Some Random Thoughts About Me
I’m old. And I’m tired.
I’m retired. In over 50 years of work, I’ve done a little bit o’ this and a little bit o’ that.
At the age of 8 I had my own paper route. I also was a paid animal caretaker and mowed yards (and as an old boyfriend used to tease, I was burnt out by the time I was 10).
I’ve worked as a housekeeper, a painter’s model, a microwave oven demonstrator in a furniture store. Worked in retail, as a waitress/cocktail waitress, car hop, fry cook, janitor. I was among one of the first urban 4-H leaders. I served long stints as a medical and legal transcriptionist, a debt collector, a clerk, a secretary, a weekend tour and activity director and flight attendant for a land development company that flew prospective buyers from Texas to New Mexico. I worked as an administrative assistant to a large corporation’s chief scientist, an administrator, held various supervisory positions, served as a government liaison officer, delivered workplace training, and as a writer and proofreader. I’ve sold Stanley Home Products and greeting cards. I’ve done substitute teaching and tutored Spanish. Had my own catering business, my own bookkeeping/office assistance business. Had my own marketing business and performed public relations for a children’s author. I’ve written training manuals and flow-charted and written computer program instructions.
Before I got so tired and when I had my own home, I used to enjoy putzing around. One of my favorite places to visit is a hardware store. I love power tools, and I’m kinda’ handy, for a girl anyway. I have done some plumbing, some simple electrical work (installation of fans/lights/new outlets and switches). I like to build ‘stuff’, too.
A long time ago I had an Opel. I used to do my own oil changes and tune-ups, including setting the timing. My boyfriend at the time was pretty much an all-thumbs type, so I did oil changes and tune-ups on his car as well. I also taught him how to repair holes in dry wall. On top of working for cheap, I looked pretty damned cute in bib overalls back then. I have a dear friend of some 30 years who still loves to tell people how I was the person who taught him to operate power tools and how to build a gazebo.
Favorites: I love to decorate. My BFF in the Southwest and I once spent eight hours decorating a corner of her living room…just a corner. We once stayed up all night trying to find just the right color…for something (I don’t remember what). While her husband slept, she removed hanger after hanger of clothing from their closets…as we explored finding ‘just the right color’. I also love photography, especially the drama of black and white.
My very first love was flying. My Dad was a pilot and I started flying with him at about age 3-plus. I really liked aerobatics (and still do, tho’ it’s been a while since I’ve done that). Went to an air show in Santa Fe one year (some time ago) and hitched a ride with a pilot I knew. We flew out over close to Los Alamos and he put that beautiful, shiny red Decathalon thru’ its paces—hammerhead stalls, barrel rolls, loop-d-loops, etc. The very next day another pilot climbed into the cockpit of that beautiful red plane and took it up for some maneuvers. Minutes later he plowed it into the ground. The Decathalon’s wreckage took up a space of maybe 15 feet in diameter and perhaps 4 feet in height. Sobering.
My second love was (and still is) dancing. I love men who know how to dance…uh, I mean REALLY know how to dance. I once danced the tango all night with a guy from Columbia. I was in Tarapoto, Peru, at the time, and he was there, working as an engineer on the ConSelva Project (construction of a highway through the jungle). I still remember the freshly washed and starched blue Oxford shirt he wore that night…he smelled sooo good.
I used to entertain a lot and really enjoyed it. It gave me the opportunity to cook and watch people come together. I also enjoy jewelry-making, scrapbooking, sewing. Sometimes I enjoy writing…even poetry. Sometimes.
I was the oldest of four…by a lot of years. In fact, I’m old enough to have been the mother of two of my brothers. Our Mother worked (sometimes multiple jobs), so I ended up spending my junior and high school years tending to babies, cooking, and cleaning. I could cook a full meal by the time I was 11 or 12. I was babysitting a toddler at the age of 11 or so. I still refer to my baby brothers as “boys,” though they are in their fifties now.
I never married. I thought about it several times, but then thought better about it. One time the date was set: April 20. The fellow was about 10 years my senior and I was quite taken with him because he was older plus a classically trained pianist. Just think…I’d be married to an ‘arteest’. But I was quite a virginous young girl. Back in my day you were either a Friday night girl or a Saturday night girl. Well, I was the Sunday morning girl. The one they always took to church followed by dinner at the parents’ home. The pianist was determined to have his way with me before the marriage, and I was determined to save it for the wedding night. He got fed up and left me alone on a chilly, misting night in the middle of the A&P parking lot on South Madison Street.
Another time I came close to marrying but got cold feet and kept re-setting the wedding date. Finally, I asked the dude what it was he wanted out of marriage. He said he wanted somebody to take care of his things. His things. NOT his thing. But his things. I told him he needed to hire a maid instead and walked out.
On one auspicious night two fellows showed up at my house and proposed. I found it quite amusing that they arrived in the same vehicle. I loved both of them, but not in a romantic sense. One of them I know is now deceased; I lost track of the other.
