Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ten things

Now that 2010, and the first decade of the millenium, is almost over, I thought it was time for you to learn a few things about me. So, here are ten things that most of you don’t know. Don't you just hate this kind of post? 

1.  When I was a senior in high school, our class took our Senior Trip to Washington, D.C. and to New York City! We spent three days in NYC. Now this was equivalent to taking 66 foreign students there and setting them loose on the streets of Manhattan without a map or an interpreter. Oh sure, we did the obligatory tours on buses to Chinatown, the Statue of Liberty (well, that was on the Staten Island Ferry, of course), the Bowery of all places, and many other tourist destinations, but we also had our free time. For most of us, including myself, this was the first time we had stepped more than a few hundred feet outside our rural county. We saw a Broadway musical, “Promises, Promises”, which is now enjoying a successful revival. We ate some of our meals in an automat that was just around the corner from our hotel. Automats are interesting places. Do you remember the episode of ‘That Girl’ with Marlo Thomas, when she goes to the automat and has very little money to buy lunch? She ends up getting a bowl of hot water and mixing ketchup into it to make tomato soup. I’m telling you, I knew the feeling. I was a poor girl in the big city. Some of us girls got hit on by a street person while we we were waiting in line. We also got to watch a guy peeing on the street while we were walking back from the movie theater. The movie that the group of us saw was ‘Five Easy Pieces’ with Jack Nicholson. A very interesting film for a bunch of seventeen-year-old hicks to see when they’re out on the town. There were some strange proximity matchups between the guys and the girls while we were on the trip. Some lasted, most didn’t. I still have the lacquered, mother-of-pearl inlaid chopsticks I bought as a souvenir in Chinatown.

2.  I didn’t go to college. Well, one semester, but that doesn’t really count, does it? It is my lifelong embarrassment and regret. I was valedictorian of my class, for goodness sake. I had a full-tuition/work-study scholarship to the local branch of Ohio University. So, here’s what went wrong. I coasted through high school. Our school wasn’t known for it’s tough academics. A couple of our teachers were as old as Methuselah and about as lively. In the late ‘60s, early 70’s, most girls in rural areas weren’t encouraged to see college in their futures, and if they were so inclined, it was usually to seek out a career in a “woman’s” field; i.e., teaching or nursing. Those are two very noble professions for which I probably was strongly suited. Unfortunately, I chose to take courses in high school more suited to office Christmas parties. Typing, shorthand, bookkeeping, business math (algebra was not a required subject in those days); all of which are handy-dandy tools for living (well, shorthand, maybe not), but not so dandy for college preparation. Combine this non-preparation with a personality flaw of perfectionism and this one did not do well under college professorial tutelage...mean, critical, superiority-complexed college professors. I melted into a heap of insecurity-ridden Susan parts. So what does one do when one decides she can no longer hack it under the scrutiny of said professors? Why, she gets married, of course. Planning a wedding is so much more satisfying and gratifying than sitting in a classroom listening to a stuffy professor droning on and on, blah, blah, blah. I created my own post-secondary education by being a wife and raising children. I can hear you all out there asking yourselves “Well, why didn’t she go back to school after the children got a little older?” Good question. It was just never convenient. We either lived too far away from a school, or there was some godawful stuff going on in our lives that kept me away. Or gave me an excuse...however you prefer to look at it. That peculiar “fear of failure” has never quite left me, you see.

3.  When I talk to myself (and don’t try to tell me you don’t do it), I practice my British accent. Okay, I know that’s weird, but have you tried it? It’s quite fun and entertaining and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Watch out, Meryl Streep, I’m hot on your heels. Maybe there’s an Oscar in my future. I could play the Queen Mother someday. In her dowager years.

4.  I’m a control freak. My husband says so, just ask him. It’s why I’m always so exhausted during Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, etc. Apparently, I think I’m the only one who can “do it right”. It’s my way or the highway. I have to do it all. I’m not quite as bad as I used to be. I do let the grandchildren help me bake sometimes. I let David mash the potatoes for big dinners, and he does a pretty good job of it. Well, I think this year’s holidays finally cured me of this syndrome. I nearly didn’t survive the cooking, the cleaning, the baking, the decorating, the shopping and gift wrapping, and so on and so forth. Next year I’m having a rebirth and assigning everyone a dish to bring, a chore to do, a decoration to put up. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It. All.

