Wednesday, December 4, 2013

38: a self-portrait in haphazard bits

My birthday came and went last month.  Because I was born in the month of Thanks, last year I listed 37 things I was thankful for.  That list hasn't changed a ton and lately I'm thankful for darn near everything.  So this year I'm doing something different.  I always appreciate random blips of information about people; it makes me feel like I know them better.  For you, tonight:

38 entirely haphazard bits about me (not my kids nor my husband), as they popped into my head as I was writing this.

In no particular order:

1) I once worked in a restaurant where one of the prep-chefs (a vegetarian) was nicknamed "Bacon Girl" due to her proclivity to sneak crispy pork belly strips whenever the opportunity arose.  We don't have or receive TV and I am so thankful for that, both for our kids and ourselves.  But I am also like Bacon Girl.  Since 2007 I have watched "Survivor" like an addict.  Last winter my man and I finished out the entire "Desperate Housewives" series, streamed from Netflix.  Now days, I return from a week of vacation and look forward to putting the kids to bed and folding piles of laundry while catching up on "Parenthood" and Survivor and have mentally logged January as the beginning of season 4 of PBS's "Downton Abbey."  Bacon Girl all the way!

2) I have broken my back in two places and herniated one disc.

3) As a kid, I was a gymnast (see above).  I can still hold a mean handstand.

4) I taught myself to knit when I was nine from a book my dad bought at Green Apple Books in San Fransisco.  I probably still have it.

5) Mary Oliver and Pablo Neruda are my favorite poets.

6) I never knew if I would have children or not.  In my early twenties I thought definitely not, and in my late twenties I thought maybe.  By thirty I was thinking, yeah I probably will.  Our decision and choice to bring another life (lives) into this world was quite deliberate.

7) I was pretty sure I would love my dog more than my children.  I was wrong.

8) I grew up with my mom and step-dad in a colorful hippie town in western Oregon during the school year.  In the summers, I romped the hot desert of Nevada with my dad and step-mom.

9) Technically, I don't have a step-mom.  Technically, she is my dad's girlfriend of thirty-some years.  They keep threatening to elope once they reach their 80's...rushing off to Vegas to be married by Elvis.

10) My step-dad died just over 8 years ago when his relatively innocent cancer rushed his liver.  Today--in my mind's eye--his face, laugh, wonder and sheer awe at this world is as alive as ever.

11) I sought natural, out-of-hospital births for both of my kids (didn't get it for one, and did for the other).  I get really annoyed when anybody suggests the desire for a natural birth is some sort of competition.  Like it's a damned badge or something.  I could write an essay on this, but will just say for now that a large part of my decision was the fact that I knew I was lucky.  I knew it was a gift I was born with, the ability to birth a child.  I wanted to feel it the same way women have been feeling and experiencing birth since the beginning of time.  Often, ringing in my ears, reminding me when I was pregnant and heaving over my puke-bowl, were my step-dad's words: "My biggest regret in life is that I couldn't have a baby."  Mind you, he has four kids of his own, plus us two step-kids.  He meant: he couldn't get pregnant, grow a human, and push it out into the world.

12) In my late teens I hopped a freight train with five friends, guys.  One fell off and was killed.  We didn't know what had happened until the police stopped and searched the train.  They told us a kid had fallen off and they were trying to see if anyone was with him.  We asked if he was okay, and the cop said, "No, he's not.  He's dead."  Seventeen year olds are immortal until they hear those simple words.

13) I got my first camera (Polaroid Instamatic) when I was ten(?) and have been in love with the medium ever since.

14) I have a sweet tooth with a particular fondness for chocolate and homemade cookies.

15) I like good beer and I like it warm.

16) I have more fun growing food than cooking it.

17) My first memory is of my brother pooping in the bathtub (sorry D).  Actually, I just remember the poop floating around, so I guess it could have been mine.

18) I don't remember ever being read to as a kid (sorry mom and dad), except for one book of magical bedtime stories when I was older and knew how to read mom would read the stories after I was tucked in bed.  

