Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ten firsts: Monday listicles

This should be fun. Bridget at Twinisms came up with this week's topic, "Ten Firsts."

1. First surgery: As I've written about before, I was born with a cleft lip and palate and had to have surgery when I was just a few weeks old. That was the first of many to come. I remember one of my hospital stays as a child. I was in a large children's ward, and my parents brought me the Dr. Seuss book Red Fish Blue Fish and one about a child in the hospital.  I must have been four or five at the time--it's one of my earliest memories.

2. First concert: John Denver, the Memorial Coliseum, sometime in the 1970s. He played for three and half hours, and I was spoiled forever after. Now when I go to a concert and it's only 90 minutes, I feel cheated! John Denver set the bar high. I played a lot of John Denver in the 1970s, with my easy guitar songbook. I was so sad when he died!



This is what he looks like now--
yes he's on Facebook but I am not friends with him!
3. First kiss and first boyfriend: It was my first Catholic Mike (my husband is also a Catholic Mike, for those of you who don't know me in person). He lived down the street and went to Jesuit High School. The first kiss occurred during truth or dare. He had a paper route, and I remember getting up at 4:00 a.m. to ride on the back of his bicycle and go on his paper route with him. Our song was Elton John's "Your Song," and he gave me an album of Steve Miller's Greatest Hits. He turned out to be a jerk, though. He broke up with me and then wanted to get back together. When I said no, he waited for me after school one day and as I was walking down the street, he dumped a bucket of water over my head. I kept walking, and my sister stayed after to berate him (and the guy washing his car who lent him the bucket and water). 

4. First job (not counting babysitting): In junior high I was a busgirl at the Village Inn Pancake House and worked Saturday and Sunday mornings. I wore a white shirt and black pants and always smelled like (fake) maple syrup. I remember that the boss kissed me once when I brought him a cup of coffee, which was weird and made me feel highly uncomfortable. My next food service job was working at Arctic Circle (now defunct fast food restaurant). Suffice it to say that I did not enjoy food service...it's the best reason to graduate from high school!

5. First time the police visited my house: When I was in high school, I had a coed birthday party. The boys all left around 9:00 or 10:00, and we said goodbye to them (noisily) in the street. About a half hour later, my girlfriends and I were sitting around our living room eating chocolate chip cookies, when the police showed up at the door. They had a call about a wild party. We always suspected our grumpy neighbor across the street, Mr. Holly. We found this very amusing, and I think the police did too.

6. First (covert) alcoholic drink: Although my parents would occasionally give us sips of their wine, my first real underage drink was a rum and coke. One New Year's Eve, my sister and I were spending the night with a friend, Dee, and her parents had left us unattended. She raided her parents' alcohol stash and we had rum and cokes. I didn't like them much then and I don't like them now. Perhaps that was a good thing...I didn't drink alcohol until I was in my sophomore year in college and moved into a coed dorm.

7. First car: A 1967 Buick Special, so big that I could hardly see over the dashboard. My aunt had given our family the car for me to learn to drive. Because my parents thought we shouldn't be given things like cars, it became our family car, and both my sister and I learned to drive in it. It was very safe because it was so huge! It looked just like the car on the right. We called it the "Blue Bomber"!

8. First airplane flight: We didn't have a lot of extra money when I was growing up, so vacations consisted of camping or road trips. So my first airplane trip was after my junior year in college, when I flew down the bay area with dorm friends Kristin and Xena to visit another friend, Christine, in Sacramento. I remember touring San Francisco; drinking daquiris by their backyard pool, which was ringed with large rosemary bushes; drinking Danielle Steele novels (ugh!); going to the theme parks; and floating down the river in inner tubes. 

First weekend in Japan, on the train from Osaka
 going back home to Wakayama
(Debbie, our friend Abby, me, and one of the unscrupulous ones)
9. First trip abroad: After graduating with an English major and working as a nanny for my cousins Annie and Elena in Seattle for the summer, I wasn't sure what I was going to do with my life. I applied, on a whim, for a job teaching English in Japan. I told myself that if I got the job, I would go. The job offer asked me to report for work in one month's time. I knew no Japanese, had never been out of North America (the only trip out of the U.S. was the Canadian side of Niagara Falls), and was not prepared to leave the country. Fortunately I persuaded my college roommate Debbie to come along with me, as she was waiting to get into physical therapy school. Thank goodness she said yes. Our first few days and months in Japan were exciting and stressful. For example, we arrived at Narita Airport in Tokyo and had to find our way to the Shinkansen (bullet train) alone, somehow. Once we finally got onto the train (much later than all the native speakers since it took us forever to figure out to get there), no empty seats were left. After a 24-hour flight (we flew Korean Air, through Seoul), we had to sit between the carriages, with five suitcases between us, for a further 3-1/2 hours to Osaka. Then when we arrived, we called our employers and they told us to find a hotel (it was midnight). Together, we INSISTED that they meet us and take us to a hotel. Hardly anyone spoke English, and no one helped us with our multiple heavy suitcases. It was a rude awakening! Later on we had to fight our unscrupulous employers to get adequate housing and fight again to get some furnishings. I can't imagine enduring all that alone. Fortunately, things got better. We had a great year of adventures, and I of course met Mike and stayed for another two years. Another college friend, Jean, joined me in Japan the following year, and yet a third friend, Tami, came during the third year.