5.  I didn’t learn to drive until I was eighteen. The year I turned sixteen Ohio changed it’s teen driving laws to require completion of a driver education course before inflicting terror in the hearts and minds of our neighbors and their properties. There was only one driver education course available to us and that was in our high school. There was one class a semester and guess who got to take it first...seniors, of course. That meant my classmates and I had to wait it out until our senior year. Oh, how we moaned and groaned and complained that it just wasn’t FAIR! I think the State of Ohio knew what it was doing when it made that law. I was green as a gourd the first time I slipped behind the wheel. Why, I had never even driven a lawn mower! Going 25 miles per hour was like driving the Indianapolis Speedway! It didn’t help that we had a driver instructor/basketball coach/English teacher sitting in the middle of the bench seat of the big boat in which we learned. He was quite a “ladies” man and would sing romantic songs in our ears as we navigated the country byways hither and yon. And, of course, the shorter the skirt, the better the grade. Nowadays he would lose his teaching license for those kinds of antics, but at that time it was accepted behavior. Or, we were too stupid and naive to know we should report him. I got an A in English, too.

6.  I’ve written stories and poetry since I was in high school. But I always tore them up, because they were never "good enough". It wasn’t until I started this blog that I was able to show my writing to anyone, and it helped that, at the time, you were complete strangers. I still have shivers of apprehension each time I sit in front of the computer and hit the publish button. Will they like it? Will they think it’s stupid? At least I don’t have to see your faces when you’re reading my words. There’s comfort in that.

7.  I was the second woman to use natural childbirth and have daddy in the delivery room in our small town hospital. It just wasn’t done, y’know. I had gone to a neighboring city with three times the population, thinking that doctors there would be open-minded about Lamaze and a father wanting to participate in his child’s birth, but I was flatly told “No way”. It was 1975 and our edge-of-Appalachia communities were about five years behind the times. Finally, through one of David’s co-workers whose wife had been numero uno, I found Dr. Teddy Bear, who was not reluctant in the least and had told the hospital board that they could go hang when they put down their collective foot.

8.  Following the successful birth of our first child, I was determined to breast-feed. I had read the few books available at that time cover to cover until I had nearly every word memorized. I had toughened my nipples (ouch!) and prepared in every way to nourish my baby as God intended. Well, unfortunately, God put a little stumbling block in my path to sainthood, bearing the name of Jamie, my errant niece who had been kicked out of her home. We reluctantly took her in a few months before the impending birth. We soon found out there was good reason for her banishment. She made our lives a living hell, and when it came time for the magical mother’s milk to appear, it didn’t. There was no lactation consultant available, and I was as stubborn as the day is long. At first I was loathe to surrender to my mother’s and sister’s wisdom when they told me Jaye was hungry. No, no, I insisted, he’s just colicky. I was proven wrong when, at his first checkup, the poor child had not gained a single ounce after leaving the hospital. I disintegrated in the examining room at the pediatrician’s office, blaming myself for not listening and endangering my precious baby’s life. Dr. Sweetums awkwardly patted my back and told me not to worry, but that it was probably best to put him on formula. I couldn’t get to the baby aisle at the local grocery fast enough. The first week he gained 22 ounces. The crying stopped and he was happy and healthy. Afterward, I couldn’t stop blaming myself, hoping I didn’t inflict any permanent damage to his little brain. I didn’t. He turned out just fine and is much more intelligent than I ever thought of being. He teases me sometimes when the subject comes up, that he might have been another Einstein if I hadn’t tried to starve him. “Yeah, I guess so,” I usually say, “but then you would have been a lot shorter than the rest of us.”  He's six-foot-four. 

