Friday, July 6, 2012

I'm From. An Autobiography

into her book by Rick Beerhorst
I'm from good old fashioned Midwestern roots which means I'm a mixed bag.  I'm from Sweden and England and France and few odd bits that we're not sure about.  (But I'm also from not being Swedish enough [according to the hubby's side of the family] because I don't like pickled herring.) I'm from a down-to-earth upbringing--of do unto others and mean what you say.  I'm from a promise is a promise and you make it right when it's not.  I'm from family comes first and loyalty means something.  I'm from respect your elders and love your friends and being there for each other.  I'm from working hard for what you want and working to be the best.  I'm from competitive stock--from competing with my dad at board games to keeping up with the boys to wanting to be the best academically.  I'm from hating to lose and hating to give up--but knowing when I have and I have to and being a good loser.  I'm from owning my mistakes and doing my best to learn from them.  I'm from having no regrets--except for the things I haven't done.

I'm from family camping caravans--trips to Mackinac Island and South Dakota and wading in the headwaters of the Mississippi with Aunt Mable in her pantyhose. I'm from celebrating my 10th birthday at a campground in North Dakota where it was so windy that the pancake syruped plates in the morning were slapping us in the face and the candles on my cake in the evening wouldn't stay lit long enough for me to blow them out.   I'm from making it a point to camp at every state park in Indiana.  I'm from plastic patio lights hanging from the camper canopies and playing card games by their glow.  I'm from learning to do my first word puzzles from my second cousins underneath those canopies.  I'm from fishing for blue gill with my parents and grandparents and great-uncles.  I'm from roasting hotdogs over the campfire and sneaking bites to Blackie, Uncle Joe's dog.  I'm from having the best little pies ever--made with bread and ready-made pie filling in a special pie maker for over the fire. I'm from wrangling with my cousins over who got to walk Muff, Uncle Gene's Lhasa Apso, and who got to be partners with Uncle Gene for playing jarts.  And I'm from worshipping those same cousins--because I had no brothers and I thought they walked on water.

I'm from family get-togethers at my grandma's.  Sitting with the grownups discussing everything from politics to football to what Grandma heard at the hairdresser's last Saturday.  I'm from sitting around Grandma's tables (yes, plural) with about 10-15 of us at meal-time, eating Grandma's meatloaf and shellie beans with Boston cream pie or cherry delight for dessert.  And later sitting around those same tables playing bid euchre and watching my cousin Kevin get mad because he "shot the moon" and then couldn't make all of his tricks.  I'm from sitting around the smaller of those tables with Tim & Kevin, playing everything from tiddly-winks to bingo to Chinese checkers to Scooby-Doo Mystery Game and drinking Choc-ola and eating vanilla wafers.  I'm from sitting at that table at other times and helping Grandma cut out the homemade dumpling or noodles that she made so well.  And, then again, sitting up on that table while Grandma gave me my very first permanent.

I'm from parents who love me and support me no matter what.  Parents who believed I could do anything I wanted--and who made me believe it too and taught me that it never mattered that I was a girl.  I'm from climbing trees and playing with army men and Tonka dump trucks.  I'm from playing tackle football with the boys and getting angry when they thought we'd have to play flag football because I was girl.  I'm from never crying like they thought I would.  I'm from freeze tag and dodge ball and "ghosts in the graveyard."  I'm from catching lightning bugs in the cool June evenings.   I'm from Brownies and Girl Scouts and earning every badge offered in the early 80s but one.  I'm from softball and volleyball and basketball teams in elementary school and never playing organized sports again until the English Department's co-rec team over the last 5 1/2 years.  

