 a month!

I have tried, for nearly a year now, to be paid the rest of the money that Ruby Solano owes me. But, all for naught. She is convinced she doesn't owe me another cent and she refuses to pay any more. Even after she told me, in person, on May 26, she would send some extra money.

I'm very upset about the whole thing. I trusted her and she ended up betraying that trust. I took care of her dog like that dog was one of my own. Jimmy bought food for the dog once; I paid for the food at all other times. The dog chewed up two of my baby's toys. I also paid for a new dog bed, to have her groomed, and for a new leash and sweater (since the leash they left with her broke).

Ruby lied to me and acted like a two-faced person in the end. And, in the end, she refused to answer any and all e-mails I sent to her. I had to go to her brother, Jimmy, to find out what was up. She talked to him, but she WOULD NOT talk to me. She did not have the decency to explain herself, explain why she lied to me, and why she even thinks she doesn't owe me another dime. Because, obviously, she is very, very wrong. I have the records to prove as much.

But....I don't have a contract to back me up. No agreement whatsoever. So Ruby gets to kick me to the dirt and walk away. She has lost my trust, my friendship, and any kind of positive thoughts I could ever have for her. Not to mention she'll get ZERO support from me and my children (who now know she is a liar) for her future career.

I tried to be nice but now, at this point, I can no longer be nice. I am extremely angry about this. It's even hard for me to organize this blog post in a logical manner.

Anyway. The point is, like I said, I didn't have a contract. I didn't have an agreement. IF I did, then maybe I could take her to small claims court. But I can't. An e-mail don't mean squat in court like a contract or an agreement would.

So. I'm out $800. I feel used and manipulated, but I have had that very same kind of experience in the past with my pal Jimmy. So, what should I expect? You know? I guess dishonesty runs in their family.

I'm bitter because I REALLY could have used the money. The second $200 went towards buying my kids new clothes, which they desperately needed. This money would have helped me to buy them new clothes again, which they once again need (of course!), and also help me pay a couple of bills. But I guess not. My kids will have to wait longer to get clothes that fit them.

This kinda thing, the pet-sitting thing, was just something I did, you know? So that I could have some extra income for my family. This is WHY I did babysitting in the past and cleaning houses in the past. I needed the money for my family! This isn't play money I'm trying to earn. I'm not trying to make money so I can go to Vegas, or something. (Or have plastic surgery, like Ruby did after returning to the States.) These odd jobs I have done have been to support my family. Just as the writing jobs are for supporting my family!

But now I have learned to never, ever, ever, EVER work without a contract. NOT EVER. It doesn't matter if I am working for a friend, a sibling, a friend's sibling, or a friend of a friend. Always, ALWAYS, have a contract or legal, notarized agreement. ALWAYS. Even if somebody is honest, the contract will at least be a reminder that a business deal is in place. And that it has to be honored.

Well, maybe in a perfect world, they would be honored. From now on, I'll never trust so easily again.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Jennifer's day

I sort of dreaded today getting here. The reason why? Jennifer had a talent show at her school today. And I didn't want to go.

Don't get me wrong; I am all for supporting my daughter's talents. I'm ready to cheer her on no matter what she pursues in life. I'll always be her biggest fan, her coach, her cheerleading team and her comfort group. I just didn't want to go to the talent show this one time. And it wasn't because of her. It was because of me.

Lately, I've started to think maybe there's a reason why I don't have a REAL friend here in Eugene. Maybe it's because...people just don't like me. It doesn't help that two different women have stared at me in horror. You would think that, as adults, they were mature enough to look past the burn scars on my face and try to see the real me. But....I guess not. It also doesn't help that a certain mom has decided she no longer wants to talk to me and her daughter cannot play with Jennifer anymore.

Of course I'm crushed I am rejected by everyone. It makes me sad. And angry. The anger only built up, adding to other reasons for anger that I carry. And it made me into a very bitter, angry and negative person. I just gave up trying to win somebody's friendship.

And today, I was hit with another blow by someone. I will blog about that later.

Anyway...that is why I didn't want to go to the talent show. I try to stay hidden if I can. Hidden away with these burn scars, since I am so rejected here and looked upon with horror. (Yeah, you can start up the violins now. LOL)

But...this was not about me. I tried to keep telling myself that. THIS WAS NOT ABOUT ME. This was Jennifer's moment. If it was a book signing, I would go. Though I would resent going, because I'd rather hide away my burned face. But, still! I was being selfish. I knew this. I was giving a petty reason to avoid something that would bring my daughter happiness.

Of course, she understood why I didn't want to go. I told her, "I don't want people to see me." And she kept insisting I am "beautiful" and that she's happy to be seen with me. (That is my baby girl. Her love is so unconditional. She would walk on hot coals for me!!) But, she understood. You know? Even when I apologized for being so selfish for not taking her to the talent show, she said, "What talent show?"

So she rode her bike. She played with her friends. We played a game of checkers while splitting a glass of root beer. She played basketball with kids at the park. She had fun. I even gave her and her friends ice cream sandwiches. (One of her friends is insanely polite. I respect him being such a gentleman but I have to chuckle about it.)

Then....I came to my senses. I FINALLY convinced myself...I can't do this to Jennifer. She has rehearsed for this. She was supposed to sing! She had to be on that stage and sing! So what if people stared?? So what if my clothes were frumpy and I wore no make-up and just looked God-awful? This was Jennifer's moment! JENNIFER WOULD SING!!

