More Books, More Books!

I had to sneak them into the house tonight. It’s not like I bought a lot of them – only five – but the fact remains: I just bought more books.

They had a used book sale at work today. Lots of Ann Rice and Clive Cussler, some hard bound and some paperbacks. Quite a few that I have already read or <ahem> already own.

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy (I’m anxiously waiting for the November 21 release of Part 1 of Mockingjay). I own the books already.

Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns, which is my favorite of his. I don’t own it, but I didn’t buy it: I convinced my coworker that she needed to. It’s intense.

Kathryn Stockett’s The Help.It’s good, but it isn’t as stark a reality as it should have been, nothing like the reality in the above-mentioned books. It’s almost sugar-coated, but you fall in love with the characters so quickly – who can hate it? I own it already.

I’ve even read some of the Ann Rice and Clive Cussler books, although they are not writers in my preferred genres.

There were three of Stieg Larsson’s Books: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (not really my style, but I couldn’t put it down when I read it), The Girl Who Played With Fire (I’m not sure I can finish this one. I’m stalled in the first ten chapters. I like Lisbeth, and she’s headed down a dangerous path. Larsson doesn’t hold back in details and I’m not sure I can stomach the details), and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (I have been told that if I can get through the middle book, this one is good. It’s getting through the middle book that is holding me up). I own the first two; I opted out of the third one simply because I think I should finish the second one. Some day.

Still, I found five books.


Left to right:

Kate Ayers – A Murder of Crows (death amid the vineyards). Never heard of it, but it looks like a mystery. Set in Oregon, and it has a reference to one of my favorite birds. How can I lose? And if I lose, I’ll package it with the Christmas stuff and send it to my daughter in Alaska.

Gregory Maguire – Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. Remember the author? He wrote Wicked. I’ve never seen the musical, but I have heard it is excellent. I can’t say that for the book: there’s an entire chapter that could be lost and noone would be poorer for it. I just hope Ugly Stepsister doesn’t contain one of those chapters. I liked his writing style in Wicked.

Christine Warren – Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale. Romance, sci-fi, mystery. Cheap paperback. I’m in.

Benjamin Hoff – The Te of Piglet. No, I don’t know why I picked this up. I’ve never read The Tao of Pooh. It looks funny. And wise. Something I can read while waiting for a doctor or dentist or other such appointment. I can become wiser while waiting. How can I lose?

George R. Martin – Game of Thrones. I’ll save it for last because once I open those pages, I’ll be lost until I have finished the book. Then I will have to do a marathon streaming of the HBO series.

Before I can star on any of this deliciousness, I have to finish at least one of the four books I am currently reading.

I am listening to:

Donna Tartt – The Goldfinch. The jury is still out on this one, but at least we have survived the adolescence of the hero and he is now a young adult. It keeps me sane on the long commutes home. I think – because the hero is not sane. He’s very disturbed. But I like Hobie & Pippa, and so I can’t quit listening until I know what happens to them.

I am reading:

Harriet Beecher Stowe – Uncle Tom’s Cabin. I was listening to it, but I found that I made more sense of it in print. Unfortunately, it is not as gripping as I had hoped and I’ve allowed Uncle Tom to grow dust. I do intend to finish it.

Jeff Gunhus – Jack Templar and the Monster Hunter Academy. This is really adolescent fantasy and quite funny reading. Don’t take it seriously. It is currently my waiting room reading material. It is also Book#2, so – yes – I read Book#1.

John Muntean & Jo Walker – Willing to Die. True life history, written by a friend of mine and dictated by a survivor of Communist Russia. It’s dry history sprinkled with anecdotes and photographs, and dire parallels to certain current events. I’m only about a third of the way in because I tend to prefer fiction to non-fiction.


Oh – and I have to read this before I can start on my new books, because not only did I buy five books at work today, but another co-worker just finished this and remembered that I had asked to borrow it. So I need to read it and return it before I can enjoy my purchases.

Don’t tell my husband that I just slipped these books past him. He doesn’t know. <wink>

HSP Games

I discovered I was an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) back in 2001. I blogged about it first in 2008. I occasionally have blogged about it since.

I have – over time – developed a number of defenses. I didn’t even know I fit into the HSP category until 2001 and I discovered Elaine Aron’s book on the subject (and realized how well I have used defensive techniques to protect myself). Knowing who I am and why I react the way I do has often been a lifesaver for me.