9.  I asked David if there was something about me that other people would be surprised to find out. He thought for a minute and said “You’re much more private than people think you are.” “True,” I said, “but that’s really boring.” He might have a point. I probably should have been a Gemini, because I have two faces. There’s my quiet, private self who relishes spending time all alone, sometimes for days at a time, loving every minute that I don’t have to spend attending to somebody’s needs other than my own. I’m not really a phone conversationalist, although I’ve been known to have hours-long talks with the right people, about the right subjects. I could easily live in the wilderness if I had a ready supply of necessities. But then, there’s the other me. The one who wants/needs to win all the games at baby showers. The one who is an untapped stand-up comedian. The one who would have loved to be a cabaret singer, crooning all the old standards just like Rosemary Clooney sang them. Let me entertain youuuu! Notice meeeee!

Imagine that, I found myself on Fotosearch!
10.  And because I could see myself sitting before a grand piano, singing those songs to some fuzzy audience, I took piano lessons when I was in my mid-thirties. I had always wanted to play an instrument...piano, guitar, it didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to be able to entertain myself, and if I were actually found to have any talent, possibly the entertainment of others as well. I envisioned myself singing duets with Kenny Rogers and John Denver while stroking the ivories. It didn’t happen. My piano teacher, who also happened to be a good friend, tried in vain to teach me the skills needed to NOT sound like a plodding non-prodigy. No matter how I tried, I could not match the speed of my fingers with the tempo of the music. I loved those nice, slow adagio pieces which gave my reluctant brain the time to find the right keys and chords. Just the faintest glimpse of the instruction allegro, and my heart started beating double time in horror. There was also the eensy problem of my bossing the teacher. “Susan,” she would say, “ you simply must practice this song and get it perfect before we can move on.” “Rhonda,” I would reply, “I don’t like this song and it’s too hard, so I’m not playing it.” It’s no mystery to me why I never progressed further than John Thompson’s Third Course. How could my sister Jane, who had only nine months of lessons, play every song in the church hymnal in a lively manner when appropriate, and I not be able to play at all? Life just isn’t fair.

Well, as you can see, this is the “entertaining” me. Tonight there will be no parties for me, unless you consider three, maybe five, grandkids for a sleepover a party. So, I will toast the New Year in my usual way, with some nice hot chocolate and climb between my toasty warm flannel sheets to welcome 2011 in the very best way......ZZZZZZZZZZ.


Natalie said...

Okay... before I even read this: I do not hate this kind of post. I am looking forward to learning more about you!

Natalie said...

I was right to look forward to reading this. It's just possible you and I could talk for hours on each of these familiar points. Seriously. I was so absorbed in each of the ten things, that all I can think to say is: You and I are kindred spirits.
Your New Year's Eve plans sound pitch perfect to me. We will be home, eating vegetarian ramen and making Shirley Temples... we may even watch a movie!
Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Love ya, Susan and wanted to stop by and wish you a Happy New Year. May there be much goodness and peace in your life in 2011 and always.


Sandy Nawrot said...

Oh, it is so good to hear from you! I love hearing about the Susan we don't know. I'm not even sure I can adequately address everything I want to here, but I'm first compelled to tell you not to beat yourself up over the college thing. There is a special place in heaven for women who stay at home and raise their families (I hope! haha). I AM a Gemini in every way. Like you I can be bubbly and chatty one minute, and the next minute I crave solitude. I love my solitude. Which is probably why, after two weeks with the kids home, I am about batty. I am having 18 friends over tonight for New Years, then I can relax, praise Jesus.

Kathryn said...

Wow! The Susan I didn't know is a lot like the Kathryn I do know. LOTS of parallels there, college, solitude, perfectionism...
I enjoy reading about other people's lives, so I enjoyed this post. Thank-you, and Happy New Year.

CottageGirl said...

I love knowing more about you, my dear Susan!! You are a complex, interesting, beautiful girl ... I can see you singing harmony with John Denver ..."Country roads ta-a-ke me home, to a place I belong ...".
I may take your lead and do a 10 things you may not know about me!!!
Happy New year to you!!

California Girl said...

Susan, I read all ten "things" and they are hilarious, well-written and most entertaining. You tell your husband you may be private but you're not boring.

You are a good writer. Your experiences are interesting & more mass appeal than you may imagine from your "rural county". I did not see DC or NYC til I was 28 so you beat me by 10 years. And I've never been to an automat which I don't think they even have any more but I've always wanted to eat at one & just pick things like chocolate cream pie & jello & meat loaf.

