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11 December 2007 @ 08:21 pm
I got tagged: 10 weird things/habits/little known things about me  
 Okay: my buddy  raputathebuta  tagged me with this one: Post a blog about 10 wierd things/habits/little known thing about yourself. Then tag 10 other people.

I'll bet Rap figured that I wouldn't respond, given that it's taken a few days, but here goes!

1.  I snore. That's in the category of true confessions. Not too many know, since I live alone. Good thing I'm not seeking a mate, hmm?

2.  I learned Esperanto in college. My Spanish instructor got bored one day and gave us a demo of Esperanto (an artificial language invented in 1887 by a Polish oculist named Zamenhof), and a group of us petitioned UWM (that being the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee) to run an Esperanto class. We won, I learned. Fun. Fluency in three months ... and I've forgotten almost all of it since.

3.  Folk who know me -- mostly not here on LJ -- do know this one. I sing. I'm a dark dramatic soprano, mostly mezzo these days, with Broadway power. I never studied voice until I was in my 30's. If I were to sing opera, my role would be Tosca. I'll sing anything from Broadway show tunes to Celtic to folk to rock and metal. There's a soundtrack running nonstop in my head.

4.  When I was 10, I wrote to Gene Roddenberry asking how someone could write for Star Trek. (This was when the original series was airing for the very first time.) I was floored when he wrote back, not talking down to a child, but explaining that you needed to have an agent in order to write for television, and encouraging me to write my own stories for a while, saying that writing what I knew would develop my talent. I will always love that man for that letter. And I will never stop writing.

5.  I took a few days off work and went to a cattle call audition for openings in both the Broadway and touring companies of Les Miserables in the mid-1990's. Almost 800 of us showed up at the Jackie Gleason Theatre in Florida, totally overwhelming the company folk. To get through the crowd, they called us up onto the stage ten at a time, scanned our head shots and resumes, asked a few of us (those who looked something like what they wanted) questions like, "What's your top note? What song were you planning to audtion with?" Sometimes, they picked out someone and told them to come back some hours later to sing. They told the rest of us, "Thank you very much," which is stage-speak for "Get the heck off my stage, you're wasting my time." I got the "sorry, nice try, goodbye" bit, but the whole experience was a delightful one, and I'm glad I took the chance even though I never got the opportunity to sing a note. I still wonder what I would have done if they'd actually wanted me. My boss said he was willing to let me take a year's sabbatical, and I think I would have ...

6.  I took eight years of piano lessons starting in third grade, which coincidentally was the same year I got glasses. I'm a crappy pianist and won't play for anyone but myself. My piano is a pre-war mahogany Steinway upright, which was a gift from my uncle John. It had belonged to his wife, who had died years earlier. When he learned that I was going to school before classes started, getting the key from the nuns and opening the school building in order to practice, he had a fit because Eva's piano was sitting unplayed. We got the piano for the cost of shipping it from Chicago to Milwaukee. When I bought my house in Virginia many years later, I brought it home to me.

7.  I started to learn to fly in 1994. I had to put the learning on hold (I don't learn well in broken snatches of time), but I have 17 hours in my logbook for when I start again. That will likely not be until I retire, unless I manage to find a time before that when I can take off for four weeks, go somewhere the weather is pretty consistently good, and fly every day until I get my ticket. But I still want to learn to fly. Airplanes are joy. An airplane sitting in a museum is sad, because it wishes it could fly again.

8.  I come by my love for a certain black Impala quite honestly. There was a 1967 Chevy in my life, starting in 1967. Admittedly, it was a fire-engine-red Bel Air station wagon rather than a black Impala, but that front end looks so right. Big Red was my father's pride and joy, and the first road tripping car I really remember. I used to lie in the way back (our name for the back cargo area) with my sisters when Dad took the family on vacation, making real the slogan, "See the USA in your Chevrolet; America is asking you to call!" It was over 20 years old and had seen most of the country by the time Dad finally gave it up, after his mechanic told him he could see through the car's frame (Wisconsin road salt can do a number on old steel ...). I miss it still.

