I don’t know when girls start to notice boys but I started my career of boy crushing early. Some say daddy is a girl’s first love but not with me. It was Mr. Rogers. I woke up to that man almost every morning and loved him with a sexless passion that defines a little girl’s first romance with a television character. Once, Lynn and Lynette were talking in the living room about the boys they liked. Eager to get in on the conversation with the girls 12 and 14 years older, I chimed in, “but what about Fred?” Read the rest of this entry »
I’m fuzzy on the details but I know it happened while she was running. She is an endurance athlete, striving to complete her first 100-mile ultra-marathon. The farthest she’s accomplished is 72 miles on a run almost a year ago through central Washington in March – her body gave out due to hypothermia. Her feeling of failure was absolute, her shame considerable. Freddie’s made two attempts since then – both times disqualified at a checkpoint, moments too late. She’s determined, my sister, running thousands of miles a year and perhaps a hundred over a “normal” weekend – long back-to-back runs, often overnight, over the hilliest terrain metropolitan Portland has to offer. Ultra marathon runners don’t get medals – they get belt buckles. She is determined to get that belt buckle of accomplishment even though as girls in Montana we joked that large belt buckles are “tombstones for a dead dick.” It’s okay though. She’ll never wear the belt buckle and no one could confuse a woman with massive balls with someone who has a dick. Read the rest of this entry »
“Dad and I were talking about you taking classes at the university with me. There’s a program for kids like you.”
“Kids like me? What kind of kids?”
I must have looked bewildered. “What does precocious mean?” Read the rest of this entry »
When Dad passed away, his archives became available to us. Years of records, a file folder on every child, every property, every pet, every business. Most of my folders included drawings, birthday cards, the occasional award or picture but a fair chunk was dedicated to the history of my education, non-traditional that it was.
I was a parenting experiment. All children before me attended some form of traditional schooling, public or private, skipping a grade here or there. Raoul and Linda both started college at 16 but otherwise the older seven kids were within the range of common. My parents decided to buck the industrial schooling system entirely with me: Total home education. What this meant in the 1980s is that once a year I would go to the local elementary school for a few hours a day one week a year to participate in standardized tests. Providing I performed at or above grade level, the state would allow us to continue home education.
This once-a-year testing event was my only contact with children who didn’t share my genetic makeup. All those experiences you may not even register as experiences were new to me.
The first day of third grade assessment, my mother dropped me off at Mountain View with Miss Fredericks. Mother pressed some money into my hand. “You’ll need this for lunch. Just follow the other kids.” Read the rest of this entry »
But I want to collect, so badly. Disney pins, stamps, coins, letters, postcards, stickers, crushed flowers, spices, pictures, dolls, pieces of lint that look like presidents (that’s a joke…or is it?). The only thing that might make me happier than collecting is organizing the collection into some kind of obscure taxonomy that would make sense to only the most analytical. Collecting would give me control to create order. It would make me the Larry Page and Sergey Brin of my own little domain.
Speaking of organization, here’s a true story: In my teens, I used to make mix CDs and tapes for my friends. Nothing special there. Prehistoric cave man Grog probably did this for his long-haired Grettahilda using teeth rammed into a barrel and yak whiskers for percussion implements to make a music box filled with “Early Man’s Greatest Hits.” But for me, the art wasn’t just in the selection of songs but in their arrangement. Each song had to be connected to the next in some very precise way. Options included: Read the rest of this entry »
Thanks to Dad, I know when every centimeter of gum released its toothy bounty. I know the exact dates I was hospitalized, every music performance and who in the family attended, every road trip taken until I was 19. He logged his activities and those of whom he was around for every day of his life from January 3, 1974 until February 21, 2012. One page a day, one pad a month, every month. Filed away in chronological order, more than 450 notepads. The aggregation of an old man’s life and of those he touched. Read the rest of this entry »