It is a cold, rainy day here in the foothills of the Cascades. It's after 1 p.m. and I'm still in my jammies. Can't remember the last time I just lazed around without getting dressed right away. Blame it on my new facebook addiction (thanks Kim, Wendi, and Tonto... you couldn't have just gotten me hooked on heroin instead?!). I've been having such fun connecting with people from my distant past - many of whom I haven't heard from in 20-30 years. It's brought up a whole host of memories and even spurred me to go through old albums and shoeboxes full of stuff.
I received one note from a friend requesting that I list 25 random things about myself that might or might not be known. I've decided to post them here as well, so here is the list in its entirety as posted on facebook.com:
25 Things About Me
1) I was born on November 17, 1961. I was two weeks late. My Mom was so convinced that I was never going to come that she told my Dad to stop for coffee on the way to the hospital. Halfway through the cup of coffee I convinced her it was time. I was born an hour later... Dad always insisted there were claw marks on the tree outside of St. Mary's Hospital. My older sister was such a little hellion that when the doc placed me on Mom's chest and said, "Congratulations Mrs. Black, it's a girl!" she cried and said, "Oh god... not another one!"
2) Although my name is Barbara Ann, the Beach Boys song came years later. But don't hesitate to sing it to me... cuz I ain't never heard that before!
3) I was once the Belinda of the Day on the Bozo Show. My little brother couldn't figure out how I got in the TV and how I was ever going to get back out. When I was very young, Festus from Gun Smoke was my hero... I dressed up as him for Halloween when I was 6.
4) My Hungarian Grandmother has always been my hero. She was the only one who ever stood up to my Dad on my behalf. Pretty impressive considering he was 6' and she was only 5'1".
5) My Mom used to punish us for sassing by putting a dab of tabasco on our tongues. I got revenge by learning to love spicy foods.
6) My Dad was a verbally abusive alcoholic. About a year before I was born he started AA and his sponsors became my godparents. They were wonderful people and Mrs. K played a big part in my childhood. She was the only one I could ever talk to about my Dad's alcoholism. Sadly, he started drinking again when I was 3 years old. It's my first clear memory... him coming home drunk and my Mom being pissed. He never stopped drinking again and died of lung cancer when I was 20.
7) I once dreamed of being a nun. Serious! Of course, I wanted to be a nun like Maria Von Trapp and marry a handsome captain.
8) I used to be afraid of and intimidated by absolutely everyone in the world. I always felt like an outsider. Even with the people who I knew loved me. This did not change until I was 36 years old. I still often feel like an outsider, but now I don't give a rat's ass, and I'm absolutely not afraid of anyone any more.
9) I was 10 years old when I went to Hungary for the first time. I went with my Mom so she could meet her half brother - she had never met him before. The experience changed my life... through the darkest times, it helped me to know that there was a big world out there.
10) I went back to Hungary by myself when I was 16 years old. Imagine letting a 16 year old travel that far alone these days... to a communist country, no less! At the time, I was a bundle of inner turmoil and I think it saved my life to live in a place that felt safe to me.
11) I discovered poetry in Ms. Champion's english class. She played a recording of Sandburg reading his own poem, Fog. In a few short words I was transported out of the classroom. I remember feeling startled when she stopped the record player and started talking again. I knew right then that I wanted to be able to write poetry, that I wanted to convey words in a bouillion cube of thought that would yank at the sensibilities of others.
12) I took piano lessons from the time I was 6 years old until I graduated high school. Mrs. I was another one of my heros. I lived with her and her husband for two months in high school when my Dad was at his worst.
13) I love Winter... especially when it snows. I never really do get sick of snow. I always feel more alive the colder it is. I also love the darkness of Winter. Abundant sunshine actually bothers me... gives me headaches, and leaves me feeling uncreative. No wonder I love the Pacific NW!
14) I've been in love with Eric Clapton since I was four years old. I think he's been the only constant in my musical life.
15) I have always, always hated wearing skirts or dresses. I tried to fake it and pretend I could dress up, but I was never comfortable. I think if I'd been born back in the Wild West days, I'd have been one of those goucho wearing women. At least. (Yes, Wendi... I too remember the days of kneeling and having to measure the length of skirts!)
16) I've always gotten along better with men than women. I've always found this odd because I used to be so terrified and intimidated by any man (I thought they were all like my dad). But, men have always made more sense to me than women - their ways of dealing with things much more in tune with how I felt things should be dealt with. I used to joke that I'm the only female misogynist in the world... I find most women to be too prissy, manipulative and duplicitous... but I do have female friends. I'm just really selective. Don't everyone send me hate mail at once, ok?