I once broke up with a guy by throwing all his belongings out in the yard—there was underwear everywhere—hanging on shrubs, from trees, etc.
I don’t regret not having married. And I don’t regret not having children. Sometimes I do regret the lack of grandchildren, though.
And for many years I’ve regretted throwing his underwear in the yard.
In spite of a pretty awful temper, I like to think I have a good sense of humor. Perhaps it is something inherited from my Mom, altho’ she was the champ of dry witticism. I enjoy humor that is close to slapstick. My favorite movie is “The Great Race.” I saw it at the movies at least a half-dozen times. I’ve watched it at home at least that many times or more. I used to have the lines memorized. I still laugh like a hyena every time I watch it.
Food: I’m mad for green and red chiles—New Mexican variety—Hatch. Chiles are a lot like sex. If they make you cry, then you know they’re good, really good. I love to cook…or at least I used to enjoy it. Nowadays it doesn’t make a whole lotta’ sense to slave over a meal, when…again like sex…it’s over in a matter of minutes.
Religion: I loved going to church as a child. I used to say prayers faithfully. I have a collection of crucifixes and other religious artifacts. One plastic crucifix was given to me by my grandmother when I was probably 10 or 11. Collecting religious art is really very strange, you see, because I am not a believer.
My maternal Romanian grandmother was a great influence on my life. She wanted nothing more for me than to be baptized. She must have been really worried for my soul because once she came to the house and baptized me with a fountain Coke. Pulled the straw out of the cup and with the sign of the cross said, “In dee name of dee fahdder, dee son, and dee holy goze, I babb-dize dee.” I figure if it was gonna’ take…that baptism from her…it surely would have, every bit as much as if it had been performed by a priest at St. Lawrence.
She and my grandfather came from Europe in the early 19-teens, and they were believers. That faith of theirs probably saw them thru’ lives that were anything but easy…death of children, hardship, poverty, etc. Thru that and then into old age my grandmother was refreshingly childlike in her attitude. She had a wonderful laugh, nay giggle. She was sweet and kind and just. The last two weeks of her life she took to her bed. She would drink only sips of wine…we thought she probably thought it was Holy Communion. She held onto an old crucifix, never letting go. Every once in a while she would hold it up in the air, as if to admire it, then bring it to her lips and kiss it. She’s been gone 40 years now. I still miss her. I still wish I could call her.
I lost a brother. He was just 39 years old when he died after a mysterious/unidentifiable illness that lasted 3-1/2 days. Gone. I always suspected he was gay, and an acquaintance of his confirmed it after his death. He also was diagnosed as schizophrenic just a few years before his death. His life, in my opinion, was so terribly sad. A friend of his—a physician–confided in me that Scottie was one of the brightest individuals he had ever met. Scottie lived for ham radio and electronics. We used to tease that for Christmas one only need to buy him a vacuum tube (as in an old radio) necklace and a set of Odor Eaters, and he’d be in seventh heaven…wherever that is. I’m ashamed to admit that toward the end of his life I ducked his telephone calls a lot, as the conversations sometimes were so disturbing. Scott was indeed challenged, and I failed him–I wasn’t there for him.
Yet, he was there for me. When I broke up with the Underwear Man, I was absolutely brokenhearted. Scott was on the next plane out to New Mexico to stay with me for a coupla’ weeks…I know just to comfort me. Several in the family felt he contacted us after his death…very strange. I felt the same…there was such a presence of Scott that remained years after his departure.
Politics: I’m addicted to politics. I never knew it, but of late friends have reminded me that I’ve always been highly political. I’ve always been a highly opinionated person, and a dear friend of mine used to tell me I should have gone to law school because I suffered such righteous indignation. I have no idea how he formed THAT opinion. Too bad I lacked the self-esteem or self-image to have done just that.
More About Me: I like to blow bubbles and color (though not necessarily at the same time) even as I edge ever nearer to my seventh decade of life. There is something really soothing about removing a fuchsia-colored crayon from its box, and concentrating to stay within the lines—something I’ve always resisted, literally and metaphorically.
I am a dog person. It sucks when you lose ‘em, but they have so much to teach us by their lives and by their passing. They are practice for us (unfortunately) for the loss of friends and family. I never knew how it felt to be loved unconditionally until I had my first dog. Oh, I was probably loved unconditionally before then…but that dog taught me how to recognize it.
I love to meet all different kinds of people. I could care less about color, religious beliefs (unless somebody tries to jam it down my throat), nationalities, etc. There is a type of person that I don’t like: I can’t stand liars or cheats or thieves.