For instance: after 3 weeks sorting out my father’s possessions, putting him to rest and saying good-bye in a memorial service, and driving 5 long nighttime hours back to Reno, my brother wanted to go out to dinner with his daughter in a popular kid-friendly place. It was great, except that I just want to crawl into a box and hide. Lights, noise, casino-like setting, crowds. UGH. Last.Thing.I.Need.

I couldn’t exactly refuse. Everyone (except me, the HSP Introvert) needed that kind of “break”. My ex-sister-in-law wanted to see me. I wanted to see my brother’s grandkids. So, there I was, in a place of noise, lights, and everything that sets the teeth on edge in an HSP. I breathed in. I realized that 1) I could survive because I have so many times before and 2) I knew *why* it bothered me so much. I understood that I am an HSP and an Introvert, and that everything that was happening went against my very soul – but I could survive because it was temporary and it was what “normal” people do.

The next day, I drove 11 hours home and crashed.

Sometimes, I cannot handle the situations life throws at me. I find myself in the hallway at work, playing a game with the lights in the public hallway. I wind my way down the hall: light on the left, light on the right, light on the left. Or I walk directly under the lights, straight down the hall. Or maybe I walk on the left for two lights and on the right for two lights. I hope noone sees me. The lights are my calming center: whatever pattern I choose is my choice and the use of it calms me. I can center myself.

My closest coworker is totally oblivious to the subtleties of body language and office politics. I want to bang my head into my desk when I try to explain to her what I just observed. How freaking oblivious do you have to be? Then I remind myself: I read people intuitively. I read the situation by sensitivity. I just know.

The funny thing is: my brother – the one who dragged me out to that horrid kid-friendly, loud, lit-up, night spot? He took one look at a photo I posted and he read the body language of the people in it. He’s trained to do that.

Everything he guessed was spot on. I know it intuitively.

Today, no one had “time” to go on break with me, so I went for my 3:00 walk by myself. It’s not that I have “time”, but that the LAW gives me the time, and I took it. I prefer my walks by myself. I had time to think about everything, breathe in, and calm my inner center.

It helps that it was a clam day in November, and I love November.

I know that my work situation is aggravated by my HSP tendencies (or, my work situation aggravates my HSP tendencies). Knowing that helps me cope. I know how I react and why. I know that I am not intuiting the situation incorrectly. I know I am spot on. I am not intimidated. My self-esteem is not threatened.

I have power.

It would help a little if I had power to change the situation, but right now, it is enough that I have the power to understand my reaction to the situation and to trust my intuition. I know I am not wrong. I never have been, in situations like this. Not ever.

It’s a gift.

Sometimes, it is a gift I wish I had not been given. Most of the time, I realize it is a gift that I have and most people do not have. It makes me different and special. I like being different. I have enough self-esteem that being different is a blessing. I’m not intimidated by “normal” people. They drive me nuts, but they do not lessen my value as a person because they are “normal”.

I don’t always feel strong, but when I feel weak, I walk the halls at work and play “dodge ball” with the lights in the ceiling. Or I go for a long walk outside by myself, hugging the canopy of leaves and walking slalom through the small maples. I don’t step on cracks in the sidewalk or I step on them all.

Breathe in. Breathe out. I don’t meditate because that’s not how I roll. I do pray and read Scripture. I remind myself that I am not alone. I am an Introvert and an HSP. A lot of successful people have been Introverts. I don’t know about HSPs because it is a recent discovery about human nature.

I hope to prove that HSPs can also be successful.

I hope to be the poster child of Introversion.

I’m a fighter. Not physically, but spiritually and emotionally. I’m fighting. SEE ME? I HAVE VALUE.


Yeah. I want to be the forerunner of HSP/Introvert freedom. We exist. We have value. We rock the corporate world when you aren’t looking.


God Rest Her Soul

Brittany Maynard ended her life on November 1, 2014. She was 29, almost 30. She was born the same year as my beautiful oldest daughter was: 1984.

She was a beautiful soul who embraced every second left to her.

She was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in January of 2014. Terminal. That means it cannot be healed, cured, or otherwise removed. She had a death sentence. They gave her six months. She took 10 months and lived a lifetime.

