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December 2018

The Things Before We Wake

ThelmaXmas1966aEveryone has stories of things that they are told happened to them during the early years of ones life that one doesn't/cannot remember, in that time before our consciousness 'wakes up' and we start being aware of our life. 

For me, these include, being obsessively protected by our family's big black lab Licorice (who died, while I was still a baby, I think, by being hit by a car on the highway just outside our house), being present at a party my parents threw and exclaiming "OH HELL!" for some unknown reason, and the time I stuck my hand out to stop a slamming door with a glass pane in it that caused a scar on my right arm. I remember none of this. 

I was also told at a young age that I had been an unexpected third child after my mom had had some problems carrying to term. My sister, born in 1956, was supposed to have been a twin, and I seem to remember hearing from her that mom had been pregnant twice between my brother being born in 1960 and my birth in 1964.

So, from a young age, before I was 'awake', my mom doted on me as I was not only a 'whoops' but it was clear that I would be her last child. I can't, of course, know what that must feel like, to know or suspect that you can't have any more children, but it can only be a sad thing (whether or not she and my dad even would have wanted more kids is not important). 

When I tell people that my mom and dad were my best friends growing up, some look at my like I'm crazy, some look at me as though they pity me... and some understand. My parents weren't perfect, but, they were perfect for me. My mom was loving and kind, creative, smart and funny, and my dad had a wealth of knowledge about pop culture, world history, and a mind for exploring interesting subjects (such as visitors from other worlds and things of that nature). They would each leave me, in their own way, over time, but I think that they armed me with a better tool belt than either they or I realized. That I have lived in many cities, have a large number of friends, and have had the pleasure of a variety of super cool experiences comes from parents who taught me the right things. I'm certainly not perfect either, but I have them to thank for a lot of things that have kept my life full of life. 

ThelmaXmas1966bAnyway, the first image that I have always remembered clearly, was the image of the back of a woman's legs, standing at our kitchen sink washing dishes. She was wearing a dress and short heeled shoes. I know it wasn't my mom but was probably our housekeeper, Mrs. S.

Mrs. S. was hired to help my mom cope with three kids and a big house. As my mom suffered from agoraphobia (something that would only be named after my dad passed away in 1981) we all just accepted that my mom needed companionship in the house and when driving and it was Mrs. S who would cook meals, do laundry, iron, and, to some degree, the disciplining. Later, after Mrs. S left, Mrs. K joined our household and would threaten us with "the stick" - a large wooden spoon. She called me "Charlie" as in "Charlie Brown" and I would stay at her house in town on occasion when my parents would go out of town. I don't really remember Mrs. S at all, but would later "meet" her briefly. It's a strange thing to meet someone who took care of you but you don't remember them. 

The image up above is of a Christmas card I salvaged from one of my usual childhood raids of boxes in our attic. It's certainly one of the things I wouldn't remember getting at 2 years old. I am thrilled that it somehow survived until I could, during college, put it in a photo album for safe keeping.

The card is from my grandma and grandpa Hansen, my mom's parents who lived in Milwaukee. My grandma refers to herself as "Nonna" in the note but I know I never referred to her as that, although I do remember my sister doing so.  As a side note, this grandma, Thelma, was always a very big part of our Christmas as she would bake the most delicious sugar cookies and put them in fancy tins, sealed with heavy tape and sent to us not to be opened until Christmas day. She was quite a positive influence on me and, aside from my parents, she is the person from my family that I miss the most (she passed at nearly 100 years old in 2004). 

That's all for today, more soon! 

originally posted 12/19/18 Noon. 

edited for additional clarity 12/19/18 3:30pm

1964 - The Lucy Show

BabyPictureBI was born in a paper mill town called Mosinee, in the central part of Wisconsin. My parents' house sat on the edge of a thick woods just a few minute walk from the Wisconsin River. We weren't on a farm, but we didn't live in town either. We were in between and part of both but neither at the same time. I have found that this has been sort of symbolic of my life. Thankfully, I grew up on a country road with a bunch of other kids. We were all of similar ages and had many adventures throughout our shared childhood. In many ways, I felt/feel closer to them than I did/do my own siblings. But I'll get to that eventually. 

