Ten Things You May Not Know About Me

My great friend, Iva Ursano, tagged me to write on this subject that’s been going around here. I wish everyone on Medium would do it. I’d love to know my fellow writers better.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

1. I won the talent show at my elementary school in second grade. My mother set everything up. My two friends stood behind me as we all sang “Take Back Your Mink” from Guys and Dolls. My mom loaded the three of us up with clothes and jewelry, which we proceeded to strip off piece by piece during the song until we were down to our play clothes. I slipped on one girl’s string of pearls and hit the floor hard, but immediately outstretched my arms and said, “Ta Da!” Did somebody order a ham? I imagine it was the first and last striptease ever held at that school.

2. I dropped out of high school in eleventh grade. I remember my friend, Derek, walking me from class to class begging me not to leave as I dropped off my books. I knew it was a bad idea, but my mother reasoned since I skipped so many classes I might as well go get a job and pay part of the rent. I got my GED the next year and graduated when I would have anyway, and I ended up marrying Derek a few years later.

3. I was in a commercial when I was five years old. It was for a local bank in California, Fidelity Savings, and I had to ride a giant horse with an actor playing my grandfather walking alongside of me. All I remember was how terrified I was of the horse, how he tried to throw me off and my “grandfather” catching me in his arms. The commercial aired for about a year, and my parents called me into the living room every time it came on until I got bored with seeing it and ignored the excitement. I was happier reading my books in those days.

4. One of my neighbors stalked me for several months. The lady lived across the street from me, my husband and our one-year-old son. I didn’t pay her much mind until she came to my door one day screaming about how I intercepted one of the men the government had sent to her house for her to marry. I can still smell the rancid peanut butter on her breath, and my little boy lost control of his bowels because she scared him so much. I had to get a restraining order against her because she wouldn’t stop yelling at me, which was quickly granted as soon as she told the judge her story about the government sending her “husbands.” I still don’t know why she targeted me, but thankfully we moved away from her not too long after that. Mental illness is rough, and I hope that lady found some help.

5. I met my current husband, Matt, at a memorial for my high school sweetheart. My ex-boyfriend, Jimmy, passed away a few weeks earlier, and his widow invited me for a get together to celebrate his life at her house. Matt was one of Jimmy’s best friends as an adult. They were in a band together, but even though I stayed in touch with Jimmy over the years, I never met Matt before the memorial. I can imagine this sounds somewhat creepy. I didn’t go there looking for love, but something clicked and we realized we’d been on the outskirts of each other’s entire lives since high school. We always credit Jimmy with bringing us together and blessing us with happiness.

6. Watch out! I remember everything. I’ve been blessed (or cursed) with a photographic memory. I can tell you what you said, what I said and even when we said it. “How do you remember that?” My best friend from childhood asks me this all the time when I bring up a funny event from the past. I don’t know why this happens, but it’s great for the memoir I’m writing. My husband likes it a little less during arguments, but you can’t please them all.

7. I always give money to panhandlers. It wasn’t too many years ago that I was one of them. I’ll never forget the desperation, the humiliation and how low I felt begging people at gas stations for enough money for gas so I could get to work and back. My life was a mess, out of control, and I couldn’t put enough money together for basic needs. These days, things are better and I pay it forward. It doesn’t matter what they spend the money on. The feeling of being in need is something I’ll never forget.

8. I was once a “stage mother.” At the urging of a friend, I took my son, Brendan, to an agent when he was two and got him started in child modeling. We traveled to Miami in soul-crushing traffic several times a week to go on auditions and photo shoots. It was fun until I realized that my little one wasn’t having fun at all. There was only so much waiting around long past naptimes and being told to smile and be happy that he could take. My mother took me to do the same thing when I was young, and I sort of enjoyed it until I didn’t. Brendan clearly wasn’t into it, and I’m glad I recognized that early instead of forcing him to continue just so I could brag. The boy himself was already enough to brag about.

9. I wrote a novel in the fourth grade. My dad gave me a large book full of blank pages with an awesome bright gold cover and challenged me to write something one day during the summer. The story ended up about 70 pages and was called “The Richmonts.” It was about a disgustingly wealthy family who threw money in everyone’s faces as they looked down on them. I’m not sure where I got the inspiration, as it was far removed from my life and not relatable at all. I illustrated it and everything, but I lost it when I lent it to a little friend who never returned it. James Martin from fifth grade, if you’re out there, I want my novel back!

10. I lived in a tent as a child for one day. I was eight years old, and my parents were arguing inside the little trailer we were living in high atop a mountain. My mother decided she’d had enough of my dad and packed up everything she and I owned and pitched a tent several yards away. I spent the afternoon arranging my “room” (corner of the tent) while intermittently begging my father to let me stay in the trailer with him. My mom heard me and insisted I get comfortable because we would live there for a long time. Thankfully, her plans changed when she started up our wood-burning stove inside the tent to make some food. The two of us quickly got smoked out of our new home. I had to give my father credit, he never laughed once.

As is the tradition, I nominate Julie C-Y and Shannon Ashley to tell us ten things we don’t know about them. Please check out their pages on Medium ASAP. Let’s keep the fun going!

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