Saturday, December 18, 2004

Annual Reports, Pt. I

At 3 I had a tonsillectomy. I have a vivid memory of lying on the surgical table, as they lowered a mask over my mouth and told me to count backwards from 100 before the ether took hold. (How many three-year-olds can count TO 100, let alone backwards?) I can also remember standing in the crib in the hospital room waiting for them to bring me ice cream after the surgery, but it hurt my throat to eat it.

At 4 my mother began teaching me to sew. I sat on her lap so I could reach the sewing machine which was on the kitchen table. We made a sleeveless denim shift with a ruffled hem (for me). She later appliquéd a fish made of striped blue- and white-striped fabric near the ruffle. I liked sewing.

At 5 I arrived late for kindergarten almost every day. I have inherited my mother’s inability to get to work on time. Since she was always running late, she’d feel frenzied in the mornings. I had fairly long hair that I wore in a ponytail, held together with a rubber band. I don’t mean a cloth-covered rubber band, I mean a rubber band like you'd find wrapped around a newspaper. I have really thick hair, but it’s also very fine and it tangles easily. For some odd reason, she’d let me sleep in my ponytail, so every morning I’d have a rat’s ness of tangles wound around the rubber band. She’d be trying to rush and grabbing my hair harshly and pulling on the tangles as she tried to brush it out the next morning. I have a very tender scalp, so I’d invariably start whining and crying. Once the tears came, she’d bop me on top of the head with the plastic hairbrush and yell, “Stop crying!” (Yeah, that oughta do the trick.) I have vivid memories of her dropping me in front of the school after everyone else was already in class. I felt self-conscious that my eyes and face were all puffy and red from crying. I’d turn to her before opening the car door (a baby blue Buick with tail fins) and ask, “Can you tell I’ve been crying?” And every morning she said the same thing, “No, you look fine.” Liar.

At 6 I was a ballerina in the circus staged by my kindergarten class at the end of the school year. Becky H. (who I later knew in high school) has home movies of us dancing (if you could call it that). She never let me forget that I was haughtily letting the other ballerinas know that they were not dancing in time. I’m not exactly sure how I got the message across, but I don’t doubt that I did. My boyfriend in kindergarten was named Clark. He had a crew cut and was hell on wheels. The fact that he got in trouble nearly every day--which typically resulted in him getting a paddling in the principal’s office, before corporate punishment was illegal--was a major turn-on...the trouble-making, not the paddling. (That came later.)

At 7 I began 2nd grade with my least favorite nun of all time, Sister Mary Bosco. She was short and pudgy and a bitch. She told me I was bossy. Yeah? Takes one to know one.

At 8 I was my mother’s beauty pageant assistant, tutoring the less graceful contestants in how to properly perform their swimsuit and evening gown modeling routines. I’m sure it did wonders for their self-esteem to have to take direction from a painfully thin dorky 3rd grader with a Prince Valiant haircut. This was also the year some old family friends invited me to visit them in the Bay Area during the summer. They drove up and picked me up and I returned by air--my first solo flight. It was on Pacific Airlines (which pre-dated Hughes Airwest ,which pre-dated Southwest Airlines) and it was what was commonly referred to as the ‘milk run.’ I barfed every time we came in for a landing--which meant that after leaving San Francisco, I tossed my cookies coming into Sacramento, Marysville, Chico, Redding and Eureka. By the time we arrived in Crescent City, there wasn’t anything left to throw up.

At 9 I was forced to play the organ at church during Sunday mass. I could barely sleep Saturday nights from all the anxiety. The organ was in the balcony and I lived in constant fear that I’d make a mistake and everyone in the congregation below would turn around and crane their necks to see who the hell was screwing up the hymns. I could barely reach the frigging pedals. My anxiety level was ratcheted up significantly by the presence of Sister Mary Ancilla who stood next to me the entire time I was playing. Jesus, lady, have a seat…you’re givin’ me a heart attack here.

At 10 I was typing radio logs for the AM station on a manual typewriter, hunting and pecking with two fingers. The forms were in triplicate (that means there were two sheets of carbon paper for you young people) and this was pre-White Out. There used to be these old typewriter erasers that had a wheel of eraser on one end and a brush on the other end. My mother was the office manager and often didn’t finish her work during her allotted work hours, so she’d bring the logs home for me to type. So by age 10 I understood what it meant when someone said they did “traffic” at a radio or TV station.

At 11 the nuns at school chose me for the honor of cleaning the church every single fucking day after school. I was the lucky 6th grade girl who got selected. Julie C. was the poor 5th grade girl who had to do it with me. Some friggin’ ‘honor’--who the hell wants to spend their afternoons cleaning a church?! Okay, it wasn’t actually cleaning, per se--it was tidying up and preparing the sanctuary for the next morning’s Mass. I’ve always had a huge appetite even though I’m stick-thin. I quickly decided that the only way I was going to survive church duty was to shovel whole handfuls of hosts in my piehole to take the edge off my after-school hunger. Julie was initially horrified, until I explained in my older 6th grade manner that it wasn’t sacrilegious--they weren’t officially ‘the body of Christ’ until the priest consecrated them during Mass. At the end of the school year, Julie and I received a gift for all of our work--a cheap-ass statue of the Virgin Mary. Thanks, nuns, that really makes me want to join the convent.

At 12 I was forced to be on the girls’ basketball team at school. There were only 7 girls in our class, so everyone had to play whether we wanted to or not. (And believe me, I did not.) I finally understood what a zone defense was. It’s kinda comical that it took me this long to understand it. My father was our high school’s varsity basketball coach for 20 years and when I was a wee one, he’d lean down before every game and ask me, “Man to man or zone?” I thought ‘mantoman’ was one word and since I thought it was a cooler word than ‘zone,’ I almost always chose that. But every once in a while I’d say “zone” just to change it up a bit.


Blogger lizardek said...

Those are fun, if a bit tragic. More, please :)

5:16 AM  
Blogger Katherine said...

oh yes - more! I laughed out loud at the cramming of hosts in piehole :) Please, yes, this is fabulous! (No wonder you're able to keep going to your crazy current job- you've been doing crazy jobs like that since before double digits . . . dang girl :)

10:21 AM  

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