9.  Speaking of Big Red ... I'm a former smuggler. When I was a child in Wisconsin, colored oleomargarine was banned from the state, which wanted to protect its dairy industry. The only margarine you could buy was white and looked like lard, and came with a color packet that you could squeeze into it to dye it yellow. Yech. We used to drive down into Illinois to visit my uncle John, and whenever we did, we took orders from the neighbors for yellow margarine and bought it by the case in cheesy stores near the state line on our way back home. We'd smuggle it back across the state line in our innocent family car, hidden in the trunk below the floor of the way back. (Big Red didn't have a third seat -- just a cargo area, with a trunk where the seat would have folded down.) The State Patrol used to stake out the state line watching for oleo smugglers (yes, it was illegal!), but they never stopped us, because we never just nipped across the state line and back. We were masters of misdirection, since we spent a few hours visiting down in Chicago before we headed back to Wisconsin. 

10.  I name my cars and other key inanimate things around me, and always have. My first car was a 1973 Ford Pinto named Suerte, which means "luck" in Spanish. I named him well; he was rear-ended three times and never blew up, despite 1973 being one of the years associated with chancy gas tanks in Pintos! The next one was a 1984 Renault Encore hatchback that insisted on being called Arienrhod despite being masculine. A family friend needed a tool-hauling car after his old station wagon was stolen, so I swapped cars with my Mom, giving her Arienrhod to give to Mike and taking the 1988 Buick Century known as Beauty that Mom had inherited from another friend. When my sister bought her first Harley and decided to give up her car, a 1993 Oldsmobile 88, I sold Beauty at a cut price to an underpaid teacher who needed a car and got the Olds, naming him Condor for the way he effortlessly sailed over highway. And when the brake lines on the Olds went in January 2005, after a rash of other repairs, I donated him to charity and bought my current love, a 2004 Chrysler Sebring convertible most appropriately named Skywise. I hope to have Skywise for a long, long time, and lots and lots of lovely miles. I totally understand Dean's passion for the Impala!

Whew!  That wound up running a lot longer than I intended! And I'm not certain I'm going to tag a bunch of other folk with it; if everyone gets as long-winded as I did, this could be drastic!

Anyway, now you know a lot of useless things about me ...

Current Mood: blankblank
Current Music: "Drive" by Incubus
onemaskedchic on December 12th, 2007 02:59 am (UTC)
Mary you snuck up on me I just got to your other post!

I must say this is a fascinating list, truly. Let's see..
#3 awesome
#4 Although I have no idea who he is that is awesome as well.
#7 An airplane sitting in a museum is sad, because it wishes it could fly again. - that is so beautiful!
#9 Great story!
bardicvoice: Poetry by Zirielbardicvoice on December 12th, 2007 03:12 am (UTC)
Glad you enjoyed! BTW, Gene Roddenberry was the man who created and produced Star Trek.
Diagonally Parked in a Parallel Universeriverbella on December 12th, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
Interesting things, nonetheless! For one thing, these paint a picture of a person who is not afraid to take a chance on things they want or in which they are interested. It explains the conviction with which you write your reviews and state your opinions. I admire that. I also love that you name things! My car doesn't have a name, but there are plenty of inanimate, and a few animate but not usually separately named, things in my life that do! And, dude, such an early start on the criminal activity. Is it true what they say, the family that smuggles together....
bardicvoice: Winchester Family by fueschbardicvoice on December 12th, 2007 03:30 am (UTC)
What can I say, I'm a Scorpio ...

The family that smuggles together, snuggles together! Well, that was my family, anyway! *grin*

Speaking of naming ... my carousel rocking horse is named Dreamdancer ...
pannspanns on December 12th, 2007 03:22 am (UTC)
Hi Mary! Great list.

2 – that is very neat.

3 – Is your singing voice back yet? I always admire sopranos, I’m a contralto and just can’t reach up to some of those notes.

4 – How incredible is that?! Do you still have the letter?

5 – Very cool. It sounds like a great experience.

6 and 7 – music and flying, two incredible soaring experiences. I hope you do have time to finish your license someday soon.

9 - *grin* I have a visual of you smuggling oleo across state lines a la the Dukes of Hazzard. (only in a red impala instead of the General Lee.) I think I watch too much TV. . .

Thank you for sharing, Mary.
bardicvoice: Playful Shove by Cakehole_Catbardicvoice on December 12th, 2007 03:50 am (UTC)
Hi, panns! Glad you enjoyed!

I'm still bronchial, so - no singing yet. A little croaking with Bad Company, but that's about it. I want my voice back! As for range, I can't cloudhang like a coloratura, but I can hit that high C (second above middle) with a little warming up. Beware your glasses!