I voted for the Death With Dignity Act. There have been times that I have regretted that decision. Then, there was the time I stood beside my mother in Washoe Medical Center and I knew she was not going to make it, and she was asking us for permission to just quit trying to live. Each of us – my father, my older brother, and myself – had to speak to the nurses and sign off. Yes, we agreed with the decision to remove life support. Yes, we believed that was Mom’s will. Yes, we understood she would die.

Brittany allowed the world into her life for the last months of her short life. “This is me,” she seemed to declare. “Watch me live life to its fullest!” And live she did. She checked things off of her bucket list: one, two, three. She embraced life and lived it more fully than many who remain living will ever do. Every second was a gift to this ray of light, and every second of her life was a gift to her mother, father, and husband.

She did not have to share it with anyone else, but she chose to. She chose to advocate for Death With Dignity. She chose to stand up and proclaim that while she knew she was dying, she also knew she could choose the day and time.

But could she? I don’t think so. I think it was written in ink in the Book of Life when Brittany was born. I think God directed her steps. Brittany did not end her life alone. Her family and close friends were with her, and, I believe, God was there as well.

God rest your soul, Brittany. Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us. You were just a hair younger than my oldest daughter, and your life touched mine. Bless you. If I had to walk in your shoes, I would make the same choice. You were a brave, beautiful, daring soul. Fly high. Soar with the angels.


My husband and I once were in the humble position of needing a place to stay. We had two small children, a dog, and two cats. We owed a lot of money and we had just spent a month or two living in the nursery portion of our local church. Church friends opened their home to us right after Thanksgiving, and we gratefully moved in. The hope was that we would soon be back on our feet and in our own home, even if we had to lie to the apartment manager that we didn’t have a dog (and consequently hide her in the garage, but that’s another story).

These generous church friend were very, very, sweet people, but… two blended families and two different world views can strain any good relationship, and they did not believe in celebrating Christmas with heathen decorations. Read: they were not going to bring a tree into their house.

Fortunately, we were out within two weeks, and living in the afore-mentioned apartment with our dog hiding in the garage. We bought a tree and decorated it and our friends didn’t hate us.

These friends were wonderful hosts and we tried to be wonderful guests. I remember thinking I would help with dinner. I don’t remember what I planned on making, but given my cooking skills, it had to be pretty simple. I could have been offering to bake something, which is more likely than offering to cook something. It doesn’t matter: when I opened her cupboard, I found only plain iodized salt and finely ground black pepper.

“Where are your spices?” I asked.

“Spices?” Blank look. “There. You’re looking at them.”

“No, I mean like cinnamon, or sage, or basil or…”

She had plain salt and black pepper.

This past weekend, I was preparing my grocery list. My husband (who is the cook in the house) wants to try out a new recipe. Last week, I emptied the bottle of bay leaves. I knew I needed at least two herbal/spice ingredients: bay leaves and ground coriander.

Something prompted me to check my unruly stash of herbs and spices first. Generally, if I can’t find something, I buy one.


You can see why I had a “bit” of a problem with the spice collection of my long ago Christian benefactor. My collection takes up an entire cupboard. You can also see why I can’t always find what I am looking for.

I have 36 different herbs and spices in there. I know. I counted them yesterday. 59 different bottles or tins (not counting the weird spice mixtures like “Creole Seasoning” that we picked up somewhere, and excluding all salts and black pepper – coarse and fine ground).

There are multiple jars of celery seed, basil leaves, paprika, smoked paprika, real vanilla, whole cloves, ground cloves, cumin, curry, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and ginger. The winner is Cream of Tartar: I have four bottles of that (thankfully, it has multiple uses). I also have an unopened jar of bay leaves and a jar of ground coriander (scratched those off of my grocery list).

I did not also inventory, but I know I have: pickling salt, Kosher salt, plain iodized salt, sea salt, and an herbal sea salt mixture my husband loves.

I don’t know why I have a partial bottle of (yuck!) imitation vanilla flavoring.

I don’t keep herbs or spices forever – they lose their flavor. These are all purchased within the past five years or harvested from my garden in that time period. I use most of them, and if I don’t use them, my husband uses them.

I walked down stairs, took this photo and headed back up here. Don looked up from his chair and said, “You took a photo of that mess?”