I'm from being a "Daddy's girl."  Not the over-protected, wrapped in cotton wool kind.  But the gotta be out doing what Dad's doing kind.  Digging post holes for the new fence? Let me at it.  Ice skating and sledding and even shoveling the driveway.  I'm right there.  I'm from shooting hoops and playing "horse."  I'm from trimming the trees and mowing the lawn.  I'm from let me build the fire and show me how to pitch a tent and "what are you building, Dad--can I help?"  But I'm also from being a Daddy's girl in taking after him--too much.  We're from a long line of stubborn on my dad's side of the family.  The Bunches are full of it.  And for the longest time, I was the only one in the line-up not too stubborn to admit I was stubborn.

I'm from Star Trek and Saturday morning cartoons--from the Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner hour to my favorite Scooby Doo.  I'm from watching all the good old television shows and movies on Saturday and Sundays--The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid; The Bowery Boys and Abbott and Costello; Shirley Temple and the Little Rascals; and Zorro and Superman (the old black & white version).  I'm from watching every western and war movie that John Wayne ever made to every comedy made by Martin & Lewis to every "Road to..." movie made by Crosby and Hope.  I'm from watching Rich Little do his impressions and the Bob Hope Specials and the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts.  I'm from everything from the Carol Burnett Show to the Muppet Show and Emergency! to Adam 12.

I'm from Oldies music.  I may have grown up in the 80s, but I'm from the Beatles and the Beach Boys; the Temptations and the Supremes. I'm from 70s music playing in Dad's old red Nova and lying on the red, black, and white checkered back seat listening to "Jukebox Saturday Morning" on WOWO out of Ft. Wayne.  I'm from "Blinded by the Light" playing on the car radio while Dad set up the camper in the dark at Chain-o-Lakes State Park.  But as I've grown, I'm also from Southern Gospel Music and Celtic harp and blues and jazz and big band and classical with a bit of (selective) country thrown in for flavor.  I'm from watching Hee Haw to the Barbara Mandrell Show to the Donny & Marie Show to the Andy Williams Christmas Specials every year. And speaking of specials...I'm from the Charlie Brown specials.  I'm from "It's the Great Pumpkin...." to "It's the Easter Beagle" to "It's a Charlie Brown Christmas." The holidays just never would have been the same without the Peanuts gang.  

I'm from spending the weekend at Grandma's.  I'm from riding with my great-grandpa in the early years--going to Osco to pick up the "funny papers" and riding with my Grandpa Ingols later on.  Doing the rounds with him to pick up prescriptions and the Sunday paper and stopping by the gas station so the owner could give me a candy bar.  I'm from Grandma making the perfect fried eggs and bacon with thin toast so crispy and buttered just right.  I'm from Grandma defending all her grandkids' behavior with "They're just going through a stage."  I'm from trips in Grandma's Gremlin (yes, that really was a car) to "Kmark" to pick up film for her "camry"--and, boy, could she get "infused" about that.  I'm from going to Dennison's (local market) with the first-ever kid-size grocery carts and being given miniature hot dogs to eat straight from the deli.  I'm from Grandma always putting family first and making sure her grandkids had what they needed.  I'm from loving Grandma for realizing that her granddaughter didn't want all those dollbabies for Christmas and buying my Tonka semi-truck.  And I'm from Grandpa never talking much, but with a sense of humor that could stun you when he chose to use it.

And you know I'm from books.  I'm from Where's the Bunny? (Aunt Helen and my earliest remembered book) and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?  I'm from Mom's set of Nancy Drew books and The Four-Story Mistake and Ghosts Who Went to School. I'm from the Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden and all those collections of Hitchcock-chosen mystery short stories.  I'm from Sherlock Holmes and Edgar Allan Poe and Little Women and Gone With the Wind.  I'm from Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Rainer Maria Rilke.  I'm from Star Trek novels and Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Silverberg, Harlan Ellison, Ursula K LeGuin, and James Tiptree, Jr.  I'm an eclectic mix of everything from mystery to science fiction to classic lit to historical fiction and biography.  I'm from the idea that "the girl's got to read" and there's no better place to spend your time and your money than a good used bookstore.

