Learning To Love You More
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Assignment #14
Write your life story in less than a day.

Elizabeth
Potsdam, New York USA
  
Email Elizabeth

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My desk is a mess with things I need to do but I love to write and I am going to write my life story so that the college kids don't get all the fun.
I was born in Hartford, CT and grew up in Bloomfield, CT. I was number 3 of 4 children. The second girl; I was born with raging, curly, red hair and have lived with it my entire life. I have cut it off sometimes when I was angry at life, or life got too hard. Old men love red hair. Young men do too, but they don't go up to little girls and say " is it true what they say about red heads?" At some point in my 20's, I decided it was true.
My older brother and I did everything together: fishing, playing hockey, all sports, really. He and I could have married some day; we were so close. We were a year apart in school, but about 2 years apart in age. We are still very close, but we have our own families now, and we love our spouses and are glad we didn't get married. We really never spoke of it or ever meant to do it, but I know we both thought it. When he went away to college, he left my life, and I missed him. Meanwhile, he told all of his friends about me. He loves to tell stories.
We had a dog when I was little, but he bit 7 people and my Dad took him while we were out of the house and had him put down. When I was 6, we got a kitten and I picked him out because he was hiding, and I named him Pardner. He used to rip paper in the morning to get us to wake up and feed him. Then he would run downstairs and slide on his claws across the linoleum floor. If we didn't feed him he would nip at our ankles until we did. I loved him, but I was afraid of him in the mornings. He became my baby brother's best friend. I hated my little brother. He was very cute, but very annoying and very irresponsible. I barely knew my older sister. She went to college when I entered High School, and she liked to read and wear dresses. You couldn't pay me enough money to wear dresses.
I was a Tomboy. I was a tiny tomboy. People still think I'm tough because I walk and talk like a short person. But I'm a big marshmallow. Don't tell anyone that. My husband and my family and people who know me they know. But everyone else thinks I'm tough. When people get to know me, they call me "Lizzy". I think that's why. My first impressions are not always good.
I played football with my girl friends at recess in middle school. 2 on 2. I played pond hockey growing up and even got to play "squirt" hockey when I was 8 and 9. I was one of 2 girls the first year and the only girl the second year. I didn't like people telling me that I couldn't play hockey because I was a girl. I always worked hard at sports and tried to be as tough as the boys. One day, a boy wouldn't let me play because I was a girl and I bit him in the back so hard that it broke the skin.
I was in "Indian Princesses" when I was a girl. It was like boy scouts, and was the girls' answer to "Indian Guides". I wrote a letter to the longhouse once becuase I thought the Indian Princesses weren't being treated equally with the boys. I always thought that if a boy could do something, so could a girl. We were the same. I don't think boys and girls are the same anymore, although there is definitely some cross-over. Everyone is different. Most boys have bigger muscles, and most girls like to hold babies more, but I know lots of women with huge muscles and lots of boys with tiny muscles. And lots of boys that love babies, and women who don't.
I loved Indian Princesses because it was a Father/Daughter group, and because I thought the "Great Spirit" concept was better than the "God" idea. I have always loved my father dearly, and revered him. He is the most honest man I know. Dad, I said, "Eddy Murphy says every man cheats on his wife. I know you've never cheated on Mom. How did you do that?" "I never gave myself the opportunity. I never went to bars on my way home from work. I always went straight home." If my Dad ever got too much change from a cashier, he always went back to the store and returned it. He had a horrible temper, and sometimes if he saw my brothers do something at dinner, he would give them a kick under the table, but mostly he yelled, and threatened to spank us. We were spanked when we were little, if we were bad.
I don't spank my children, I use timeouts and loss of privileges, but there have been rare times when I was so frustrated, I gave them a smack on the buttocks to get them moving in the right direction. I feel guilty about that. I don't like seeing fear in my children's eyes. My siblings and I were afraid of my Dad. I stood up to him anyway. I still love him. If something needed to be done, you could always depend on my Dad. I always wanted to be like him. One day in college, I went to visit my brother, 2 hours away from my school, and missed my ride home. I called up my parents, and said "Dad, how much do you love me?" He drove an hour to pick me up. Another hour to drive me to my school, and another hour back home again.
Melanie and I were best friends from the time we were in diapers. We used to go pee on the same toilet (I cant believe our butts were ever that small), and we used to share gum. We sang together to records, mostly 45's, and pretended we were singing stars. We knew all the words to the songs and would make up dances. In 5th grade, Melanie took me to her attic and showed me where she and her older brother and sister smoked. I told my Mom, and I never went over there again. My Mom told her Mom, even though I told her not to. We were never friends again, but we always kept track of each other. She lives in Florida now and represents music groups. She has her own company, and flies around the world. I think she quit smoking, because she is always very fit when I see her. We keep in touch now. That makes me happy. I always loved Mel.
