The Results of Asking Me

On Monday I asked and some of you responded. Today I will reply to the questions my gentle readers put to me about myself.

Silverstar asked,

What is your dream vacation? If you had all the money needed, where would you go?

I don’t dream about vacationing. I find vacations stressful and physically/emotionally draining. I always have, which is why I am so poorly traveled at my age. One would think that a 45 year old woman who lived on her own until ten years ago would have been all over the world or her own country at the very least. Not true. And the reason? The act of traveling rattles me. And if I were rich beyond worries and the pesky inconveniences of mere mortals? It would still rattle me. However, since Rob is once again in the running for an overseas project, I have been thinking about places we might visit. There are the obvious suspects – London, Paris, Spain but I would like to see Greece. My friend Leslie traveled a lot and ended up summering in Greece and nearly settled down there when a local woman took a shine to her and offered to take her into her business. She didn’t have any children and wanted Les to help her run her shop and take it over someday. Leslie was tempted but in the end returned to Iowa and finished school. I wonder if she ever thinks about that anymore? I would like to spend time on some tiny island. Real time. A month or more. Just kick back. Eat fresh and local and walk everywhere I went – no mad tourist rush to see ruins or anything. Just live.

Daisyfae wanted to know,

What is the strangest, or most unexpected, thing you’ve ever done in public? That thing where your friends, or you, have to say “I can’t believe you (I) just did that!”

I was in university and there was this frat boy who worked in the dishroom of the dorm cafeteria where my friends and I lived. His name was Scott and he was a body builder. Very tan. Very buff. And as white blond as Boo Radley. Back in those days, I swore like a long shoreman (that is the expression, right?) and my girlfriends and I strove to be as crass and unflappable as any of the guys we knew. It was a point of honor. I think it may have had something to do with all the “having it all and frying it up in a pan” feminism thing that was going on at the time.

Scott made it a game to try and one up us or embarrass us, but he lost the game more than he won. When he didn’t, his scalp would get so red his hair looked like it was in danger of catching fire and his ears looked ready to combust. So we had more incentive than he did to win in our war of dirty words.

One Friday night though he got the better of Sarah’s friend Laura. I don’t remember the conversation now but he did his little snoopy dance taunt as she swore revenge. And he professed that we would never again get the better of him.

I saw him out that night at one of the dance clubs (actually we called them “bars” then). He was surrounded by a gaggle of sorority girls. We referred to them as “muffs”. Short for “muffins”, of course. Scott was the kind of guy who wouldn’t acknowledge you in public when he was with his fraternity or sorority peeps because it would have meant ‘fessing up to the fact that, unlike most of them, he had to hold down a job to bankroll his lifestyle rather than simply phoning home to the parental units for funding.

I’ll confess to having had a couple of kamikazees and I came up with a brilliant plan for ending his little contest with us forever. Something I knew he would never have the balls to top. I flounced over to him in my best muff imitation, wiggled past the entourage and sidled right up to him, draped an arm across his shoulder and purred – loudly – into his ear,

“You were great last night. I hope we can do it again tonight. You know where to find me when you’re done here.”

And then, for good measure, I nipped and licked his ear. ‘Cause that’s the way I rolled.

And, he never did find a way to top that.

Lora asked,

what is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
what do you miss most about America?

Brave is subjective. But in my opinion, the bravest thing I ever did was put my late husband into a nursing home when he become too much for me to care for without quitting my job, which was never really an option. I was lucky that my own family was very supportive because his wasn’t and even my BFF, who was wonderful and a rock, commented that she could never have done that. She would have quit her job if she’d had to but could never put someone in a home.