17) I once had an erotic dream about Fonzi, years after Happy Days was off the air... he was an amazing lover!
18) I was a nanny for a wonderful family for 8 years. They lived in Chevy Chase, MD (just outside of Washington DC). We're still close and the boys have become fine young men (I'm certain it was all my fault). While I was with them, their mother was diagnosed with and died from breast cancer. It was one of the hardest things I've been through, but it was the beginning of my own awakening and realization that life was too short to worry about so many things. She taught me how to let go of stuff that hurt and how to push through my own resistance.
19) During my time as a nanny, I met and married my ex-husband. He was a nice enough guy, but we were totally wrong for each other. He had no imagination and no real interest in life outside of the television. Since I left him (in 1998), friends have come forward and said, "What were you thinking?!" Still, if I hadn't been with him, I wouldn't have met my best pal, Laura. Everything is for a reason.
20) I never had children (just never happened) and I only felt like I was missing out for about a year... and I think that was only because there was so much pressure to have children once I got married. I can quite honestly and selfishly say that I'm happy I never did. I really love my freedom and autonomy. However, I think I would have been an excellent mother if it had ever happened.
21) I occasionally have prophetic dreams. The most intricate and accurate one predicted the birth of my nephew. In my dream I was serving dinner to old people in a church basement (yeah, cuz that's so me, huh?). I was carrying an armload of empty plates back to the kitchen when the phone on the wall rang. I answered it and it was my younger brother, John. He said, "Hey, I was just calling to tell you I'm a dad! I have a son!!" I happened to look up at the clock on the wall and the time was 11:32.
When I woke up I looked over at my ex and told him about my dream. I said, "Wouldn't it be funny if Linda had the baby today?" Just then the phone rang. I answered it... it was my baby brother. He said, "Hey, I was just calling to tell you I'm a dad! I have a son!! He was born at 11:32 last night."
I still get goosebumps over that one.
22) I once very clearly heard my Dad's voice after he died. I was working for a produce store in Grand Rapids, it was early summer and I was working outside potting flower urns. I wasn't even thinking about my Dad, but suddenly from behind me I heard his voice, "Hey, Punkin'" I turned around and there was nobody there, the parking lot was deserted. But I know what I heard.
23) In 1998 I was working for the Theology Department at The Catholic University of America in DC. CUA had just lept into the 20th century and gotten internet connection. My supervisor said, "I don't care what you do on the web, just figure out what it is. Have fun!" I ended up in a chat room for people who loved books. It was there that I met the great love of my life, John Johnson (see picture below). He had me at "So, what is this? The bored hausfrau's club?" I was pissed and laughing at the same time. We quickly developed a raport and I was absolutely enthralled with his virtual voice. Not long after we fell into a 6 hour phone call. He told me all about life as a paraplegic... I told him all about life as an overly sensitive soul who feels too much, too clearly. It was completely apparent to me that no matter what else happened in my life, I had to meet this man! So, two and a half months after meeting him online (and never having seen him face to face), I packed up two suitcases, two boxes, and my sewing machine and hopped aboard a Greyhound headed West. I never looked back. John was as amazing in real life as he was in the virtual world... no... he more amazing in real life. He changed my life.
in October of 2006 John was diagnosed with cancer and died in May of 2007. He died in our bed at home with just me there holding his hand, which is what he wanted. I miss him more with each passing day. I miss his quick wit, his laughter, his deep baritone voice, the scent of the back of his neck, his handsome dark brown eyes... everything. If I was told that I could have him back for five minutes, but that it would mean the end of my own life, I would do it without a moment's hesitation.
24) From 1998 until this past September, I lived in Kirkland, WA (a suburb of Seattle). When my lease was up I started looking for other places. The further out of the city I looked, the further out I wanted to be. I finally found my cabin in the woods. I've never felt more at home in a place than I do here, next to the solidity of the mountain with the sound of the river rushing by. I've never been more content, nor have I ever been so creative. This place was calling my heart from way back when... I know it was. I love the wildness of it (I've seen bears!), the rustic beauty, the laid back atmosphere, and the fine people I've met.
25) I've never really been a dog lover. So, imagine my surprise when Scott brought Nino home to me and I fell madly in love. My sweet pit bull adores me as much as I adore him, and his unconditional love has healed something in me. He's managed to paste together the shattered remnants of my broken heart in a way that no human could. He's my best pal, my guardian angel, and my constant companion. He knows my moods and what to do about them before I do. I've never met a more sensitive soul.