Your driving instructor sounds like one of my English professors from whom I also rec'd an A. Mine was younger tho' and I slept with him (not while taking his class but the following semester)

Hopefully you and I shall meet one day because you are a true sister & a scream & a half.

Happy New Year!


Char said...

amazing how times have changed, some for the good and some not so great. i so understand the fear of failure (and some would say the fear of success) - i was a later in life student as i chose to get married too. fortunately i had a person that kicked me in my butt go get back in school.

sending warm wishes and hugs
Happy New Year

Deborah said...

I'm sitting here in my torn-up painting clothes, ready to go and have my shower of the day (4PM) and sat down to take a quick look at Facebook. There you were, with a new post, so despite an URGENT need to get to the grocery store VERY soon, I had to read it.
And I'm so glad I did. We could be twins, you and I. The one semester of post-secondary education, the malnourished first child, the surprisingly private person, stories and poems and even THE BRITISH ACCENT THINGY!!!
I've never been to NYC though and got my licence at 16 after driving a fair bit illegally!

I so enjoyed this. No disappointments here, Susie. Just the real you, who I already liked a lot and now do even more. I know you're not a telephone person even though we've had those looooooong conversations - I can hear it in your voice.

Happy New Year, my dear and wonderful friend. I hope I get to see you one day - meanwhile keep writing like you do, even if it's only now and then. You're so good to read.

Love and all best wishes to you and David,

Barb said...

Susan - Are you sure we weren't separated at birth? Well - except for the perfectionism. I gave that up long ago. Try it - you'll like it. Meanwhile, have fun with those Grandchildren. Happy 2011 to you and family!

Deborah said...

...oh, and the control freak thing too. Undoubtedly there was something Freudian about my forgetting that as soon as I'd read it.

Susan said...

Natalie, dear girl, your kind words warm my heart. I have felt that we are kindred spirits as well. We could start our conversation with chickens and work our way up to sewing and many subjects to cover! Maybe someday I will make it back to California and I will stop and visit my "California Girls".

Blessings to you and your family in the coming year...out with the old and in with the new!


Susan said...

Happy New Year, Di! I hope 2011 brings you everything good and none of the bad. It's always so nice talking to you, here and on FB. Love you back!

Susan said...

Sandy, honey, you must be a glutton for punishment, inviting 18 people over! Please tell me that it was pot luck! Of course, I'm not much better...Poppy and I took all five grandkids to the zoo this evening to see the Christmas lights and show, with about a million other people! Um, it was interesting. Now they're all here spending the night so the parents can have a night on the town. I'm whipped!

Monday can't come soon enough, IMO! And they're not even my kids! That two weeks is a killer.

I hope your party is fun and that the New Year brings you much happiness and many books to read!


Susan said...

Hi Kathryn! It's nice to hear from you! After reading yours and others' comments, I'm beginning to think that maybe we're all sisters separated at birth! That would be some family reunion, wouldn't it!

I hope the New Year brings you wonderful experiences and more love than your heart can hold.

Susan said...

Why, CG, I'm just an open book! You are always so sweet and supportive of me...I'm so happy that I can call you "friend". I've missed you. Please do tell us what makes Debbie tick. I'm eager to know you better.

I hope 2011 is extra-special good to you...Happy New Year, my friend!


Susan said...

Hey, Cali Girl! Boy, do you know how to boost my ego! Precious words for this writer to hear. Thank you.

Oh my gosh, that automat was so awesome! I wish you could have gone to one. It was just exactly like the ones I had seen on TV. I wish I had written down what I chose, because I don't remember a thing. I think we mostly ate breakfast there, so it was probably donuts or something. Why, oh why, didn't I keep a journal? I'm sure the food was barely adequate, but who cares? It was the experience that mattered.

I have no doubt that we will meet someday. It was kismet that brought us all together, and it couldn't just leave us hanging like that.

Hope your New Year is happy and fulfilling.

Much love,

Susan said...

Hey there, Char! I've really missed you!

Yes, I think fear of failure/success is two sides of the same coin. I'm not sure how I got that way, because nobody ever told me I couldn't do something. Who knows how those seeds get sown in our fragile little psyches. I've always been my own worst enemy, that's for sure.

