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Archive for the ‘memoir’ Category

My ex-husband has always been an avid sports fan. He follows baseball, football, and basketball. At least when we were married that was all he followed. Of course he also watched tennis and golf and every other sport on TV, but as for attending games and really following on the radio (ooohhh what’s that?) and TV, it was baseball, football, and basketball. We lived in Los Angeles (Santa Monica to be exact) so we were Dodger fans. He still lives there and is still a huge fan with season tickets and all that. I still love the Dodgers, too.

I remember going to as many games as we could afford. We went in triple digit heat, in rain, in wind; we went all the time! As soon as there was a hint of post season play, he would mail in the postcard to win the chance to buy tickets. And he would use every name he could think of, his, mine, his sister, his niece, his brother-in-law, friends, on those post cards so he would have more chances of winning the right to buy the tickets. One year, I think it was the first year we were married, 1978, he got tickets to the World Series against the Yankees. He invited his father to drive up for the game. It was a huge thing to have his dad come. Hid dad was a big fan too so he really appreciated the chance to go to the game.

So the day of the game arrived. His father drove the three hours that day and was in town in the early afternoon. When the time arrived, off the two went to the game. Then a couple of hours later, I got a phone call. It was from a pay phone (no cell phones then). It was my husband. He was out of breath and upset. I think he called me just to vent because there was nothing I could have done. It seems that his dad was holding the tickets and put them down to buy a program then forgot about the tickets (his dad was elderly, tired from the drive, and excited about the game). When they got to the gate, they had no tickets. They retraced their steps but the tickets were gone. Stadium police were called and because my husband had looked at those tickets so many times since they had arrived in the mail, he had memorized the section and seat numbers. So Stadium Police (and they are definitely Police, not just security, with the right to arrest and their own jail inside the stadium) went to the seats, got the people out of the seats. They didn’t have the right ID. The stadium had a record of who the tickets had been mailed to. So the people that were in the seats were taken away by the Stadium Police and my husband and his dad got to watch the game in their seats.

It’s one of those things that sticks in your mind and pops up every so often. They were lucky that he remembered the seats and had the receipt in the envelope in his pocket to prove he was the rightful owner of the tickets. They missed the first inning and a half but that was okay, they were relieved to be able to enjoy the rest of the game…a World Series game…against the NY Yankees!

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I was lucky. I had more than my share of wonderful teachers. Of all the teachers I had in seven periods times four years plus some changing at the quarter or semester, there was only one I did not get along with. There was some kind of “reverse chemistry” or bad chemistry between us. I think part of it was that everyone always told her that she was a slightly older version of me and they told me that I was a slightly younger version of her. She was a first year teacher and didn’t like being compared to a student. I think that was part of it. But, I had wonderful teachers who actually believed me over her and went to bat for me so when she tried to fail me, she couldn’t.

The school is on the east side of San Jose in California. It’s now a really bad place to live but in those days, the immediate area around the school was not so great with the outer areas being pretty good, if not great. The school had its share of tough kids. No gangs in those days but definitely groups that didn’t get along with each other. It was not an affluent area, for the most part. The teachers at the school could have jobs at other schools, and other districts in the city, some of them much closer to their homes. But the CHOSE to be there, at that school, with those students. They chose to serve that community and try to teach the kids that weren’t the highest academically. There were a few of us that were above average, but very few. I believe that I was in the group of the first ten students to be accepted at a private university and about the first to get a full academic scholarship. The student body wasn’t made up of shining stars. But the teachers chose to be there, often accepting a salary less than what they could get at an adjacent school district. Why? Because they were dedicated teachers. Their hearts were in the right place…with us! I think that’s why they were so inspiring. At least to me, they were the best. They were the epitome of what a teacher should be. I learned more than academics from them. They changed my life and not a day goes by that I don’t think of one or the other of them.

That’s what teachers should be. I’m glad I was privileged to have so many wonderful examples.

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Have you ever been on a cruise? I always wanted to go on one, until I did. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy traveling and I even enjoyed the cruise but there is always at least one thing we don’t like but have to live through to finally enjoy our trip. Sometimes it’s the packing that you just can’t stand but without packing, there’s no trip! I really hate the getting to the airport from the time I leave until the time I board the plane and put on my seat belt, but I love the actual flight.

