Friday, September 17, 2010

48 Gypsy Factoids

Morning Eyes
-noun: lightness of mind, character, or behavior; lack of appropriate seriousness or earnestness.
-synonyms: frivolity, flippancy, triviality, giddiness.

I've been too serious. "What's happened to all your goofball posts like you used to do?" she asked. "I'm tired of all this artsy philosophy stuff. Not that it isn't important... but you're my friend because you crack me up!"

But... I'm so not serious! Really. I just get serious sometimes. Further, if I don't figure out the serious shit, how can I have time and understanding for the fun stuff?!

Right about then, the irrepressible Fabeku Fatunmise over at Sankofa Song posted a wonderful blog titled 31 Things I Never Dreamed I’d Share On The Interwebs. He concluded with a challenge for the reader to do the same. Considering that the number of items listed is based on the author's age, I decided I'd better get busy... I'm going to be 49 two months from today.

So, here are 48 Gypsy Factoids. Some of you might know most of them, but hopefully I still have a few surprises left among my gypsy treasures. And, hopefully, it will satisfy the levity quota.

1. I'll be happy when I hit 49. What a long, strange, wonderful trip it's been. I wouldn't change a minute. I love that the older I get, the more me I become, and the less I give a rat's ass what anyone has to say about that.

2. I had just turned 2 when John F. Kennedy died. That day is my earliest memory. Both of my parents cried.

3. There are only three nicknames I've been given that I ever really enjoyed: Barbarian - a combo of my first and middle names (Barbara Ann); Baaba - the name my nanny kids called me (and sometimes still do call me); and Pinky Slut Muffin (oh, shut up - it makes me laugh whenever he says it). For your own safety, please note: Babs, Barbarella, Barbarino, Barbarosa and Barbie Doll are not on that list. Anywhere. *low threatening growl*

4. I started what is now my artistic career with a set of four rubber stamps. That was six years ago. I now have well over 1000.

5. My parents had five children. Mike, Tom, Nancy, Me, and John - in that order. To this day I don't know how my mother managed to hang on to her sanity.

6. When I was 6, I was the Belinda of the Day on the Bozo show. So, I got my 15 minutes of fame out of the way early in life.

7. I was 7 years old when I lost my first tooth. I was so happy because I was behind everyone else on the tooth losing scale. I thought I was a mutant and it was never going to happen. The janitor at my grade school, a wonderful old guy by the name of Mr. Watkins, yanked it out and wrapped it in his (clean) hanky for me to take home.

8. At 8 years old I went to my first opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors. To this day I can remember the amazement and awe I felt.

9. When I was about 9 years old, I asked one of my friends what the word fuck meant. She told me it stood for From Us Colored Kids. That didn't make sense to me - why would that make it such a bad word? Still, it was another three or four years before I found out what it really meant. Sometimes I miss being so innocent.

10. I have had 10 separate surgical procedures on my left leg. The last was in 2005 and I'm pretty sure that did the trick.

11. I smoked my first cigarette when I was 11 years old. I snuck one from my Dad's pack, took it up to my room and stood by the window puffing away.

12. Twelve, a dozen, I've always thought this was an odd way to group things. Why not an even ten? Here's an interesting answer. But I still think 12 is odd... for an even number.

13. I'm not afraid of the number 13. In fact, I'm not at all superstitious about anything.

14. My Grandpa Black was one of 14 children. To my Great Grandmother Black, I say, "Ouch! Did you really need farmhands that badly?!"

15. I was 15 years old when I lost my virginity. Actually, I didn't lose it, it was taken. You can read about that here... otherwise, 'nuff said.

16. I almost died when I was 16 months old. My appendix ruptured and it's such a rarity in a baby that they didn't even think to look for it. They actually thought that maybe I had a dead twin fetus stuck inside me.

17. I have had 17 pets in my life - 4 cats (at different times) by the names Scorpio George, Patches, Noodles and Midnight; 2 dogs, Nino and Smoke; a gerbil named Felicity; one tire track eel, Natty Tread; three oscars, Joey, Tig and Cheeks; three clown loaches, The Corsican Brothers (they were snail eaters); a plecostomus, known simply as The Lawyer (scum sucking bottom feeder); an Australian Blue Lobster, Rocky; and a whole plethora of neons, referred to as The Mob.