In the ‘60s I worked in the black community as one of the first urban 4-H leaders teaching the kids how to cook real meals from commodity foods, how to plant a garden, and how to sew. Alongside a lovely black woman named Carol Lee, we headed up a few other programs for kids–a kids’ choir, a newsletter, and tutoring services. One of my best memories was that of a little 12-year-old girl who took a blue ribbon at the Delaware County Fair for a dress she had sewn. She had absolutely no faith in her ability to do that at the outset of learning to sew. It was wonderful to see this little girl blossom into this beautiful young person after taking that prize. I’ve often wondered what became of her. I hope she continued to bloom.
I try not to fashion heroes. I believe it diminishes a person to have heroes; I encourage others to become their own heroes.
More on Death: I lost a classmate in the sixth grade. He was riding a horse when his brother leaped up on the back of the horse. The horse spooked, threw off the classmate but his foot got caught in the stirrups. The horse charged through the barnyard, and the boy hit his head on the corner of the barn. He’s buried near my paternal grandmother and grandfather, my brother, and my Dad. Another friend was killed in a car wreck that also killed three others. She called me that night and had asked me to go out on a double-date with her and her boyfriend. I knew she had started drinking and I didn’t want to be a part of that scene (we were both underage). So, I declined. That night, the fellow driving her car was drunk and drove under a semi. My friend and the other girl were beheaded. A few other friends were also killed in car wrecks. That happened a lot back in the early ‘60s. In 2005 I lost a dear friend to leukemia. She was my ‘Albuquerque Mother’. She was from back east and had this charming impatience and abrupt manner. Her sister-in-law told me that at the end of her days she had been transferred to a hospice facility. After being there for a couple of days, she called over a nurse and asked, “I wanna’ know why the hell I’m not dead yet!” That was my friend Eleanor…to the very end.
Sports: I love to watch professional baseball. It’s a slow-moving game…one can down a meal, beverages, and visit with friends in between the whooping and hollering and hardly miss a beat. But I miss players like Sandy Koufax, Maury Wills, and Johnny Bench. That was back in the day when the Boys of Summer played for the love of the game. Talking about baseball also reminds me of my little brother Scottie. When he was around age 3 or so, if you asked him his favorite ball players, he’d say, “Roy Campbanana,” or “PeeWee Weese” or “Yogi Bear.” What a laugh that would get. Come to think of it, at the age of 2-1/2 or so, whenever you asked Scottie what he wanted to be when he grew up, he’d say, “A police car.” Or, sometimes: “A fire engine.” Precious.
Friendships: I have a wonderful circle of friends. Most of them have been my friends for years and years—some 40, some 50 years or longer. We can be apart for years and then when together, it’s as if no time has gone by. By and large they are all fun and terribly funny. They make me laugh. I have newer friends, too. They were all there for me when I was diagnosed with cancer. And even knowing I’m not a believer, they formed prayer chains for me. They were there for me while I was the chief caregiver for my Mother for nearly two years (and at the same time going thru cancer treatments). They were there for me when I lost my job and then my home to foreclosure. They were there for me when I had nowhere to go…and gave me a place to live. They were there when we buried our Mother. They were there when I lost my little dog 10 weeks later. I am so very blessed to have such good friends.
I’m disgusted with most current events. I’m disgusted with my government and not feeling all that positive about national/state/or local politics. I wonder what happened to the country I thought I knew 40-50-60 years ago. I see a culture that has been dumbed down. I see crude and rude behaviors (albeit, admittedly I practice some of them). Hey…when in Rome…right?
My Take on Life:
Whenever one of us grandkids would pass gas, my Romanian grandmother would say, “Der, der. Eeze okay. Daze more rrrroom on dee outzide den der eeze on dee inzide.” In my twenties I realized that not only was that true about intestinal gas but also about emotions. There IS a lot more rrrroom on dee outside den on dee inzide. It’s healthy to share. Just be certain you’re willing to listen to others as much as you share with them. Otherwise, your friends might start feeling that they’re sitting in a room all by themselves.
A few years after my Romanian grandmother died, my Romanian grandfather told me, “I tink gott fohgot about me.” If you have unshakable faith in The Almighty, I doubt he’ll (or she’ll) forget about you. In the meantime, and if you lack that faith in an all-powerful being, just hang in there—everything changes with time. Nothing ever stays the same. We need to learn to welcome the hard times. After all, how would you ever know light, if you’d never experienced darkness? Life is a string of impermanences.
At the age of 17 or so, I was returning to work after a lunch hour. Somehow, this elderly gent started walking alongside me. In a block or two, he imparted such a profound message to me. He said, “Just remember, young lady, it’s not the things that you do in your life that you will regret. It’s the things you didn’t do.” Now, after almost 70 years, I attest to that.
To return to Peru.
To see Europe.
To complete a doctorate degree.
To fall in love one last time…and I hope he’s a pilot.
To dance the salsa or tango with that pilot.
To hitch a ride in a biplane.
To move back to New Mexico.
To learn to fly (a plane, that is).
To leave everyone I meet…this earth…in a better place for my having been here.
To laugh my way to the very end.