I love cruising. I’ve only been on two but that’s enough to tell you that I want to go on more and that I don’t want to go on any more! I don’t mind the waiting endlessly to board the ship. I don’t mind listening to the “orientation assembly” where they tell you everything you need to know that you already know (because let’s face it, who goes on a cruise without reading everything possible on the internet?).  The one thing…just one thing that I absolutely cannot stand is the Muster Drill. You have to have one, it’s required by the Coast Guard or whoever administers those things. The Muster Drill, for those that don’t know, is like a fire drill. The horn/signal sounds and everyone has to drop what they are doing and rush to the escape location; rush up or down stairs; meet in the designated location and line up to be counted. That’s how they know everyone will know what to do in case of an emergency. They are very strict about it. If you skip it, they come find you and I have heard that in some cases, they will make you disembark or drop you off at the first stop. They ARE serious about it.

The first time I went on a cruise, it was to celebrate my daughter’s 21st birthday. We went on the cruise from San Pedro, CA to Ensenada, Mexico and back. It was great fun. But the Muster Drill was not. I hated it because they really rushed us and I felt like I had to run and I have a bad knee and back and I can’t rush like that. There were A LOT of stairs, too. Then we had to stand out there until everyone was counted and they had to count several times because the count was off so it took over an hour of standing time before we could go back to enjoy our cruise. I said I wouldn’t do it again.

Then, years later, came the invitation to my high school reunion, on a cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada. So I went. I invited my sister and she went with me. She has problems with her back and can’t do stairs easily. So when the alarm sounded for the Muster Drill, off we went. We were the first ones to the exit location and we had to lead all the others up the stairs. At the top of the first flight of stairs, one of the crew members saw us both struggling and told us to go around the corner and use the elevator. Yay! Off we went. We got in the elevator and there was a different crew member telling people not to get on the elevator. We ignored her and said we had been told to use the elevator. She kind of ignored us and started the spiel: “In case of an emergency, if the ship sinks, the elevator will get filled with water and you could drown…”  I was feeling punchy so I answered, “Yeah. I know. I saw the movie. It’s called Titantic. It’s pretty good. You should see it.” And I pushed the elevator for the floor we needed as the doors closed.

Yeah. Sometimes I crack myself up. But rarely. THAT’S why I probably won’t go on another cruise. Remind me of this if at any time in the future you read that I am going on a cruise!

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Trigger Warning: sexual assault

The only good thing about it was that it was over quickly.

It was Valentine’s Day and out theater group was performing in the dining hall. The performance was excellent. We were all in top form. The audience understood all of the jokes and the nuances. There was applause at just the right time. When it was over, the twelve of us went up to my dorm room to celebrate. Someone had beer. I put on an album…not sure but I vaguely remember that it was something by Santana. They didn’t stay long. Within the hour everyone had left, except him. He looked through my albums and asked if he could play a different one. When he walked to the closet where the stereo was kept, he shut the door which led to the hallway. I didn’t think anything of it because you sort of had to if you wanted to open the closet doors completely.

The music played and he took my hand and started to dance with me. That was fine. But soon…too soon…he had grabbed both of my arms behind my back and he was pushing me down on my bed. I shook my head and said no. He smiled and covered my protests with his mouth. He said I should not be scared. But I was. I didn’t want this. I didn’t know him except from our weekly class meetings. I tried to push him off of me but he was too big; too heavy. I tried to wiggle out from under him but I couldn’t. My hands were pinned under me; they hurt; they were twisted. His left had covered my mouth and I could not breathe. His right hand ripped at my white dress then at my underwear. I shouted and I shook my head but his mouth silenced my shouting. He was too big for me to fight off. Then there was more pain. My wrists. My chest as I tried to breathe. My head had banged against the metal bed frame. My legs were twisted. With the pain came the damp between my legs and from my eyes. He got off of me; fixed his clothes and left. He smiled at me as he was left. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t speak. I felt broken. I felt like I was dead. I felt like I didn’t matter. I felt like what I wanted was of no consequence.

