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 »
Tag Archives: auto-biographical
In 1990, I was 12 years old. But forget that. It’s not really important. In 1990, Ghost was the big movie, the band Warrant released “Cherry Pie,” the chic wore massive hoop earrings and Converse all-stars, Cheers and The Golden Girls were popular, The Young and the Restless was the soap to watch, and slap bracelets were huge. Forget that, too. Not only is it not important but I had to look all that up. I don’t know it first-hand because I was a home-schooled kid who didn’t know anyone and had just relocated across the country with a mother and dad old enough to be my grandparents.
I don’t know how other kids feel about moving but I hated it. Then I loved it. Then I hated it again. Loved it. Hated it. Loved it. The cycles continued but eventually the periods of “loving it” lasted longer and the periods of “hating it” were relegated to days when the pollen count was high. Eventually what pushed me more into the “loving it” zone was the opportunity to pursue two interests: reading historical fiction and biographies side-by-side and hanging out in the jacuzzi at the new house, simultaneously. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been derelict in writing for weeks now. There are lots of good reasons or at least good excuses: I travel a lot for work, I have kids who I’m supposed to mother and a lot of volunteer work on my plate right now. It’s also true that I’m struggling to find the hook to get writing again, to make the words flow, and trying to find the way to give my history some shape and context so at least it makes sense to me, if no one else.
And I struggle with the meaninglessness of writing. Let’s face it: If you don’t know me personally (and few reading this do) and if I didn’t tramp this blog’s URL around on WordPress forums or Twitter, you wouldn’t be here. This blog is simultaneously an exercise in emotional decompression as it is an exercise in ego. I feel worthless and stress about that so I write about my worthlessness — but what I really want you to do is say, “oh, you’re such a talented writer – how can you feel worthless? You’re not worthless at all!” And some of you play the game and do just that — which simply increases the self-loathing.
How bad is the self-loathing? I celebrate successes momentarily and then move onto the next one (what’s the point in doing more? Success is fleeting) and I wallow in failure privately (I have no patience for sympathy). There’s no way to win here. But at least I’m being honest. Does that count for anything? Read the rest of this entry »
There are words that are hard to hear: Topping the list are moist, luscious, and ointment. Mother discouraged use of the word pants or its variants panties or underpants. We had to say slacks or jeans or underwear. She could never say bathroom or even restroom. When someone had to be excused to use the facilities, it was always to powder a nose — even for the menfolk. Talking in euphemisms was common. When my sister got pregnant, she had a bun in the oven. When someone unrelated to us passed away, we were told they kicked the bucket. To say that about a family member would’ve been cruel but about an acquaintance it was just a casual way to speak about the facts of life. By the way, I may be one of the few people you know of who was literally told about the birds and the bees. It was a few years afterward I learned about sex. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s one thing I’m pretty sure of. I am mother of two, wife to one, sister to many because my parents’ 1977 Lincoln Continental Towncar broke down in Podunk, MT in May of 1988.
In 1985 my brother graduated high school. Less than a year later my grandmother died. I hope I find the hook to write about her because she’s a person worthy of her own post. But the point here is that Raoul graduating and Annalise dying freed my parents to relocate. Fewer entanglements and, let’s face it: from a middle-class perspective, Annalise’s death meant that we were now kinda sorta rich. Dad wanted to move to Colorado.
Colorado was Dad’s heartland. Twenty-five years earlier he had briefly worked there as a deejay for a local radio station and he’d remembered it fondly since. Mother may have fed me milk but Dad fed me dreams of living in a mountain paradise where the summers were cool and the winters were quilted in snow. We would watch “Sound of Music” with Grandma Annalise and while she reminisced about Mother Austria, Dad would say “just wait until you see Colorado! It’s just as beautiful as those mountains. We’ll live there someday.”
Someday had arrived. Read the rest of this entry »
Lynette, Linda, and our brother Wayne were all less than 36 months apart and shared friends. When they’d sneak into bars using fake IDs, Wayne would be in the middle wearing his cowboy hat, Wranglers, boots, and too tight t-shirt. Mother called them, simply, “the Threesome.” Lynette and Linda would be on either side, one wearing black and red, the other wearing white and blue. Sometimes the girls would alternate. The three of them were the life of the party wherever they went.
Had they been in high school a few years later, Lynette and Linda might’ve been called ‘the Wakefields’ after the twins in the Sweet Valley High series. Same height, same size, same hairstyle, same eyes, similar personalities; Lynette a little more bookish, Linda a little more fun-loving. They would rock out in Linda’s bedroom, the last one down the long hallway, listening to Michael Jackson, coloring black velvet posters, and etching the backside of mirrors in the shape of unicorns and KISS logos. Their voices were so similar that when boys would call our home, one girl would take the other’s calls just for fun and flirt dangerously. Read the rest of this entry »
Independence Day reminds me that I am the smart one.
Just over 21 years ago today, my parents relocated to Montana from our former home nearby Scottsdale, AZ. To say that it was culture shock is a bit of an understatement but not for any of the reasons one might expect. This was no Brenda Walsh from Beverly Hills 90210 fish-out-of-water experience where I was the cool cat now in a schoolyard of local yokels. Montana was the place where name brand clothes came from Sears and the closest Target was 400 miles away. If there was a divinely created opportunity for a chubby, socially-inept 12-year-old to fit in, Montana was it.
Mother was in a tizzy with the small-town down-homey community events. They had never allowed us younger ones to go to the state fair, the park, shopping center carnivals, talk to neighbors, or anything similar because they were afraid we’d be kidnapped, molested, or exposed to drugs. But with moving to Montana, that all changed. Suddenly, Mother was organizing walks after dinner time, visits to the neighbors, and coordinating our attendance at community events including the 4th of July festival at the local historic fort.
This was definitely a subset of society I hadn’t been exposed to before. Not only were there dozens of other families but vendors of elephant ears and cheese fries, and the local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism featured jousts and demonstrations in the art of courtly dancing. Smokey the Bear and his ranger handler presented on the dangers of forest fires with the local smokejumpers. Read the rest of this entry »