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Chuck is 65! My husband, whom I met when he was 47, is now officially in the "65 or older" box to check on the customer surveys, he is eligible for social security and is in better shape than he's been in years. Amazing what good diet and abundant exercise will do for you. He is a lovely man with beautiful brown eyes and a good heart. He's very emotional about being so happy at 65...earlier in his life he couldn't have imagined that at this time he would be. We are both filled with unending love and happiness.
Bilo was a bad boy. A native of India, his father was a professor and they lived in the camp. I thought he was sexy. Very sexy. But, I was only five years old. My mother forbade me to play with him because he ran in front of cars, played tricks on people, lit fires and a litany of other sins. But, when he asked to play with me when I was pushing my baby doll and buggy on the sidewalk, I couldn't resist. Suddenly he stole my buggy, running away fast...I ran after him sobbing. Mom grounded me.
Anna Mendel, Wendy and I were best friends. Anna and Wendy both spoke with British accents. We were all four years old. Wendy was from Africa with coal black skin, short curly hair and dancing eyes. Anna was from England with very white skin, freckles and reddish hair. I was from Hungary, just learning English, with fair skin, blue eyes, brown hair and a big personality. We played together in a place where we were allowed to wander throughout the camp. The rules were to stay out of the forest, don't cross the street and stay away from bad boys!
When we arrived at the University of British Columbia in 1957 we lived in Westbrook Camp, made up of post WWII housing converted to faculty housing on the campus. Duplexes with plywood walls. Only one Canadian family amongst the 60 and 30 were Hungarian. Indian, German, African, British, Irish, it was a global camp. Each unit had two small bedrooms, one bath, a living room with a large furnace in the corner and a kitchen with a small eat in area. My parents were so thrilled they made an 8mm film including my mother opening the fridge to view oranges!
Anna ate as much as she needed, but didn't dilly dally. She was a climber, not a cuddlier. After feeding, she would climb up my shoulder. She was always moving, a curious little thing. She was playful and very cute. Her hair was dismal. Very fine and mostly bald until the age of three when finally, she could make two very small pig tails at which point she was so thrilled and stared in the bathroom mirror with great pride. Anyone who sees her now, with her glorious long blond hair would never believe her challenged beginnings, but I do!
Anna was born at 3:30am on August 11, 1976. She was nicknamed "spider" by the nurses in the hospital because she turned completely over during her first bath. She was small and red and I discovered that I didn't know how to talk to her because I was used to talking to babies in Hungarian, but Barry and I had agreed that she would learn only English. Barry laughed and told me to speak in Hungarian to her as she really didn't know what I was saying, but talking to her was important. So, initially I spoke in Hungarian.
My first husband and I were each other's tickets out of town. We loved each other very much. And, admired each others talents and gifts. We were so young, 20 and 24. Our honeymoon took place on a tiny lake in northern Washington close to the Canadian border. We had to radio into the campsite that rented old streamline aluminum trailers with orange shellacked pine walls inside. $3. per night, we'll take it! When we arrived, the owners were so thrilled that they had honeymooners again, that they gave us linens as we didn't know we were to supply them.
Seven billion people on earth. I remember when I was in fifth grade, we were raising money to help build a school in Formosa and there were three billion people on the earth. We learned about experiments with rats, how they would become rather crazed if there were too many of them in a cage. I worried that the world might get over populated. Then, there was a movement to limit population growth and encourage people to have only the children that they could take care of, feed, educate -- I really believed we would seek and find solutions to problems.
The Convent of the Sacred Heart was a very strictly run operation. No talking in the halls, during class, during lunch (we listened to opera records) only at recess. But no climbing on trees, there was no jungle gym, either. Maroon colored uniforms with wool blazer and beret emblazoned with the crimson and gray crest. Navy blue trench coats for winter. Gym uniforms were navy blue tunics with bloomers. When walking or riding the bus to school one was to be in full uniform at all times. People would actually call the school to report girls who didn't wear berets!
When I was eight years old I dressed as a beatnik for a costume party at our church. The Hungarian church in Vancouver, BC. My father helped found it. All of us were 1956 refugees and were learning to be Canadian, so the church, "Our Lady of Hungary" was established to keep the Hungarian in us alive...we prayed together, partied together, learned poetry together and were scouts together. This was the Scouts' costume ball. I had long straight brown hair, wore black turtleneck, skirt and tights...and carried a footlong black and silver cigarette holder with a real cigarette.