The only good thing about it was that it was over quickly. Only the memories have lasted. I have squelched them but they seem to be coming more and more frequently now. I think some secrets have to be exposed. Maybe then the memories will stop.

 

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Note: This was originally posted in 2008. It is one of my favorite Christmas stories because it brings back the magic of Christmas that most of us had long, long ago.

I grew up in a large family.  There were seven kids plus my mom and dad.  My dad was the only one who worked, as was the norm in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  My dad drove a fork lift at one of the local canneries.  The only way there would ever be any money for Christmas gifts was for my mother to save money in a Christmas Club account at the local Bank of America where she made a weekly deposit.

One year my brother David, who was about eight years old that year, fell in love with a toy he saw on a TV commercial.  It was a cannon that shot hard plastic balls.  It was called the Mighty Mo.  The commercials showed the Mighty Mo crawling over and through rough terrain all on a miniature scale, of course, but it looked really neat.  The clincher was the footage of the cannon balls launching out of the Mighty Mo!

David had to have one but we were taught to not ask for anything, not even for our birthdays or Christmas so he couldn’t ask for one.  We lived a block away from Safeway and my mom used to send us on daily trips for the odd supply she needed before the next week’s big grocery trip.  Safeway carried a few toys then.  They placed them on the shelves high above the produce department as those shelves were normally empty.  On one of the trips to get something for my mom, David was thrilled to discover that Safeway had about two dozen Mighty Mos on their shelves!  After that day, David volunteered to go to Safeway every single time my mom needed something.

Every day David returned from his Safeway run to report exactly how many Mighty Mos were left on the shelf and every day, as the number dwindled, he gave my mom his report in a sadder and sadder tone.  First there had been two dozen then only eighteen.  Soon there were less than a dozen and when there were only four left, David was really sad. About three days before Christmas, David reported, with tears in his eyes, that there were no Mighty Mos left at Safeway.  When Christmas arrived, David was the only one of us that was not excited about it.  We all wanted him to be happy like we were but nothing got him excited.

On Christmas morning, we got up and my big brothers helped us girls get dressed and ready to go upstairs to open presents.  That’s what we did each year because it gave my parents a little extra time to get up.  When we got upstairs, David was the last one to go into the living room where the tree was with our Santa gifts unwrapped.  When he came in he found us all with huge smiles on our faces and our eyes intent on his face.  He didn’t know what was up until he looked under the tree and found his Mighty Mo with a big red ribbon on it!

We all enjoyed that Mighty Mo for several years.  David especially liked to shoot the cannon balls out of the Mighty Mo from the top of the stairs in the back yard.  It was a fun toy.  I only wish my brother David was still around to tell the story himself.

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I like posting “throw back Thursday” pictures on Facebook and I’ve posted a couple here but I get tired of posting pictures of myself and I don’t like to post pictures with other people in them unless I have their permission so when I saw Trent post a throw back Thursday memory on his blog today, I decided I could do that, too!

As most of my regular readers know, I’m originally from California but have been living in Oregon since 2008. Today, in Portland, it is one of those days we’ve been waiting to have for a long time…our summer-like weather. The sky is a beautiful blue with a few wispy clouds and the temperature is 80 degrees. Not horribly hot like it can get but a very nice change from the 50 degree weather we’ve been having!

To me, nothing says summer better than music by the Beach Boys! I love their music. I taught it to my kids and I also taught it to my inner city students the year I taught fifth grade! Now that was a scene but I’ll save that for another day. Today, I will tell you about the first time I saw the Beach Boys in concert. It was on May 24, 1975 in Oakland, California at the Oakland Coliseum for A Day On the Green (a series of all day concerts organized and promoted by Bill Graham in the 1970s).

