Monday, October 29, 2007

21 Days till 30- 1986

Jimmy graduated this year. I remember it being a big deal because he was not only the first child in our family, but also the first grandchild in my mom's family. Grandma and Grandpa came up for the graduation and so did Grandfather Beck. That was the trip that he asked me in the Red Lobster parking lot to not call him Grandpa, but that I was old enough I should call him Grandfather. I also discovered it sucks sometimes to be old because he was allergic to shellfish and strawberries... I equated the two, age and allergies, of course.
I was so proud of my big brother. I had wanted to follow him everywhere, especially around on his bike route when we were younger. I remember him trying to convince mom that I would be okay, but in the end she won out and I wasn't allowed to go. He often took advantage of my admiration, but I would have done the same thing if the roles were reversed. He could be sitting in the living room watching TV and I could be in another room and he would ask me to get him something out of the refrigerator and I would do it quickly with no complaints. Yeh, he trained me well! As I got older we talked a lot. Sometimes late into the night about life, books, religion and later politics. These were the good times when we thought we believed the same things so there was no need on either of our parts to prove to the other that we were right. We just had really deep, good conversations. The sharing is what I remember and cherish. I got to share the moment of his graduation with him as we all sat waiting for the principal to call his name and hand him his diploma. I shared in the pride that the whole family felt in his accomplishment and I knew that one day I would be up there accepting my diploma and remembering his day. He was the first and I was to be the last. We were the book ends in the chapters of the Beck children's childhoods. This was his last day as a child and his first as a grownup. He was about to embark on the first chapters of adulthood...

22 Days till 30- 1985

Mrs. Fanelli.
The first day of school that year I walked to school with Jenny and Karen and I remember Jenny telling me that Mrs. Fanelli was known to be not a very nice teacher. Then as we stood on the playground in lines behind the number of our grade on the blacktop, some of the third and fourth graders asked us which of us had Mrs. Fanelli. Of course, I said that I did. "She's old and she's a witch," someone said. All of us that had her looked at one another petrified. I was a little frightened that she might be like my grandmother who was not a nice person to be around, even when she did like you. Mrs. Fanelli turned out to be one of my absolute favorite teachers. Yes, she had different makeup. Looking back on it I remember that she drew in her eyebrows and she wore eyeliner that came out past the edge of her eye and curled up. Now, I think she was like a Hollywood movie star of the 1950's, then I just thought it was strange. It's obvious to me now that she took time to put herself together for a bunch of rambunctious 2nd graders. I can say I really respect that considering there are days that I make it all the way into the city and into work before I put a stitch of makeup on. She also wouldn't let you get away with anything and like the kids on the playground said, she had eyes on the back of her head. But all this instilled a great respect for her in me. She wasn't there for a popularity contest, she was there to teach and she did a damn good job. Mrs. Fanelli recognized early on my love of books and reading. Most kids weren't allowed to choose books from the entire library, but she let me. And, boy, did I take her up on it. One of the first books I took out from the older part of the library was the Snow Queen. I remember sitting down to read this book thinking I was part of something really cool because this book was not just a picture book and it was a little scary. It made me feel very special and the book was that much more memorable because of it. There was one day that I came to school sick and I kept getting sicker throughout the day. She checked my temperature by putting her lips to my forehead, which no one had ever done before. It was so gentle and maternal. I think I wished that she was my grandma. She let me sit at my desk with my head down until they could get a hold of my mom to pick me up. At the end of the year I was chosen for the Stolion Award by Mrs. Fanelli. It made me so proud to know that I had impressed her and that I was the person she chose to receive this honor. The next year as I stood on that blacktop behind the number three and I heard kids around me trying to scare the 2nd graders who had Mrs. Fanelli, I piped up and told them she was a great teacher. I still think so.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

23 Days till 30- 1984

I graduated from Kindergarten and I started the first grade at Indian Trail Elementary School this year. Mrs. Biggins was my teacher. It was a bit of an adjustment to go to public school after spending my days at Kathy's Preschool, but I loved school so it wasn't too difficult. I walked to school every morning with my sister Jenny and her best friend Karen who walked with us to school, but then took a bus to go to Holy Family. Every morning I would help making all our pack lunches and then mom would leave out the 20 cents for the milk we bought for lunch from school. Sometimes when she had time she would write a quick note on the napkin, so that when you opened your lunch you would find a word of encouragement from mom- yeah, she's pretty cool!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

24 Days till 30-1983

So. I know this may sound lazy, but I kind of lumped 1982 and 1983 together in the last post. I can't confirm which happened in which years and so they all came out in the last post and I have no further memories to share from this year. My favorite picture of myself is my kindergarten picture so I promise to add it to this post when I am home. Hope that's good enough!