This is the beginning and it is exactly as I thought it would be. A ridiculous mess. I woke up hung over and headed straight to the gym where my trainer gave me the workout I needed to sweat the good sweat and bring myself back to clear headedness. Now I am doing what I've promised myself that I would do: write. Without my dear friend who has known me since teen-hood telling me about 100words, I'd still be telling myself that I had to wait for the brain to clear before I started. But there is no postponement.
My father was an extraordinary man. The kind that comes along very rarely. Fortunately, many of us recognized it, appreciated it and let him know. He was the parent to whom I could talk when growing up and it made my mother very jealous. She was emotional and volatile, living in a society in 1950's Canada that was stifling for an intelligent, well educated woman. She was painfully shy in public, but could scream loudly, spank and scold us in private. With each decade that passed she changed and grew. I remember her vividly at age 22, now she's 77.
Nothing like a party to make the soul sing. Nothing like being able to thank the friends who were there for you when you needed it. Nothing like listening to The Swingin' Swamis all evening, playing great dancing music...eating delicious food at Wine Market...drinking good drinks...having passionate conversations. What a night! What a glorious night. My fantastic husband. He makes me very happy every day. He makes me glad that I fought hard to get better, to renew my commitment to living, to work hard to regain my energy and use it to promote our lives together.
The past two days have been very dreary, gloomy...rainy and gray. ..but what can I say? At 27 floors above street level there is always something beautiful to behold. The sky is nuanced in its shades of gray and the trees are displayed in many colors throughout the city streets. The boats float by between two tall hotels that bookend Federal Hill park on the other side of the harbor. Serene it is. The flashing lights of the incinerator's stack in the distance remind me -- the day before Anna moved to LA she wept for the loss of it.
The neighborhood parties are the same each year. The first Saturday in December, it's the Taylor's on upper Church Rd. The second Saturday it's the Napfel's on lower Church Rd. The houses are decorated in high Victorian style with more glitter and fake greens than you can imagine! And, in advance, the ladies determine how dressy they will be. I don't bother to check in advance -- therefore underdressed. We have another party to attend before we go to the Napfel's next week -- one of my husband's experts in fire science -- who also has the same party each year Maryland Club.
How proud I am of my children who have made their way in the world and created their own individual realities. Can we enter their world and create one for ourselves that is compatible? We shall see. Two weeks in LA in a small studio apt. will tell us much about what we can do. One week in Hawaii will show us how much we like to spend time together, really. I mean really. The romance of LA escapes us, so we need to find it. Discover the beauty there amidst the dust and flowers. Rapidly descending into our acceptance.
Arianna Huffington has reinforced everything that I've been thinking. She talks about "mastering your fears" and Carlos Castaneda in The Teaching of Don Juan talked about "first you must conquer your fears" -- same thing, but 50 years later. We all have to conquer our fears over and over...but it gets easier if you keep at it. A major illness can be a big set back because you wonder if you should really plan ahead...or if you should rock the boat...or if you could sustain a big change...another move...another beginning...or is that all there is?
The 17s! My, oh, my. 17 years since Word Perfect came on the scene, it was Word Star prior to that. It was 17 years ago that word processing began emerge as an office enhancement and slowly took the place of secretaries' typewriters. It was 18 years ago that Chuck and I met, 17 years since we have been married. It is fitting that my husband, the technology pioneer in the business of law, have been married as long as the pioneer of word processing made its debut! Barry, my first husband and I were unfortunately done by 17 years.
Driving on a bright sunny autumn day can be breathtaking! The intense leaf colors -- red, yellow, green, chocolate brown and rust alongside feathery landscapes of taupes, grays, browns and blacks. Accented by those brilliant red-orange berries on rows of bushes with thin stalks naked of leaves. Rivers, streams, the Bay shimmer in the bright sun, white and gold on black. We are in the last days before all of the leaves are gone and the brutal cold comes upon us whipping the wind in our faces. So, we relish these last few days as we prepare to give thanks.
When I was young, abortions were illegal, birth control was controversial and population growth was a concern. Interesting. Today, abortion is legal, but is fought tooth and nail by the "religious wrong" (we refuse to call them "right"). Birth control is still controversial, but far more accessible than when I was young...and much less accessible than when I was 30 something. And, population growth does not seem to be the issue it once was, yet we have doubled our population in my lifetime to 7 billion people. We are, however, concerned about how to supply food, water and fuel.
