It’s Not A Tie

When I was a kid, and Father’s Day or his birthday rolled around, I would buy my Dad a tie.   Or a wallet.  I wasn’t very creative back then.  At Christmas, people would get something from the craft-fair at school.  Nothing with glue or dried macaroni on it, because I thought that was a waste of food.  But if my Grandparents needed a magnet or a bookmark with a purple tassel on it, they knew I would hook them up at Christmas.

The big decision for my Dad was whether the tie would have stripes or zigzags on it.  Or how many photo slots would be in the wallet.  Would this year’s shirt have one of those little green alligators on it?  Who knew?  Ask Grandma.

My father doesn’t like surprises.  Back then he would use sneaky tactics such as the Alphabet Game to find out what I saved up my allowance to buy him.

‘Does it begin with a T?’

I looked at him sideways.  Because I could.  ‘Yes.’

‘Is it tiger?’

‘Yes, Daddy.  I broke into the Zoo and got you a tiger.  Because six year-olds can do that.  Real guesses, please.’

‘Is it a tie?’

‘Yes!  How did you know?  Oh, no.  Now you know.  I’ll have to switch it for a wallet.’

This happened every year.  One year, I was particularly devastated.  I had kept THE SECRET for two whole days.

Since he knew about the tie, I also got him a heart sticker.  Which he put on the dashboard of his Blazer.  I have never been a hearts and flowers kind of girl, but I loved that heart.

These days, I ask for a list of books he wants to read.  One year I found him a not-so-tiny model car.  And the year I surprised him with The Sopranos box set, Sarge and I watched it first.

I’ve always known it’s not about the stuff.  I like gifts people will appreciate.

For the past few weeks I’ve been going to spend Tuesdays with Dad.  Watching old movies or tennis after his radiation.  I’ve always loved hanging out with my Dad.  I appreciated him before he got cancer, and I still do.  I cherish all my time with him.  But I wish we didn’t have to share this time with 24 different medications.  And even though this stuff will make him better in the long run, I wish he didn’t have to take it in the first place.

The only thing I want to give Dad for his birthday in a few weeks is, ‘Dad, you are cancer-free.’  That and a six-month supply of his favourite rice pudding, as it’s the only thing he can eat right now.

That’s it.  And it’s not a tie.

Well, there is one more thing I’d like to give him.  I figure Sarge and I can work on that next year.

Proof that Dad and I have kept up the sappy-but-still-true magnet tradition.

Confessions of a Girl Scout Reject

Sharon at Hyperactive Inefficiency and Susan at LostnChina have given me the Versatile Blogger Award.  This means a, you really, really like me or b, my ramblings are truly aimless or iii, I am Waffley Versatile.  I can take all three.  Thanks a bunch.

In the name of blogging community, I’m going to share yet more random factoids about myself.

Here goes:

I used to think that I was born in the wrong era.  I have since made peace with this one.  My favourite musicians are still old or dead.  I can name that tune in one note and it’s usually More Than A Feeling by Boston.  Don’t ask, because I don’t know.  And that ‘s OK.

I get high on life, the smell of books and paint and gasoline and cigars.  But not intentionally.  It just happens.  In related news, I smoked pot at University, but I wasn’t co-ordinated enough to do it more than once.

When I ‘graduated’ from the Brownies, the leader suggested I ‘might not want to move up to the Green Uniform.’  So I didn’t.  I’m a rebel from way back.  I guess she doubted my commitment to Sparkle Motion.

I’ve said before that I quote my favourite movies in everyday conversation.  I’ll say now that most of the time, it makes sense.

Wine gives me heartburn.  This is probably a good thing.

I don’t like chocolate, either.  Unless it’s expensive.

The stack of books by my side of the bed keeps threatening to hit me in the head as I sleep.  Currently reading:  Fante, The Tiger’s Wife, and Two For The Dough.  Because I’m versatile.

More random factoids can be found here, here  and elsewhere within my posts.

I’m supposed to tell other bloggers to do this.  You can, if you wish.

What I will do now is mention some folks who I think should start a blog.  Because I would read it.

My Dad:  Everyone needs his philosophy on life and baseball.

Sarge:   He wants me to write lyrics to go with his music.  And because I want even more insight into the workings of his brain.

My cousin Karin:  I want to be like her when I grow up.  And I told her so.  Yes, I am that corny.

Nina Simone Was Not A Man

Simone at a concert in Morlaix, France, in May...
Image via Wikipedia

Because Broadside and Oh My Words! wanted to know, here are 10 random, or maybe not-so random facts about moi:

1.  When I was a kid, I thought Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton were married.  Because everyone who sang duets were married to each other.  Obviously.  I also thought Nina Simone was a man.   Because, well, just because.

2.  I was born in Dallas, was a kid in New York, and grew up in the Highlands of Scotland.  My accent is mine, and according to Sarge is ‘under several influences.’  Except when I’m on the phone with my mother, at which times it is back on Long Island.

3.  I have CP.  I am, by choice, a pretty-much-permenant wheelchair-user.  Unless there’s a party going on upstairs.

4.  When I was seven, I had various bits medically broken and stretched, all at once.  I have  ten scars that are so much a part of me; I don’t see them anymore.

5.  I lost all four of my grandparents within five years.  How and when they died has coloured the way I look at life.

6.  Growing up, my mental age was 40.  Now that I am 30, I feel that I’m actually my true age.

7.  I used to laugh entirely through my nose.  Now I laugh out loud.  I blame Sarge.

8.  I can have entire conversations using only movie quotes.  I cannot blame Sarge.

9.  One of my nicknames at Uni was Phoebe.  As in The One From Friends.

10.  I once fell off a toilet in Pisa, Italy.  I was not drunk.  This incident has since been dubbed ‘The Leaning Toilet of Pisa’.

