Monday, January 31, 2005
Hi Michael. Well written post, as always. But you miss one critical choice that many on both the pro-life and pro-choice sides of the fence often miss.
Almost four years ago, a 16 year old girl living in poverty with her single mother in a low income studio apartment made a mistake one night and didn't practice safe sex. Terrified by what her mother's reaction would be, she hid her condition for several months. By the time her mom figured things out, the free clinic told them it was too late for an abortion.
This girl was still in high school and her mother was already struggling to support just the two of them. Keeping the baby was not an option. What to do? She knew she could leave the newborn at the hospital, a local designated church or other facility, no questions asked. But was that the right choice?
She wanted to know where her baby went and to whom. In fact, she wanted to choose. She did some research and discovered that private adoption would not only pay all her medical expenses, but it would also pay her living expenses for the duration of her pregnancy. This would lift a huge burden off her mother's shoulders and they would be able to pay their rent and have plenty of food in the fridge.
As she sat in her new lawyer's office looking at photos of couples waiting to adopt a child, she spotted a young couple and something about them struck her. She read their detailed biography and knew that this was a family she wanted to meet.
That childless couple was my husband and I.
We welcomed this girl into our extended family with open arms. We paid her expenses happily and went well above and beyond what the law required to make sure her future looked brighter and she would always have a way to keep in touch with us and watch the baby's progress.
If not for the procrastination of a fearful teen, Tyler's life would have been snuffed out only weeks after his conception. That thought alone brings me to tears as I type this.
Why are the choices only abject poverty with an unwanted child or abortion when people debate this highly charged issue? If a woman finds herself with an unwanted pregnancy, why kill all that unborn potential? That child could one day go on to invent the cure for cancer or be a messenger of peace for the planet.
There are too many childless couples currently waiting to adopt and far too many abortions happening every day. I weep for the children who may have been. I weep for the families with so much love to give and no child in their arms. I weep for a culture that so readily tosses it's unborn children into the trash when contraception is so readily available and the word "no" is so easy to say.
As Krissy said in her excellent comment to your posting, we also donate regularly to charities and organizations dedicated to helping the poor in our own country. We also donate to an organization whose sole purpose is to educate and inform the public about adoption.
I even make a point to donate to a small private charity that helps people pay their bills when they find themselves temporarily short of funds. We know what it's like to work hard but find yourself with sudden unexpected expenses that you just can't afford. We used to be in those shoes...barely scrapping by from week to week.
I wouldn't feel right about my pro-life stance if I didn't also believe that we need to look out after our fellow man. We worked hard for the comfortable life we currently lead and share our good fortune generously with friends and strangers alike.
It's sad that we must also pray for another young girl or woman with an unwanted pregnancy to choose adoption (and us) rather than abortion in order for us to once again bring a baby home to love.
There is a third choice. Never forget that.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
A while back I mentioned in an entry that I had done some modeling and was in a pageant. I also promised to talk about those experiences in future entries. Well, SloMo and Freee, you asked for it! No, really. You did. In comments! Honest!
As my freshman year in high school came to a close, I think my mother got the idea in her head that I need some, er, HELP in the beauty and poise department. I guess she was tired of me having no boyfriends (little did she know...), wearing no makeup and walking like a truck driver. Seriously. She told me all the time I walked like a truck driver. Sammie? Help me out here. How exactly does a truck driver walk? Hmm?
Anyway...she did some research and found a modeling school program in Boston. Many of you have probably heard of the Barbizon School of Modeling? Yup. Color me thrilled when mom signed me up. I learned how to apply makeup, do my hair, how to find clothes that fit, identify my own personal "style", walk, pose, etc.
At the end of the class, all the participants were individually evaluated by an expert. We were told our strengths, weaknesses, and whether or not we would be accepted into the Barbizon Agency as one of their models.
In my evaluation I was told to lose 30 lbs, my ears were too big and my top lip was too thin. I probably wouldn't get top jobs like Brooke Shields did...but I was good enough for catalog and budget runway use. That was a great ego boost (not).
I had photos taken for my portfolio and I did one runway show. I was expected to call my agent several times a week to get appointments for go-sees (where you go see a client along with a bunch of other girls to see if you get picked).
I couldn't be bothered. It just seemed like WAY too much work to try and sell myself. I wasn't very happy with myself as it was and it seemed pointless to try and make someone else think I was attractive enough for their catalog or what ever.
I mean, really...who was going to hire this face:
Photos from my portfolio.
If only I'd had more confidence in myself. I have more photos from my portfolio somewhere...ones where you can actually see my teeth. Ha! But my mother took all the best shots and hid them away somewhere. I'll find them one of these days.
Update: Reason why I don't look too happy in photos...I was following photographer's instructions. "Look bored." "Look aloof." "Look bitchy." "Show me sassy..." Honestly, there are ones of me smiling! Somewhere...
Next up: The Massachusetts Miss Teen pageant. Oh boy...
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
The baby photo in the previous entry? Do you see the red horsey floaty next to me? I loved that floaty. I wore him around my waist and floated in the ocean...it was bliss. I was digging in the sand with my mom and not paying attention to the tide coming in (that beach in the photo is Okuma, Okinawa).
The incoming tide gently picked up my floaty and took him out to sea. By the time I noticed, it was too late. My dad made a valiant effort to retrieve him, to no avail. I was heart broken.
I still remember my Dad saying to me "He'll have sailed half way to Taiwan by tomorrow..."
Bye bye horsey...hope you had a nice trip.
