Family · Health · Memory · Nature · Personal · reading · School

Broken Hearted in Grade School

Reading very quickly became my favorite thing.  By sixth grade, I was reading at twelfth grade level.  I often spent recess or other free time in the school library.  I was reading from one side to the other of the shelves in our small library.  When I got through fiction, I read biography and history.  Best of all, I found mythology.

Once I found mythology, I looked for stories everywhere.  Meanwhile, I experienced all the common childhood illnesses, including measles, mumps and chicken pox. I usually had bronchitis at least once each winter. I had walking pneumonia and a couple concussions. I didn’t break any bones, but I stepped on bees, sprained ankles and tumbled off bikes. Reading saved me during all the down time. I loved ordering Scholastic books at school and visiting the library.

After my open heart surgery at age three, I was followed pretty closely until released at age six. Because of the heart issues, my baby teeth needed dental work. My body was not my friend. I didn’t like failing and I didn’t like sports. I was competitive and felt that I couldn’t compete. Instead, I found solitary activities. I collected frogs from the garden and released them again. I rode my bike up and down hills in nearby grassy lots. I took books and snacks to make nests in tall summer grass. I liked badminton, swings and climbing trees.

I especially liked reading books and having them turn into movies in my head and feeling like I was living them. I had adventures and experiences. I was competitive intellectually and academically. I could plot and I could plan. All this was so good in so many ways, but helped set up the disconnect between ME and my body which was always disappointing or failing me.

Family · Friendship · Personal · relationships

Old Friends

I’m feeling light-hearted today.  I and two friends from childhood have maintained our relationships for more than fifty years.  One lives relatively close.  We keep in touch but visit infrequently.

The other is steadfast.  She’s one of the few people that I don’t censor myself with (much).  We see one another’s strengths and one another’s weaknesses and all that’s in-between.  We make time for one another: visiting, planning events, taking trips together, and we don’t judge.

When she lived near the ocean on the Oregon coast, I had “my own” bedroom.  When she needs tech support or employment advice, I’m available.  Discouragement and venting stays in the friendship vault.    Late in our lives, my mom is her second mom.

We choose our friends and, with luck and some work, they form the family that lasts.  As my birth family grows smaller and more contentious, I value old friends all the more.

History & Mission · Memory · Personal

Memory – The Facts

What is memory really? Is it a recording and recounting of events? I don’t think so. Personal history is rewritten every day.  It is the story we tell ourselves to make sense of our lives.  Memory, like our personal history is fluid.

I had my midlife crisis at 25, bought my first house at 30, got my first tattoo at 35, divorced and got a nose piercing at 40. I spent the next three years adjusting, socializing and dating. I had a heart attack, which was diagnosed as acute pericarditis, at 45. I had a hole in my heart patched at 50 and broke my arm at 55.  My life is defined by crisis and remembered by location.  I grew up in Kelso, Washington, graduating from Kelso Senior High School in 1980 and attending Washington State University as a freshman. I moved into a condo with my mother when my parents separated and then divorced.

I married at 21 and had that midlife crisis while living in Fairbanks, Alaska.  At 30, I lived in Sierra Vista, Arizona. At 35, in Augusta, Georgia.  At 40, in Spanaway, Washington. I spent the next 21 years working as an IT Specialist at Stone Education Center on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. When the COVID-19 lockdown hit, I moved in with my mom in Longview, Washington. I teleworked and later spent the occassional work day back onsite. Rather than returning fulltime to JBLM, I retired.

Those are the facts. They are not the story.