Read And Follow Directions: The Meme Redux

I’ve said it a thousand times: Read and follow directions.

In my teaching days, of course, teaching students to follow directions was built into the content of whatever else they were supposed to learn.

Fast forward to today, and I can tell you for sure that few of us actually read even the short blurbs of directions that appear in pop up windows on our computer screens. (They make us anxious, I think. We just hit “cancel” and suffer the repurcussions later.)

But a closer look at the meme phenomenon assures me that I don’t always follow my own advice. There is more to it than simply answering the set of questions I posted yesterday. There are three phases, actually.

Phase I: List 11 things that others may not know about you.

OK, I can do that.

1.         In college, I started out as a pharmacy major. I took tons of chemistry, physics, and human anatomy, including a human dissection.

2.         I used to sew almost all of my own clothes. Then I had children.

3.         I chose my children’s names long before they were born. I still love their names, and think of them when I hear the Elton John song, “Blessed.”

4.         I am completely UN-athletic. To this day, my nightmare come true is a picnic with volleyball. The times I have actually hit a baseball with a bat have been total freak accidents. It took forever to get the training wheels off my bike. I have mixed eye/hand dominance which is, I believe, the root of this problem.

5.         Continuing with #4, I cannot brush my teeth with my right hand, although I am mostly right handed.

6.         I was very shy and self-conscious in high school – more so than in junior high. That social stratification thing set in in a big way.

7.         I taught myself to read at age 3.

8.         My earliest memory is of my 3rd birthday.

9          I am fairly frugal, but not especially good at managing money.

10.       I am interested in languages; I was once able to construct my thoughts in German, and now would like to start learning Spanish.

11.       I would like to sing in a choir again someday.

Phase II: Answer the 11 questions posed by the person from whom you got the meme.

I had skipped over Jenni’s questions entirely. And so, dear reader, you get a double dose and a 2nd set of 11 questions answered today. I greatly fear that I have spent way too much time indulging my own ego in the last 24 hours!

1) Sunshine or starlight?

Although I love seeing the Milky Way on a dark, dark night (preferably over Lake Champlain)….I’m a sunshine girl at heart.

My favorite day of the year is, without exception, the Summer Solstice. I consider it my own private holiday.
2) Do you have a pet? If not, would you prefer to have one? If so, would you prefer not to have one?

Over the years, I’ve become a definite dog person. We adopted our boxer girl, Holly, just about five years ago. She is aging now, and may very well be our last pet. Even now, we rely on very kind neighbors to keep her company (and thus, keep her out of trouble) on long work days or when we travel.
3) What food have you tasted that you will never eat again?

Oh, I fear a very un-trendy answer: Sushi. Just not a fan, and it’s very expensive.

Another un-trendy answer: Calimari.It’s usually fried. And fried, rubbery food has two strikes against it right off the bat.

Other foods I just don’t like:

 gravy and sauces (bad mouth feel),

too-spicy foods (just don’t like the hot hot peppers),

strong onions (no interested in bad  breath for three days afterwards),

lamb (don’t ask),

lobster (too rich),

scrapple (despite its PA dutch “charm” – blechhhh),

anything beyond a touch of salad dressing or mayonnaise (see gravy and sauces).

That’s enough for now.
4) What food have you not tried that you’d like to taste?

Well, this is a shorter list than #3.

Ethiopian food. At an authentic restaurant where you eat with your hands.

Homemade baked sweet potato chips.
5) What’s the farthest you’ve ever walked?

Six miles I think. At a time when I routinely did three or four, this was a big effort. Right now I have my eye on a five mile beach walk.
6)  What surprises you the most about your life now?

What’s not a surprise!

In the past year I have made a major (and needed and positive) career change, and am living in a different state. Those are two biggies, for sure.

In the past five years, I’ve lost a lot of weight, I’ve learned to love exercise, quit eating sugar and refined carbs. Each of these is a biggie in and of itself.