Monday, January 24, 2005
Sunday, January 23, 2005
SOLIDARITY FOR SPONGE BOB 2005!
Saturday, January 22, 2005
Ty is wearing 2 hats, 2 pairs of mittens, 2 coats, ski-bib pants, a turtle neck...I couldn't get him to wear a scarf. He doesn't like anything over his mouth. Dad is keeping an eye on him (Dad isn't wearing a scarf either, so he knows how cold it is). How's the weather where you are?
Friday, January 21, 2005
My first record player was a pretty blue Mikey Mouse record player. I got my first records around the same time. They were a collection of 45s that had belonged to my aunt when she was a teen. They were in her old bedroom at my grandmother's house (I always stayed in that room when we went to Hudson for a visit). I just asked my grandma if I could have them and after making me feel like she was doing me the greatest favor on the planet, she said yes. So my little brother wouldn't feel jealous, my parents got him a "record player" for Christmas that year too. I can't believe I actually found photos online of the SAME ONES! I love the internet.
I loved playing those old 45s on my record players. Some of them skipped, but most were in really good shape. I remember listening to Unchained Melody (Les Baxter), A'int That a Shame (Pat Boone), The Great Pretender (Platters), Where the Boys Are, Blue Velvet, Deep Purple...it was about 8 years worth of top hits from 1956-1964. The needle on my Mikey record player only lasted for maybe 4 months. My dad tried to find a replacement, but they were hard to find for some reason (or he just told me that because he couldn't be bothered). So my Mom told me I could have her old portable record player from her swinging single days.
The following Christmas I got my first radio. It was shaped like a ladybug. As luck would have it, I don't have to describe it because I found photos of it! You turned it on and the wings opened...
The only problem with that radio...I couldn't hide it under my pillow and listen to it late at night. The wings were in the way.
The Christmas after that I got a really cool 8-track player...Doesn't it look like I'm all set to blow something up?? You smacked the plunger and the track would change to a new song. So cool!
Hmm...I never really thought about something before. My parents got me something musical and books EVERY Christmas! No wonder I love to read and listen to music. Maybe they did it on purpose...
The next Christmas I got an ugly brown plastic tape recorder. It wasn't very attractive, but it was something I specifically asked for. Now I could record songs off the radio, record TV shows and cartoons and record me and my brother doing goofy things like pretend news casts or our own variety show. But I especially loved recording my favorite cartoons. THAT device I could slide under my pillow and listen to my tapes late at night. I would fantasize about Speed Racer and "Mark" from G-Force... Yup. I had cartoon crushes too. What a horror to find out years later that my love, Mark, was voiced by Casey Kasem (the American Top 40 guy). Ick! No offense Casey, but you aren't exactly my type.
With all these great devices, you would think I had an impressive music collection too. Nope. My parents bought me "kid" albums like Disney's Greatest Hits. I begged for a Shaun Cassidy album on my 13th birthday. One time my Dad brought me a 45 back from one of his many trips abroad - an international recording of Hound Dog by Elvis. Other wise I borrowed from my parent's extensive album collection, borrowed from friends, or I saved my allowance and bought the occasional record myself. Instead, I used to park myself for hours in front of my parent's console stereo and tune in my favorite radio stations so I could record my favorite songs with my little brown tape player.
I was so happy when I got my first job. Finally! I could buy music! And a decent stereo system (I still have that stereo in my basement). One of the first things I did? Join the Columbia Record and Tape club. I could go on a serious rant about that...maybe in another entry.
By the time CDs started becoming popular, I had amassed an impressive album collection. Damn those CDs! I felt compelled to recreate my entire music collection on CD. Now I hardly have time to listen to them. I must have at least 200 albums, almost that many tapes, and many more CDs. Anyone want to buy a gently used and eclectic music collection? Now that I have my huge MP3 collection and a CD burner...sigh. Makes me wonder what the music industry will come out with next to make what I have now totally obsolete.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
Ah yes, recipe for a perfect evening out.
|Ack! That hair!!|
Since this all came together rather last minute, my prom dress ended up being an off-the-rack bride's maids dress from a local bridal shop. It didn't really fit me that well. Mrs. M was right on top of things and asked for a fabric swatch so that Guy (yes, his name was Guy) could bring me a color-matched wrist bouquet. Very thoughtful (of Mrs. M). My mom brought me to her hair salon and stylist to get my hair done for the big night. I had a vision of piling my long hair in loose ringlets on top of my head in a soft but sexy style. What did I get? A bee-hive bouffant up do of helmet hair. It was hideous! Even my mother was a bit shocked at the outcome and tried to help me tone things down a bit, height and hairspray wise. That hair wasn't budging! Nothing left to do but take some photos and hop into Guy's Le Baron.
He didn't say a word to me on the drive to the Sons of Italy function room (except to ask directions once). The silence continued as we sat awkwardly at our table. I finally screwed up my courage, after sitting with him for an hour in dead silence, and asked him to dance. "I don't dance." Oh. OK then. The silence continued. I went and danced with some of the girls I knew from school for a bit and returned to the table to find Guy chatting with the date of one of my male classmates. Turns out they went to the same church together. Huh. Small world. I excused myself and went to the ladies room. As I was reapplying my lip gloss, some of the popular girls suddenly approached me. This was VERY unusual. I was one of the quiet/bookish kids at my school...the mysterious loner. No one ever talked to me. Suddenly, they all wanted to know WHO WAS THE HOT LOOKING GUY I BROUGHT TO THE PROM?! Hot looking? Hmm. Yeah, I guess Guy was pretty good looking. I grinned and told them he lived next door to me. "Oh My God! THAT GUY LIVES RIGHT NEXT DOOR TO YOU?? YOU ARE SO LUCKY!" Uh, yeah. I guess. He has a brother too. "TWO HOT GUYS! WOW!" I was really enjoying my sudden celebrity. But time was passing and I had left my poor "hot looking" date sitting alone at our table.
