family · Pets

Venus´ Story

Venus started to be part of my life almost eight years ago. Everything began with a phone call from who was my partner, one Saturday, November 4th:

– Hey, I call you because I just picked a hairy, four- legged bug.
– No way! You know that we have Chico, the cat, at home – he was a six-month old cat that shared our one-bedroom flat with us.
– I know but she´s so cute!

In the beginning, the idea didn´t seem funny to me but I gave up. I thought that, in the end it could be a good idea, as we were going to live to a house with garden, so we could be more confortable there.

That night I had a celebration and I didn´t have the chance to see the “hairy, four-legged bug” until the next day. When I saw her, the only thing I could do was shrug my shoulders and “fall in love” with her. Her legs and eyebrows were brown and the rest was pitch black. Her wide legs made me think that maybe she was a potential rottweiler… There was nothing far from the truth than that: many people bet that she´s a mix between griffon, beagle and yorkshire.

Her story with me started when an irresponsable person left her abandoned with her siblings inside a carton box in front of a hotel in the south of the island of Tenerife. One of those puppies has the leading role in this story. She was the luckiest one, as I heard… I can´t understand how there are persons that are so cruel and they can live without remorse… but this story is about Venus, the lucky pup.

From that moment on, Venus was part of the family. It was funny to see how Chico and Venus played together. When she first arrived they both had the same size: a month later she was taller than him and her colour was brown. She was a bit naughty but she soon learned that she wasn´t doing the right thing. In December Venus decided to eat my lentils soup (typical food for New Year´s Eve: it brings luck): It wasn´t her fault, it was easily reachable by her. She also had to celebrate the fortune she had that someone took her home… Since she was a puppy she has protected the houses she has lived and barks to what she thinks it´s a threat: I still remember the noisy way she greeted us one day, when we were still moving. She wasn´t three-months old and her barks were strong…

Venus had to confront a decisive time in her life: the arrival of a human baby. She left being the centre of attention to leave the space for the new “intruder”. Venus has always been very respectful with her: she knew that everyone was going to be disappointed with her if she would have harmed my daughter.

Soon she changed a leader for another: my partner decided to move on with his life and I had to be her master. We both adapted to the new situation slowly and learned to live together… At that time, all the commands were in French but now she is “bilingual” and she understands Spanish as well. She was taught to sit down, lay down, to shake hands and not to nap on the couch… The normal commands for a dog. It cost me lots of cheese but also patient and love.

Once more, Venus had to change house and left behind a great garden for a huge roof. Those were hard years, where her presence was mostly on that roof and on the street when we walked her. Venus has always accepted changes with stoicism. Her only requirement was that she knew I was around and, if I had to go out, I would be back.

At that time Venus didn´t like others to be her leaders but me. Sometimes she became a little jealous of my daughter but it never was more than a fright (showing teeth and gum and a small bite). Those years were hard and I realized she was part of my small family.

Step by step, she became more than a pet (satisfactions and sacrifices included) to be a being that accompanies you even when she only sleeps close to you.

Right now my daughter, Venus and I are sharing a two-bedroom flat with a small garden with my actual partner and, eventually, with his two kids. The dog has become the perfect link for the three kids: they get along quite well. They have something in common: they adore and spoil her.

It doesn´t matter how long she has to be alone at home (work, travel…), Venus always greets me moving her tail and bitting my hand while she cries of happiness. She even adores the person who rescued her from a sure death, her first leader. In the animal kingdom, there are a lot of  grateful beings…

Many times we have the perfect reason to go out: walk the dog. It´s the perfect solution when you don´t know where to go with the kids. She doesn´t get sick in cars and it´s very funny to see her when she pops out her head and her ears fly with the wind. Every day, she gets more and more clever: she rests in the car so when she goes out, she has all the energy to run, jump… and chase.

Venus is an expert… lizard hunter. All lizards are afraid when they hear her paws approaching. She has no problems with plants or stones between a lizard and her: She makes holes with her paws and with her head moves the vegetation to get to her prey. Once I had to open her mouth with my hands to free an alive lizard she hunted… My grandfather used to say that she was a born-hunter because of the shape of her ears: He knew why this statement was right.

