Friday, May 22, 2015

Names do hurt, even years later - Baby Huey

Growing up, I was a short, thin child, and no more naive than any other 10-year-old. 

My father took to calling me Baby Huey, 

Baby Huey was a gigantic, naive, and bumbling duckling cartoon character.  

I took this to mean that my father thought I was fat and stupid.

I don't know if that was his intention.  I challenged him on it when I was an adult and he denied ever saying it.

He couldn't remember calling me a name that scarred my self-esteem for years.


He also didn't remember telling me I would never be able to drive a car with a manual transmission "because you won't be able to shift in the corners".  I challenged him on this one when I started driving a semi-truck with 13 gears. "I never said that," he claimed.

I still drive a stick shift.  And I still occasionally think about his comment when I'm driving around a corner.

What's my point?    

Off-hand remarks can scar.  Maybe I was an overly sensitive child.  Or maybe I was just a child wanting validation from her father.

I was devastated for years by remarks that my father didn't even remember making.  It still bothers me that I don't know what his motivation was.  

Did he think he was being funny?

Did he truly think I was stupid or incapable? 

Or was he just drunk?  And does that excuse it?  

 And why, 50 years later, does it still, sometimes, bother me?

Wikipedia link to Baby Huey

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Bizzaro mirror look at what could have been

I left work a bit early yesterday to go to the garage and have my oil changed and my taillight replaced.  

I got to the waiting room and there was another woman sitting there.  Doesn't happen often, but occasionally there will be someone else waiting.  She noticed my (very old) Coach purse and that was the only opening she needed.  She talked almost non-stop for 30 minutes.  I would say I contributed 5% to the conversation. 

It was kind of surreal.  Like looking into a bizarro mirror.  She was about my height and weight and around my age.  Longish hair, as is mine.  Her name was Susan.  She also lives alone with two dogs. But she must be very lonely.  

I heard all about her Louis Vuitton purse and how it got damaged.  About her Gucci glasses and how hard it is to get new lenses in designer frames.  I learned that she had knee surgery, and burn treatment, and has cataracts.  

One dog is a Jack Russell, but I didn't learn what the other dog is.  Nor did she explain about the burns.  But I did hear all about how slipping on a soapy floor damaged her knee.  And how the man at the bank who she was on the phone with called 911 for her and stayed on the line until the ambulance arrived.

There was a long explanation of how and when she keeps her front gate locked.  This was precipitated by me asking how the paramedics got into the house when she fell.  

After about 30 minutes, she was called into the back and that ended our "conversation". 

One of the owners of the garage came out into the waiting room later and apologized for sticking me with her.  Not that they have any control over her.  He said as bad as she is, she isn't as bad as the woman who comes in wrapped in copper foil to protect her from the government. 

If I ever get to the point where someone has to apologize for me, please tell me.  Or shoot me. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

My sister's cat can sleep anywhere

A cat followed my sister's Shih Tzu home from a walk about a year ago, so my sister adopted him.  Willy is part Maine Coon and can sleep anywhere.  Book shelves, tables, chair arms,

Mixing bowls,
He drinks from the fishbowl on the left.  And the fish doesn't mind. 

Or all but falling from a chair seat:

Monday, May 4, 2015

Mentors who changed my life - Rudy Emmel

I've met people who were so afraid of losing their jobs that they were stingy with their knowledge.

Then there are the people who freely share their knowledge with you hoping to make you a better, smarter person.

There are key people in my past that helped me become the person I am today. I'm not sure any of them know how big a difference they made in my life.

Rudy Emmel was a driver's education instructor back when schools taught driving. The class was divided into sections for the written driver's test, for simulator, and for actual driving. Mr. Emmel did not teach any of the sections for my class time.

I was acing simulator and the book work. I was not acing the driving.

The driving instructor I got was a gruff coach who shall remain nameless. He seemed irritated that my parents had never once taken me driving. Or that I was a girl.  Or both.

There were 3 of us girls in the driving section. I don't recall how either of them did. I only know that I was not learning as quickly and easily as he wanted.  It didn't help that he yelled at me whenever I made a mistake.

The final straw was when I was trying to do what he told me to.  Okay, maybe I was pissed off, but I was trying really hard to do what he asked. He stomped on his brake, stopping the car abruptly, and told me that I was done. He would not take me out driving again.

One of the girls in the back seat traded places with me and drove us back to the school.

I was going to flunk driver's ed. I would not be able to get my license at 16. I would have to wait until I was 18.

I was humiliated.

I was at a loss for what to do when I showed up for my next driving section. That's when Mr. Emmel took me aside and said he would teach me how to drive.

He took me out by myself and devoted the entire class time for the remainder of the semester to teaching me how to drive well enough to pass.

He was patient, and persistent, and explained things in a way that I understood. And he never raised his voice.

He even succeeded in teaching me to parallel park.

I don't know if he realized how important it was that he didn't treat me like I was stupid.

Driving was a step toward adulthood. Driving was freedom. Driving was the ability to get a job.

One of my many careers was driving a semi-truck.

I couldn't have done any of the things I've done without Rudy Emmel's compassion and patience.

Thank you.

Friday, May 1, 2015

THESE are the good old days - books

There seems to be a lot of nostalgia for the 50's and 60's, even the 70's.  Television shows, music all portray those days as if they were some golden age of civilization.  Like life was so much better back then, 

Well, I've been there.  Done that.

THESE are the good old days.

Books are a good example.  I love books.  I read a lot.  I can't eat unless I have something to read.  I have a book case full of books I haven't yet read.

And a Kindle full of books that I haven't yet read.  I am an equal opportunity reader.

In the "good old days", the books you had to choose from were constrained by what the local library and the bookstore decided to carry.  For the bookstore that generally meant the best sellers, whether classics or new releases.

Want a book you've heard about on TV or the radio?  You had to order it.  Or go to a bigger bookstore. Or cultivate book-loving friends that would share with you.

Want to know whether people liked the book or would recommend it?  Good luck.  There might be a review of a best seller in the newspaper.  If you liked the same things the reviewer liked, this could be helpful.

Sometimes a librarian could or would recommend a new author.  Or your friends, a neighbor, a bookstore employee, a teacher.  Naturally, their recommendations are colored by their own preferences.

The library was the hub for recreational reading and homework.  Need to write a paper on Mesopotamia?

  • Head to the library.  
  • Peruse the card catalog.
  • Hope the books you need aren't checked out or in use.  
  • Flip through each book chapter by chapter, page by page, and hope that you can actually find the section you need in the book.  
  • Pray that there is a functional index.

Using an encyclopedia?  Don't forget to check the supplemental volumes in case there is additional information.

Then there was book publishing.  If you had a great idea for a book, you needed a publisher.  Which generally required having an agent.  Who was too busy with established clients to bother with your idea.

And the publisher would decide how many copies to print, how to market it, when to remainder it and when to take it off the market.

Did you want to self-publish?  That required a printing of a specific number of books and about $5000 just to get started.

Now you can find all kinds of books, in physical or virtual, on all sorts of topics, in all sorts of genres, many of them self-published.  And there is so much information (good and bad) on the internet that researching Mesopotamia is easy.

I still read a lot of physical books.  The cozy mysteries that I am so fond of are actually cheaper in print than via Kindle.

For book lovers, THESE are the good old days!