And America? I miss HyVee. It is a grocery chain and the stores are open 24hrs with a pharmacy, diner, deli, and a Starbucks. Dee (aka BabyD) and I often ate their during the week and always on Sunday mornings. During the months I took off after Will died, I went to Starbucks every morning after dropping Dee off at school. The clerks all knew me. The young man at the Starbucks had my order started as soon as he saw me. The pharmacists knew my allergies and would phone the DR’s for me to get refills if I forgot. Oh, and there was a bank open there seven days a week. Nothing as capitalistically wonderful exists here in Canada.

And then my dear Sally threw this spanner into the works,

Where would you be in your life if Will was still alive and healthy? What would your life look like if you and Rob had been together from the outset? How did you and Will get together?

I almost saved this for last. It reminded me of my sister, DNOS, asking me last fall if I thought Will and I would still be together today if he hadn’t died. I don’t entertain myself with those types of daydreams or fantasies. I know that a lot of people do spend time mourning what should have been or what was supposed to be, but I don’t believe in that kind of entitlement. There is no such thing as should have or supposed to have been. Our futures are not set in stone. The future is mutable and dependent on events that are occurring right now and that is all we have control over and even that is sometimes not a given.

Will and I had talked about moving back to my hometown because it was clear to us that we needed physical distance from his mother and that in order to raise a family, a couple really needed to be in proximity to extended family. If he hadn’t been ill, we wouldn’t have needed IVF so Dee would not exist, but we’d likely have a couple of older children – eight or nine years old at least. And beyond that, I can’t say. I am not the same person ten years on and he wouldn’t have been either.

As to Rob, the fact that he and I were not even born in the same country and met as a direct result of dead spouses begs the question of how fate could have brought us together in our late teens or early twenties in the first place. I would say that we wouldn’t have happened at all, but let’s say that destiny had other ideas. When we discussed Sally’s question Rob pointed out the fact that he is not the man he was at nineteen when he and Shelley married. I am certainly not the girl I was at nineteen , and in spite of the fact that I was at school and taking care of myself – I was hardly a real grown-up.

I didn’t think I’d have been as likely to have children had it been Rob and I, simply because we are both so lukewarm on the soul-fulfilling wonders of parenthood. He didn’t agree, but I think the longer we’d have been childless – and it could have lasted as long as the mid to late twenties because I think we’d have both pursued school, degrees and careers – the less likely we’d have been to trade the idea of “us” for the idea of “family”. Beyond that, I can’t say.

When Will got sick, I shut down that time line. I mourned it heavily for the first year and less and less and by the day of his death, I considered it closed and was interested only in the real possibilities and not lamenting “what if’s” or “it’s not fair” or “we were supposed to”.

And though I wonder about Rob’s past – because it seems so much bigger in terms of what he accomplished than my own life – I think of us from here on.

How did Will and I meet? One of my very first blog posts is a recounting of “our” story that I wrote when I was about four months out. The story is there.

Sharon wanted to know,

What book would you write if you knew that, no matter the genre or topic or length, it would be a success?

I wish I could write an epic. Something hardcore science and trilogy length. I have an idea and even titles, but I don’t have the stamina for the research to make it happen. But if none of that mattered, and I could  half-ass it like say, the new book The Strain, or take something that was a cool idea, but I didn’t have the chops to make it more than mediocre, like The Twilight books, I would go for it.

Alicia‘s question was about books,

What book have you owned the longest? Not exactly what’s the oldest book on your shelf, because that could be a hand-me-down or a collector’s item… but which book among the ones you currently own was the first one you bought/received?

This was exactly easy. I have three picture books that my Uncle Jimmy gave me in 1969 for my birthday. One is Peter Pan. I love the pictures. Especially the one where Tiger Lily is nearly engulfed by the rising tide in the lagoon but still refusing to tell Hook where Peter is. I also have Cinderella and Twas the Night Before Christmas. They are in terrible shape. Which is sad, but I keep them anyway.

I also have a complete collection of the Through Golden Windows collections of short stories and novel excerpts for children. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have them, so I must have been three or so when my parents got them for us. I have them because no one else wanted them. I have read them all, even the collection of poetry.