She has impressed me lately. I realized that everytime I feel sick (headache, discomfort…), she has approached quietly to keep me company. My partner has been surprised by her lying down on the floor next to my bed… Right now she lays down close to me, keeping me company while I write these lines…

There are no reason why she doesn´t like some people from the building. If she hears them coming or going, she´s alert, taking care of her garden: territorial. Many have tried to become her friend but it´s almost impossible: not even with a ham sandwich…

It´s funny that sometimes I feel that it´s not fair that she waits for us outside shops or restaurants. My partner, not an animal lover, considers her part of the family. We understand that it´s not higienic to let dogs enter a restaurant but we feel it´s not fair on her.

That´s why I don´t understand people that buy a pure breed puppy for Christmas or birthdays. In the beginning they are loved because they are the new “toys” at home. After that, they become a problem: where can I leave the dog when I go on holidays? The result? They are abandoned anywhere. This holidays, while we were walking Venus through a forest (La Esperanza, Tenerife), we found the rotten rests of a dead dog. If he had an owner, this person had no enough heart or courage to gain his love, trust and all the satisfaction a pet can give you.

It is also true that there are many places where the dogs can´t get in to walk. I understand that there are misbehaved dogs that do not respect their owners. On the other hand, I understand that dogs are, first of all, animals with their instinct alive… If dogs are minimally well educated, they can´t not be a problem if they walk without leash close to their owner (yesterday Venus crossed ways with a runner and she didn´t care less for him). Maybe it is necessary to warn to those dog owners that leave their dogs without supervision while they are walking them, those who do not clean after their dogs and compensate those dog leaders with well behaved dogs close to one another, as the best human´s friends (as it´s been said).

(First published in three parts: http://maritza-in-english.blogspot.com.es/2010/12/venus-story-part-i.html in December 2010)
Update:
Almost two weeks ago we have to say goodbye to this dog-shaped angel. It was the toughest decision I ever had to take but I know it was the right one. In any case, she left this world after making a celebration of her life: people came by home and made a celebration. Her ashes are at home already, we have a lock of hair and made impressions of her front paws. She will live always in our hearts.
family · mascotas

La historia de Venus

Hace casi ocho años que Venus entró a formar parte de mi vida. Todo empezó con una llamada a mi móvil del que era mi pareja un sábado, 4 de Noviembre:
– Hola, te llamo porque acabo de adquirir un bicho peludo a cuatro patas.
– ¡No es posible! Sabes que tenemos a Chico ya en casa – un gato que tenía ya seis meses, que compartía un piso de una habitación con nosotros.
– ¡Lo sé, pero es tan bonita!
En un principio, la idea no me hizo gracia, pero transigí. Total, pronto iríamos a vivir a una casa terrera con jardín detrás y podríamos estar todos más cómodos. Esa noche tuve una celebración y no tuve la oportunidad de ver al “bicho peludo a cuatro patas” hasta el día siguiente. Al verla, no pude sino encogerme de hombros y “enamorarme” de ella. Tenía las patas y las cejas color marrón y el resto era todo negro. Sus patas anchas daban que pensar en que podía terminar siendo algo parecido a una rottweiler… Nada más lejos de la realidad: todavía la gente apuesta que tiene mezcla de grifón con beagle y el pelaje de yorkshire.Su historia conmigo comenzó cuando alguien (algún irresponsable) dejó abandonada una caja de cartón con cachorritos en la puerta de un hotel en el sur de Tenerife. Una de ellas es el personaje de esta historia, la que tuvo más suerte que el resto, por lo que he oído decir… Todavía no me cabe en la cabeza cómo es que existan todavía personas que hagan esta crueldad y puedan vivir sin remordimiento de conciencia… pero esta no es la historia de ellos: es la historia de Venus, la cachorrita afortunada.

