I used to drive a Ford Pinto. In fact, it used to be Doug’s car. He actually gave me his old car when I learned how to drive. I think about that and it makes me cry. He taught me how to drive! He was the only person in the world who had the patience to teach a 15 year old girl how to drive. What a guy.
Anyway, my pinto. It was orange. Bright orange with racing stripes. Yellow racing stripes. I bought two funny bumper stickers for it. One of them said, “0 to 60 in 15 minutes.” The other one said, “Warning, this car explodes on impact.” Yes, even as a teen I had a sick sense of humor. But then again, someone actually made the bumper sticker so I guess I am not the only one. I loved it when people pulled up behind me. I would sneak a look in my rear-view mirror and smile at the reaction. They would usually be laughing.
I don’t have any photos scanned of my old car so, instead, here is a photo of me on my 7th or 8th birthday.
I am the most right-brained person you will ever meet. I think in metaphors and pictures. I feel. I perceive. I don’t think. This is how I navigate the world around me. This is how it has always been and how it will always be forevermore.
Imagine a person like me in math. It was a complete joke. I failed miserably in every math class I took in high-school. I didn’t get it and just gave up.
I went to college a few years later, after my years of being a nanny, and guess what? I had to go face to face with that old demon again. But this time around I was ready for the challenge. I worked very hard, spent all day sometimes on my homework, but I applied myself. It could be very frustrating at times but I kept at it until I got it right. I actually began to like algebra. It was refreshing, actually, to know that there was only one right answer to a problem. And if you followed the logical steps you would get the answer. What a concept! Miracle of miracles, I ended up with the highest grade in my algebra class! The same thing happened in my statistics class.
Please don’t ask me a math question though. All of that knowledge somehow found its way out of my brain cells. BUT it was good to learn that lesson: if you apply yourself you will learn it. You just will. It’s a law of the universe.
I am remembering the day I read a book the entire way through all by myself. It was the book, The Summerfolk by Doris Burn*. I was by myself and I seem to recall books on the floor all around me. The house was very quiet. Most of the family was out. I think it was after school in the afternoon. I remember being very engrossed in the story and the world around me seemed to disappear At the end of the book I closed it and realized I read the words all by myself. I remember how elated I felt! It was such an amazing feeling. It was the beginning of a whole new part of my life.
As I write this I am amazed at the detail I can recall during this event. I mentioned earlier that I have a hard time remembering certain things but those things that I do remember are with such stark clarity. I can almost take myself back to that moment.
Riding a bike was the same way. I was a little bit older than my friends by the time I was able to ride a bike; it didn’t click for me until I was in 2nd grade. It seems like my attempts at this ended in failure and I was more and more jealous of my friends when they gained this secret knowledge because it meant they were free to explore the farthest reaches of the neighboorhood. The day it clicked for me was a magic moment. Again, I was alone when this happened. It was in front of our house on our gravel street. It was a cloudy, chilly fall afternoon. After trying a few times it finally clicked for me and It was the most amazing feeling! I was so happy! I rode the shit out of that bike, too. All over the neighborhood.
*Doris Burn was an AMAZING children’s book illustrator. He medium was pen and ink and she drew intricate scenes of children doing interesting things. When I was little I would pore over the pages of her books for hours, looking at the illustrations. If you can get your hands on the 1969 edition of, “We Were Tired Of Living In A House” do it. That book is a reason why I learned to read so easily (and Richard Scarry played a part in that too. I heart Richard Scarry).
All dressed up and ready for the Halloween party. I think I am supposed to be a gypsy.
One Halloween when I was around 9 years old instead of Trick-or-Treating my mom decided to throw a Halloween party for all of the neighborhood kids. My little brother and I were friends with every kid in the neighborhood, so the party was huge. There were kids everywhere. My parents invited their friends over, too. So the parents had their “hot toddies” while the kids played games, told ghost stories, ate candy, and had fun.
Sometime during the evening my older brother, who is six years older than me, showed up to our little party. He was all dressed up. We couldn’t see his face; He had a mask on and a wig, and a hat of some kind. I think it may have been a top hat. We couldn’t see his face but of course we knew it was him. And we all thought it was so cool that he was there. He didn’t say a word the whole time. I think he was trying to act creepy and scary but we all thought it was funny.
This carried on for about an hour or so. We were eating candy, enjoying the games. All was well in our little world.
Then the front door opened. And in the door walked my big brother. What? How could this be? Isn’t this guy all dressed up in the mask and the top hat my big brother? All of the kids in the room looked at my big bro with wide, surprised (and slightly confused) eyes. We were frozen, like deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. Together, our little heads all panned over to look at the “other guy,” all of us simultaneously realizing the horror of the situation. The guy in the mask and the top hat, the one with whom we had been chummy all night long, the guy that we assumed was my big brother was not my big brother. The “other guy” was, indeed, a creepy weirdo.
This realization hit all of us at the same exact moment. The room was dead quiet. It was at this moment that the “other guy” seized the opportunity to say, simply, “Boo.” And then total chaos ensued. Every single one of us screamed at the top of our lungs and took off in every direction possible. There were kids everywhere. There were kids sliding down stairways, running in circles, finding hiding places, all while screaming at the top of our lungs.
Eventually I ended up downstairs in the basement where I found my best friend hiding in the closet, shaking with fear. We hung out downstairs for awhile and then eventually ventured upstairs again. We found out that the adults played a trick on us. The “other guy” was my best friend’s dad. Her dad was generally the quiet type and we never once suspected the “other guy” to be him in the least bit. It was a brilliant scheme. And I’m sure the adults had more fun than the kids that Halloween night.
*Note: I originally posted this in 2006. My older brother read it and said that he had no idea this was happening and was not in on it at all. I always thought he was in on the trick but he just happend to walk in at the right time.
I totally remember when this was taken. My Granny Mary and Grandpa Ed bought the cooking stove and they loved it. Granny Mary wanted to take pictures of us grandkids with her new stove so set up this cute little vignette that has me taking on the role of woman cooking and my big brother the role of man warming his hands by the fire. You can tell I am not very amused, even at this young age. A feminist already!
Also: dude. THAT PANTSUIT. Oh how I love the Seventies.