I left the ladies room and made my way back to the table. Guy wasn't there. I looked around and got a shock. He was DANCING with that girl from his church. The big liar. He didn't seem to be having any trouble dancing with HER. I sat at the table fuming for a while watching Guy have a grand old time with some other boy's date. That boy came and sat with me after a while. Paul and I chatted for a bit. Ironically, his date had been a set-up too. We laughed over how well our "dates" were getting along. I'd always liked Paul. He was quiet and bookish like me. Not part of the "in" crowd. He was nice looking too. If it weren't for him, and the warm glow I had from all the fawning attention I had received in the ladies room, the night would have been a total washout. Hey Paul, how come you never asked me out? Oh well.
A year later when prom time rolled around again, things were a little different. I had met someone. While visiting my friend Pam for a week over spring break, I noticed her older brother Jimmy for the first time. He'd always been around during our friendship...I just never really LOOKED at him until that week. I spent all day with Pam, but when she went to bed at night, I wandered downstairs to their rec room and watched TV with Jimmy until the wee hours of the morning. Jim started asking Pam if he could come along with us when we went out to clubs or hung out with her friends. She was miffed, to say the least. I knew Jim liked me, he was just REALLY shy and had never had a girlfriend before. It was amazing. I was actually the experienced one. He was a year older than me, had bummed around for a year out of high school and was joining the Navy that summer. He'd spent all his high school years with his head under the hood of one car or another. Total gear head. Cars were way more interesting than girls...until he met me.
After that week long visit, I called Pam about once a week (on average) just to chat. Jim always asked her to pass the phone to him when she was done. We'd chat for a bit. It's too bad they lived over 3 hours away. When prom time came, my mother suggested I ask Jim to escort me this time around. It was a great idea. Only one problem...I had never asked anyone out before. I wasn't that bold! It took me a week to work up the nerve to mention the prom idea to Pam. I asked her if she thought Jim would want to go with me. She said "I think so! Hang on a second..." and she put the phone down. I could hear her yell "JIM! Rebecca wants to ask you something!!!" No no no! PAM! Pick up the phone! PICK UP THE PHONE! Don't put him on the...oh Hi Jimmy! Uh...Uh...Umm...would you be interesting in going to my senior prom with me? He said "Sure." WOO HOO! I was beet red but happy. My mom was grinning from ear to ear. She had watched the whole exchange. I quickly gave him the details, got permission from my mom for him to spend that weekend at our house (sleeping on the sofa, of course). This was my first experience with my parents actually approving of a guy I wanted to date. I couldn't believe they were letting him stay over night!
|I love this dress!|
That was a magical night. I loved my prom dress (a Gunny Sax - remember those? The 80s people! Yeah!) I loved my hair. I loved the flowers Jim got for me (with my mom's help). I loved the matching tux Jim got just to compliment my dress. We both looked GREAT. My Dad handed Jim the keys to the Cordoba and off we went. Jim admitted on the drive that he wasn't much of a dancer, but he would try. I told him if we only danced the slow ones, that was ok with me. The night was a blur with the two of us at the center, him holding me tightly like he never wanted to let me go ever again, spinning me around the dance floor in sweet slow motion. He starred deeply into my eyes and I willed him with my mind to kiss me. Kiss me. KISS ME, DAMMIT! But he never did. I knew he was shy, but sheesh buddy, take a hint! Oh well.
The funniest part? Jim was supposed to leave on Sunday, but because he was shipping out from Rhode Island the following weekend, I actually managed to talk my parents into letting him stay for the entire week. It was great! I'd come down for breakfast, and there he was, sitting at the kitchen table waiting for me. He would drive me to school and pick me up at the end of the day. We drove all over. I showed him all my favorite hangouts. I wish we could have spent more time, but I was supposed to be STUDYING! My finals were the last 3 days of that week. It's a miracle I did so well on them. I think having Jim there actually helped keep me relaxed and focused. I drove Jim to the bus depot to catch a Greyhound to the naval base in Rhode Island. I really wanted to drive him there personally, but my parents said no. He hugged me tightly before getting on the bus, stared at my face for a moment, STILL didn't kiss me, and left. *sigh* So long, Sailor!
Saturday, January 15, 2005
I always thought this journal entry would take the form of a scrapbook or diary page. I've mentioned before that I am a pack rat. I save everything! Does anyone else save mementos and photos of old boyfriends? No, I am not still holding a candle for these guys. The odds and ends that I hung on to are just there to use as a trigger for my long term memory. Both good and bad, I treasure my memories. I have friends who tell me they don't remember their childhood at all or their high school years very clearly. I do.
My first crush; Adrian G. - Adrian (and his sister, Jane) lived next door to the first house we settled into in Massachusetts. Jane was the same age as I and the first of the neighborhood kids that I met when we were moving in that summer in 1973. She introduced me to her best friends Sarah & Laura and we all hung out together. I didn't notice her older brother for the first couple years (he was just a pain in the butt who teased us frequently). Some time just before the start of 5th grade I seemed to really "see" Adrian for the first time. Memories of Adrian - he tricked my pesky little brother into thinking that the little round rabbit turds in his hand were actually chocolate (Mike only ate one, and he was fine). He used to find road kill, skin them, tan and mount the hides on his bedroom wall (no, he never killed the animals himself). He loved Cheap Trick. I spent many a night humming I Want You to Want Me and wishing Adrian felt the same way.