Friday, October 26, 2007

25 Days till 30- 1982

I think that these posts will be more meaningful from here on out. At about five years old the memories become clearer and more real to me. Now, I spent the majority of this year as a 4 year old. And as most 4 year olds, I didn't yet understand the concept of time as I do now, so I'm not sure this all happened in this year, but I'm lumping it together anyway. I was going to Kathy's Preschool which was a big deal to me even then because it was a whole day in a foreign place with lots of people I didn't know. I learned to read and to socialize and to do simple math and I even learned French (which I promptly forgot when I started public school in the first grade). Besides the year I was born I think this was a big year (big time) for me. It established me as a student ahead of most of my peers and it was a place I learned to cherish. I have always thrived on competition. I have not always been the best, but I recognize excellence and I attempt to strive for it. Kathy's Pre-school also instilled a deep love of learning in me that I have never lost.

I think it was hard for me the first couple of days and I think I remember crying and I know I wet my pants. That was devastating to me. I was not a pee in your pants type of kid, but I didn't go when everyone went to the bathroom because I didn't have to and then when I did have to I don't think I knew that I was allowed to, hence I wet my pants. Because I never had done that before my mom had never left an extra pair of underwear for me. It really was uncharacteristic. So, I had to wear someone else's extra underwear and I was so embarrassed. I think that it may have even been some boy's underwear. Needless to say, I wanted to be held by my teacher the rest of the day.

I also participated in my first play and my first solo dance piece there. I played Doc in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I remember feeding Snow White her lines during the show. I loved every moment of being on stage and I've never forgotten. As for my solo dance piece, I had to audition to be included in the program. The school offered lessons, but I took dance lessons with Carol Cain. I was in a tap class and I auditioned with my recital dance and I was accepted. I had never danced by myself. This was a big step and it was a huge stage in my eyes. At my recital there was always a teacher doing the dance off stage so that if you forgot you could look to them. I was alone on this stage and I got up there and did it all by myself.

And finally, a memory I take with me from this time is one of my fondest childhood memories. My mom had to drive me to Cuyahoga Falls on the way to work each morning. She would wake me up by calling out my name into the darkness of the room I shared with my sister. I would wake up so easily then and so happily. She would brush my hair and we would decide whether or not I wanted it in pigtails that day (I think that was my favorite style). My mom sat on her rocking chair and I sat on the floor in front of her. When we were ready she'd pack me in the car- I seem to remember the front seat- and we would begin our drive together. Mom and I would sing the whole way to school. We'd sing whatever we knew, sometimes she would just sing for me until I learned the songs. The one that pops into my head is "You Light up My Life," but I seem to think that might have been Jenny's favorite song. Anyway, this one particular morning we were enjoying singing together so much that my mom forgot to stop at school to drop me off. By the time she realized we were most of the way toward Akron General where she was the head nurse on the Psych floor (a title I knew and was very proud of, and was willing to share with anyone who would listen). I remember that she decided to take me with her to work that day or maybe I wished it so much, it's what I remember to be true. Either way, she was one fantastic mom in my book that day (she usually was). I know we laughed a lot about it and it's given me a smile when I think back on it.

The Weather

So, it's actually acting like autumn here in NYC. I love it! I like to cuddle up in my blankets at night and to wear a hoodie during the day. I look good in layers... the only problem is that the weather is not cooperating with my headshots (too rainy). Anyway, we are rescheduled for next Tuesday and I am hoping for a sunny, beautiful, autumn day that's not too humid so that my hair doesn't frizz out. Is that too much to ask for?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

26 Days till 30- 1981

Okay, I know this is gonna sound silly especially considering we didn't get cable until John bought it for us when he was in high school (sometime between 1984-1988) because he was tired of not being cool, but 1981 was the year MTV was launched. I know, I know it didn't directly effect me, but it's a generational thing. Enjoying music would become so different for us compared to our parents. MTV would bring us the first videos, the first reality TV and an idea of celebrity so different from what it had been. Image and branding. After all, "video killed the radio star..."

Headshots Postponed

Well, I didn't get my headshots done today because it was ugly outside. So, we'll have to wait until Friday. Here's to good weather and clear skin on Friday!!