“Hey, I confess my sins.”

“My wife: the obsessive compulsive herb shopper.”

Yeah, but I had the spice you need for your new recipe, Buddy. And I purchased a new bundle of garlic cloves. So there.

(This is also why I nearly died of shock when my then-ten-year old niece moved in with us and she flavored everything with plain catsup. I like to think we are part of the reason she is now an addicted ‘foodie’.)

Random Facts and Dad

Today, I was reminded of my father. I dragged my husband to the Annual Clackamette Mineral and Gem Show in Canby (he didn’t exactly resist). My plan was to purchase some really awesome glue for crafts (which I did), but I also love the rocks. And minerals.

They have this auction that goes on all day and ends every 15 minutes, where you can bid on rocks, shells, pieces of glass, and minerals. I was mildly amused to see copper ore for sale – I used to buy copper ore from the neighbor girls when I lived in Ely, Nevada. I think I paid $0.05 per rock for the pretty blue arsenic-laced ore. That was back during Kennecott’s hey-day as a copper producer (and Ely’s Boom! days).

We did not buy any rocks, but we did see several things that reminded me of my dad: fire opals, for one. My dad picked up some raw fire opals for me that I still have in a sealed glass with water. If my memory serves me right, I had just joined the rock club in 4-H in out little town. It was the mid-1960’s and the leader of the club was horrified to have a little girl on his hands. He wanted an all-boy club. He purposely excluded me from meeting announcements and field trips. I was not stupid: I knew what he was doing and cried (literally) to my dad. My dad told me that sometimes life isn’t fair and there are not-nice people we have to deal with (I’m sure he wanted to call the guy an a-hole, but I was too young for that kind of name-calling). The very next weekend (OK, sometime close to that event), my dad picked the fire opals up out of a stream somewhere in the remote mountains on Nevada and gave them to me. It was his way of saying that *he* was proud I liked rocks and he wanted to encourage me to continue to be a rock hound.

I love rocks. That’s a random fact.

I love Hallowe’en. I can’t begin to tell you why. I am a born-again Christian who has been bombarded with how evil Hallowe’en is ever since I first professed my faith. How the Church view Hallowe’en has never altered how *I* see it. I love Hallowe’en. I don’t watch spooky movies; I abhor horror flicks; and I don’t read Stephen King (very much, any way). But I.Love.Hallowe’en. I like the dress-up, the lights, the faux head stones, the mockery of death and scary things, and the history of Samhein. I love haunted houses (real ones, not the shock-culture-startle-you-into-a-heart-attack variety). I have lived in several haunted houses, one which had a particularly evil poltergeist. And I still love Hallowe’en.

I love Christmas more. I go a little bit overboard for Christmas. I even believe in Santa Claus.

I once fell into a cult that despised Christmas and we even had to live with a couple who refused to get a Christmas Tree (because it’s evil). I prayed very hard to find our own place before the first of December because I was damned if I was going to have a Christmas without a tree.

We bought a $40 Noble tree for Christmas that year, even though we couldn’t afford it. That’s how bad I am.

I love Easter even more, but they don’t have enough Easter decorations that don’t involve eggs. Eggs only go so far. I can only eat so many eggs and the only other person who lives here doesn’t like hard boiled eggs. Neither one of us does candy or milk chocolate. But – if I could find more bunnies & Resurrection symbols, I’d be in Heaven. Literally.

I can’t sit still. I’m not ADHD, but I have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time. I have to get up and move around every fifteen minutes.

I love storms. I love lightning, wind, and heavy rain (just not constant, steady, drizzle for 6 months). I have been caught outdoors in lightning storms. I’ve had thunder boom overhead so close that the hair on the back of my arms raised up. I’ve been caught in dustdevils that tossed Russian thistle into me so hard that I hurt all over. I’ve huddled under nickle-sized hail while lightning struck everywhere around us (twice!). I still love storms.

I never really wanted to be a mother. At least, not when I was 16. I made this pact with my then-best-friend, Janet, that she could have babies & I could take the kids when they were 4 and raise them. I’ve always liked 4-11 year old kids. Janet didn’t keep her end of the bargain (she had babies, but didn’t ship them to me when they were four). I became a mother and had to raise children under the age of four to adulthood. I loved every minute of it (when I wasn’t having a nervous breakdown).