I do still have the Roddenberry letter somewhere, I think. I can still see it in my mind's eye, blue masthead Star Trek-Desilu stationery and all. I'll have to unearth it one of these days. I've just never gotten over his amazing courtesy and generosity to a snot-nosed kid!
fannishlissfannishliss on December 12th, 2007 11:59 am (UTC)
Gosh we have a lot in common!

1. I also snore, but sporadically. My husband is very tolerant.

2. Esperanto --cool! I can pronounce many languages and read French, but can't actually speak any but English.

3. I'm also a singer. I was trained as a soprano but now my top note is G and my bottom notes are around low C. Kind of a drastic change.

4. You totally need to frame that letter, that is so awesome!

5. That audition experience sounds cool.

6. I'm so happy for you to have such a great instrument with a great story behind it. I love the sound of an upright. In our tiny townhouse we have a spinnet -- but at least the boy loves to play it!

7. My dad learned to fly one Sunday at a time. It took about 3 years. We had a Piper Tripacer. He also taught me, but I've never had instructor hours. Hope to someday.

8. Never smuggled, but were amusingly and fruitlessly searched by a Utah cop on our honeymoon.

10. I have named cars, like my first car Red Sonja (a feisty Ford Escort Wagon) but we also name where we live, previously the Beige Lair and the Beehive, now Tir Annun (supposed to mean Looks West in Elvish).

Thanks for sharing all those neat tidbits!
bardicvoicebardicvoice on December 12th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
Very neat connections between us, you're right!

My home also has a name. I bought my townhouse back in 1981, and within two months named it Dreamhaven. And so it has been. :)
fannishlissfannishliss on December 12th, 2007 05:38 pm (UTC)
I also meant to mention the car of my childhood, my beloved 1969 indy pace car Camaro. We had to sell it (13 mpg) -- so my icon is just a pic of the toy version I got at Target this summer! The real thing goes for about $75K now restored!!! sigh...
whimsywinxwhimsywinx on December 12th, 2007 03:30 pm (UTC)
Wow, what a list!

I love that you were a smuggler. That just cracks me up. Not quite the same as having weapons in the trunk, but still pretty good.
bardicvoice: Speed by Cakehole_Catbardicvoice on December 13th, 2007 02:40 am (UTC)
Ah, for my lawbreaking kindred spirits ... *grin*
psychoactivtoad: spn - sam writingpsychoactivtoad on December 12th, 2007 04:11 pm (UTC)
4. What a great guy, and what great advice.

5. I wonder how different you list would be had they heard you sing...

9. Dean would approve. :-)

By the way, I love all your icons.
bardicvoice: Formybrother by Cakehole_Catbardicvoice on December 13th, 2007 02:45 am (UTC)
Thanks, Toady!

I wish I could make icons. I just find wonderful ones that other folk are kind enough to produce and allow people to use. If you visit my userpics you'll see all the artists credited - you're welcome to snag any that strike your fancy, so long as you take the artist credit along!

Hmm, maybe someday I'll figure out how to use graphics programs for artwork. Not saying I'd ever be good at it - my skill is words, not pictures - but sometimes, I just want to be able to make what I imagine seeing.
psychoactivtoad: spn - kaz 2y5psychoactivtoad on December 13th, 2007 03:22 am (UTC)
You may not create them, but you have an eye for choosing great ones. And it's interesting that although you have ones by different artists, there is a similarity amongst them, a certain style, that I now associate with you.

I'm determined to learn how to use my Photoshop Elements because like you, I want to be able to put the ideas in my head on the screen.
raputathebuta: SC OoLraputathebuta on December 12th, 2007 04:12 pm (UTC)
Wow, Mary. Once again, I am in AWE of you!!!!

What great experiences & life lessons you've had.

#6: Hey, if you enjoy it, that's all that matters.

#8: My uncle had a station wagon & we used to refer to the cargo area as the "way back" also. That was also before child-safety seats & required seatbelt wearing! We kids would just mill around back there while the hurtling down the road!! Do you have any pictures of Big Red? I'd love to see it.

#9: *shrieks* Margarine-smuggler! That is hilarious!!!

Thanks for doing this, Mary! I loved finding out all these little tidbits!!!
bardicvoice: batman by Galatheabardicvoice on December 13th, 2007 02:48 am (UTC)
I don't think I have any pics of Big Red, Rap, but I'll check around, and ask my sisters as well. I loved that car!

