Sunday, March 14, 2010

10 things you may or may not want to know about me.

I've been wanting to post this for a while now, but the wimp that I am, I kept backing off. Then I realized- there are a few of you who actually read this stuff, and it could be mildly enlightening, or strange. Or both. And I suppose you could call it therapy. I'm always down for sharing some things about me, in moderation of course, to help you get to know me. So, read on and please note, it's about to get personal up in here. And maybe serious.

10. I have no sense of balance. I learned how to ride my cousin's bike when I was about 10 years old and did pretty well. She lived in a rural area so there were plenty of paths to try out. Once I went back home from my visits and with living in a crowded city, with no bike, I never rode since. I did try skating when I was about 5 but had a bad experience. I flipped forwards when I was teaching myself, and my stomach fell smack into a row of bricks in our backyard. Those bricks were sticking upright in the dirt. So that hurt. Then I attempted, about the age of 8, to learn how to skateboard with a friend. We both did okay until I sat on the board, she for some reason I still haven't figure out, pushed me forwards, so I lunged forward, chin first, onto the concrete ground in her backyard. This resulted in 7 stitches in my chin and as my mom put it, "you could see the bone" through it before I was stitched up. Nasty.
This may all be why I want both kids to learn how to SAFELY ride a bike, skate, and whatever else their little hearts desire. Their daddy has great balance so hopefully they take after him.

9. I grew up in East Baltimore close to Johns Hopkins Hospital, until I was 15. I am being modest when I say that this area is and was bad. Full of drugs, prostitutes, and shady characters. How my brothers, sister, and I made it through that for so long I still don't know. I remember, out of fear from bullets flying through our window, our dad took a leftover piece of large paneling and covered our very large front window. This was also to make it look like no one was ever home. I think. The bullets in the neighborhood did fly though, so my dad wasn't totally paranoid. At night, it sounded like the 4th of July.
This house was built in the early 1900s so it was your classic Baltimore row home with marble steps. One of the steps was cracked so every time we'd walk up and down there was fear of falling. We were not allowed to play out front and only in the backyard which eventually became too gross since our neighborhood was over-populated with large rats. At night, we'd hear them squeak and fight SO loud outside of our back door. They would gnaw away at our wood frame around our backdoor also, so many of us feared they would get in. They never did. Thank god.

8. Speaking of the home I grew up in. Wow. That house was something else. I don't ever recall having working hot water. There were stories about it, but I don't remember having it. We would boil our bath water on the stove, while that worked, and use that for washing. Our toilet for many many years didn't flush so we used a bucket of water to take care of that. And then once we'd flush, some of it would go down the old pipes, but then some would leak out into our kitchen. I will always remember the distinct smell of sewage because of that. One thing I did love about that house was that we had a very old and large clawfoot tub.
The biggest thing we all hated was the leaking roof. I remember, when it would rain, the amount of anxiety we would all get.. ugh. I think as kids we handled it really well. Plus it took a bit of time for it to gradually get as bad as it did. The leaks were worse right after the hurricane of 1985, which was Hurricane Gloria. I remember our roof taking such a beating that water even pouring down our walls. And the water was always brown. Soon after, more of the old plaster on our ceilings would crumble and fall..sometimes onto our beds while we slept. But then we'd know that was one less piece to fall later on. But the green and black mold that covered our lead-painted walls was always proof that something bad was going on...
Needless to say, we hardly ever brought friend over.
After living in that dilapidated home for so many years, we moved to the Canton area when I was 15. I remember taking a hot shower and relishing it. I still do.

7. I have no baby photos of myself. I have one of when I was 5 (that I love since it also has our very old computer monitor in the background). My grandmom (on my dad's side) has tons of them but already has declared that she won't let me have any. Not sure why even to this day. My dad burned a lot of bridges with his parents, I guess. But they do exist so that's something. I don't know why my mom doesn't have any. I've asked her and she also says that her stepmom has some. I haven't seen any of those so I'm not completely sure.
This probably explains why I'm always snapping photos of the kids.

6. I grew up in a very large household with 5 other siblings. I have a half-sister who I hate calling my half-sister, so I just call her my sister. ;)
I also have another young half-sister, who's probably about 9 or 10 now and she is adopted into another family. I've never met her and would love to someday. I believe she lives somewhere in the northern-Washington state area but her family, from what I last heard, travels a lot to Canada for work. Her name is Rebecca.

5. My mother's side is very Polish and my dad's side is very German. I like that I'm "mixed up" because it's always seemed to be interesting to me. I laugh at all jokes, especially the Polish ones. I still don't get some of them, but I laugh anyway.
One of the last conversations I had with my dad before he passed in late 2007, was about our heritage. He believed that there was some Jewish ancestry on his side of the family. We both tried to understand why his parents seemed to dislike Jews so much and he agreed that it's probably because his mom was part Jewish. I don't think I'll ever find out the truth, but it's interesting for sure.

4. As a kid and to this day, my all-time favorite board game is Stratego. I love me some Stratego. I saw this nice wooden box set at Target yesterday and was so tempted to get it. I just may. I think I have to.

3. Also, to this day, my favorite whimsical movie has been "The Red Balloon". I was so giddy to show both kids this movie and they loved it. Especially James. I think he understand a little more of the idea of what it's about compared to 2 year old Natalie. But both loved the most special part of all- the balloons. Especially at the end, when he floats away.

2. I will always have a deep love for old Baltimore house/club music. Back in the late 80s and early 90s there was a big revolution of "Doo Doo Brown" and "It's Time For the Percolator". 92Q (and at some point another station) used to play this music late on Saturday nights. I would sit in the dark, since I was supposed to be sleeping, and tape, THAT'S RIGHT TO RECORD, these jam sessions.

1. My dad struggled with alcoholism for as long as I could remember. He did, however, stay sober from when I was about 15 until shortly before he passed 2 years ago. My parents struggled so much with his disease and finally, when I was 16 and he made the choice to leave Maryland, my parents divorced. He left and moved to Oregon to stay sober. And he did. As kids, I think most of us knew that they needed to separate. It was an ugly relationship but as separate people they were wonderful. Needless to say, growing up in that household was very very hard. My mom, soon after my dad left, started another relationship but narcotics came into play. And heavy narcotics. So, my family went from alcohol abuse to heavy drug use. It's crazy.
In my last year of high school things got incredibly rough. I focused on my grades, trying to keep them up, since years 9th to half of 11th were horrible. There was pretty much no structure in the household so I let it all slip. Once my mom lost custody of us kids right before I turned 17, that's when I focused on my grades and trying to get accepted into some sort of decent college. Us younger kids lived with our older cousin, I got accepted into University of Pittsburgh, which was awesome. Then unfortunately, I couldn't go because despite the copious amount of gov't financial aid, I still couldn't afford my books and dorm fees. I then focused on working full time (lots and lots of hours) from when I was 17 until I had children, the first born when I was 26.

So, that's all I've got for now! I'd love to see any comments here with something about YOU. I'd love to get to know you better as well. =)


Carey said...

Wow! Thanks for posting this Dawn. I really did learn a lot about you, and I think that is super cool. Not that I don't love reading about your kids, but it's nice to read about you every once in a while! xoxo

Sean said...

"I will always have a deep love for old Baltimore house/club music"

Well, well, well. I did not know that.
You know I have an extensive library of that kind of thing, right?
You remember my stack of records, don't you?

Great post, by the way. Interesting to see our experience growing up through your eyes.