Uncle Keith’s inquiring mind wanted to know,

Would you rather be a vampire or werewolf? Why?

Another easy one. Werewolf. Why? Because it is a once a month thing and as a woman, I have been dealing with an affliction once a month since I was a young teen. The hairy thing is something I deal with now as I go through menopause and I am totally okay with spending some down time all alone in a small windowless room because – aside from the windowless thing – I do that already as a writer.

As a werewolf, I would retain my reflection and the ability to have garlic, which I love. I would not be restricted to the night or have to worry about bursting into flames. As long as Rob took care to have me secured during my monthly, I wouldn’t be a danger to anyone and wouldn’t arouse any angry mobs or hunters.

And, of course, I would not have to die, be buried and dig my way out of a coffin and grave with my bare hands. Or be more pasty looking than I already am.

Cindy asked two questions,

How do you motivate yourself? In writing, blogging, and just in general.

There is nothing tangible that drives me to write or blog. I have always written and for most of my life my audience was limited to non-existent. I think writers in general are compelled to write.

Like most people, however, I am motivated by the results. I blog. People read and, hopefully, comment. I do yoga, and my legs and bum look better. I walk daily and I do not get fat(ter). I give things away and the universe seems pleased with me. I offer friendship and (in most cases) get some back. Cause/effect is the oldest motivator.

So do you feel like it’s true? And if so what would be the new challenge and complete life change?

I am not colorful or charismatic. Gray is my favorite colour and I wear a lot of black and earth tones. And no one follows me really. I am a very small fish in the pond who watches more than she interacts or is noticed. However, I do like people who are deep thinking and have passion for something that is evident from time to time. And I am quick to react but bold and courageous only when I need to be and that is, thankfully, not often anymore.

I’ve had a complete life change really. The States to Canada. Working to SAHM. Teacher to writer. Widow to Wife. I am shifting to novels from short stories, which is a challenge.

Minor life change things? I am not disciplined enough. I haven’t pared down to the essentials-only yet. I still care too much about what other people think of me. I am not yet fully content with my body image. But really, I haven’t anything to complain about – aside from the weather. It just isn’t sunny enough or warm enough yet.

Marsha wanted to know,

Great minds are similar–don’t you think?

In my opinion, kindred spirits find each other and exchange ideas that are clearly simpatico. Rob and I had that kind of connection from the start and I still seem able to “read his mind”.

“Get out of my head,” he will say when I anticipate something he is about to say or finish a sentence for him.

I don’t know that being on the same wave-length makes minds great because some hive mentalities are not healthy or productive, but generally, birds flock by type.

 

So there you have it. If you have follow-up questions, leave a comment and I will get to it later today. I have a field trip, yoga and novel revising filling up most of my morning and early afternoon today so be patient.

I asked Rob if he was going to do this meme thing and he didn’t think he had readers enough to bother to ask for questions. You could leave him a nagging suggestion to do this on his blog today while you wait for me.

6 responses to “The Results of Asking Me

  1. Interesting questions and even more interesting answers. A Greek island? I recommend the movie “Shirley Valentine” because she spends about half the movie on a small Greek island.

  2. For the record, I would put my husband in a nursing home, too. I am a nurse, good with sick people, but I know that someone burdened with that kind of care 24/7 burns out quickly. Caregivers have almost as many health problems as the people they care for, and sometimes don’t survive as long as the people they are caring for. It was hard enough to do it for relative strangers eight hours a day, doing it for a loved on 24/7 is literally killing.

    I like your vacation idea. I could get down with that.

  3. this is the 3rd post I’ve read today that made mention of the HyVee! When I woke up this morning, I hadn’t even heard of the HyVee!

    I’m missing out.
    Thanks for playing, and for the record- I would have put my husband in a nursing home. I’m not a nurse, I’m not good with sick people, and I would never want to spend his end days frustrated and angry with taking care of him.

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