Desde ese momento, Venus se integró perfectamente en la rutina de la familia. Era gracioso ver cómo Chico, el gato, y ella se ponían a jugar. Recién llegada era del mismo tamaño que el gato: en algo más de un mes ya había superado ese tamaño y su color preferente pasó a ser marrón. Hacía un par de trastadas, pero en seguida aprendía que no estaba bien hecho. Ese mismo año, la perrita se tomó mi plato de lentejas de Fin de Año (plato tradicionalmente denominado de buena suerte para el año entrante): ¿Qué iba a hacer, si se lo puse a su altura? Además, había que celebrar la fortuna que tuvo de que alguien la acogiera en su casa… Desde chiquitita ha tenido un instinto defensor y ha protegido las casas donde ha estado con sus ladridos: todavía me acuerdo de la manera tan ruidosa con la que nos recibió un día en casa, cuando estábamos todavía mudándonos a una casa con jardín. No tenía ni tres meses y ya daban miedo sus ladridos…

https://www.blogger.com/video.g?token=AD6v5dygmqhvPGa-r2Ov9zIIWo17o1qoyhIbeN4o6pY26OuiS-s8MnOBdE2Z2GQu67HUWhNI3-DcP7zOxAGaemnSO8vLv5MqGLnd1jFEwPLpWZWUDTqy00MwqQs3BU7o2xBvK8T2UB9p

Venus tuvo que afrontar un momento decisivo en su vida: la llegada de una “cachorra humana” en su vida. Dejó de ser motivo de preguntas para dejar paso a esa nueva “intrusa”. Siempre ha sido muy respetuosa con ella, dado que sabía que todos nos íbamos a enfadar con ella si hacia algo malo a esa criatura.

Pronto cambió a un master por otro: mi pareja dejó de vivir en casa y yo tuve que afrontar el papel de líder. Poco a poco nos fuimos adaptando la una a la otra y aprendimos a convivir sin roces… En ese momento, a Venus se le daban los comandos en francés, aunque ahora es “bilingüe” y entiende en los dos idiomas. Se le enseñó a sentarse, acostarse y a dar la patita, a no subirse a los sillones para echarse una siesta… en fin, lo normal para un perro. Costó muchos trozos de queso adiestrarla, pero también paciencia, tiempo y cariño.

Una vez más, Venus tuvo que cambiar de casa y dejó atrás un cómodo jardín por una azotea grande, pero azotea al fin y al cabo. Fueron unos años un poco duros, donde su presencia se confinaba a la parte alta de la casa y a pocas salidas. Venus siempre ha aceptado los cambios con estoicismo. A ella le bastaba con saber que yo estaba allí y que, si salía, volvería a ese sitio.

En esos momentos, a Venus no le gustaba mucho que la mangonearan otras personas que no fuera yo. A veces se mostraba un tanto hostil con la pequeña, aunque no pasó más allá de un susto. Fueron un par de años duros, pero en los que me di cuenta que ella formaba ya parte de mi pequeña familia.