18. Eighteen years ago I was married and working as a nanny. Today, I feel like it was someone else's life... someone else's old home movie.

19. When I was 19 years old, I had to zip up my father's pants for him. He was already very ill - the cancer having spread from his lungs to the bones of his right arm. He was too weak and in too much pain to zip up his own pants. That moment saddened me more than his death did.

20. Twenty. The number of cigarettes in a pack. I'm going to quit smoking on October 1st. That's my goal. I just put it down in writing, didn't I.

21. I think 21 is a ridiculous "legal age" for drinking... teach your children well, and sans limites. When I was in Europe, there was no legal drinking age and there was never a problem. It's my belief that minors will, can, and do drink more because it's fun to sneak and get away with it.

22. Twenty two years ago I had a two night stand with a married man. I hated myself for it. It's the closest I ever came to contemplating suicide. It's the most difficult thing I've ever had to forgive myself for.

23. Twenty three is one of my favorite prime numbers. I don't know why. It just is. I have a love for prime numbers, for a thing that is solid enough to stand alone. I'm a very strange mix of math geek and artistic freak. Neither side of my brain seems to predominate.

24. Halfway there... halfway through my life... pant... heave... can we have a pledge break? An intermission??? This is hard doggonit! Of course, I've made it that much harder by deciding to use assigned numbers. I can be such an over-killing zealous wingnut!

25. I was 25 years old when I left Michigan and moved to Maryland to be a nanny. It was the best decision I've ever made. All other major events in my adult life go back to that single defining moment.

26. I have 26 teeth. My deformity is that I have no enamel on my teeth. Never have. I had four mollars removed before I could get braces. Much to everyone's surprise, my mouth was actually too small for all my teeth. I also had two impacted wisdom teeth removed.

27. I met my ex-husband just after my 27th birthday. At a Catholic singles dance. I know some of you are laughing riotously at this scenario, and that's okay. I do too... now. I chose to ignore all the millions of little warning flags hovering in his aura. I can be obtuse when I really try.

28. My mother was born in '28. That makes her 82 now. I love the way numbers yin-yang themselves sometimes.

29. My 29th post on this blog was on December 10, 2007. It was about a striking dream I'd had the night before, involving my Dad, my friend Bill, Bob Dylan, and flying. It's a dream that has stayed with me both in terms of beauty and feeling, and what I learned about what it meant. I always have very vivid dreams, but this one was particularly so. I could smell the flowers. I know when I smell in my dreams that I'm really paying attention to them. Read my post titled Dreamscape here, but not until you're done reading this one!

30. When something angers me I count to thirty. If it still angers me, I count to thirty again. Usually that's long enough to diffuse my anger to a low simmer, and that's enough to not lash out, but to be rational, calm and constructive. However, if I'm still angry after two separate thirties... watch out.

31. Thirty one years ago I graduated high school. That just sounds strange to say. I'm such a different person now than I was then. In fact, thanks to Facebook, I have more high school friends now than I did when we were all in high school together. Funny how life works out.

32. I hated my 32nd birthday. I felt absolutely stuck in my life in so many ways. I cried the night I turned thirty two. It was my worst year - I hated that stuck, lost feeling. I was too young to feel so old.

33. When I was 33 years old, I went to work for the Department of Theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington DC. Except that there was typing involved, taking care of priests wasn't any different than being a nanny.

34. The USA celebrated its bicentenial thirty four years ago, in 1976. Notable for me: My nephew Matt peed on my shoulders where he was perched to watch the parade.

35. At 35 years old I discovered the internet. I was reminded, once again, that there is a big huge world out there. I began to come unstuck. I changed my attitude and, surprise, surprise, my world began to change.

36. I was 36 when I chased my dreams all the way to the great state of Washington... and for the first time in my life, felt like I'd come home.

37. When I was thirty seven years old I officially donned a title I loathe... Divorcee. Even after all these years, even with my firm belief that marriage is an outdated mode of transportation, it still feels like a humongous black mark on my record. I still feel like I did something dirty and bad, even though I was doing what I had to in order to save both of us from a fate worse than death.

38. Thirty eight years ago I went to Hungary for the first time to meet all my Hungarian relatives. It was the best thing my parents ever did for me.

