Recessed about the Depression or thereabouts

Reuters today said U.S. consumer confidence is the lowest it’s been since 1983. Sounds about right. One friend lost her part-time job in December, and there is NOTHING in sight. Two other friends still have jobs but say business is getting harder and harder and paying less and less.

And here, Down Under in New Zealand, I’ve quit a big job that didn’t suit, ended 30 years on deadline, and set out to rebrand, re-invent and revitalize mah own self. Right in the midst of a global depression/recession/shit storm. It’s all veddy scary.

Then I remember my grandma Moew’s favorite story, which she must have told me a hundred times. When my granddad died in the 1930s, she had $10 in the bank, three kids, and no business skills. Sure, she could pick cotton, and cook and clean and wash and care for her family, but making a living?

Miraculously, she made it – cooking at Oklahoma University fraternity houses until she was in her 70s. She worked and scrounged relentlessly, and when she died left her three kids a paid-for house and impressive bankroll to divvy up.

I wish Moew’s story could have been in Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Count Your Blessings edition. But maybe it wouldn’t have been warm and fuzzy enough. Her story included abuse, hard ugly times, self denial, isms and emotional blackmail. But it continues to amaze and inspire me. She was a tough old lady who saved my life.

Happy Shih Tzu!

Sounds like a holiday greeting, in China maybe? But way down in New Zealand, Cassie is our Happy Shih Tzu.

Like many Shih Tzu’s, Cassie has crappy genes. Bless her heart, for all her 12 years, she’s spent more time scratching her itches than Tiger Woods. No homeopathic salve or store-bought medicine has cleared up her skin problems.

And in the last year or two, her eyes have gone buggy. So often itchy, infected, or covered with matter. Or filled with medicines. And now the lights seem to be going out. Cassie looks but does not see, or probably won’t for much longer.

And yet I wish I could be as happy as this fuzzball of bad genetics.

Cassie is always smiling. Her tail is always wagging. Even if she’s been scolded for having an accident (she IS an old lady – what – 84?). Within microseconds she’s back in waggy mode.

I don’t think this is a Chinese thing. No, my Chinese wife does not wag her tail all the time, though she is doubtless happier than her gweiloh husband. And not all Shih Tzu’s I’ve known were perpetually happy. Our Ling Ling dog, who died at 14 last year, was supremely content and irresistibly cute. But not always waggy. Not happiness personified, er, dogified.

Nope, I think it’s just Cassie. If I weren’t Catholic and believed in reincarnation, I’d like to come back as Cassie. Despite the itches and bad genetics, I’d be happy. Happy every day. Happy just to be with my pack. Happy when alone and rubbing my face on the carpet. Happy when on my side, pretending to run (when I don’t think anyone is watching me).

Happy Cassie. That would be me.