I love books. OK, that’s not a revelation by any means. I cried when I read my dad’s will and he left ALL the books to me. No one else cared, really. But I knew – at that very moment – that my dad really did get me. He knew me.

I didn’t feel guilty when I took three rocks out of his backyard, under the nose of my nephew. I took two lava bombs and one granite net anchor. I gave one lava bomb to my brother, but the net anchor and the other bomb came home with me. If I had had more time, I would have dug up the petrified wood, too.

My dad was a Forest Ranger. I grew up listening to the Smokey-the-Bear song every time a certain substitute teacher taught my class. I died within every time. But because I grew up believing the USFS land was my land, I refuse to pay for permits to park my car, hike trails, pick huckleberries or mushrooms, or to camp in a designated camp site. I camp where there’s a fire ring & I obey fire danger signs. But those lands are my lands, not the Fed’s lands.

My mother worked for the BLM. We called it “Blum”. She worked for “the enemy”. It was a family joke, but the truth was: we disrespected the BLM.

My dad discovered the Cave Bear skeleton in Nevada. Well, spelunkers who were friends of his actually discovered it. My dad and my mom sat in lawn chairs and watched the excavation. The cave bear skeleton was credited to some young female Forest Ranger fresh out of college. My family remains bitter to this day.

My dad built all of the nice signs that are posted at Great Basin National Park. The Park Service never recognized Dad’s contributions. The last time I took a tour of Lehman Caves, I wrote a scathing letter to the Park Service regarding how they handled the tours. I never heard back from them.

I am a bit of a Forest Service Brat.

Final fact: there was this ceramic frog that lazed under the China Hutch when I was growing up. I remember my dad telling us that when he died, he was going to be reincarnated as that frog. Today, at the rock show, I saw some green carved frogs (that looked nothing like my dad’s frog) and I was reminded of him. His frog is in a box in Reno, in a storage unit. My name is on the box. I had a sudden epiphany.

Dad is waiting for me to bring him home.

I need to get my stuff out of Reno. Soon. Before Dad starts haunting me.

October 21

Has it really been almost 3 weeks since I have written anything? Hey, things have been happening. I just haven’t written about them.

Where do you draw the line about silly stuff that happens at work and posting online about it? I work in Real Estate and sometimes the funniest stuff happens. For instance: we had a data entry clerk tell us that “no one told me addresses were required” when entering Listings into our online system.

Um. How do you think people are going to find those listings without addresses?

There’s the zero-error factor. A Realtor friend of mine had a home listed for $400,000.00. Last week, she got an offer for $3,900,000.00 on it. Her clients were thrilled.

The buyers probably backed out real quickly.

I have a lot of opportunity to slam my head on the desk.

I work with a Morning Person. You know what a Morning Person is, right? An annoying individual who doesn’t drink coffee and who speaks before you’ve had a chance to even sip your first cup of coffee. Fortunately, we now have a receptionist who does not do mornings and the focus of irritating someone has moved to her. “Good Morning! What’s not good about this morning? The sun is up/the rain is falling softly/your heart is beating/you’re not underground/it’s a brand new day!”

Let.Me.Drink.My.Coffee.In.Silence. Please.

Morning Person is also an extrovert. “What? You’re going out to your car for lunch? Why don’t you sit in the break room with me and eat lunch and talk?”

TALK? You want me to TALK during my lunch hour?

My coworker is also reinventing herself now that she is an Empty-Nester. She pesters peppers me with questions about my retirement plans. Well, actually, she didn’t realize I was talking about retirement. She thought I was looking for a second career that would take off tomorrow, complete with a Business Plan.

Um. NO. I retire in seven years. I want to have something in place when I retire. (By the way, I have decided to concentrate on artwork). “So, do you think you’ll make enough to live on?” she asks, glibly.

I stare at her. NO. I do have one artist friend who has made a successful career out of it & has even been entertained by the grandson of Henri Matisse (“who?” asks my coworker. Face Palm). I have another friend who shows her artwork in galleries. And yet another who mentored me this summer in the art of hawking my wares at faires.

Right time, right talent, ta da!