I'm from walking downtown on a weekly (or more often) basis--to visit the Wabash Carnegie Library and Mason's Rare & Used Bookstore.  I'm from cheerfully handing over my library card and/or my hard-earned allowance for the privilege of taking home all the books I could carry from each place.  I'm from losing myself for hours just browsing the shelves.  From sitting blissfully in Mason's, plopped down on the floor and propped up against the books, just checking to see what treasures I could find hidden on the shelves this week. I'm from going there with my friend Nikki and talking about how, if we had the money, we'd by the place from Mr. Mason.  I'm from thinking the best gift for most of my friends is a good book.

I'm from friends.  I'm from my first friend Nate--who I met when his mom was taking him to the park and my mom was taking me to the park.  And we were four years old.  And if you ever meet him and he tells the story, be warned: we get younger every time he tells it.  But that's one of the reasons I love him. I'm from friendly competition from him all through school. I'm from my first best friend Mistie who was every bit as much the tom-boy as I and more.  I'm from sleepovers at Mistie's and the slip and slide down her hill and heading over to Charley Creek to wade and look for crawdads.  I'm from my best, best friend Paula.  I'm from hating each other on sight and being sure that each was "too stuck up for" the other to finding the sister of my heart.  I'm from playing at being twins and being archeologists to bike riding across town to see each other to enduring separation and heartache and being reunited again.  I'm from it doesn't matter how far apart we are now and how little we see each other we're still t'hy'la and we know what that means.  I'm from my friend Nikki.  I'm from being so very alike in so many ways and so very different in so many others and it not mattering one bit--we'll always be friends.  I'm from sharing those experiences in high school College-bound English and trying to outdo each other on what ridiculous metaphor we could find in The Old Man and the Sea (and will Ms. Troop write that one on the board?).  I'm from doing Siddhartha together and making up that awesome poem. And, more recently, I'm from Richard who tells it like it is.  I'm from support when I was crumbling and straight, unpleasant truths; from shaking it up when it needed shaking and making me face things I'd rather not have faced.  I'm from "going off the cliff like Wile E Coyote" and being willing to take risks in the name of friendship.

I'm from being who you are...whatever that means...and accepting it.  And accepting others.  I'm from accepting the diversity that is so evidently part of the plan of life here on earth.  From getting over our petty little preconceived notions and prejudices and realizing how much good there is in all of us.  I'm from getting to the ideal of Star Trek--appreciating the "Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations."  I'm from working on being the best me and expecting the best of others and looking for it....and realizing that I'm not going to be perfect at that yet and I shouldn't expect others to be perfect either.  I'm still working on that...but let's all keep trying.  Shall we?


The idea for me to do this post came from Adam over at Roof Beam Reader who got the idea from Jillian’s “I’m From” over at A Room of One’s Own.  As Adam tell us: Jillian explains where she found it, and where the person from whom she found it, found it, etc. It's a nice little "Who I Am" post that I'd like to help keep going.  Let me know if you do it too.  I'd like to know a little bit more about where you're from.....


Roof Beam Reader said...

We have so much in common! I hate pickled ANYTHING, so good on you for avoiding that, Swedish or not.

"I'm from plastic patio lights hanging from the camper canopies and playing card games by their glow." <-- So many fond memories of this myself, at my Grandma's camper in Wisconsin.

And it wasn't bid euchre, for us, but Tripoli! Still pretty similar - we used to play for nickles and dimes, and my Uncle would make the kids Kiddie Cocktails while the adults all had the real deal from their full-stocked basement bar.

Your "I'm From" brought up even more great memories, for me. And it was great to learn more about you, too. Thanks for sharing with us!

Bev Hankins said...

Adam: We played everything (in rounds) for a long time it was bid euchre, then we went through a game called "Oh Heck" (I think it had a stronger name, but we don't go in much for swearing where I'm from...), then a game that I don't remember what it was called, but you got three pennies and every time you lost a hand, you lost a penny. Then we played Uno and Skipbo and then something called "Hand and Foot" and our last big thing was Phase 10.