Growing up in the 50's and 60's still required some very basic primitive skill sets in order to be prepared for adulthood. Shaving, for example. This was a skill that not everyone could acquire. It required a very steady hand and the ability to contort ones face, fingers, hands and arms in order to capture the whisker just so and nick it off. Women learning to shave their legs encountered the same problems as me with their faces. One could easily cut themselves and every medicine cabinet was equipped with a septic pen. A clever medication that stopped the bleeding.
Today is the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. On November 22, 1963 he was murdered in Texas. 48 years ago -- I was 10 years old and had just arrived in September to the USA from Canada. We felt that it was safe to move to the US once Kennedy was elected. He was Irish and Catholic. It meant that the protestant grip on American life was evolving. My parents were very hopeful. His assassination was a huge blow. Culturally, Lyndon Baines and Lady Bird Johnson could not have been more different than the Kennedy's and it deeply distressed us.
Other skills that were deemed necessary in the northwest, included basic carpentry, basic electrical repair, ironing, basic cooking, sewing, basic camping skills and perhaps basic gardening. These were not hobbies, but rather survival essentials. You just never knew when they would come in handy. A real pioneer type would know all of these. A towns person would be more likely to be gender specific with skills. But, by the time I was in the eighth grade, all boys had to take home economics (cooking and sewing) and all girls took "shop". The "modern" preparation for adulthood reverted to pioneering roots.
It's been years since I've spent Thanksgiving with my own children. It's a good thing that I'm not hung up on that. Christmas is most important to me as far as spending it with my family. My most memorable Thanksgiving was the first one after our separation and the kids were with their dad. I curled up on the couch and watched Terms of Endearment on the television, crying my eyes out. It turned out that Anna was watching it with the same result. We were so very close to each other. Crying in the dark, alone, many miles apart.
It turns out that Alex and Kim did an outstanding job with their very first Thanksgiving hosted at their home. So very proud of them, but expected that they would nail it! Max, his partner, Miriam, the girlfriend and his parents, Boone and Cindy all came. What a rave review I received from Cindy! And, Boone sent us a photo mid-dinner so we felt like we were there. Anna, Fred and Ava went to Donovan and Matthias' for their last Thanksgiving party in LA before moving to Berlin in February. Anna dazzled everyone with Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad!
It makes me sad to see the old house on Church Rd. because the woman who lives there is not a part of the community. No one really knows her or associates with her. She came once to a barbecue at the Rasmussen's and we all agreed that she was odd. Too bad. She is alone with her little girl in that huge house. We moved out because it was too big just for two of us. We are all most upset that she painted the front door yellow. That beautiful old oak door painted over with thick paint -- sinful!
What a night! Drinking and carousing with 28 & 30 year olds. By golly, we can keep up, but missed working out at the gym this morning. We went grocery shopping instead. We'll walk to dinner tonight, too, just to make ourselves feel less debauched. But, who is kidding whom? We love our lives with all of the excesses and we wouldn't change it. We only wish we had even more capacity than we do! We are working out at the gym five days a week, so we push to go everyday...that way, when we do go overboard it's ok.
Flying down the hill on my bike and then riding up oh so slowly --bikes had only one gear. Arriving at the forest I'd trudge over to the hollowed tree with secret cigarettes. Carefully placed in a plastic bag to keep the pack dry from the Vancouver moisture. My girlfriend, DeeDee's father smoked Matinees and he gave her a note so that she could buy them at the Blue Moon comic book and candy store. With our pooled nickels and dimes we would purchase a pack for ourselves every so often and stash it in the woods. A perfect smoke!
Tomorrow my mother will be here. She is 77 years old. I've known her quite well since she was 22 and I was four. We will go together on Thursday to DC and have lunch with the President of Hungary who is here on a visit. She will stay for meetings and dinners until Saturday when we pick her up and on our way back to Baltimore, we will stop off for a holiday party in our old neighborhood. It's a tradition that we bring her to the party. She will stay until Tuesday, so we'll have a good time!
My mother arrives today from Seattle for a visit. It is always in early December. She is the consul for Hungary for the northwest region of the US and there is a national gathering of Hungarians in DC -- consuls from around the country and the American Hungarian Coalition. They combine the two so everyone can make one trip and take care of diplomatic, cultural and political issues. When my father was alive they came together and initially they stayed with us, borrowed a car and drove back and forth each day. Eventually they stayed in a hotel -- our Christmas treat!
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