100 Books Or Bust: Words And Wisdom

‘I enjoy books.  No room is fit for occupation without a lining of books.  They contain the condensed experiences of humanity.  To live fully, one has to read widely.  I do not intend to face a man-eating lion in the African veld, fall from an aircraft into the Arabian Sea, soar through outer space or march with the legions of Rome against Gaul or Carthage, yet books can take me to these places, to these predicaments.’

A Very Private Gentleman (filmed as The American), Martin Booth

When I was a kid and would announce to anyone who would listen that I was bored, my Nana would say, ‘Go read a book!’  So I did.

You should, too.


Back To My Roots

I am a natural blonde.  No, really.  I have proof:


Little me with my Reading Face on. I still have the face.



It got lighter in the summer and darkened in the winter.  By the time I was eight it no longer changed with the seasons, no matter how much lemon juice my Nana squeezed on my head.  Maybe that’s why I felt such infinity with fish as a child.

My favourite doll was a redheaded kilt-wearing thing of beauty from the ‘International Collection’.  I wanted her hair.  When I was ten, I called my own hair ‘the definition of non-descript’.  The ‘blonder highlights’ my cousin put in when I was eleven just looked fake to me, and actually fried my hair.

I moved to Scotland and wanted red hair, wanted the hair my Grandma had in her graduation photo.  I’ve since been told that it was painted over using ‘artistic licence’.  But it was still my Holy Grail of Hair.  Grandma and my old kilted doll.

So began my relationship with the box/gloves/various hairdressers I really miss.

I’ve always liked the red side of the colour wheel.  Being red has always made me feel more confident.  If I needed a pick-me-up, I would make an appointment to ‘brighten up’.  Four hours later, I emerge from salon with hair that should come with a UV warning.

I’ve been every colour on the chart from chilli to plum and other food colourings, to ’54’ and ‘63’.  Like I said, red shades to me equalled confidence and brightness, easy laughter with an air of mystery.  It also meant £80 and four hours of salon-time every six weeks.  Or two boxes of store-bought colour, gloves, and the help of friends who now know my hair is indeed as thick and stubborn as it looks.

I’ve always thought the time and money and stories and blackmail photos were a good investment.

But I’ve forgotten what my actual colour is.  The one after the roots.  Sarge asked me once, and I couldn’t tell him.  And then I got curious.

And  so, I’ve let my hair go.  This may not be the time to do such a thing, with holiday photo opportunities around the corner.  I’ve decided I don’t care, and I don’t want to chop my hair off and make the roots less ‘noticeable’.  They’re my roots, I like them.

I think I should turn 30 knowing what colour my hair really is these days.  I can be confident and full of laughs no matter what my hair colour is.  However, considering I’ve just written a bunch of words about the state of my head for all to read, I should perhaps work on that air of mystery!

You talkin’ to me?

I went to an interview type thing today.  This involved wearing something that isn’t a sweatshirt and getting on the bus.

Now, regular readers will know that I am newish to this city.  And not the best with directions.  I travel with people so I don’t get lost.  I choose not to get lost.  I choose to have a PA, or Sarge, with me when I don’t know where I’m going, or even when I do.

I do go places on my own.  These days, such places must be seen from my flat windows.  If I can see it, I know how to get back.  I am not confined to my house, or my chair.  Nor am I afraid of the world.  Quite the opposite.

It’s just that more often than not, the world is physically inaccessible to someone on wheels.  And therefore, I choose to have someone help me with steps and traffic and buses that don’t stop, even when I have hit the stop siren.  Because I want to get off the bus.  Maybe I have an interview to go to, or the rest of my life to get on with.

I should say at this point that as well as a people-watcher, I am an eavesdropper.  And sometimes I hear strangers talking about me.  If people feel the need to voice their opinions and pass judgement on me, the least I can do is remember it to record later.  Perhaps on a blog.

This is what I heard on the bus today:

Lady (term used loosely) 1:  Is she on her own?

Lady 2:  No, of course not.  How could she be?  That other one is in charge of her.

Excuse me?  The only one in charge of me is me.  Just because I choose to have someone with me does not mean I am not in charge of myself.  It isn’t my fault that the world is inaccessible to my wheels.  The wheels I need to live my life.  The life that I am in charge of.

I wanted to wave my CV in these ladies’ faces.  Because I happened to have it with me.

Hey girls, see these Universities?  These offices?  That’s where I’ve been.  All by myself.  Uphill both ways, to use your lingo.

But I didn’t.  I learned from a young age to pick my battles.  Because I’ve had more of them to pick from.

I used to tell people I fell off the back of a motorcycle.  The people who would look at me walk and then ask my parents what was wrong with me.

Nothing, they’d say.

And then I would tell them I fell of the back of a bike.  It’s not that I’m ashamed of the CP, but when I was younger I liked to watch people’s faces as they tried to picture a kid on a motorcycle.

Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer.

When I was about 7, I was walking up the incline in a movie theatre, in front of these whispering old ladies (not unlike the ones on the bus today); who must have thought it was interesting to see this not-too-short person walking with crutches.  And I fell.  On purpose.  It was perfect, as if in slow motion.  I fell backwards and made it look like I hit my head, which I didn’t.  All of a sudden these three faces were staring down at me, and I smiled.  I got myself up and went out with my Dad, who till then wasn’t sure what I was doing.  Behind me I heard:  See Barb, I told you she was going to fall!

I turned and said:  And I heard you, too.

I said no such thing today, just got off the bus and on with my life.  Laughed about it, even.

I’m even allowed to write about it.  Because I said so.  And I’m in charge.