My second crush; Alex D. - Alex was a classmate...blond hair, big blue eyes, totally dreamy. My fantasies of him were blended in with my fantasies of Shaun Cassidy, Bo Duke and Leif Garrett. I looked for my old class photo at my Mom's house last time I was home, but I couldn't find it. Memories of Alex - he invented a secret code that looked like Egyptian hieroglyphics. It was used for passing notes in school and he gave me a copy of the code key (it was on green construction paper). He was impressed (and told me so) when it was determined through a series of arm wrestling competitions that I was the strongest kid in the class (boys included).
My third (and final) crush; Rob S. - Rob was part of my senior day camp group. Summer camp, in past years, was just a place for my parents to park my brother and I for the day/week. When I was old enough (6th grade) I was able to join the senior campers and go on over night and weekend trips. This was a very awkward and painful time in my life. I had become the target for some class bullies and a couple of my worst enemies were part of that same camper group. Those girls managed to alienate almost all the other campers from me. I had no friends. Rob took pity on me and let me hang with him and his sidekick (a shrimpy kid named Bug). We rode rides together at Canobie Lake Park and he loaned me his extra flashlight on our big weekend camping/canoe trip at Lake Winnipesaukee. Memories of Rob - I sat for hours on a rock outside his tent talking with him about my tormentors, being a military brat, being afraid of my father...he laid stretched out on the ground looking up at the stars and really listened to me. He held my hand and helped me off the Ferris wheel. He was wonderful. I got deathly ill after that trip and missed the rest of the camp outings/activities and never saw him again. (I heard years later that he committed suicide in his junior year of high school. I cried like it had just happened.)
My first "real" boyfriend; Ray D. - Ray worked at the base commissary (where I met my friend Chris, mentioned in a previous entry). Thanks to Chris, that summer after 8th grade I had really blossomed. Ray was the first boy who noticed. Ray made excuses to hang around and I just assumed he was interested in my friend Chris (everyone was interested in Chris). He used to ask me where else I hung out on the base. He seemed especially interested in what days I went swimming at the base pool (uh, yeah. He just wanted to check me out in a swimsuit.) He finally asked me to go grab a bite to eat with him at the bowling alley. My first date! Everyone warned me against dating him. He was a notorious bad-ass and trouble maker on the base, but he was almost never anything but sweet as pie to me. He showered me with gifts (some stolen, I later found out) and was desperate to spend every waking moment with me. You see, Ray was a very unhappy kid. His mother saw him as a burden and he had a volatile relationship with his step-Dad. His step actually broke Ray's arm. I dated Ray all through high school, but after my mother got a phone call from Ray's mom warning her to keep me away from him (for my own good), my mom forbid me to see him ever again. Like THAT was going to happen. We snuck around and saw each other when ever we could...for YEARS.
Memories of Ray - our "first time" out in the woods just off a nature trail in Concord, his love of Iron Maiden (he called me his "sweet leaf"), the hand hammered copper and enamel pendant he made for me in shop/art class, the time he ran away from home and lived in a pup-tent in the woods for weeks (he begged me to run off with him), telling him I had met someone else and feeling helpless when he threatened to kill himself if I didn't keep seeing him, having him show up months later at my freshman dorm and threaten to kill me, my roommate and himself (while holding my roommate at knife point) if I didn't take him back. That last incident was the last time I saw him. I was able to reason with him and told him I could never be with someone who threatened violence to himself, me or my friends. I think I finally got through to him. He actually contacted me a few years ago when he had hit a really low point in his adult life. He'd had a child with a now ex-girlfriend and she had vanished with his child to parts unknown. He was devastated and looking to reconnect with a happier time in his past life. He told me his time with me was the best of his life, that I was his one true love, and that he should never have let me go. Sweet. Scary, but sweet.
My second boyfriend; Jimmy C. - Jim was my best friend Pam's older brother. He took me to my Senior Prom (prom entry to follow). Jim was an enigma. We only "dated"officially, in person, for 2 weeks. In all that time, we never even kissed. I drove him to the bus when he left to join the Navy the week after my senior prom. He wrote to me faithfully a couple times a week. The letters started off being signed just "Jim". As the months passed that changed. He began to refer to me as his girlfriend, showed off my pictures to his shipmates, and signed his letters "Love, Jim" and "Forever, Jim". He must have built up quite a relationship in his mind because that Christmas he called me, collect, from Italy and asked me to marry him. I was speechless. I didn't know what to say, so I laughingly stammered out "Are you sure??" He got very quiet and then just hung up the phone. The letters just stopped and I never spoke to him again...well, almost never. I saw him years later when his Dad got remarried and I was invited to the wedding. He just said "Hi." and that was it (his wife was not at ALL what I expected...she was rather, er, trashy looking). I hear he got married within two months after his failed marriage proposal to me to this girl he met in a bar on the base. I guess he REALLY wanted to settle down and have a wife waiting for him in his home port. Memories of Jim - Dancing at the prom, holding hands and looking at the stars from my driveway, the pretty gold watch and authentic cameo pin he sent me for Christmas from Italy. Must have cost him a fortune. Ah well...
