Thursday, July 17, 2008

Six Things About Me

StichinbytheLake challenged me to write six things about myself that people might not know. I've taken a while to respond because I've been thinking about what to write. Here's what I've come up with:

1. I was a late bloomer career-wise. I quit high school in my senior year to get married. After two children, I returned to school at night and got my diploma. I started college at age 36 after having 5 sons--my youngest was a year old at that time, and my oldest started college with me. (He went to WVU, I went to WV State.) We graduated one day apart. I started my Masters degree at 42 and finished it at 45. It was a backwards way of doing things, but it worked for me.

2. I designed and helped build the house I still live in. I was 23 when I drew the plans on graph paper on the kitchen table. I didn't know enough to know that there was a lot more to building than that, but I soon learned. Using a book called "How to Build a Woodframe House," we managed to get the place up and livable. My second husband and I built on a family room from an old log cabin and new deck, put on a new roof and remodeled the bathroom, but the house is still basically the same. It's not perfect, but it's home and I hope it will last at least my lifetime. The siding is from lumber cut on our property, as are the big roof beams, and the stone fireplace is built from our stone. It is home in all senses of the word.

3. I am not a game player. I can't play tea party, Monopoly, or cards--I get bored too quickly and just can't see the point. I will play Scrabble and Checkers on occasion, but other games leave me cold. I was lost at first with my granddaughters who wanted to play house! I found other ways to play with them--making puppets or baking or gardening.

I am also not a movie fan. I occasionally watch a movie, but it's hard for me to sit and watch something for 2 hours or more. I'd rather be up and doing something and just listening to the movie. If the movie is good enough it might draw me in as the story progresses and I will sit down and watch to the end, but that's not usually the case.

I expect this is because as a child we seldom had TV. We played and made up our own stories. As an adult, I am a radio listener, preferring that medium to the visual. Perhaps this is why I am a storyteller--I understand listening and prefer to communicate with others through voice and mental imaging.

4. I became a storyteller by accident. As a librarian I was frequently asked by teachers to come to school events to tell stories. I read stories, I told them, I don't tell them. But I began to explore storytelling in library storytimes. I used puppets, flannelboards, tell-and-draw and other props with the stories. Gradually I just told the story without props as often as with them. A librarian friend asked me to tell stories in her library and paid me! I was hooked--to get paid for doing what I loved? What could be better than that? Now I tell all kinds of stories, for children and adults, in all kinds of places. I sing some stories too (ballads). Storytelling gets richer and deeper for me with every time I tell.

5. I have been a subsistence farmer, a mail carrier, a dog track betting clerk, a tobacco farmer, a substitute teacher, security guard, homebound teacher, college library worker, and now a librarian, storyteller and writer. I started working outside the farm at 31 years old as a substitute rural mail carrier, and had to get my Social Security number then--I had never needed one before that. If I decide to leave my current job, it's possible that I will add something new to the list. I have no idea what it might be, but I'm open to all possibilities.

6. I started this blog as a sort of writing therapy. Both of my parents died within a year of each other, and I was deep in grieving when I started writing online. It was my escape, a way of affirming what was good in my life. It has since become an important part of my daily routine. I have met many new people through blogging and have even reconnected with friends from the past.

The blog helps me get through hard days, like my parents' birthdays and other significant anniversaries. I can remember and honor them by writing about them, passing on what I learned from their lives and guidance. In doing so, I discover new things within myself that I had not previously taken the time to learn.

Writing the blog also helped me through my son Derek's last deployment to Iraq and I was able to share the stress of his absence and my joy at his return. I think that blogging is the reincarnation of the old art of letter writing, and I am honored and surprised that there are people who are interested in what goes on in the everyday life of a West Virginia storyteller.

There are some bloggers I read regularly that I'd like to know a little more about. So I'm tagging CityMouse, Robbyn at The Back Forty, Earthheart, and Jason to tell six things about themselves that we might not know on their blogs. I can't wait to read their responses!


StitchinByTheLake said...

Wow, we really do have several things in common. I can totally relate to working through your grief about your parents by writing. My parents died 4 months apart and writing a story about my Mother made a world of difference to how I handled that. Thanks for sharing with us. Blessings, marlene

Robbyn said...

Many apologies!!! Life over here has been ridiculously crazy, and I'm only now catching up on my favorite blogs. Thank you so much for the Six Things tag, and as soon as I'm back at my blog (I'm taking a few days off) I'll enjoy sharing in it. You are such a fascinating woman :)

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