Poco a poco, pasó de ser un simple animal doméstico, con sus satisfacciones y sacrificios a ser un ser que te acompañaba aunque estuviera a tu lado durmiendo.
Ahora mi hija, Venus y yo estamos compartiendo un piso de dos habitaciones y un jardín mediano con mi actual pareja y, eventualmente, con sus dos hijos. La perrita ha sido el vínculo perfecto para que los tres niños se lleven bien y tengan algo en común: los tres la adoran y la miman.
No importa cuánto tiempo la tenga que dejar sola en casa (por trabajo o por viaje), Venus siempre me recibe con la cola agitando y con una mordida en la palma de mi mano mientras gime de alegría. Incluso tiene mucho cariño y saluda efusivamente al que le rescató de una muerte segura, su primer master. En el reino animal, de agradecidos está el mundo lleno…
Muchas veces, el motivo de nuestras salidas se basa en sacar a Venus de paseo. Es la solución perfecta para cuando no sabes dónde ir con los niños. No marea en los coches y es muy divertido verla cuando saca la cabeza por la ventana y sus orejas vuelan al viento. Cada día se hace más lista: descansa en los trayectos para que, cuando sale, tiene toda la energía para correr, saltar y… cazar.
Venus es una experta cazadora… de lagartos. Toda la población del lugar le teme cuando oye sus patas acercándose. No tiene problemas con las plantas y las piedras: ella con sus patas hace agujeros y con la cabeza mueve la vegetación hasta llegar a su presa. Una vez tuve que abrirle la boca con mis manos para liberar a un lagarto vivo que había cazado… Mi abuelo decía que era una cazadora nata por la forma de sus orejas: él sabría por qué.
Últimamente me ha sorprendido mucho porque he notado que, cuando me he sentido mal (un dolor de cabeza, un malestar…), ella se ha acercado sigilosa a hacerme compañía. Mi pareja le ha sorprendido más de una vez acostada a los pies de mi cama si estaba descansando de una migraña leve… Ahora mismo está acostada cerca de mí haciéndome compañía mientras escribo estas líneas…
No se saben los motivos, pero ha cogido manía a ciertas personas del edificio. Les oye salir o llegar y ya está ella atenta, vigilando su jardín. Muchos han intentado hacerse “amigos” suyos, pero no hay manera: no hay bocadillo de jamón que la soborne…
Es gracioso que sienta muchas veces que no es justo que ella nos tenga que esperar por fuera de tiendas o restaurantes. Ya incluso hasta mi pareja la considera parte la familia, aunque él no es persona amante de animales. Entendemos que, por razones de higiene y lógica, no se puede admitir a los animales en estos espacios, pero no podemos dejar que sentir que se hace una injusticia.
Por todo esto no entiendo por qué hay personas que compran un cachorrito de raza en Navidades o cumpleaños. Son la novedad y son queridos un tiempo. Luego resulta que son un engorro a la hora de irse de vacaciones y los abandonan en cualquier sitio. Estas vacaciones, mientras estábamos paseando con Venus por un barranco del monte de La Esperanza, encontramos los restos de un perro descompuesto. Si tuvo dueño, éste no tuvo el corazón ni el valor suficiente de ganarse el cariño y todas las satisfacciones que ofrece un animal de compañía.
También es cierto que se vedan muchos lugares al esparcimiento de los perros. Entiendo que hay muchos animales maleducados que no atienden a las razones de sus dueños. Por otra parte entiendo que los animales tienen sus instintos vivos… Si un perro está medianamente bien educado, no tiene por qué ser un problema si camina suelto al lado de su dueño (ayer Venus se cruzó con un corredor, al que no hizo ni caso, por ejemplo). Quizá habría que llamar la atención a aquellos dueños que dejan a sus animales sin atención alguna cuando están paseando, que no limpian cuando sus perros hacen sus cosas y recompensar con dejar pasear a los perros educados al lado de sus dueños, como los mejores amigos que dicen que son de los hombres.
(publicada inicialmente en tres partes: http://maritza-gonzalez.blogspot.com.es/2009/08/la-historia-de-venus-i.html entre agosto y septiembre de 2009)
Actualización:
Hace casi dos semanas que tuvimos que decirle adiós a este ángel en forma de perro. Fue la decisión más dura que tuve que tomar, aunque sé que fue la correcta. Eso sí, se fue después de haberle celebrado una fiesta en su honor donde vinieron personas que querían festejar su vida. Ya sus cenizas están en casa, tenemos un mechón de su pelo e hicimos impresiones de sus patas delanteras en arcilla. Siempre estará en nuestros corazones.
family · Work