10. First house: Mike and I lived in a 700-square-foot apartment when we first got married, and three years later (in 1993) we decided to spend the money he still had in savings from Japan (which we were planning to spend on a trip to Europe) and use it as a down payment on a house. Some friends gave us the name of a fantastic realtor, Judith Rolfe, who worked with our small budget and helped us find a charming little bungalow in an up-and-coming neighborhood (on 31st between Division and Clinton). Judith is still our friend to this day, and I just had lunch with her last week. We loved our little 1910 house with built-ins and box-beam ceilings, but decided to move again six years later, when Chris was three--we needed a yard. We still miss living in southeast Portland and whenever we're in the neighborhood we drive past our old house! I don't seem to have any photos available of the house--I'd have to scour my boxes in my basement and scan one. So you'll just have to imagine it!

Thanks to Stasha at http://www.northwestmommy.com/ for organizing Monday Listicles. 


32 comments:

  1. Great list of firsts! There is an Artic Circle where I live but I've never been to it!

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    1. Thanks, Robbie. Maybe the Arctic Circle just shut down here in Oregon, then...kind of like A&W...they were all over the place when I was a kid and now only in a few places.

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  2. That is SOOO funny that you put your first boyfriend's picture from FB on your post. LOLOL!

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    1. Haha--thanks Kate! I hope I don't get sued for slander!! :)

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  3. I felt the same way about my jobs in high school and early university. They really motivated me to work hard in school, because I was clearly not cut out for a career in customer service. What an adventure you had in Japan!

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    1. Thanks, Azara. Yes, I agree--I knew, when looking at my coworkers (some of whom were high school dropouts) that I could not lead a life like that!

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  4. I love the first cop story. That was hilarious!

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    1. Thanks, Wayne. It's one of my favorite stories of my teen years, because I was SUCH a good girl back then!!

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  5. John Denver. How I miss him! Loved your trip down memory lane! :)

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    1. Thanks! Yes, I still have some John Denver on my iPod, and I always feel nostalgic when I hear his music. I still sing one of his songs, "For Baby For Bobbie," to my boys every night at bedtime!

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  6. Great list! I also have the unfortunate distinction of having been a middle school-aged bus girl. Not a fun job. So impressed that you moved to Japan basically on a whim. We lived out of the US for a while, but we were living in another English-speaking country at least. Very impressed.

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    1. Thanks! It was the best decision of my life, since I met my (British) husband in Japan. We've been married 22 years. :)

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  7. Such an interesting life you have led so far. And i would love to see a picture of that first house which sounds just beautiful. Erin

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    1. Thanks Erin. I will have to look through my old photos one day and scan them!

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  8. I once had a visit from the cops at a friends' house I was staying at.
    It was completely deserved.
    Long story short? over $150,000.00 damage done to her parents house and cars in the driveway. I am not kidding. Epic house party. Every window in the house was broken. And chandeliers. I was grounded for 3 months, and it wasn't even my party!



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    1. Man! That's certainly more exciting than my story! I wonder what the punishment was for the offending host?

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  9. That first Catholic Mike was a huge jerk!!!

    My brother waited tables at Village Inn, we used to go in and eat the Italian Grille Sandwich:)

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    1. Thanks Bridget! You're right! :)

      I was partial to the strawberry waffle with whipped cream myself!

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  10. Thanks for stopping by my page! I also enjoyed reading your wonderful list. first surgery..wow!! your were so little. I myself could do a part 2 with your categories.

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    1. Yes--Part 2 would be fun!! Thanks for stopping by my blog, too!

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  11. Wow that guy was a jerk! I still love rum and cokes lol. Great list down memory lane!

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    1. Yes, he was a jerk. Sometimes we don't realize that until it's too late!

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  12. Wow. You've had lots of adventure. I too have such great memories of John Denver from my childhood. Every now and then I'll pull out his Greatest Hits and sing-a-long. "Country Roads" is still one of my all time favorite recordings. Makes me happy every time I hear it. The rum and coke made me laugh. That's what my husband used to order when we first met. I remember my first drink was something equally ugh -- probably a whiskey sour. Ha.

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    1. I don't think I've ever had a whiskey sour. Sounds better than rum and coke, though!

      I still listen to John Denver sometimes too! (Guilty pleasures!)

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  13. I really enjoyed reading your list of firsts! Your story of being visited by the cops was hilarious. :D Nosy neighbors!!

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  14. Great list!
    My favorite was your "wild party"! I was a really good girl in high school, and the idea of the cops crashing one of my "parties" made me laugh out loud!

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  15. Enjoying reading your Monday lists. Ha, wonder if we were at the same John Denver concert in Memorial Coliseum in the 70s. And I remember those Village Inn signs and of course Arctic Circle. Your Japan adventures sounds so wonderful. I went the other direction - Paris, then England, but just for semesters and then traveling, so my longest time out of the US was only about 5 months at a time. Wish I had not worried about $$ and tried to get a job and stay in London after my semester there. Life was a total blank slate. Bygones.

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  16. Wow--wouldn't that be a trip if we were at the same concert? Yes, we had so much more freedom back then when we were young...before we were tied down with all the trappings of adulthood!

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  17. Yu have such a colorful and interesting life. I really enjoyed reading this. Facebook really is zombie land for boys of our summers ;)
    Love the wild party story!!!

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    1. Thanks, Stasha! Appreciate the comment!

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