27 Days till 30- 1980

This is the year that my parents divorced. Not that I remember it exactly, but it's one of those times that I have heard told over and over from different perspectives and with different emphasis on the facts that I feel that I have an over-developed sense of what happened. Simply, mom got the house and the kids, dad got a kick in the rear and child support payments, which he didn't always come through with. Now, I am not saying this to bad mouth either of my parents, but to really say that divorce isn't pretty. It surely isn't pretty with four under age children either, it only makes it more complicated. How has this effected my life? Well, I can say that I was probably the least directly effected because I don't remember. I don't feel a sense of loss at not having a dad at home because I don't remember a time when he was. Though, how my father dealt with all of us was directly related to the divorce. He saw us on Sundays and took us to church...
late (most of the time) and got us for two weeks every summer which we spent with my Aunt Betty. It helped me understand obligation in a way that I don't think kids normally feel obligated. I felt obligated to go with my dad on Sundays. But, over time I think this obligation turned into fondness and love (and sometimes pity) for my dad. I wouldn't be me without him. He hasn't always been the easiest person to be around, but he's my dad and there were good times too. But, I look back and thank the heavens that my parents divorced. Not that my opinion would have changed anything then or change the way others think about it now, but I know it was for the best. Understanding this time gives me a sense of where I came from and an idea of how different my life might have been if my mom hadn't come to that decision. I know it couldn't have been easy, but she realized that to take care of all of us she had to first take care of herself. It's a concept I have come to know for myself in the last year. The only person that is going to take care of you, is you. Sometimes you've got to be selfish and make the hard choices. When it's right, you'll know. I know now. I understand more fully now.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

28 Days till 30-1979

This is a hard year to try to relate to my life. I turned just two at the end of this year and it's before I can remember. I read the entire listing on Wikipedia for the year 1979 and nothing struck me as something relatable. I think I could push it and talk about the problems in Iran at the end of the decade and how they so closely relate to what is going on now, but in truth it has little to do with me directly. I wish I could reach inside the brains of my family and extricate a moment; maybe the moment I learned to walk that year or the moment I learned to talk in sentences. As the youngest of four in what I can only assume was not the happiest of homes, there is and was no baby book for me to reference. This is not to say, pity me, but more just one of those times I wish I knew. How was my mom feeling and was it tough for the others with the fighting? Not things I would expect in my baby book, but things I'm curious about.

Monday, October 22, 2007

29 days till 30- 1978

1978. Just 26 days into my first full year and "The Great Blizzard of 1978" strikes the Ohio Valley and the Great Lakes. Yes, I know that I was not really aware of the weather, but these formative years where I don't specifically remember something happening are going to be difficult to explain how it made an impact on my life. The only thing I can say is that we were snowed in and it was dreadfully cold. My mom probably held me while playing board games with the boys and watching Jen play with her dolls- you know, just the regular "Leave it to Beaver" household during a once in a lifetime winter storm. Just call my mom June Cleaver. Ok, it's my life and I'm allowed to make stuff up when I don't have a clue what really happened. Everyone else seems to do that, I'll just join in on the fun. Anyway, I tend to be a force of nature so I thought it was appropriate that I was just three months old when the "Blizzard of Legend (I found this reference on Wikipedia)" struck just outside my cosy home.

30 days till 30- 1977

So this year is easy. The biggest thing to happen to me that year was my birth. I, Joyce Leslie, was born 7 lbs, 13 ounces at 315 in the afternoon on November 18, 1977. As I look back over the last thirty years and examine every moment none would come close to the impact that being born had for me. I was born to Joyce and James, Sr. and came into the already established family of siblings, James, Jr, John, and Jenny. I can only say thanks to my mom who made it all happen. She had the strength and courage to carry me through nine months.

I Was Busy, Now I'm Not!

Excuses, excuses.... yeah, I know. I am sure I have completely lost my readership, but I am going to try and do better. I was so busy with work and now there's no work, so I'll blog. I am getting my long awaited headshots done on Wednesday and I am very excited. I spent Friday and Saturday at the salon. My highlights were really uneven, but I went back on Saturday and got them fixed. It looks pretty damn good. Can't wait to share the photos with you all. Also, I have to say that I decided to do my own count down to the big 3-0. Charissa had done a 30 accomplishments in the 30 days before her birthday and I was going to do the same, but I have decided on something else. I am going to highlight some moment or event that occurred in all my 30 years on this earth that have influenced who I am. I should be on 1979 by today and I have not yet begun. Like you do when you forget to take your birth control, I am going to double up for two days until I catch up.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Super Busy

I have been working 12 hour days and I have no time to post to my blog. I will be able to write again starting on Sunday or Monday.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Check Out My Brothers' Blogs

Jim and John are both blogging. Most of you know how diverse my family is when it comes to political/ religious/ life opinions. They are both wildly intelligent and opinionated. Basically, reading these blogs will allow you to know what it's like for my family over the holidays and any other time we get together. Enjoy!