Downshifting

slow-down-downshifting1

People that know me well know that I like to learn foreign languages. The ones that know me very well know also that I defend Spanish (my mother language): the “Spanglish” language that sometimes we speak without noticing it isn´t appropriate for me… Yes, I´m the contradiction made human. Sometimes there are some words that are difficult to express in my mother language: this is one of them.
I knew about the meaning just a few years ago, when I was practising myself and I was glad I wasn´t the only one in the world. Downshifting is a philosophy of life a little bit different from the “hurry-up” of our times. The main law is to downshift and go slower in all of your acts… Many people like me are doing it now,e even when they don´t know the meaning of the word. Many others may wonder how.
As always, the Scandinavians are ahead of everybody. It consists on not being so avaricious when it concerns to work (in other words, stop working as much as you can to get as much money as you can) and be content with enough to live… Right now I´m imagining many of you raising your hands, being surprised, calling me nuts. Its simply as trying to have an austere live, enough to live. No more, no less.
It´s understood that we all are trapped in a consumer society that “oblige” us to buy anything, even when we can live without it. I´m the first one to fall in the system but I try my best not to do it. For me it´s more importat to come back home to be with my family thatn anything else. It´s very important to be productive in your work hours. As some experts say, staying in our work lots of hours doesn´t  mean being productive: the work needs to be done.
I was like many of us: I wanted to improve in my career and get lots of money above all. I left a very hard work for an even harder one. The salary that was promised to me was more than OK with a reasonable shift. I thought that I couldn´t offer any better to my (at that time) small family of three (my daughter, my dog and me)… Ath the end, I got to lose one year of my daughter´s life (I lived to work all day) and summons at the court: I was defrauded.
I learned the lessons and I went to a job where I worked less hours but I was proportionally better paid. Of course, I couldn´t afford going out for a drink or diner every weekend but I could spend some more time with my family and for me. I learned to be happy with less money: I ajusted my spendings. I remember like yesterday when I called the credit card company (I only have one): the person that attended me couldn´t believe I wanted to reduce my card´s limit. My answer was clear: “My earnings has lowered, so my limit has to go down as well”.
Right now I have a job where I finish at six and enjoy life (that´s why we work, don´t we?). As a boss of mine used to tell us: “There are many moments in a worker´s life: time to wait for a client to receive us, time for bureaucracy, time to attend clients and time to rest”. And that´s what I do when I finish work: enjoy my (actual) enlarged family.
(First published in http://maritza-in-english.blogspot.com.es/2010/12/downshifting.html on December 11th 2008)
family · feminism · Politics · Uncategorized

Make feminism dissapear

patriarchy

How to write an article about feminism now that is so fashioned? How to make feminism be understood and why its existance? And above all: Why do I want feminism to dissapear?

A song from Offspring (Self Esteem) came to my rescue. It tells the story of an abusive relationship in which she brushes aside the boy, bugs out on him, insults him and even cheats on him… Ridiculous and funny situation at the time, right?: what a henpecked guy… until you change things up and it didn´t look like a parody anymore (and I´m not saying that all men are al the same and we, women, are always the victim).

That´s why that I decided to revert the roles like the song did so the persons that can´t understand what feminism stands for. Now I want you, men, to imagine a world in which:

  • You have to think carefully where to walk on the street in case someone comes to you and assaults you… more so if it´s at night time…
  • You have to take some of your time grooming yourself a lot (creams, make up, hair…) because society and the beauty canons for men say you have to do it. If you don´t, you´re not men enough.
  • You assume that you don´t have to earn the same salary than the rest, no matter how much you study or work, just because you´re men.
  • A position in life has been imposed to you that means that your professional goals and achievements are not important but if you were able to create and keep a family or how well dressed you always are.
  • To get that dream job you have to “pay the price” and let the powerful do or suffer degrading situations. If you don´t fall into line,  the most probable situation is that that job will be given to other that has accepted the contract holder´s whim.
  • When an abuse is reported from others to you, the idea that you consented the situation and all the versions of the story wouldn´t count, because you didn´t show rejection and let them did what they did. Yes, it has happened in Spain!!!
  • Even when you had straight As at the university, it is expected from you, guys, that you professional aspirations are left behind to form a family and support your partners in their own professional career…
  • When someone has to decide to reduce their working hours to take care of the family, the men are the persons that decide to cut their salaries and expectations, because that´s the situacion that is expected from them.
  • When a man goes out with many women he´s called a whore that is worth nothing and a woman that goes out with many men is a real woman. The double standard.
  • It´s possible that our boss at work force you to wear with certain clothes (normally sexy ones) and if someone resists to do so, this boss tells him that there are plenty men on the street that would like to have that job and won´t complaint as much.
  • The songs that we hear talk about women having affairs with men (at the same time or not), how they (the women) play with men, with their feelings, how the men are going to receive what they deserve and it seems absolutely normal. Your sons will hear it and will think it absolutely normal that a woman would come and abuse them: you wouldn´t care less that your son would hum these type of songs.
  • Women believe that men´s bodies were created just for their personal satisfaction: society has shown it as a normal situation. Any ad you see it´s a portrait of this idea.
  • The legislatives decide to create laws in which it tells men when it´s ok to reproduce or when it´s necessary to do a vasectomy… and all of them are women that do not understand the men´s nature.
  • Some women believe that, because men were created just for their personal satisfaction and they are in this world to serve them, when some men rises up and doesn´t want to continue a toxic relationship, they (the women) decide that “with them or with no one” and kill those men because.

