I must admit... I have been very tardy in writing my first MeMe. One reason I have given myself is that I really didn't know what to do. First of all... who would want to know these things ? Then, I thought about how fun it was to read some of the Meme's I have read. So, here goes... I'll give it a try.
Some time ago, my friend Margaret Woda emailed me. She wanted to play "tag." But... it was MeMe tag. Now, I like to write, but for the life of me I have just struggled with what to put in my first MeMe. So, I thought, and thought, and basically thought myself into "writer's block."
Then came my friend Elaine Hanson. She wanted to play tag, too. And yes, it was MeMe tag. What to do ? What to write about ?
Finally, Heather Elias MeMe'd me. Ok... so now I am going to look very foolish in front of three people I like and respect... by sitting here with my silly case of MeMe writer's block.
So... I have just gone to the mirror, looked at myself, and said... Just Do It !
Five Things Many People Don't Know About Me.
Five Things Many People Don't Know About Me.
1) Between 1987 and 1993 I worked for several national new home builders in the Northern Virginia, Southern Maryland, Washington DC market. At first I lived in Columbia, MD. After about eighteen months... when it appeared that most of my sales activity was going to be centered in Northern Virginia, I moved to Alexandria... off Little River Turnpike. I loved the area.
I had taught junior high school before I entered real estate, and since I left teaching, I had felt such an empty spot inside of me... a spot that could only be filled by finding a way to "give back" to the world that had brought a measure of good fortune to me.
Since my degree was in Psychology, and since I have always been what I call a "good listener", I decided to volunteer at one of the Crisis Center Hotlines. Since I was still relatively new in the DC area, I was not sure where the best place to volunteer would be. I started calling some of the local cities, asking about the various "hotline" possibilities. I called Fairfax, Centerville, Alexandria, Arlington, and even back up in Columbia, Maryland.
There were some really worthwhile possibilities, but something was missing. After a while I thought... the answer... it's right there in front of me. So, I called into DC. I spoke with one of the intake persons at the Washington DC Suicide and Crisis Center Hotline. We chatted for awhile, and at the end of our conversation, I was invited in to do an "intake interview."
In I went. I was asked to meet the intake person at a third location... one that was not where the Crisis Center hotline actually was located. Privacy was considered essential due to the crisis nature of many of the incoming callers. That made sense.
The interview went extremely well, and I was invited to begin their training program for becoming a "peer telephone counselor" at the Crisis Center Hotline. I seem to remember the training was perhaps ten or twelve weeks long, and pretty intense... as it should be. I was very enthused, and after completing their pretty thorough training, and after several "practice shifts" on the Crisis phone, I was welcomed in as a volunteer.
At first I took a series of three or four hour afternoon shifts... mainly so I could be supervised, or at least always be there when several other "peer counselor volunteers" with experience were there. That made sense.
I was really nervous. As a teacher, of course I had had many opportunities to "counsel" my students... helping them with both their school problems, and some of their personal or family problems, too.
After gaining a decent degree of feeling at home with the peer counseling, I volunteered for the Tuesday night shift. It was one of the Crisis Center's more difficult shifts to fill for some reason, so I volunteered. The shift ran from 10:00pm Tuesday night to 7:00am Wednesday morning.
Each Tuesday I would go to my new home sales office. I arrived at 10:00am, and worked in the sales office until 7:00pm. After that, I would drive to the King Street Station, and take the subway into DC, and walk to the Crisis Center Hotline office. My shift ran from 10:00pm... all night... until 7:00am.
I would bring clothes for the next day, would "freshen up," and then take the subway back to the King Street Station, and then drive back into Centerville to my new home sales office, and work the whole day until 7:00pm... and then drive home... and pretty much collapse. I must say, besides my years in teaching, it was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had.
The most difficult thing about it wasn't staying awake all night... being ready for the phone to ring. The most difficult thing... occasionally happened around 7:00am. I would be ready to leave to go to work... and once in a very great while... the seven o'clock morning volunteer would either be late, or perhaps be "very late."
On the extremely rare days when that happened, I would wait, and wait, and wait some more... until I had no choice but to leave. If the next volunteer wasn't there yet... I had the excruciatingly painful job of putting the hotline phones... "on hold." In effect... I was shutting down the whole system. It was not an easy thing to do.
