Author, biracial, cats, Chicklit, Chihuahua's, cultural awareness, cultural understanding, diversity, dogs, felines, Fiction, Guide Dogs, Indie Author, Labrador Retrievers, Labradors, Multicultural, Turkish Angoras, Uncategorized

Dogs by any other name….

Does my Labrador Retriever know that he is? do my Chihuahua’s know that they are just that?  At what point do we go from being proud of our culture and ethnicity to ethnocentrism? That we devalue all others and exclude people and other ways of life.

The line is fine and easily crossed. Those of us who are blessed enough to live in melting pot areas of the country like I am, that can find Arabic bakeries and Asian markets along with Polish and Italian meat markets, Soul food restaurants, Mexican restaurants, Indian food and everything in between (My taste buds should never get bored) have an opportunity to enjoy many cultures without ever having to get on a plane. Now you would think that with all these ethnicities I live in a utopia where everyone gets along. Yeah, no! I have heard phrases like ‘marry your own culture’ and witnessed people who will not talk to you because even though they are living in the land of a really humongous statue that says ‘Bring me your huddled masses’, huddle only with their own. Birds of a feather…….

My Labrador is yellow and weighs 80 pounds. He is a retired Guide Dog for the Blind. He is smart, playful and loves to…you guessed it….retrieve. He still tries to Guide on occasion forgetting that he is retired and I am not blind. So I wonder what is his culture? Guiding was taught to him so that is not part of his culture, that was his job. Maybe  retrieving, killing and destroying toys is part of his true culture. (hover your mouse over the pictures)

brooks (2)

Brooks the ex-Guide dog toy destroyer

My Chihuahua’s were there first and Brooks had to adjust to their way of life, much like the Chi’s had to adjust to feline culture when they arrived. The Turkish Angora’s (Yes we are a multiracial feline/canine household) showed the then 1lb puppies the ropes and how things were done in their feline Arab American household. They grew up speaking cat and had an overwhelming love of them even though cat was not in their DNA.

Cat culture

Cat culture

Brooks never got a chance to learn the ancient and honorable feline culture from the elder statesmen of the feline tribe since all the cats have passed on, but the Chi’s have done their best to educate and depart the time-honored feline knowledge and culture of their feline Arab American brothers and sisters to him. Sleeping anywhere he pleases is one of his favorite adopted cat culture activities he’s learned.

Now Chihuahua’s it’s been rumored are not descendants of wolves but from Fennec foxes from Mexico. An interesting theory because that would mean over the many years Chihuahua’s have been human’s pocket companions we have been forcing a domestic canine culture and silly clothes on a native desert animal. Sound familiar in human history? Do my Chi’s tolerate domesticated wolf culture, sparkly shirts that say grrrl power or tuxedo t-shirts for the boy Chi, or do they pine for the desert life of their ancestral homeland? That would explain the burrowing in blankets and sunning themselves in 90 degree temps while their much larger canine companion enjoys air conditioning. Labs are after all from Newfoundland not as the name might imply Labrador, where colder temps are normal.

bindi cheech

Psst! We’re actually foxes!

fennec fox 2

Yo no soy un perro! (I am not a dog!)

My 4 legged household companions can teach us all a lesson in diversity and getting along. Enjoying and learning from each other’s differences and recognizing that we all share in one universal culture, human culture. We all want ultimately the same things, family, faith, love, a nice place to live and enough to eat, a bright future for our children and to be able to carry on our legacy through them, plus small dogs to dress up. Be proud of who you are and the heritage you came from, take the positive lessons of your ancestors and the good things of your culture and move them forward, share them with others and enjoy the diversity and history of another. Mix it up a little, I’m a firm believer in once you learn about it, you end up respecting it and your world is a richer place for it.

Then again maybe I’m being Pollyanna. (an excessively or blindly optimistic person.)

Part of Chihuahua culture is staring, giving off subliminal messages till you give up the coveted object. Something they learned from their feline Arab American upbringing.

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Author, Fiction, Indie Author, Uncategorized

Divine Order

One of our readers and coworkers, Veronica came to me last week. She’s also a fellow artist, a poet and a vocalist. To accommodate a growing team at our office, her smaller team had been moved to a windowless room we call the ‘dungeon’. Without outside light or windows, she was feeling kind of claustrophobic and down in the dumps. She visited me at my desk last week rationalizing if she should leave and wondering why after all these years she still at the same job. I explained to her how things played out for me over the past few years and the reason things happened the way they did.

