Saturday, December 14, 2013

100 Things about me

2012 concrete sculpture, my first and only, so far.
I finally found a decent reason to write again, though that's for you to judge.  I read a list titled "100 Things about Me" on another blog.  I thought, 'Here's an opportunity to take stock of my past, present and future".  After all, this blog is entitled "Post Widowhood: [Building] from the Ground Up". 

Actually, I had no idea making this list would take nearly a month, but it has.  It's morphed from soap box to confessional to revelation to taking stock to manifesto.  It's got a bit of all these.  Perhaps this list belongs in a therapist's office.  Heck, read it.  I truly hope you enjoy reading it.  But, more important, I hope you make a list about yourself.  You may discover the very special person within that body you inhabit.

"Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world."   Arthur Schopenhauer

100 things about me 
  1. I was born on April Fool's Day
  2. I cannot tell a joke to save my life
  3. In my teens, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up - a famous artist
  4. You have never heard of me because I did not grow up to be a famous artist
  5. As a kid, my birthdays came complete with an April Fool's joke, like the birthday cake that was really a box covered in frosting
  6. My Dad still lives in the house where he and my mother raised us.  He's 100 years old
  7. I feel so blessed to have grown up where I did, in New England
  8. I was a program girl at Tanglewood, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's summer home from age 12 to 18
  9. Dressing up in a long gown and white gloves, handing out programs to the sophisticated people from New York and Boston and God knows where, who loved classical music as much as I do, was such a treat
  10. Mother was a classy lady, smart and fashionable, who worked in D.C. for the government during WWII
  11. She would get drunk and tell me of the wonderful life she lived before she married and had children
  12. She inspired me to move to New York City, where she had once lived
  13. My mother asked two simple things of her children - unquestioned obedience, and appreciation
  14. Unfortunately, only one of her children was well behaved and appreciative, and it wasn't me
  15. I am the youngest of four siblings, by a noticeable gap
  16. I was born quite by accident, my Mother told me
  17. I was born quite cross eyed and was 29 years old before I could see using both eyes
  18. I did not fear the bullies at school; it was the bullies at home that terrified me
  19. My siblings and I are now great friends and my mother is in a better place
  20. I am grateful my childhood home had no TV; it did have a piano
  21. I convinced my mother to let me take piano lessons when I was 5 years old
  22. I played the processional march for my 6th grade graduation
  23. That piano awakened my deepest longing - to create graceful, passionate work that could reach out in love to others
  24. My drawing skill, though, made people happy and appreciative
  25. As a teenager my poor mother got the brunt of my inner rebel
  26. I played hooky, drank, took drugs, had sex, and shoplifted
  27. I stopped misbehaving by age 20; drugs and all were clouding my judgment
  28. Besides, I had something to prove to my family: I wasn't an April fool
  29. My eyes are blue green
  30. My favorite color is blue green
  31. My hair was blonde and has come full circle
  32. I relate well to cats - cats live life on their own terms except when they're hungry or need affection
  33. I adopted two cats, Nip 'n Tux, rather than live completely alone eight years ago
  34. I have been confiding my thoughts in 'for my eyes only' journals for just about my whole life
  35. My journals have seen me through the normal existential angst, plus widow's grief, and two deep depressions
  36. Several revelations have rocked my world - I am loved by God;  pleasure is a virtue, not a hedonistic sin; Life is to be trusted with our unconditional "Yes"; Life is not to be confused with circumstances;  my own need for emotional support is legitimate; I withhold from myself what I most need: appreciation, and it's time to stop staunching its flow
  37. I was widowed 9 days after my 52nd birthday
  38. These last eight years are the first time in my life I've lived alone
  39. I lost my best friend when my husband died, but have made a new very good one
  40. My social circle shrank to include only my family and a couple friends during the height of 24/7 caregiving and many years afterwards
  41. I am learning how to make friends all over again, and I have my share of flops
  42. I am learning who I am, and I have plenty of time and room to do so 
  43. Writing this blog has allowed me to reveal the woman behind my quiet exterior
  44. Though my heart's message to one and all is "Life's an embrace!"  "Let your cup runneth over!" actually expressing it openly is something I only do with written, visual or physical language
  45. I'm not a talker, and as hard as I try, sharing doesn't come easily
  46. Ever since my fingers first touched piano keys, maybe at 2 years old, classical music has provided these messages to me  "You are important" "Let your love show"
