My second dispatch from Texas is filled with abandoning old rules and being forced to stay dependent on my parents.

My remaining biweekly checks don't seem to go as far as I was hoping. I was paid last Thursday, I'll be paid next Thursday, and then I'll get a final 240 hour check. In the meantime, I've got gas tanks to fill, cartons of cigarettes for my husband and I which seem to run out faster from the stress, and so many groceries.

On a trip to Walmart with my host, I tagged along to the Dollar Store nearby. I've been in Dollar Stores before, but never a "Super" one like this one. I picked out some little activities for the girls - we're going to make door hangers with foam letters and stickers. I bought a few kitchen utensils. Then I hit the food aisle. I've never bought dollar or salvage store food before. In my mind there is something wrong with it. I remember seeing a report on Mexican toothpaste being sold at dollar stores. The point of the article was that the toothpaste was dangerous because it had not passed stringent FDA standards. If I'm not going to buy toothpaste from a dollar store, why in the hell would I buy food.


Then it happened. I saw a box of chicken flavored crackers. I lived off of Chick'n in a Biscuit's when I was little. My nostalgia overrode my food safety fears and I bought it. Once home, it sat on the counter for a week before I touched it. Finally, my hunger and curiosity won out. Yes. They were delicious.

A few nights ago, on a rare evening that I haven't cooked for the house, the 5 year old was dining on chicken nuggets. I've seen her put a pop tart on the floor, get scolded, then picked it up and eat it. Pop tarts you can brush off. Chicken nuggets you can't. She was wiggling in her seat and they all came crashing to the floor. I watched as her mother, who loves her dearly, told her to pick up those nuggets and sit at the table, since she can't sit up straight in the living room. I said nothing as she put the next nugget, floor-spiced, in her mouth and happily chewed. This girl is going to grow up immune to all diseases.

We came here with a 2003 Jeep and a 1993 Oldsmobile. Guess which one has taken all of my love for granted and has betrayed me. On a trip to husband's parents' house 15 minutes away, I felt the air conditioner turn warm. I asked my husband to look at the temperature and we were almost in the red. He's mechanically inclined, but when I said pull over he didn't. The county road we were on was two lanes with a tiny shoulder. It went in the red and he still did not pull over. The heater on full blast, the car began to ding. I am angrily saying "pull over, now," when finally there is a turn off. He had driven at least 2 minutes while the car was in the red before stopping in the parking lot of a church.


His father, a retired mechanic, drove out and looked at it. He drove us back to their house and then a few hours later, husband and his father retrieved the Jeep. Once at the house, father in law looked and declared it was the radiator. Husband spent 3 hours removing the radiator under the supervision of his father whose back is too bad to do any of the work. Radiator out, they took it to a shop and learned that it would be $105 to fix the blown cap, or $135 for a new radiator. We arranged to pick up the new radiator the next day.

Following afternoon, radiator in hand, husband worked again under his father's supervision to replace the radiator. There were no screws or bolts left over, so I was satisfied. Husband filled it up with water and took it for a test drive. Overheated again. Maybe there was air in there, they said. 3 hours of running, watching for bubbles, cooling and running again. Now the Jeep is sputtering. Looks like water in the oil. We probably have a cracked engine head or gasket - what you get from driving it while in the red.

They got it to the shop. It will be a week before the sleepy-towned mechanic can look at it. It will probably be $1500 to $2000. My husband is torn up about it and I want to yell, "I told you to pull over," but he knows that. I tell him it will be okay, while I call my father and ask him to tell me it will be okay. A few days before Father's Day my dad tells me they will put whatever we need in my bank account and I sob while telling him that I wanted to stop asking them for money. I wanted to get here and do it on our own and stop living off of them.

I tell him that I worry that I'm disappointing him by not being able to stand on my own and he went silent. When he did talk, his voice cracked as he told me about how grandma and grandpa paid for my braces and for my mother's father's funeral.