My story really begins on March 9th. The possibly apocryphal story of my birth is that my mother went into labor during an episode of The Lucy Show and about an hour and a half later, I was born. I only couch this as a possibly apocryphal story because Lucy was on at 7pm and I was born around 8:30. That seems pretty fast but I don't know if she was already in the hospital at the time or if she went from our house to the hospital and to birth in 90 minutes. My mother would have enough trouble with me throughout my life so, if true, I'm glad that it sounds as though my birth was a fairly easy event and that at least she went into the delivery room laughing. 

I was also a 'whoops'. My mom didn't think she'd have any more children so I was apparently a surprise. Perhaps this is why she and I got along so well. Knowing that you weren't planned is a kind of weird feeling as you realize that you almost weren't anything at all. It's also weird for me to know that my parents tenth wedding anniversary was June 20th, 1963 and that I was born 9 months later. It's nice to know that I was probably conceived during a celebratory time. :) 

This photo is the earliest one of me that I have. Taken in March 1965, I would be one year old. It doesn't look like my parents home nor does it look like either of my grandparents' homes.. so I'm not sure where I am. But, it does look like I was comfy and clearly they were worried that I'd just wander away (probably a reasonable concern given my eventual peripatetic ways). I really love that pillow, by the way. It's super cool. I also kind of like the art deco green lamp behind me and the 'genie' bottle on the table. If I had to guess, I might think that I might be staying at a woman's house who had been our housekeeper (Mrs. Sinkhofer) in my early years. She would retire by about the time I was 3 or 4 and Mrs. Kasmirski would be with us up until my dad passed away in 1981. 

Interestingly, later on in life, when I was with a boyfriend who was a serious snorer, I would spend a lot of time sleeping on the couch. It never bothered me. I guess it's because I had been a couch surfer from early on. :) 

Anyway, I think that's a good start. I'll be back soon with a few more bits and pieces. 



What is your Story?

1929948_14173039431_2389_nIf someone asked you, 'what is your story?' what would you tell them? 

Would the sum total of your Story be - "I went to work and then I got married and then I died" ?  Hopefully not. What did you DO? What are you most proud of? What did you learn? That's all part of your Story. 

Starting on Saturday, December 22nd, I'm going to tell you my story. Some of it is nice. Some of it is not. I probably won't tell you some things, and you may even think that I'm over-sharing. But it is my Story. And, as I approach a Very Important Birthday on March 9th (one that I have written about in the past here and, more recently, here)I want to tell my Story while I can because we never really know what the future holds, do we? 

I hope you'll join me. I hope that you find something that resonates with you. Like Elizabeth Moss' character on MAD MEN, I wish to create something of lasting value. Perhaps my Story will be it. Maybe not. But, I feel compelled to tell it at this point in my life. 

Meanwhile, what is your Story? 

Hello and Happy Sunday

Organment2018Here in New York City the Mister and I have spent the day just kind of lounging and spending the day indoors. It isn't particularly cold but we stayed up late decorating the tree and watching the back half of Downton Abbey season 6. Yeah, we're a little late to this party but I also only finally saw Rocky's 1 and 2 a couple weeks ago so I am apparently just crossing stuff off of my 'to watch' list. I am preparing to dive into "Game of Thrones" next month as a lead up to the last few episodes of that which are slated to air in April. Then, we have the conclusions of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ("Avengers 4:  Endgame") and the final flick in the Star Wars triple trilogy. With my 55th birthday coming up in March (and 55 being such a prominent thing in my life the past 15 years AND the age my dad was when he got sick) and the Trip to Mosinee in June, it promises to be a pretty fabulous, and quite possibly 'epic' year. Hope you'll join me here for the twists and turns and thoughts. 

As I've written on here before, I have been making plans to move off of social media and focus my writing and cartooning to this blog. Naturally, I'll still promote my work on the FB and things like that but there have been so many negative revelations about the company of late, that I cannot in good conscience feel safe there any longer. It's sad. I like the whole idea of Facebook and I've certainly reconnected with a number of friends from various places I've lived and jobs I've held..... but the Sandberg stuff irritates me and, well, in general I think it's time to shift focus. (Now, this isn't saying that I'll never post frivolous stuff, because we all know that I will... but hopefully I'll spend more time creating work here and less time there. Should be fun to see how it plays out, eh?). 

As you might notice, I've done a little re-do to the left with more coming probably by the end of the year. Above: the Mister suggested that this might be the perfect ornament for these tangled times - a sort of post-modern commentary on something or other. 

Enjoy your Sunday and will be back again soon.