I graduated from High School 4th in my class, with High Honors, a three letter winner, and 2 Scholar Athlete awards. I applied to 7 colleges, but didn't apply to Dartmouth because when I asked Duke University how they treated women at their school, the guy said "Well, we're not perfect, but we're no Dartmouth". Besides, their app was WAY too long. My senior year in High School was horrible. My baby brother threatened to kill himself, my parents almost got a divorce, and I got my period. I was a late bloomer, to say the least, and I had horrible, horrible cramps. My grades plummeted, and I got in fights with my coaches and teachers. The "perfect student" learned the hard way that life is not perfect. I smoked and drank and tried weed. I went to my "safety school."
In retrospect, puberty and the 20's were years of depression, retrospection, and discovery. I was born to a family that believed in education. My parents had good jobs. All of us went to college, whether we wanted to or not. I loved studying and learning, but I hated college. They were not " the best years of my life." I had one best friend, and other people who liked me, but I felt like most of the people I went to school with were snobs. They weren't. They just seemed different than the kids I grew up with. I grew up in an incredibly diverse community in a suburb of Hartford. I never felt comfortable being upper-middle class, and I think many people I went to college with were upper class. Funny that it makes us different.
I remember when my Mom would buy dried Carnation milk to save money. I hated it. We didn't have as much when we were little, but we had my Mom. That was so special to me. We had more money when my Mom became a lawyer at age 40, but we didn't have my Mom anymore. She wasn't home much. She was successful and a go-getter. When we were little, she started the town newspaper, but she always put it together with us at her feet. In High School, Mom was like a sister to me. I always encouraged her to succeed: To do what people told her that she couldn't do (Especially her parents). I think many couples got divorced in the 80's because no one could figure out how both people could work and take care of the house and kids as well. It had always been the woman's job to stay home, and when many women decided they wanted to do something else with their lives, being home felt like being in jail.
My Mom is an incredible woman. Starting her life over at 37, she became a world-class master athlete, a coach, a successful executive, and finally, a partner in life with my father. When I was in High School, Dad yelled at my Mom, "YOU can leave this marriage, but I'm not leaving!" Dad loves my Mom, and did everything against his grain to keep her in his life. They are very much in love with each other, still. Marriage is no cake-walk. It takes work.
I took my senior year's 1st semester at the University of Michigan. It was a blast. I met my "first" there. I was in love. People were normal there. I wasn't depressed there. I wished I could just stay at U of M, but I needed only one more semester at Conn to graduate, and my favorite professor's signature class was back in Connecticut, and scheduled for my last semester. I played lots of ice hockey at college. I always thought the guys were "hot", but none of the guys I liked ever seemed interested in me. I guess I was too much of a jock. I definitely had a chip on my shoulder. I felt like I had to be tough to be able to play hockey with them.
I loved to play hockey. I got to skate on the ice with the coach, Doug Roberts. I used to watch him play for the New England Whalers when I was little. Every year on my birthday, I got tickets to watch the Whalers. My brother and I used to listen to the 45 they made: Their fight song on one side and the famous "fight" call on the other. Anyway, Mr. Roberts was the men's coach at CONN, and he would play "drop-in" sometimes, and he passed to me, and I thought that was just the highlight of my life. Once, Gordie Howe came to do a benefit game at our arena, and we could meet the players and get their autographs. I was too nervous. He was so close I could touch him, and I was too nervous to tell him he was my hero, and that I always wore number 9 because of him. Once, my Mom's cousin Bobby sat next to him on a plane, and told him about me. Wow.
So, I graduated with Distinction, from Connecticut College, with a degree essentially in Environmental Science and a minor in English. I now consider myself a theoretical ecologist. I love the environment, and I recycle, but I am frightened of snakes and am easily startled and scared by wildlife. Once, I was in Florida, and a dolphin swam by, about 100 yards from me. I about freaked out. My favorite animal in all the world, and I was convinced it was going to turn toward me and kill me. Fascinated, but fearful. I keep those electromagnetic plugs in my house that are ultrasonic too. No alligators in my house. No critters. They can live in the woods. Not in my house.
I went to Michigan to live with my boyfriend for the summer. We talked on the phone incessantly, and my Dad just recently stopped talking about those phone bills, that he paid.(!) John would lie and tell me he wrote me a letter, which was stupid of him because I knew that mail took two days to get to CT from MI, and when the letters didn't show up, hello? I knew that he didn't write them. But anyway, I was in love and at the end of the summer, I came back from a road trip to Seattle, with a girl Sandy who I didn't hardly know, and told John I would stay with him in Michigan if he could say that he would come with me to CT, and he told the truth and said he wouldn't. I felt my heart literally break in two. Two months later, I got lots of phone calls from John, but I had moved on. I had cried and cried and cried, and then ended up with a lot of confidence, and a line of older men as boyfriends. Lots of fun and no attachment.
I was on my own and having a great time. I farmed and drove a tractor. I shot a gun, rode on a crotch-rocket, went on an overnight canoe trip, drove my boyfriend's old pickup truck and learned to ride a horse. Went on a buggy ride, skinny-dipped. Learned Tai-chi and turned vegan. I baked whole wheat bread and then had an incredible breakfast of French toast with my friends. I traveled to California for a conference on sustainable gardening. All I paid for was my plane ticket. I went to Italy for a conference and got my boss to pay part of my ticket. I herded sheep and learned some words in Dine'. I fell in love with country music, and learned that I loved people.