Do you need more reverse examples to realise the situation? I could write many other examples but I don´t want to extent the article much more. For these examples and many more is why I desire feminism to reach its goal: to make a person be judged because of being a person, not because of his/her gender. When this happens, feminism automatically will stop existing, it wouldn´t have a reason to be. That day everyone will have to make a party to celebrate. I´m afraid that there´s so much to be done still that I won´t be seeing the day. We are on the way: don´t stop fighting.

I invite you to watch a video from 1971… not that far away…

family

Cooperation

 

family-working-together

We are sold: in the XXI century and we have many obstacules to surpass. And the examples can be seen around the corner, like a woman that forgot how to be herself for the sake of her children and also she has to take care of a third party as such, when he has to be a partner, her equal. Other that do all the homework and then complain that their partners don´t help (because they don´t give the men the possibility to do so). Women  that, even when they do a similar job, their salaries are lower than their male counterparts. Women that they don´t stop working, even when their working hours just finished hours ago…

I come from a direct line of working women. My great-greatgrandmother used to do barter on the La Gomera forest to the harbour, earning some money on the way by praying for people or animals. My grandmother emigrated with her family and came back to the Canary Islands where she started working in a small shop with her husband (my grandfather). My mum work at the Caracas University as a secretary when she was very young. When she came back to the Canary Islands, she was “only” a housewife. After some public examinations, she got a post as a civil servant. Years later she retired with a city medal. I can´t deny fighters´blood runs through my veins.

All of these can´t be done with their partners´cooperation (less my great-greatgrandmother´s case: single mother with children from different fathers at the beginning of the XX century). Without them, it would have been difficult to work outside home. In my father´s case, the change was radical: from not knowing to fry an egg to leave the kitchen spotted clean after he prepared a meal for us. In my own case, I can´t thank enough the invaluable my partner´s cooperation, attending my daughter (from a previous relationship) when I have to go to work in the afternoons.

Yes, cooperation, not help. We are no longer live in a world where the men were the only one that went out to work and women stayed home. Now it´s time to work together, organize our lives to have a healthier coexistence. Complement each other in the house chores: I clean, you prepare food, for example… And this cooperation has to be extended to the children. If this isn´t done this way, we will be ending with useless kids that depend on us and don´t appreciate what it´s done to make a comfortable home. The house chores are for all members of the family.

What happens with all those women that have non-cooperative partners? Nothing good, I assure you:

  • Strain sensation, like feeling that they have no time for everything
  • Helplessness, because she doesn´t feel valued. I know cases in which women separate after giving many opportunities and the partners, unconnected to the reality, don´t understand why, because they have been the main breadwinners.
  • Let´s be serious here: Who wants to have a marital relationship with someone you treat like your own child?
  • Identity crisis. If a woman dedicates only to work and be a mum, she will never have time for herself and her hobbies, losing herself on the way.

And given that in Spain the the family conciliation still crawls like a baby, lets do something in our own homes and start giving us opportunities: we deserve it.

And this is valid for all type of families…