My third boyfriend and first/last affair with a married man; Harry R. - Harry worked for Digital (where I worked after quitting school) and was the fellow who installed network lines and jacks in the office cubicles at the Mill. If I lost network connectivity, Harry was the one to come and trouble-shoot the problem. He liked crawling around on the floor under my desk and made sure I knew it. He was such a flirt! He was not at all the type of guy I was normally attracted to. He was short, dark, curly haired and Jewish (not that I have anything against Jewish men). I had a history of dating pale, blondish, Nordic types - if two guys could be called a "history". Harry found my lack of experience very intriguing and made it his personal mission to teach me a thing or three about men. He was the most open, forthright and sexual man I had ever met! I was thoroughly seduced. His wife was having an on-going affair with her boss and they had come to an "agreement" for an open marriage. When it came right down to it, she was happy having her affair but wasn't happy when Harry started having them too. They eventually divorced (long after I had met someone new and moved on), but I still feel somewhat guilty over being the first woman Harry really fell for besides his wife. I was not his first affair outside his married. Sue had that distinction (remember her? Yes, THAT Sue.) But I still felt bad about being a contributing factor in the failure of his marriage. Harry was ready to leave his wife for me, but I wasn't ready for a serious committed relationship. We stayed friends for a long time even after our relationship ended. Memories of Harry - he showed me just how much fun a person could have in the office (wow), he gave me an appreciation for erotic storytelling and new insight into the nude female form (he also had a thing for pregnant women), he taught me everything I know about RPGs and how to play, he made me feel really beautiful, he gave me the confidence to go after men I found interesting.
The dating year - I had a varied assortment of dates with various fellows in my quest to find the right one for me. Many of them became my friends. None of them really counts as a boyfriend, but all were important in my ongoing social development. Steve, Kerry, Neil, Mike, Keith, Jack, and Bill...thanks for showing me what I DIDN'T want in a boyfriend.
My fourth boyfriend; Peter C. - I met Pete when I went into a music BBS looking for a nice guy to teach me how to play a new instrument. Pete offered to teach me how to play the drums. I only got one lesson. I spent the rest of our relationship following him from gig to gig and was more like a groupie than a girl friend. We kissed a few times but became more like buddies. I liked Pete a LOT. He was yet another "bad boy" in a string of bad boys I had been attracted to. What is it about the grungy musicians with long hair that we gals go gaga over? No question, the boy had talent. But he also had a drinking and drug problem. When I met John (yes MY John) a few months later, it didn't take me too long to figure out who was the better boyfriend. Memories of Pete - Going to concerts together, watching him practice with his band "Orb" or whatever they were calling themselves that week, and Pete's idea of a romantic date...drinking a case of Bud in his basement.
No need to talk about my fifth, and last, boyfriend. I love you, baby! I know you just read this entry anyway - despite my warning.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
It didn't take long before my dad and mom got sick of me asking to borrow the car. He was also tired of stressing over his "baby", the RX7 and the crappy gas mileage. He picked up a very used Honda 600 from Mr. Hurley across the street. It was silver. Either that, or there was no paint left and only primer showing. No. It was silver. Dad also thought it was important for me to know how to drive a stick shift (manual transmission). Ever hear of the Honda 600? No? It was the very first Honda car sold in the U.S. Honda was a successful motorcycle manufacturer when they decided, in 1959, to branch out to cars. The cars did well in Japan, then Europe, then they hit the U.S. where the Vietnam war took away most of their target market. So the Honda 600 never became a popular model. But later the Civic did much better.
I've included a photo of a Honda 600 that is very close to the one I had. Look familiar? Yes indeed! It was a carbon copy of the original mini-Cooper. Those cute little clown cars that are all the rage now, here in the U.S. Honda should bring back the 600. Seriously! I loved that car. It had a 2-cylinder, air cooled engine. Yup, the same engine Honda used on many of their motorcycles. The car didn't have much acceleration power, but once you got it up to speed, that little baby could cook. It also got 46 miles to the gallon. I could fill it up with $3 or less and it would run for a week and a half to two weeks, on average. Awesome. Perfect for a poor high school student working for tips bagging groceries.
My co-workers loved my little clown car. One afternoon a bunch of the guys played a joke on me. They went out, picked up my car, and carried it to another part of the parking lot. (I told you the car was small!) When I got off work later, I went to the spot where I KNEW I had parked and...ha ha. Very funny, guys. Now where the hell is my car?!
I was also in my first auto accident in that little Honda (no, I never counted the spin out on 128 as an "accident". No damage. I didn't hit anyone or anything. So, NO ACCIDENT!) My skills with a stick were coming along nicely. My only shortcoming? Trying to get in gear and move forward without rolling backward when on an incline. The steeper the hill, the harder it was to keep the car from rolling backward before you could get it in gear, let out the clutch and give it the gas without stalling out. Average number of times I would stall before turning beat red from embarrassment? About 8.
I had stepped off the "T" at the McDonalds on Rt. 62 in Bedford. I'd left my car there that morning to catch the bus to school. Why was I riding the bus when I had a car? Grr! My parents didn't trust my driving enough to let me drive myself all the way to school. My Dad and Mom were just tired enough of driving me to the bus stop to let me go to the bus stop on my own, but no further. Fine. I threw my books into the Honda and exited McDonalds via the back. There was a little road that ran behind McDonalds, up a hill where I could take a left and head for home. I just had to get past that hill/stop sign. I took that back way to avoid waiting for a red light at the corner. It was a loooong light. I should have just waited for the light.