  47. I had a crush on Jim Morrison of the Doors when I was a teen, and I still love his song "Come on, baby, light my fire"
  48. Blue jeans have been my clothing of choice since high school
  49. I bartended in a speakeasy at my first boyfriend's college dorm when I was 17
  50. I hitch hiked as a teen
  51. I made the mistake of hitch hiking in Boston, but jumped out at a stoplight
  52. I lived one summer with a young man, a hippie, when I was 20 
  53. I took a year off from college in Boston to grow up and get my act together
  54. I worked at a needlepoint design studio overlooking the Boston Public Gardens, and designed a couple needlepoint pillows for the Boston Symphony Orchestra
  55. I attended three colleges in order to try different places to live
  56. I finished up college in New York City and lived there for 12 years
  57. One of my professors was Maurice Sendak
  58. I sketched for a living my entire adult life 
  59. I am left handed and right brained; logical, linear thinking actually feels convoluted; it's quite difficult to sort memories out sequentially in order to tell stories
  60. I took an I.Q. test in my thirties. I feared I was dumb because words don't flow from my brain to my mouth very easily 
  61. To my complete surprise, I'm not
  62. My late husband didn't believe for a minute that I was dumb; just the opposite
  63. I cannot go through a day without greeting someone with a smile, and I love making someone smile
  64. I find body language more honest and revealing than spoken language
  65. Until I was age 44, I believed that intelligence was a higher calling than any other and that people who know the most are at the top of the heap
  66. I might not have been dumb, but I was an idiot  
  67. I am a sensory person;  I live and breathe by the touch of air on my cheek, water on my body, snowflakes on my tongue, the strength and grace in my body, almost everything my fingertips feel
  68. I live and breathe by the quiet stillness of night, the rushing wind, the conversations of birds and squirrels and cats and Katydids and Spring Peeper tree frogs and Cicadas
  69. I live and breath by the slow pink creep of dawn, the pelting droplets of rain on the pond, the arch of the Great Blue Heron's head, the twinkling stars, the color of tropical sea and flowers, the swell of waves; my list is endless
  70. The inner joy I feel when two lovers have a conversation, without a word being said, is something I hope to experience again 
  71. The inner joy I feel when someone reads what I'm saying here, or 'reads' what I'm saying with my visual language is the inner joy I imagine some people feel when they hold conversations
  72. My gardens are my works of art
  73. One has to walk through them to experience them; they are my gift and my embrace to you
  74. Two dimensional artwork interests me less than it used to, both producing it and viewing it 
  75. My last full time job was in advertising on Madison Avenue, 34 years ago
  76. 34 years ago, at age 26, I started my own freelance illustration business in that industry
  77. One of my favorite clients was Toy R Us; another was Purina
  78. I retired when my late husband took early retirement
  79. I had deadline nightmares for years afterwards
  80. I never missed a deadline
  81. I danced at Studio 54 when Andy Warhol hung out there
  82. I lived in Greenwich Village
  83. I exhibited once in a gallery there; nothing sold
  84. I went contra dancing most Friday evenings, in the village
  85. I walked two miles to eat breakfast in the Empire State building almost every day
  86. I went to baseball games at Yankee and Shea Stadiums
  87. I moved out of my city apartment into a house in the suburbs when I married at age 32
  88. I was terrified I wouldn't relate to most Moms and families here in the suburbs, and unfortunately I don't
  89. I've lived in the same house on a wooded acre with a pond for 27 years, just 50 miles from New York City
  90. It's where my heart is; it's where I belong, for now
  91. These last eight years I've learned how to fix a sump pump, run a lawnmower, a snow blower and a generator, hang wall paper, manage finances, generally keep my computers running, do basic carpentry and electrical work
  92. I could not manage without my right hand man, a carpenter I met by chance (?) at my city's recycling center
  93. I have traveled round the world, to 5 countries on my own in the last 8 years
  94. I have yet to enjoy cooking for one on a regular basis
  95. My refrigerator is so stuffed you cannot see the back
  96. I took up bicycling when I was 53, running when I was 57, and swimming when I was 58
  97. During Hurricane Irene in 2011, I bailed water from my basement for 32 hours straight, and saved my belongings
  98. I've pretty much learned to take basement floods and blackouts and blizzards in stride, or else I'd move
  99. For me, the 'gift' of difficult times, when I'm discouraged and lonely, is learning that happiness is truly an inside job
  100. These days I wear a bracelet on my wrist that says "Y'NEVANO"  (You never know)

Me, second from left, wearing the eye patch.  Not a happy day