I hope 2011 brings you much success and happiness...I'm pretty sure that they can be compatible. Happy New Year!

Much love,

Susan said...

OMG, Deb! You do the British accent, too?!! I thought I was the only nutcase who does that! Well, that clinches it, now we MUST get together so we can practice on each probably have a head start on me though, being Canadian and all. :p

Nuh-uh! You did not hear that in my voice! I just had a frog in my throat, that's all. I enjoyed our conversations soooo much. As I said, I've been known to talk for hours with certain people. One time when my niece and I were planning Fall Festival for the PTO, we were on the phone for FIVE hours straight! And this was before cordless phones! We both had those really long cords and mine stretched all the way to the bathroom. Needless to say, I couldn't have gone 5 hours without using the bathroom.

There is no IF...we WILL meet someday! It's pre-destined.

A wonderful, successful, joy-filled New Year to you, dear friend, and thank you for your kind words. Happy New Year to you and and the Belgian.

Beaucoup d'amour

Susan said...

Hi Barb! It certainly seems possible, doesn't it? I think I've definitely let loose my stranglehold on perfectionism, or I'm just too tired to care anymore. I've pretty much downgraded to perfectionist/slacker now. :)

I hope your New Year is happy and much healthier!

From one Grammy to another...Happy New Year!

Susan said...

Deb, you crack me up! *snicker*

Ruth said...

I was in Chicago with Don, I'm late! Finally catching up, so sorry.

I could hear you saying every word of this into a microphone on a stage. You could be the next big comedienne, the grandma with stories . . .

You remember so many details of events, that's something I've always noticed about you. Well that's what every good story teller should be able to do, and you do it so very well.

I do think you would be a fine actress! But it will be a while before you can fit into the dowager role, sweetie.

I am so interested in your determination to have natural childbirth and to nurse your babies. I lived in California when ours came, and it was much more "normal" to do those things there than in Michigan, so I admire your perseverance.

I didn't get past the John Thompson books either. I bet we could do a mean Swans on the Lake duet!

I hope you will continue to let your writing self fly free. It is so fun to read you, and the blog is such a great place to hear your stories. Please, pretty please?

Happy New Year, dear Friend. Here's to you and your beautiful self and all the rest of what I have to discover about you!

Susan said...

Oh Ruthie! You went someplace FUN for your holiday! And with "the most interesting man in the world"! Yay, for you two! Chicago is a great place to be at Christmas...we did that one year when Macy's was still Marshall Field's.

It has been so, so long since I sat down at the piano, I probably wouldn't be able to remember the scales. In fact, I no longer have my piano. It is currently being owned by Jaye, in hopes that Lauren and Matthew will take an interest in learning. Joshua had it for a while and he taught himself how to play. Then Nikki kept if for a while, before we moved it to its current location. And by we, I mean that I paid piano movers three times.

It would seem that I remember a great many details about my life, but when I get together with old friends, I can't believe how much I DON'T remember. I would have to have a full staff of people to recall things for me! If only I had kept a journal all those years. I could write a book...we all could.

Oh, yes, the natural childbirth years. That was most interesting. What had been going on for a decade in California was still very much innovative in our neck of the woods. When I would tell anyone, they would look at me as if I had grown another head. My, how times have changed.

I wish all the best life has to offer in 2011...nothing but good things for my dear Ruthie.


The Bumbles said...

These are my favorite posts because, while I also relish my quiet/alone time, I am nosy and like to know what everyone tucks away in their medicine cabinets. Thank you for giving us a peek. We are very similar beings, you and I. Without sharing crumbs every now and then, how would we ever get to find this out?

JackeeG4glamorous said...

Thanks for the historical tour! Your Susan sounds alot like my jackee. (I used to practice my English accent while sitting on the toilet being interviewed by Johnny Carson - for all the great things I did, I was a frequent "guest")

Dr. Teddy Bear? seriously?

Susan said...

Hi Molly! Yes, I'm also a medicine cabinet peeker. Nosy should be my middle name. I think the reason my favorite followers/bloggy friends are my favorites is that they/you are so much like me. I like to surround myself with kindred spirits. So much better than contentiousness.