I made it up the hill and stopped at the stop sign. The car was sitting on the steep incline and I was praying that no one pulled up behind me before the road was clear so I could roll backward a little in order to get the car moving forward without stalling. No such luck. A delivery van pulled up behind me. VERY CLOSE behind me. Thanks a lot, sh*thead. Not only was he a jerk, he was an impatient jerk. The road just wasn't clearing long enough for my comfort. I tried to go a couple times but started to roll back, so I jumped on the brake. Finally the jerk behind me started honking his horn. Did I mention that there was a house right at the corner that was hard to see around? Yeah. So I waited until it felt clear, put the car in gear, revved the gas and quickly let off the brake and clutch, and the car JUMPED into the intersection. I was just trying to pull forward far enough to see around the house again (all that rolling backward had blocked my view). It wasn't clear and the car went further into the intersection than I had intended. I slammed into the side of a station wagon.
The driver of the station wagon was a VERY pregnant Asian woman. Her mother was in the passenger seat and two of her kids were in the back. I hit her just hard enough that the passenger side door wouldn't open and since she was going at a good clip, her car kept moving forward so the front of my car scrapped all down her side. I couldn't believe how much damage I did. I also couldn't believe how little damage was done to MY car. The front end looked completely undamaged. I didn't even break a headlight. All I did was loose a little bit of my chrome trim, which I handed to the non-English speaking driver of the station wagon in my state of shock. The delivery van? He drove around us and left. Jerk.
I stood there saying I was sorry, but all I could understand from the passengers of the wagon was the elderly mother yelling "Call police! Call police!" No! Don't call the police! I have insurance! During these first couple moments of chaos, a car had pulled up behind me. I hadn't really noticed until I heard a very familiar voice say "What happened?!" Wouldn't you know it. It was my mother. *Groan!* She had my little brother in the car. *Double Groan!!* I was never going to hear the end of this one.
I explained my side, sat on the curb, and then watched her sort things out with the nice policeman who arrived moments later. The policeman sorted things out with the insurance exchange and he blocked traffic for me so I could get my car off the side street and headed for home. What an experience. I avoided hills for quite a while after that.
Just for posterity, here is a run down of all the cars I've owned to date.
- 1969 Honda 600 (Silver)
- 1970 Honda 600 (Mustard) - Dad got this one from a junk yard as a "parts" car, but ended up getting it running again. Just in time to replace the silver one when it's transmission fell out. The mustard one died from coolant system failure (too many holes in the radiator).
- 1978 Dodge Colt Hatchback Wagon (faded blue and primer color) - Man, I really hated driving around in these crappy ancient cars, but I couldn't really look a gift horse in the mouth. Crappy used was all my dad was willing to buy for me. I don't remember what was wrong with the wagon. It just died.
- 1986 Dodge Colt E hatchback (white) - My first brand new car! I had to stop living at school and commute in order to get it and eventually I quit school altogether so I could afford to keep it. Only a couple months away from having it paid off (and with a full tank of gas), I was rear-ended by a drunk driver. Car was totaled. I was in shock and said no when the cops asked if I needed an ambulance. I should have gone to the hospital. This is when my back and neck problems started. That full tank of gas still bugs me too. The insurance company's assessed value on the car really sucked too. It was barely enough for a down payment on a new car. Lucky for me I had John around to help me buy my new...
- 1989 Dodge Shadow (dark silver) - The car had some bugs in the beginning, but after 2 or 3 factory recalls, it ran like a champ for many years. I drove that car for almost 10 years. As more and more things started to go wrong, John finally suggested that I get a new car. So it was traded in for a...
- 1998 Ford Contour (fawn) - I've talked about this baby before. Man, I loved this car. It was fully loaded. It was too small for our growing family. So we sold it and I got my...
- 2003 Ford Winstar minivan (silvery tan). And here we are.
I never did get that 1965 Mustang convertible I always coveted. Did anyone notice it in my little car photo montage in my previous driving entry? Yep. That was my dream car.
In retrospect, it's probably a GOOD thing I never got my dream car. I was a total lead foot back in the day. Speed demon. The faster the better. Pedal to the metal! Amazingly, I never got a speeding ticket in my life until I moved to New Jersey. By the time I got my 6th or 7th speeding ticket and was in risk of getting my license suspended, I decided to slow down.
Some of my fondest car related memories:
- Father's Day weekend 1984...my mother made me SWEAR on a stack of bibles that I would be home in time to have Father's Day dinner with my dad. You see, I was invited to spend the weekend with a friend in upstate New York and this was the first time I was given permission to drive there on my own. It was a 3.5 hour drive. I had a BLAST that weekend and over-slept Sunday. I realized I had 2 hours to make a 3.5 hour drive. What did I do? I drove 120 MPH on the Mass Pike and made it home just in time. Wheeee! I swear I should have been a race car driver. I'll never forget the rush I got from going that fast. No hate mail. I know it was stupid. I was a dumb teen. But it was pissah! I am never telling Tyler this story. So shhh!
- I was feeling really depressed over my latest "car"...the crappy blue Colt wagon, when my then boyfriend pointed out the benefits of having all that ROOM in the back. Ahem. Ooooh yeah! Heh heh heh! Tyler will never have a van or station wagon when he is a teen. There will be as little room in his back seat as humanly possible. Ha!