I had looked forward to the concert for weeks. There was a group of us from the dorm going but too many for the two cars in the group so I was riding the Greyhound with three friends (Laura, Jose, and Ramiro). The night before the concert, there was an impromptu dorm party and, while I enjoyed the party, I did enjoy it a little too much via drinking a lot of booze. I was a freshman that year and at 19 years of age, I had not ever had alcohol other than a sip from my dad’s beer or wine, so during the late part of freshman year, I was drinking too much (not often but still too much). The next day, I was so hungover that I didn’t even hear the alarm. One of my friends got the RA to open my room door and she got me out of bed and got me dressed, including some very hard to keep my feet in “flip flops”. My friends knew that there was no way I would want to miss the concert which was being headlined by Chicago, the Beach Boys, and Riders of the Purple Sage, with a lot of other local groups performing as well. So off we went for our LONG walk to the bus depot which was about a mile northeast of the campus, not too far but we were starting from our dorm which was in the far southwest part of the campus so we had to walk about four miles, maybe more. Well, they walked, I sort of dragged along as they pulled me along. The bus ride from Palo Alto to San Francisco was about an hour then we had to walk to the local city bus stop to take a bus across the Bay Bridge to the Oakland Coliseum for the concert. We finally made it and found our friends in the block of tickets we had purchased. The warm up bands were great but my head was pounding. Someone bought me a beer, saying it would settle my stomach and make me feel better. So by the time Chicago came on, I really was feeling much better, but I had a horrible headache. I enjoyed Chicago and then a couple of small bands then the Beach Boys came on to a wild reaction of standing, clapping, singing, and dancing California fans! Including me, headache and all.

By the time the Beach Boys had played, I was exhausted and still had that horrible headache. One of the car drivers was leaving early and asked if I wanted to go back with her because she had an extra seat. I agreed, having seen the two bands I most wanted to see, and off we went back to Palo Alto, to the dorms, to the dining hall, and to my bed for sleep.

That was the first of about ten times I was lucky enough to see the Beach Boys perform in concert. I’ve only ever seen them in California so I wonder what song they open with in other places because in California they always open with California Girls. (I hope that link works…my plugin for sound is not working on my laptop so I can’t check.)

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Blogging From A to Z

When I was a little girl, around three years old, I spent a lot of time being sick. There were lots of doctor visits, lots of medicines, and a lot of trips to the hospital. I had a lot of pain in my throat and it seemed like it was always sore, like I always had a cold. Finally, Dr. Johnson told my mother that it was time to get my tonsils take out. I would have to go to the hospital to have an operation. My parent’s had insurance for it but because I was so young, the insurance said they would not cover the surgery until they got another doctor to examine me and say the same thing so I had to go to more doctors and more visits and be sick some more.

Then one day my mother got a phone call from the hospital. It was okay for me to have the operation. For several days, my parents took me shopping at night time, after my father was home from work. I got a little suitcase made of wood with colored pegs and a little hammer. It had a chalkboard too. It was mine. I did not have to share it with my sisters. It was for me to take to the hospital with me. I also got a pink nightgown and a pink robe to take to the hospital. I think there were new slippers and I know there was a new blue hairbrush. All these things were for me. All for me. No one else. Just for me. I was feeling really special to be getting the operation.

On the day of the operation, my father had to work so my mother and I walked to the bus stop and took the bus downtown. We had some breakfast and then we got on another bus that left us closer to the hospital. By the time we got to the hospital, it was almost the night time. After we waited a long time, they took me to a little room where there were only doctors and nurses. My mom could not go in with me. The doctor told me to look up at the ceiling at a large circle that was like a light but it had no light coming from it. I was supposed to look at it and count backwards from 100 but I didn’t know my numbers so I was confused. Just a couple of numbers later, I was asleep and I didn’t know what happened until I woke up in a room in a crib with a lot of ladies in it.

That night, after work and after dinner, my mom and dad came to see me at the hospital. They brought me a little doll that was going to stay with me and sleep at the hospital when they left. I liked the doll but when it was time for them to leave me and go back home to my brothers and sisters, I gave the doll back to my mom so she could take it back to the store because I wanted to go home with her. My mom’s pretty green eyes were wet and she smiled and said I had to stay there overnight but that if I was a good girl, I could go home in a day or two. My mom and dad kissed me and hugged me and as they turned and waved at me from the door, I smiled at them but I was crying. I smiled at them because I didn’t want my mommy to cry. I didn’t want her to see me cry so I just smiled at them and waved with one hand and wiped the tears away with the other hand.

That night, after they left and after all the ladies in the beds around me were sleeping, I cried. Being in the hospital was not fun anymore. I didn’t want to stay there. I wanted to go home and I wanted my mommy.

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