After about eighteen months of telephone peer counseling, I was asked if I would volunteer to help train the next class of incoming volunteers for their ten or twelve weeks of training. That combined both my peer counseling abilities, and my teaching abilities. I was thrilled. I was teaching again... and sharing my skills. All in all I spent about three years volunteering at the Suicide and Crisis Center Hotline in DC. It was one of the most difficult and the most rewarding things I have ever done.
2) Another secret from my lurid past. As a child... from about nine years of age until I was thirteen... I took accordion lessons. I lived in Cleveland at the time, and being surrounded by my mother's Frank Sinatra records, and my father's endless supply of "Polka Music..." my father won out, and I started learning to play the accordion. At first I enjoyed it, but it started to become less attractive as the years went on. Perhaps it was just as I was "entering puberty" that made me quit. As I was playing the accordion... I kept "pinching" myself in a certain delicate area of my upper torso... so I used that as a reason to stop. I may have been the first accordion player ever wounded in battle. <grin>
3) During my late twenties... I actually bought myself a motorcycle. My first one was a Honda 350cc. It was a pretty green and silver, and was fun, but it was not really "peppy" enough to carry two people. I was lucky enough to discover that fact during the first ten days after purchasing it, so I was able to talk the dealership into taking it back... but only because I instead wanted to buy a larger cycle. Luckily, they agreed, and I ended up with a gorgeous brown and gold Honda 450cc "twin." It was appreciably larger, heavier, but all in all a better choice for "touring" with a passenger on the seat behind me.
I enjoyed riding it all over the Northeastern Ohio countryside. I took some really relaxing day trips through the wooded country hill areas east of Cleveland... out through Chagrin Falls, the Chardon area, and further east to a city named Austinburg. I enjoyed riding until one day I was on one of the local Cleveland freeways... actually riding along at the ridiculous speed of 98 miles an hour... very stupid... and happened to look down. I noticed how quickly the street was passing by me... and simply "lost my nerve." I could just picture myself hitting some loose gravel or other road hazard, and becoming what we used to call "street pizza." Thus, my motorcycle riding career came to an end.
4) For a time, I owned a horse. Actually, I owned "half a horse." A girlfriend and I, who occasionally rented horses to go riding, had a chance to purchase a horse, and we did. It was a Tennessee Walker... Midnight Sun... solid black, and sixteen hands high. For me... that was a very, very tall horse. I ended up only riding for one summer, and then gave my friend Carol my "half" as my gift to her. I enjoyed riding, but just could not keep up with the expense.
5) As I mentioned above, I taught school in the Cleveland Catholic Schools for nine years. Seventh and eighth grade. I loved it. The school was also at the parish church I belonged to. I had taken guitar lessons as a teenager, and enjoyed playing. I even sang. Mostly folk songs. It was the sixties, and early seventies. Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Peter Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, even some Arlo Guthrie.
The parish had a "folk Liturgical music group" that played at guitar masses every Sunday night at the Seven O'clock Mass. I really enjoyed going to the folk guitar mass, so once night after mass I asked the leader if they needed any additional members. Her name was Carol, and she was thrilled that I asked. I came to practice, had my little audition, and started playing with the group. As time wore on, I ended up being a co-leader of the group... both playing guitar and singing every Sunday night at mass.
After about a year of this, one of my students asked me if I would be interested in forming a guitar/folk music group to play at the children's masses. I was thrilled, and, since I also taught my own religion class...starting a folk group fit right in. We ended up with about six or seven boys and girls playing guitar and singing. One of them even played bass guitar.
We were actually pretty good, and after awhile... many of the parents and parishioners who attended the Sunday night masses started coming to our children's weekday morning mass. Our group continued for six years... until I finally left teaching and went into real estate in the mid-seventies.
Whew... I seem to be unable to be a woman of few words. Thanks for sticking with me to read all of this. And to Margaret Woda, Elaine Hanson and Heather Elias... I'm sorry it took so long. It's funny. At first I didn't know where to begin, and once I started, I didn't know how to stop !