- That same crappy blue Colt hatchback wagon also had a nice roof rack. I was having an argument with a friend of mine and told her she better watch out or she would be getting a ride home strapped to my roof rack. She said "FINE!" So I pulled over and told her to get out. She did. And she climbed up on my roof and made herself comfy. Fine! I sat for a moment yelling at her to get her ass back in the car. She wouldn't. So, I drove off. Very slowly at first. She started yelling for me to go faster, so I did. Nuts, I know, but she rode all the way home on the roof of my car. I'm still amazed we didn't get pulled over. People were waving to her. I felt like I was driving a parade float. That was not the last time she rode up there. Good times.
- Parking with John back when we first started dating. He got a Chevy Celebrity Eurosport with a bench seat just for me. Nothing like steaming up the car windows, eh? *wink*
- Being rear-ended by a drunk driver, being given a false name and insurance info, and being left at the scene when he took off in his truck would be part of my "worst" driving memories; BUT...while being given a lift home by the cop who responded to the call, the cop called in a description of the driver, passenger and truck from the report I gave him. An APB was put out for the vehicle and I heard the cop call it a hit-n-run. Until that moment it hadn't sunk in that I WAS involved in a hit and run. At that exact second I saw the idiot who hit me pass us going in the other direction. I was almost too surprised to react, but I somehow managed to yell "That was him! That was him!" The cop flipped on his lights, pulled a very speedy U-Turn and gave chase. Backup was called in. It was so surreal. Yes, I was in shock.
The truck was surrounded when he pulled into the parking lot of a BAR! Yes, the idiot was probably going to get drunker. The driver wasn't too drunk that he didn't try to change places with his passenger. I could see him sliding the woman over him and into the driver's seat. He must have thought we were all blind or stupid. I got to watch him being given a field sobriety test and put in handcuffs before "my" cop came back to his vehicle to bring me home. It must have been a slow day in Marlboro. I still can't believe that there was 3 cop cars and 1 unmarked car involved in that bust. All for little ole me. It was very satisfying to see the man who hit me put under arrest. Hence the fondness of the memory.
Why did he try to trade places with his passenger? Well, I found out later that the truck was a company vehicle and only the woman was authorized to drive it. The guy was having an affair with her (he was married to someone else). Yes, they were both legally drunk. The company's insurance company covered all damages to my car and they would have paid any medical expenses if I had been smart enough to go to the hospital when I should have. Ah well...I should have sued. Live and learn.
OK. Enough car talk. I am a girl, after all. Surprise! Girls like cars too.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
He has thrown up once...I hope that is the end of it. I just have to stay on top of this fever. Last night he was moaning and babbling incoherently in his sleep. It was scary! It made me realized that Ty really hasn't been sick very much. I think this is the worst he has been, in his short life so far. *sigh* Time to read another story. If you all could send some "feel better" vibes his way, we would appreciate it.
Ta ta for now.
Update: Ty is doing much better today (Thursday). The fever is gone, the cough still lingers...but he is pretty much back to normal. I just hope he sleeps tonight. Last night was hell! Now the husband is sick. Lord help me.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
I've had a sort of love/hate relationship with cars over the years. My fascination with cars started with Speed Racer and the Mach 5, continued with Starsky & Hutch and the Dukes of Hazzard (who didn't want the General Lee parked in their drive way?) and culminated in that moment when I was handed my first Driver's License. That little piece of laminated paper with my photo on it was my ticket to real freedom and independence. No, really! It was! All I had to do was hop in my car and drive...
But I should rewind a bit. First I had to learn how. The first car I ever drove was my Dad's Ford Thunderbird. It was white with a navy blue vinyl interior (yes, that was HELL in the summer time). Very cool car, but I didn't really know that at the time. After only a couple of lessons, Dad sold that car. It was too much of a gas guzzler and mom wanted her own car. He bought himself a charcoal metallic Mazda RX7 Special Edition with burgundy velour interior (early mid-life crisis?) and my mom got a gently used camel colored Chrysler Cordoba (yes, with real Corinthian leather - gotta love Ricardo Montalban). Since I was firmly told I would never be allowed to drive the Mazda, the bulk of my remaining driver training would be done in the Chrysler. No problem! That car drove like a dream, even if it was a bit of a land barge. I figured if you could learn to pilot something that huge and parallel park it, you could drive just about anything.
I had a pink slip of paper from the DMV at 15.5 years of age - my Learner's Permit. If I completed a Driver's Ed class, I would be able to apply for my Driver's License and take the driving test at age 16 (the rest of the unfortunates would have to wait until 16.5). I was eager to be among the first of my peers to be out on the road. You BET I was aiming to have that license the second I turned 16. Driver's Ed was a breeze. It was fun driving around the streets of Arlington with a few of my classmates in the back seat and the driver's ed teacher up front (with his extra break pedal, which came in handy once, when I almost took of some idiot's car door).
Driving with my Dad was another story. His idea of driver training was strapping himself into the passenger seat, pointing out into the wild blue yonder, and saying "Drive." Good thing I had paid attention when my Dad started up the car and drove around. I knew where to put the key, which pedals were which, and how to put the car in gear. He would just sit there looking at me or out the window until I did something wrong. Then he would yell.
"COME TO A COMPLETE STOP AT A STOP SIGN!!! ARE YOU TRYING TO GET THE FRONT END OF THE CAR TAKEN OFF?!!" Sorry. "DON'T GUN IT THROUGH A YELLOW LIGHT!! YELLOW DOESN'T MEAN SPEED UP!!!" Sorry Dad. "USE THE DAMN MIRRORS WHEN YOU CHANGE LANES, DON'T LOOK OVER YOUR SHOULDER!!! ARE YOU TRYING TO REAR END SOMEONE?!?!" Yes sir! No sir! Sorry!