I was financially independent. If I went to a new place, I would find out who my family or friends knew in the area and got a place to stay for a few days. They usually showed me around, and I had a great time. I got jobs to pay the bills, then got better jobs. I got around on a bicycle to save money. No car. I knew two things. I wanted to have kids, and I wanted to play hockey. I wanted to settle down some day, so I didn't want to have any regrets. I truly believed in a quote my Dad always said to me " seek the truth, so that in knowing it, you may give light to those, whom you may become associated with, as you travel along life's pathway." My parents were not thrilled, but I was on my own.
I lived in Colorado and worked at 11,000 feet during the summer, in Alpine Ecology. I coached ice hockey and took more undergrad courses. I always worked at grocery store deli departments and at telemarketing when I first moved somewhere. They paid well, and they were easy jobs to get. I loved Boulder because it wasn't the East Coast. Now I love the East Coast. I think you have to go away to come home. I wish more people in the North County would do that.
I have a dog. She is the most beautiful and loyal dog. When I'd go walking with Rufus and my babies, dog people would walk up and ask me about Ruf, and kvel over her, and baby-lovers would ignore Rufus and ask me about my beautiful babies. I was terrified of dogs when I met Rufus. I had been bitten as a kid, once on my paper route, and just the sound of the tink-tinkling of a dog's collar would send me into the shakes. My husband and I met when he had had Rufus about 9 months. He was in graduate school. He couldn't afford to have a dog, but he did. It's only been recently, that we were actually able to afford her. I hated her for that. I had crappy furniture, and she had special dog food.
Rufus rolled in poop on our first date. I thought dogs were gross. When we started being able to afford to groom her, I started to have it done every 3 months. I hate having smelly, shedding dogs. I pet her a lot more now that she is clean. She is 14 now, and lame. She tore her ACL for the second time, but this time she is too old to do the operation, I think. She and I are best buddies now. She follows me everywhere, and I give her food, and water and medicine and take her to the vet. And I help her into the car, so she go with me everywhere. She and I have survived 3 babies and all of our moves.
My husband and I met while speedskating. I decided I was tired of trying to wait for guys to ask me out. I was going to stop being intimidated by handsome guys my age, and just go up to them and ask them out. I saw this good looking blond stretching on the floor outside the ice rink. He was a speed skater. I went up to him and talked to him. I was scared to death. He was nice, and encouraged me to try the sport. He was Eric Flame, an Olympic silver medalist. I didn't find that out until later.
I was in the best shape of my life. I was coaching and playing hockey 6 days a week, and I was bodybuilding. Everyone on the speedskating team wanted to go out with me. I was in shock. I asked the team if anyone wanted to go with me for a beer and pizza after practice. Two guys said they could go. One had a bike. The other had to get his car. The guy with the bike needed money and so did I. We walked our bikes to the circle K to get cash, and then went to the "Sink". The other guy was late, so we decided to order the pizza. In Colorado, you order the size, type of crust, sauce, cheese, and topping of a pizza. Even though I was horrible at making decisions, Erik and I ordered that pizza in an indescribable time-stopping harmonious moment, more quickly than I had ever ordered anything in my life. The magic had begun and has never ended to this day.
Our courtship is a story I could write a wonderful and crazy and absurd book on, but I will save that for another day. He and I are best friends, and I live in a nice house and drive a nice car and I stay home with my kids and I care about people and education. I love to walk and ride my bicycles and I still love to play hockey. There is nothing better than playing hockey with friends. Except for maybe chocolate and that other thing (my kids will read this). My kids are 8 and 7 and almost 4 and I love them. I choose to stay home, even though it can be incredibly difficult and emotionally taxing. I only now, after 7  years at home, have learned to take time for myself and my interests. I went on medication for post-partum depression, after my second child was about 18 months old. I sacrificed my needs for my children, and I wouldn't change that. Now that they are older, they need more independence, and so do I.
I never planned to stay home. Then when we thought about getting pregnant for the first time, and my husband I would come home from long days at work, and look at each other on the couch and beg the other to make dinner, I decided there was no way we could both work and have kids. Since he loved his work, and was good at it, and I STILL didn't know what I wanted to DO with my life no professional goals to speak of, I decided I would stay home. Part-time at first, then we moved and I got pregnant with our second, and I've been home ever since. I always said, that by the time we could afford for me to stay home, I wouldn't need to, and I was right. My Grandma Sylvia's death that summer left us with enough money to make it through those first couple of years. It was the greatest gift she could have ever given me, and I know she would have liked that.
I figure I have plenty of time to work when I'm older, and if I have to get a job when the kids go to college to pay the bills, I can.
I love where I am right now. I am the age my Mom was when her life as a whole person began. She understands now that my choice to stay home honors her as well, and gives value to the days when she felt there was something missing in her life.
I like to write prose and poetry, I love to play sports, and talk, and be with my children and my husband and help people. I live a very fortunate life, and I feel blessed with the strength that allows the to grass grow and the rivers flow. Peace.