So I got the kids dressed up, especially Jennifer, and we went to the talent show. We were late, but she still sang. And I went there smiling, unafraid of looks or any other forms of negativity from people. My baby was going to be on stage singing and I was going to cheer her on! That's what I did. And I realized that as I smiled, laughed, clapped and cheered, people smiled, too. People around us were happy, just as I was happy. It was such an amazing thing to see. I may as well have had no burn scars at all. Everybody smiled just as I smiled. It was so wonderful to feel so accepted.

We left the talent show laughing and cheering about how much fun we had. I treated the kids to Happy Meals at McDonald's for dinner and the three of us watched a movie on the couch afterwards.

It was a great day for Jennifer. And, you know what? It was a great day for me, too.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The foodie month of May

Happy Cinco De Mayo!

Before you chow down on that taco or play those maracas, guess what? Cinco De Mayo is not the only day you get to celebrate good food. Come to find out that May seems to be the month that foodies love most, since it somehow or another became a popular month for all things food! As a matter of fact, May 5th is also known as National Hoagie Day!

The entire month of May is also known as National Hamburger Month. National Hamburger Day is supposed to be on May 28th, though other sources place it in June and December. Well, this being National Hamburger Month, it's only appropriate to celebrate National Hamburger Day on May 28th. Which is what I plan to do. Woot!

And since we're all gonna be eating hamburgers, why not put them on the grill while we're at it? May is also National Barbecue Month. As a fan of barbecued food, I give that two thumbs up! Hooray!

But don't let your taste buds stop there, because there are actually HEALTHY foods you can celebrate eating during the month of May. May is also National Salad Month and National Egg Month! Cobb Salad, anyone?

And after you've had your burger and salad, why not round your meal out with a yummy dessert? May is also National Chocolate Custard Month!

National Raisin Week is from May 1-7th. Hm, that probably explains why I've downed so much Raisin Bran this week.

National Candied Orange Peel Day was on May 4th.

Enjoy your favorite beverage on May 6th, because it's National Beverage Day! Want a suggested beverage? Enjoy a Coca-Cola, because May 8th is Have a Coke Day!

If you're a savvy chef, then grab your cooking tools, because May 7th is National Roast Leg of Lamb Day!

If you're not so savvy, take heart! May 15th is National Chocolate Chip Day! So why not grab a pack of chocolate chip cookie dough or whip up a chocolate chip cookie cake to enjoy!

On May 24th, you have a very good excuse to host a party, because that particular date is National Escargot Day!

And to round the "foodie month" out, take the time to enjoy something sweet on May 31st, because it's N
ational Macaroon Day!

Yay, food!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Doe, a deer!

Today, I went to pick Jennifer up at her bus stop. Had plans to also take her over to KidSports and sign her up for baseball. So I'm driving to the bus stop...just peacefully driving...when alarm floods through me and I hit the brakes, not believing what my eyes see.

There, walking along the street, is a deer! A young female deer! I could tell it was a female because I looked to the other side of the street and...there's another deer! This one was obviously male; larger and with an aggressive look in his eyes. He did not have horns yet, though.

Two deer on either side of the road. Yikes.

I kept staring at the female. I couldn't believe what I was seeing! A REAL DEER ON THE STREET! A city street! Now, this, I would expect to see in Blue River or even Lake Arrowhead. But not here in a Eugene neighborhood. I kept thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me, but there was no mistaking it. Two REAL deer were on either side of the road! They were walking at first then they stopped to stare at me. And I was...staring at them. It was eerie.

It reminded me of the time I lived in the California desert. I was driving to my mom's house one day and going along this dirt road. I couldn't make out what I saw ahead of me at first, as I brought my Jeep to a slow drive, then I slammed on the brakes when I realized that a team of horses was charging right at me. Right where I was sitting! In the car! Gah! I know I should've gotten out of the car, in case one of them ran over it (would they have crushed it??), but I just sat there, in shock, my heart pounding against my chest as the horses broke form and ran around the Jeep. One of those horses looked right at me. Just made eye I made with that deer right now.

Then I snapped out of my stare and looked ahead. Jennifer was running up to the deer! Alarmed, I cried out to her, "No! Stay there!"

This frightened the deer and she ran off. The other one just resumed walking down the street.

When Jennifer got into the car, we shared our surprise, wonder and shock over what we had seen! WOW! Two deer on the street! (And, unfortunately, in a person's backyard, as the female ended up walking into the backyard of a nearby house. I started to feel sorry for the person who lived there, to look out the window to view their backyard and see a deer standing there!) There were other kids who had gotten off of the bus hanging out and staring at the deer. One girl told us that the deer belonged to people living in a house right on the side of the road. I started to grit my teeth and mentally curse people keeping wild animals as pets (they should be free, darn it!), but I also hoped the deer would be taken back home or something before causing an accident or getting hit by a car. I so really hope that neither of them would be hit by a car.

As I started to drive away, I told Jennifer that was quite an experience. Usually, you see one deer on the road, but TWO! Wow, that was pretty exciting. My heart was pounding in my chest from the excitement and I told Jennifer I was still unable to believe it. She, too, thought it was pretty awesome. I laughed and announced, "Only in Oregon!"