By the time we would get home from our little driving expeditions, I would be a shaken nervous wreck and my Dad would be pissed off beyond belief. Patience of a saint, that man. Patience of a saint. Luckily for me, I was a fast learner. In just a few weeks, the yelling was much less frequent and I even got an occasional "Nice job" from Dad. Whew!
The big day finally arrived. Time to go to the DMV to take my exams. I was going to take my road test in my mother's car. Might as well drive something that I'm familiar with, right? The sky was a little overcast when we left, but it wasn't supposed to rain that day according to the weather man. My Dad was confident in my ability and decided to sit back in the passenger seat, relax, and read his morning newspaper. The rain started just about the time the Cordoba hit Rt.128. My highway miles driven thus far? Very few. Driving in bad weather? Never. Knowledge about 18 wheelers and their "blind spots"? None. I merged onto the highway, no problem. I was maintaining the speed limit. There was a big rig in the next lane over. For some reason, he was going slower than the speed limit and I was overtaking him on his right side. He chose that moment to move over. No signal. No warning.
I had learned a bit about hydroplaning in Driver's Ed, so I was aware of how that could happen and what you were supposed to do. In theory. When you suddenly hit your brakes on a newly rain dampened roadway because a big rig decides to try and side-swipe you and the car you are driving goes into a spectacular 360 degree spinout...what do you do? What would Jesus do? Pray. OK. I prayed. Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God!!!!! And some driving instinct I didn't even know I had took over. I managed to turn the spin into a sideways skid. The car skidded right off the highway, sideways over the breakdown lane, and onto the grass.
The car came to a halt facing Rt. 128, my face was buried in the steering wheel. I remember thinking who is the idiot honking his horn when I realized I was the idiot. My forehead was pressed against the horn. I glanced sideways at my Dad as he was peeling his newspaper away from his face. "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?!?!" Uh...[stammer stutter] truck...almost...hit...I...breaks...uh...uh...um... "GET THIS CAR BACK ON THE HIGHWAY!! NOW!!!" [meekly] yes sir.
Yep. Only *I* could manage to have a near accident on the way to her driving test. I carefully pulled back onto the highway and made it to the DMV testing facility without further incident. It seems no one even noticed my near miss. Certainly, no one stopped to check on us.
Testing consisted of an oral exam and then a road test. I had studied my little blue book front to back, back to front. I was ready for them to ask me anything. What challenging questions was I asked? "What does a yellow light mean?" Yield to a stop, there is a red light coming. "What does a blinking red light mean?" It's just like a stop sign. Stop, look both ways to check for traffic and proceed when clear. "What is an intersecting way?" Um... I remember saying something about the point where two roads cross. I was nervous. Then the tester held up a picture of a road sign with no words on it. "What's this?" Um. A railroad crossing sign? "Fine. You pass." That was it? I was all in a dither over THAT?! Um. OK! On to the road test!
I was all hopped up on adrenaline. A few deep breaths and I was oozing that cool self-confidence that all teenagers have [giggle!] OK fine! I was able to fool myself into thinking I was a good driver! It was enough. I passed. I even took a good license photo!
More in my next entry.
Saturday, January 08, 2005
Anyone who knows me knows I love to be entertained. I'm easy. TV, music, a good movie, a good book, online games...I am very easily amused. Even when I hate it, I love it. Figure that one out.
With a toddler running around the place, my moments of solitary amusement are fewer and further between. Last night was one of those rare times where I got to watch a good TV show relatively unmolested AND I got to see a fairly recent movie too. And wouldn't you know? They were both GREAT! Lucky me!
I watched the premier of Medium last Monday, but I was interrupted several times and missed large chunks of the show. I was looking forward to a new episode on Thursday night, but it turns out NBC re-aired the premier one again. OK. Cool. So I got to watch it again and see the parts I missed the first time. Tyler had passed out on the sofa, so I took advantage of the quiet, took a peek on my On-Demand menu and saw 50 First Dates with Adam Sandler. Double cool! I wanted to see that ages ago.
Medium is loosely based on a real woman named Allison with special gifts...communicating with the dead, prophetic dreams, visions of the future...stuff like that. I love stuff like that.
50 First Dates was great. They just had to play my favorite Israel Kamakawiwo'ole song at the end of the film. It always makes me cry. I love movies with a happy ending too. Such a big sap, really.
So, both get the Becky seal of approval. Can't wait until next Monday to see the next episode of Medium. This isn't much of a review. But then, I just wanted to mention the shows, not take them apart. It's 5AM on a Saturday. Cut me some slack.
Monday, January 03, 2005
Behold the wonder that is Tyler's annual calendar. Ha! (I had to flip-flop December and November so that the graphic would be nice and symmetrical.) I make one of these for friends and family members every year (that is if three years in a row can count as every year). Now is the time for me to sadly remove the previous year's calendar from my office wall and replace it with this shiny new one. He is getting so big now. I wonder what next year's 12 photos will look like.
As for personal reflection...I don't do much of that. I've tried to make resolutions for myself in the past. I never keep them. I have come to regard the whole "resolution" thing as just a way to set yourself up for repeated failure. Who needs that kind of pressure? Not me. So I will phrase it another way. I have high hopes for 2005. I hope all YOUR resolutions come to pass and I hope my little family continues to grow, stay healthy or get healthier, and has a ton of fun to look forward to. Happy New Year, everybody.