Monday, October 29, 2007
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...
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
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
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.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
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..."
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.