Happy New Year!


Susan said...

Jackee, LOL! I never thought of imagining myself being interviewed by the great Carson. And on the toilet, no less! That's hilarious!

No, not really Dr. Teddy Bear, although he reminded me of one, thus the name. My dentist's name is Dr. Smiley, though. Honest. Sam Smiley. It's the main reason I chose him, not to mention the fact that he's really dreamy, too. And he's a really good dentist. It ain't ALL about the looks!

Happy New Year, my friend!


Oliag said...

It is so nice to get to know you even better Susan! You write so beautifully and with such humor...I felt like I might be sitting in your kitchen with a nice cup of coffee while listening to you talk...I even heard some of the Brithish accent:)

I may have gone to college but I never did learn how to write as well as you do...nurses didn't need to take many English courses...You write beautifully so naturally!

VaNeSsA said...

OK, Susan, I give. We are very much alike. I don't even want to get into it, it's too spooky. But lovely!

Anonymous said...

I loved this post. Loved it! It's so interesting to get a peek into the little secrets of others.

I can really relate to #9. Most people believe I'm a true extrovert because I can be very social, but the truth is that I enjoy solitude and even require it. I'm very private, yet I have a blog and I'm the talker/clown at gatherings.

I love #3. When I'm by myself and cleaning the house or doing laundry, I call myself Girl. Okay, girrrl. You go, girrrl. You got it, girlfriend. I have no idea why I do this. It's goofy, but being my own cheerleader seems to keep me going.

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Not having gone to college is not a bad thing, Susan. There are all kinds of ways to get an education, you just chose a different path.

I'm thinking my hubby might say the same thing your husband did :) With a new baby I've had to let some things go, so do yourself a favor and take next Christmas off. Or at least as off as you can let yourself ;)

Susan said...

Oliag, you are so sweet to me...thank you. I really did want to be a nurse, but I didn't have chemistry, and in our small school, there was no way to make it up in my senior year, and no summer school. That kind of took the wind out of my sails, but who knows, I might have reacted the same in nursing school as I did at the college. I'm kinda lame that way. :( But it turned out okay, and all in all, I'm a pretty happy person.

Susan said...

Dear Vanessa, it sounds as if we may have to have a good ole heart-to-heart someday. Maybe you really are my long-lost daughter. :)

Susan said...

Oh, Bella! I loved your #3! I'm always saying "Okayokayokay" to myself, especially when I'm in a tizzy trying to get four things done at once. I guess it's my little calming mantra, although it doesn't seem to make me calmer.

I love having friends with whom I can be silly and have fun, but don't feel as if they have to fill every single moment with mindless chatter. I think you would be like that. :)

Susan said...

Stacy, that sweet little Gage is much more important than dust and piles of laundry! You don't want to miss one smile or one bit of baby chatter! They grow so quickly. A bit of advice: write everything down! You think you will remember, but you don't. It's one of my biggest regrets. Give him a cuddle for me!

M said...


It was a delight to read about you! It's hard to believe that issues for women regarding childbirth hung on for so very long and that you had to be the brave pioneer in your community. I can't imagine the pressure there probably was to keep from upsetting the status quo. I'm pretty sure I would have buckled at that age.

Don't beat yourself up about missing college. You know if you had any inclination now, you could get your whole degree online! Community colleges are especially adept at providing a decent array of online courses, so you could probably knock out an AA pretty quickly. They also cater to adult learners.

British novelist George Elliott wrote, "It's never too late to be who you might have been." Just a thought!

steviewren said...

Susan, I loved reading all about you! I can identify with so much of your personality and experiences. Please do this more often.

Susan said...

Mary, I love that Eliot quote...I will have to post that on my fridge for daily viewing. I've given consideration to CC from time to time. I'm not really sure what I would study...probably something to do with creative writing, although I would most likely be scared to death to show my work to a professor!

I'm not sure how brave I was...mostly just stubborn and always positive that I AM RIGHT! :)

Susan said...

Thank you, Stevie. It takes a lot of...I started to say 'courage', but I prefer to save that word for situations where it really applies...chutzpah, I guess, to bare your soul to so many people. Thankfully, nobody seemed too bored by it all. LOL