See what you unleashed by asking those questions? *grin* It was lots of fun; thanks for poking me with a stick!!!
Killing threads since 2000 CE: Sparky!gwendolyngrace on December 12th, 2007 09:28 pm (UTC)
I name my cars after sacrificial characters. For example, my current car (a white 1996 Mazda Protege) is named "Eric Ashley-Pitt" (shortened to Ashley, or Ash, and often Ashley-puttle, which is a pun on Ashenputel, as well) - David MacCallum's character in "The Great Escape." He throws himself on a Gestapo officer, giving James MacDonald and Richard Attenborough a chance to get away at the bus depot. That's the kind of self-sacrificial service I expect from my car!

Skywise - how cool is that to name a car! I love Elfquest.

My harp is also named: Sirena II. (The first Sirena kept popping at a seam, and my harpmaker remade her for me.) She'd probably be much happier if I played her more often (not that I'm any good).

And I'm also a mezzo. 3-Octave range, break is about a B to a C if I really stretch (I've stretched it for Broadway and Folk singing), and I also sing anything, everything, and always have a soundtrack. I've never had an opportunity to go to a NY cattle call, though. Maybe someday! I know someone who recently got an audition as a replacement Tracey Turnblad in the Broadway production of Hairspray (or was it the National Tour?). She didn't get it, but she said it was the most thrilling 4 minutes of her life.

And WOW, Gene Roddenberry! How cool that he wrote you back. I had a correspondence with a number of authors, notably Lloyd Alexander, and I once got to read onstage with Natalie Babbit. Hee!

Oh-and last thing, my mother was once an inadvertent smuggler. She and a friend went up to Toronto in the heyday of Sam the Record Man. Her friend was buying jazz singles - she didn't pay attention to how many - and the daily limit at that time was something like $30/day per person. Well, they pulled up to Customs and the guard asked, "Did you buy anything?" My mom declared some Inuit art, and her friend says, "Oh, just a couple records." They were waved through...turned out her friend had purchased something like $300 worth of records!

Oh, borders are fun.
bardicvoice: WinchesterWomen by fueschbardicvoice on December 13th, 2007 02:56 am (UTC)
Hey, Gwen!

Yep, love Elfquest too. And it's so very appropriate, given that my car is silver! And the funny thing is that, when I'm driving, I've always gotten the unmistakable sense of when I need to pull over and put the top up. I've never been caught in an unexpected downpour with with top down, even though I really push the envelope on driving topless! (And that's my carpool's favorite joke: "We're going home topless today!")

I have a Celtic harp as well, which reproaches me for not playing it. It's steel-strung, and is thus named Steelheart. Of course, all I have to do is look at him, and he goes out of tune ... tempermental bugger! My beat-up old guitar is Charlie. He used to belong to my oldest sister, and is an unexceptional LoDuca. I inherited him the year we bought her a quality Spanish guitar down in Mexico, which quickly acquired the name Arturo. I'm indifferent with every instrument except the one in my throat, alas.
Killing threads since 2000 CEgwendolyngrace on December 13th, 2007 03:20 am (UTC)
LOL, me, too. I have my father's guitar (not named) but I can only play 3-4 chords reliably, and certainly can't change quickly!

My biggest issue was that whenever I tried learning an instrument, people around me said, "Oh, but your voice is so good. Why not just sing?" so I never really get a good chance to learn well. Also, well, time. And I get frustrated quickly. :^D
koosh2012 on December 18th, 2007 05:59 am (UTC)
Hi Mary,
Slowly getting my bearings around here... thanks for sharing! Awesome fun read.
1. Ditto No comment *facepalms*
4. VERY cool. When my former room-mate was a little girl (in Wisconsin, btw), she mailed a dress design to Princess Diana and got a reply that she has framed somewhere. I was amazed! It is nice when people respond to letters, especially from children.
9. Hysterical! But Oleo?! Hahaha. When I lived in Cali, they started a HUGE Wisconsin cheese bashing campaign that was very entertaining. That's actually how I learned that Wisconsin cheese existed and started buying it... Guess I wasn't the intended audience!
10. Awesome. Makes me feel a little uncreative as my one and only car is simply "Baby." (I've had her for 12 years and that's ALWAYS been her name...) She takes really good care of me and has always alerted me to problems near the closest dealership or repair shop. Kind of strange, that. I think it's because I talk to her and tell her how much I love her.