When I think about how things fell in place for me, I get the picture of one of those convoluted mouse traps from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons, or better yet the invention Pee Wee Herman used to make his breakfast in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. No I’m not rambling, I’ve got a point here. If you can picture either one in your mind, the boot kicks the marble, which falls on the dominoes which set off a whole chain reaction of events which gets you to the desired end result. The same thing sort of happened for me, but in real world terms.

I was working for a big box craft store, I won’t say which, but I’ll never set foot in that dang store again. Anyway, I was there from the ground floor, hired to set up the store; building displays, shelving, and all that jazz. We were working seven days a week, twelve hour days getting this store ready for the opening. In the meantime I was also working my part time cleaning job, which was only like 3-4 hours every other day. I put it in my mind that I wanted to work the front end, cash registers, customer service, all that. As it got closer to opening, my other coworkers are getting in their heads where they want to be when the store opens. A wonderful woman, Carla, who was a vet with the company heard about what I wanted to do and took me under her wing. She trained me in how to run the front of the store in a management position and I in turn trained everyone else in the store on how to run registers.

The store opens and I’m unofficially in this supervisory position. Things are busy in the first few few weeks and the hours are plentiful. As the hype of the opening dies down, the store manager pairs me with a coworker who will be working alongside me. I teach her what Carla taught me and as the weeks go on, I see my work hours dwindle and hers stay at the same forty plus hours. I’m kind of upset about it and I talk to my friend who’s also in a supervisory position. She’s now an assistant manager and she tells me to hang in there. We both know the boss is a jerk; he’s the type to belittle an underling in front of the whole team. He was known for leaving some of the women employees in tears after a tongue lashing. She tells me to go the extra mile and show him that I’m worthy of the job. I follow her advice, even coming in on a Sunday, the day the store is closed. Hint, Hint ; )

A few weeks later he replaces the other supervisor I trained with another woman and my hours continue to dwindle under twenty hours a week. I’m the type to not think the worst of people or situations until its staring me in the face. I’m the only one of my persuasion working at the store and I’m watching everyone around me move up the food chain. Feeling used and abused, I decide its time to go somewhere else and I can’t just up and quit. This is Michigan and if you’ve got a job you’d better not leave one until you find another one.

I heard that a big retailer was building a super center in my area and I jumped at the chance. The crowd was so huge they had news cameras everywhere and I find myself on the twelve o’clock news that day. Gee, I hope no one at work sees. Despite the hours I spent in line I didn’t get the job. So I’m still in a funky mood and working for this peon. About a month later, I’m driving with mom in the passenger’s seat and I get a call from the HR lady from another location of that same retailer. She offers me a part time position in the deli which I politely decline since I’m working part time anyway. Mom yells at me ‘Girl you better take that job! You can always pick up hours! All you need is your foot in the door!’. I politely call back and accept the position.

I don’t just burn my bridge with that craft store; I douse it in gasoline and throw a Molotov cocktail at it. I have the satisfaction of calling that store manager as I’m walking into the doors of my new job for training and telling him he won’t have me to kick around anymore. I also left him a parting gift, a state investigation for discrimination. I don’t want the next brown girl going through what I did trying to advance with the company.

The new job goes fine and I meet Suzanne, who introduces me, an avid reader to books from Sandra Brown, David Baldacci, and Michael Connelly. Though it’s not a full time job, I’m making more money than with the craft store and finally able to buy a car. I’m there almost two years when a coworker from the bakery asks me if I’m looking for something with a solid forty hours. She gives me the info, I go in for the interview and they try to recruit me so fast they scare me off. It was just too good to be true. I accept the job for what is now my current job a couple months down the line.

See, now my story is starting to make sense. With my current employer I tried to move up the ladder twice as a trainer to no avail. The job was posted again, but I said forget it. I’m not interested in being told ‘no’ for a third time. Another totally different position opens up and I go for it and get it.

One day two of my coworkers in this department are talking. Liz is a writer and is working on her own young adult thing. Von is explaining to her this concept she has for a story, but needs help fleshing it out. Having loved creative writing in school and being the type to always have a story playing in an endless loop in the back of my head but never getting it down on paper, I offer to help her.

Now over a year later, we are close to completing the third book in our series, with many more series and fresh ideas to come. If things had not played out for me in the exact manner it did, I would still be day dreaming and procrastinating about writing and would have never met Von. It took a few bumps along the road and a few detours and closed roads, but I’m finally doing what I was born to do.

I explained this to Veronica. You may think that you’re being held back and things are unfair, but everything happens for a reason. It may be that you’re not be ready to move forward yet or there are people that God wants you to meet, but everything happens in Divine Order.

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