I’d like to write the Great American Novel, too, but this I do not share with my coworker. She would pester pepper me with questions about the plot and twists. No – I take that back. I did share with her, once. She went on a long rant about Stephanie Meyers and how she hit the market at the right time with the right novel. I countered with a long rant on everything that is wrong with the first two books in the Twillight Series.

1. The heroine, Bella, goes out into an ice storm in Washington State. Instead of falling on her arse (as I did in my first freezing rain), she nimbly makes it to her antique 4×4 pick-up truck and drives to school without mishap. It is only upon getting out of the truck and looking down that she realizes her father put chains on the front wheels of her truck.

Have you ever driven a pick-up truck with real chains on? Hell, ANY car with chains on? Thumpa-thumpa-thumpa-thumpa. Clank-clank-clank.

2. Someone comes to the local Pacific Northwest Outdoor Gear store and states they saw “Something big, hairy, and animal-like” loping across the road. Do you immediately think: “Werewolf”?

COME ON! BIG FOOT. Sasquatch. There will be ten Sasquatch Burger Joints opened within a three-mile radius of the first sighting within 24 hours. Everyone who lives up here knows there’s “something” out there. And it is not a werewolf named Jacob.

3. Creepy ancient guy has a crush on teen-age girl named Bella. Acts like a teenager with a crush on and a stalker.

I don’t even have to put anything in italics to answer that.

I never read the last books in the series. I think my youngest did, but only because she was determined that it couldn’t get worse. It got worse. They married and had a baby together. How does a dead guy even have living sperm?


I am not comparing my novel to Ms. Meyers’ novel. Mine could be worse. I’m just saying… don’t compare me with Ms. Meyers until you’ve read the book.

Then you can have at it.

Anyway, I patiently explained that this is a retirement plan. A way to make a few extra dollars on top of my husband’s pension, SSI, and my 401-K (both of which are piddly). My coworker seemed surprised.


She thought I was only 54. I should be flattered, but I’m not. What’s four years? I’m (almost) 58.

She has a much better plan that I do. But planning ahead was never my forte. Handling money was never my forte.

Which brings me around to the irony of my job: I handle money. I’m actually very good at what I do. I make mistakes, but when I do – I own them. No excuses. No “noone told me…”, just a big “OH &%$#”. Most of my Real Estate Agents love me (and I love them), but sometimes I really can’t please one. It happens. It’s work. It’s what I do in the real world.

But I don’t think I ever glibly thought that Real Estate sold without an address.

Thoughts on Reinvention

This is my third post on deciding what I want to be when I grow up. My mother always told me, “Grandma Moses started painting when she was 70 years old.” I don’t know if she meant she could have started a new career as an artist or if she meant to encourage me, but I do know that 70 years old sounded really, really, really old, and so I was duly impressed.

70 doesn’t sound that old to me now and time is closing in on me.

I decided the best way to go about this was to weigh the things I love doing against each other and to assess the monetary benefits of pursuing an action.

Writing is the most obvious way to make money, but writing is only my second love (I am excluding horses: I couldn’t make money with horses if I knew squat about them, and they cost a lot of money to own).

The first thing I ever did in life that I remember is to take a pencil and draw. I was drawing before I could write. I was in detention in Kindergarten for drawing a pine tree instead of a lollipop tree ( the kid sitting next to me tattled on me and told the teacher I was ‘drawing Christmas trees’. When I defiantly pointed out that it was not a Christmas tree (no decorations) and that it looked more like a tree than the lollipop tree (I probably used that term), the teacher made me stand in the corner. I was crushed, but my sense of defiance was strengthened).

I created my first sculpture in 5th grade. I remember it vividly: it was made out of home-made papier mâchè. Each student  in class made a bird, and the popular kids were very detailed and politically correct. My bird was a fantastical parrot-like creation, green, and funny-shaped. I was embarrassed at the outcome. Later in life, I realized that’s just how my brain translates to sculpture. All my papier mâchè creations since have been grotesque and strange. I’m fine with that.

I love to garden, but I came into that passion as an adult. I hated yard work when I was a child and my father snapped a long black whip over our heads. “Work, ye slaves, work! Ground, ye are! Two weeks’ detention: spend it clearing out the boulevard! I want that salt grass gone!” Other neighborhood kids came and watched us toil in our shackles and striped pajamas. “Those poor Wilcox kids. They’ll never be free…”

Okay, it wasn’t quite that dramatic. The whip was imaginary. All the rest was real.