39. Disney World in Orlando, FL opened 39 years ago in 1971. The first time I went there was in 1980, with my brother Tom, his (then) wife Mary, my nephew Homer, and my Mom. Later, Tom moved his family down there and worked for Disney. Homer now works there, as does his wife (who he met there). It's still one of my favorite places to go to - I never have entirely grown up and I'm still enchanted by all the pixie dust.

40. I have 40 paint brushes. For someone who, just a couple of years ago, under pain and torture wouldn't have admitted to being an artist, that's pretty impressive. My inner artist is the best thing I've ever discovered about myself.

41. 41 years ago it was 1969, the year of the Summer of Love. I couldn't understand why there was so much anger and hatred in the world, or why there was this horrible thing called The Viet Nam War. My brother Mike bought his first 35mm camera and took this picture of me. To this day, it is my favorite picture of myself.
42. Forty two is the answer to the ultimate question of Life, The Universe and Everything. You'd know that if you read anything besides this blog. (R.I.P. Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.) "The only thing worse than not reading a book in the last ninety days is not reading a book in the last ninety days and thinking that it doesn't matter." ~Jim Rohn

43. Forty three years ago I began taking piano lessons. Knowing how to play music saved my life.

44. Forty four years ago my sister caught me sleep-peeing in the closet. She's never let me forget it. I'll never tell her, but I think it's hilarious now.

45. My 45th year was the harshest test of my emotional and mental strength. I lost my beloved mate of nine years, John, to bladder cancer. It has become the measuring stick to which all other "bad things happening" in my life are compared. Everything else falls far short of that.

46. At 46 I moved to the cabin in the woods... it was the wondrous calm before the storm.

47. I was forty seven when all hell broke loose and then came back around to good. What a year, and what a crazy fucked up whirlwind of a ride. Oddly, I found myself not overly worried, and really mostly unafraid. It was the pivotal year when I realized that no matter what happened, no matter where I was, I was me, and that being me is a good thing. As soon as I figured that out, I met Steve.

48. Forty eight has been the best year of my life. No question about it. I have Steve. I have great friends. I have art. I know that I'm loved, and better, that I'm lovable. I'm happy.

Your turn... hurry, before you get any older!


  1. #20 made me cry. You can do it!

  2. Wow. Ok, this is soooooo awesome and now, I have an idea for the beginning of a, you are sooooo brave and it is so much fun to read this, as I can relate to some of it. Once again, Fabeku is spot on with picking blogs/people I really this, you are great!!
    Levity quota met and exceeded...

    #32...but for me, it was my 30th I spent all night crying through, ditto on the too-young-to-feel....well, used up! Not so much, anymore, now that I just passed my 53rd!
    My 32nd birthday? well, that's a whole story in itself...

    #33 raised Roman Catholic, so this one? just made me laugh...uproariously. And I totally believe it, having been a babysitter, a nanny, a teacher of little ones and older ones to swim, read, and other things..too too funny.

    #13 - I love the number 13. I was born on Friday, the 13th! and my family calls me Jinx...yes, they do! and I like it, too. Come to love it, actually, after being embarrassed, etc. about it....see your "rat's ass" assertion! Woot!

    #37 screw "divorcee" I have a button that says, I'm not childless, I'm child-free. I'm husband-free, since 2000 and yes, it was the best thing we could have done for each other, ditto on the fate worse than death. Yes, I've struggled with feeling bad about it and that I did something wrong...and the flags, how many things were there to warn me not to marry him? Oh, my. "Obtuse" was my mother's favorite criticism of me.

    #5 I'm one of six children and my mother? didn't manage...

    #20 don't quit, surrender.

    #43 getting back to hand drumming, and making time to do it, as an important thing in my life and it has saved mine. Any day now, I will find another outlet for singing as often as I want to...

    Thank you for this, and I will have to go through some more of your blog, now!

  3. WOW you blow me away! #44 made me laugh out loud, thanks for the great beginning to my day... LUM!

  4. Love this. Wow. i think it's awesome that 48 is your best year yet. And i didn't even know you smoked! i do, too...didn't start until i was in my 20's. And don't ask me to quit with you because i don't think i'm ready for that yet!


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