19) I strongly believe childhood should be full of magic.

20) I believe raising children with empathy can change the world.

21) I watch Chevy Chase's "Christmas Vacation" every year.

22) I have a bachelor's degree in Philosophy and Humanities with a specialization in Czech Studies (I studied abroad in Prague).  Like my good friend P would say (he also has a Philosophy degree): I use my degree every day, I just don't get paid for it.

23) I pieced a king-sized quilt together over ten years ago and I am still hand-quilting it.  Once it's finished, I will never hand-quilt again.  Well, not anytime soon.

24) I do not own a cell phone, iphone, smartphone or dumbphone.  I do have a tracfone that expired last June.

25) I just learned what Pandora really is and I am excited to try it.

26) I am terrible--like really awful--about getting thank you notes out the door.  The good news is that by the time I do, they are usually full-on heartfelt letters.

27) I *almost* minored in Religious Studies.

28) Had I been religious, I would have really enjoyed being a pastor/preacher.  That whole bit about digging through an ancient text and putting together a sermon that is educational, inspiring, thoughtful, comforting and related to us right now would be right up my alley.  But what do I know...maybe that's not what pastor/preachers really do.

29) I do believe I have been trying to figure out the true nature of humanity for 21 years.  The more I learn, the less I know.
30) I hate shopping for clothes.  I love shopping for yarn and fabric.

31) I love international travel.  Love, love, love it.

32) I won't say I can't wait--because I can--but I am excited to hike again, really hike again with nothing on my back but some snacks, water and a jacket.

33) I love to dance.

34) I have never owned a new car and preferably never will...but that depends on what gas-getters are available when my car dies.

35) The inside of my car could feed and support a colony of mice.

36) I really like having laying hens.  It's like Easter every day.

37) I met my husband when I was 24.  I was a wilderness ranger and he a fisheries biologist.  His brother's new wife was my trail partner.  It was the summer of 2000 and we were all fighting forest fires.  We started dating after working together on the Half Moon Fire.

38) Between the ages of 23 and 26 I lived in my step-dad's remote mountain cabin in the least populated county of the least populated state in the nation.  The nearest town had 100 residents (still does); the nearest town to that was 45 miles away (still is).  Winter access was over-snow only.  In that first winter, I could stand on the porch, close my eyes and identify a songbird by the sound of its wings beating the air.  

Unrelated photo from Thanksgiving in Missoula.  Me and Juniper, Hazel's in the yellow jacket happily holding hands with dear friends we call aunt and uncle, for lack of a better title.   


  1. Belated birthday wishes, love your lists but beer warm ? Nope can't do that one, am drinking mine chilled on a hot summer evening as I read blogs and my husband cooks dinner - what more could I ask for!

  2. If its possible this list of insights into you and your life has made me relate to and like you even more. Happy belated birthday! xxx

  3. I like #24 even though I push promo codes for tracfone airtime.
    Are you telling us that there are people out there that don't watch at least one Chevy Chase flick a year? I think they might be commys. lol

    1. Beer. Gotta at least drop drop a cube or two in it.

  4. Happy belated birthday!! Some of these (TV, minoring in Religion, hiking, meeting husband super young, etc.) are exactly me. Others...warm beer or ten years committed to quilting, are not so much me. I still think we'd be kick-ass friends.

    And the poop in the tub? Awesome

    And empathy? Why doesn't everybody think this?

  5. Happy Happy Birthday! I loved reading this list. You are one interesting, fabulous woman! x

  6. Happy belated. Beer!!! Me too, but ICY COLD!!
    If you ever get to make an international tour here we would love, love, love to host you!:)

  7. Oh my goodness, what a fun list. :) I H-A-T-E shopping for clothes and have zero interest in ever owning any kind of mobile phone either. LOL Have you ever taken the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator)? I'd be so curious to hear what you "are".

    I also remember you saying something in the past about the train-jumping experience and how it affected you. I'm still curious to hear more, specifically of how it has affected you, now and then.


What say you? I want to hear it!