I love to read. If I could make as much money reading as I make working a forty-hour-a-week-job, I’d read for forty hours a week. At least. I’d even put in overtime.

I hate math. Herein lies one of the greatest ironies in life: God arranged for me to have a very nice job in a closing department for a real estate company. I spend forty hours a week dealing with numbers. I have a memory for patterns and numbers, and they come very easy for me. I only hate math because I had one good math teacher in my entire public school life (Mr. English in 8th Grade). The worst math teachers were in high school and higher math. I especially despise geometry.

I love science, but I can’t deal with the rote memory of it. You’d think that would be simple, but it isn’t. I had this very lofty dream of becoming a veterinarian when I was a freshman in high school. Enter Mr. Ricketts and his biology class. He was determined that we all understood what college was going to be like and he was hard. I learned to despise fruit flies. But what was driven home more than anything was that I do not have the ability to memorize biology terms. All we had to do was memorize the bones, musculature, and nymph system of the human body.

The final was the weekend after a big conference in Las Vegas for a volunteer group I had gotten involved with. We students screwed around a lot (one night, Tracie, “Rat”, Lance, and I ran around playing “doorbell ditch” on wedding chapels. We were all going to “get married” but we didn’t know to whom we wanted to get married). But I also spent a lot of time cramming for that test, and I remember sitting in the cafe with my biology book and notes. Mr. Ricketts was one of our chaperones and he came down for breakfast at the same time. I was making notes, reading and rereading.

I failed the test. My very first core subject failure. It was a pivotal moment in my life as dreams of becoming a veterinarian were dashed completely. Mr. Ricketts, who was a notorious bad-ass, gave me a D- on my report card. I deserved an F, but he knew how hard I’d studied in Las Vegas.

He did not know I wrote my first novel in biology and passed it around to my fellow students. It was titled, “Hey, Birds.”

Today, I had an interesting conversation with a new coworker. She’s from Iowa. I mentioned that I attended Grinnell College for a year. She replied, “Wow, that’s a rich kids’ college.” Well, yeah, it was then, too. It is also a very diverse college and a wonderful liberal arts education. I was just not prepared for living away from home in the middle of the flat lands. I was not college material at the age of 17 (my father warned me: he wanted me to take a year off and then go to college. I should have listened). I loved Grinnell.

I got to see/hear Ry Cooder. Oh my Gosh – he remains one of my absolute favorite independent musical artists. I had a great design 101 professor. I pulled a B+ average. One of my favorite courses was Humanities. World History was not far behind.

Still, I dropped out. World History, the Greeks, Poetry – those stick with me. I have a very dog-eared copy of Norton’s Anthology of Poetry (1974). John Donne became my favorite sonnet poet. Simone de Beauvoir was inspiring. I hate Freud.

I passed Physics for Dummies with flying colors with a paper on the artist Christo. What can I say? Christo had to understand physics in order to do the things he did with orange drapery.

I dropped out. I was not college-ready. I wanted to be John Steinbeck and write the Great American Novel. I’ve written three or four by now, and burned them all. The only novel I ever sent to a publisher was “Hey Birds” in the 1970’s. It was a truly awful book.

Now I am here: almost 58 and trying to decide which way I want to go. Tonight, I watched a You-Tube tutorial on oil pastels. I felt inspired. I knew that I was on the right track.

The end result of this rambling post is this: I want to be an artist. I buried my Talent for years and years as I worked my way through life: there was making a living to pay the rent, then there was marriage, and then there were children. I chose to homeschool my children which turned into a full-time job (that I will never regret, although their take on homeschooling is yet to be determined*). I was thrust into a full time job working for a real estate company.

And I found every excuse under the sun about why I couldn’t also pursue an artistic career. My bad.

Now, I want to correct that. I am leaning toward art. Really leaning. This is where I need accountability.

(I didn’t even touch on photography. I’ll make that my next post.)

*For Levi. My son. You would NEVER have broken so many laws if you had attended public school. You would NEVER have run as wild as you did if you had been in public school. You NEVER would have taken up Swing Dancing with the cute girls at community college when you were 14 if you had been in public school. I just want you to know that homeschooling worked in your favor.


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