In the past ten years, I’ve moved twice and left my home state of Michigan. I took a risk and it has paid off many times over. I’ve formed many precious friendships I’ve grown spiritually and emotionally. I’ve learned a lot about listening (I hope) and still work on that. I know a lot of great kids who call me Grandma; most of them weren’t even born ten years ago.

Yes, life is full of surprises and delight.
7) What’s the best concert or performance you ever attended?

Do I have to pick just one?

If theater counts in this list, I will say that attending a world Premier of Arthur Miller’s “Up From Paradise” at the Power Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan is right near the top. While the play itself was not widely produced, Arthur Miller himself took the role of narrator. I was thrilled to see him on stage.

My favorite musical is Les Miserables, which I have seen on stage at least four times. Each time, I’ve cried. Each time, I’ve cheered. And when the Fulton Theater staged Les Mis a few years back, I could have burst with pride hearing my dear friend (and wonderfully talented) Hannah Young sing in the role of Young Cosette.

And I won’t forget my first Broadway show. I had travelled to Manhattan on a Sunday to prepare for a presentation at a prestigious private boys’ school on Monday morning. My hotel room was actually a penthouse apartment with a breathtaking view; the Headmaster told me that they had some “connections” in the hotel industry, and they were right. And so on that Sunday night, I seized the moment and got a cab to the Theater District. Tickets were available for several shows that night. I chose Beauty and the Beast, and was able to get a seat in Orchestra Center. I was transported that night, with Times Square just up the block and Belle singing her heart out in front of me.

But then there are concerts.

Mike and I share a love of Motown music, and the oldies in general. We’ve become groupies of the semi-annual Jerry Blavat review shows at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. Jerry Blavat began his career in music as a dancer on American Bandstand, pre-Dick Clark. He became a legend in Philadelphia radio, and continues his show today on WXPN. Twice a year, he assembles a group of the legends of the early doo-wop/rock and roll era at the breathtaking Kimmel Center. Among my favorites have been Jay Black (of Jay and the Americans), Kenny Vance (also of the original Jay and the Americans) and the Planotones, and Ben E. King (who brought tears to my eyes he was so grateful to his audience).

Along that same line, Mike and I travelled to Maryland one Saturday night to hear the Funk Brothers live. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear the backup band that has recorded more #1 hits than the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, and Elvis combined. Not sure who the Funk Brothers are? Try a google search. Or check out the movie “Standing In The Shadows of Motown.”

Other great concert moments:

Cry Cry Cry at the Keswick Theater in suburban Philadelphia. The evening was really and truly all about Dar Williams, and followed a packed day of travel between Philly (my first visit) and Princeton, NJ.

Mary Chapin Carpenter at the Meadowbrook Music Festival. It was late in her tour, and she just kept singing. The night grew cold, and she just kept singing. Three hours on stage, and she just kept singing.

Cheryl Wheeler at the Canal Street Tavern in Dayton, Ohio. An after work road trip on a Friday, sitting on the floor at the edge of the stage, and hearing Cheryl in her prime.

Allison Krauss and Union Station in Detroit, Michigan. I probably own more music by Allison Krauss than any other single performer.

Cat Stevens at Detroit’s Masonic Temple. I camped out overnight on the street to get these tickets at the back of the balcony. Who cares? I saw him!

Santana at Pine Knob/DTE Music Theater. This one was at the peak of his “Supernatural” fame. It was a perfect summer night for a dance party.

Moxie Fruvous, a now-defunct Canadian group, at the Ark in Ann Arbor.

The Four Tops with the Detroit Symphony at Orchestra Hall.

Judy Collins. Her voice was like silver.

The Carpenters. These tickets came to me because a neighbor couldn’t use them at the last minute. It ended up being less than a year before Karen Carpenter’s death.

Smoky Robinson and the Miracles. Actually, this was my very first live concert, at the Michigan State Fair. Later on, I was able to see them two more times. I’d go again in a heartbeat.

Gladys Knight in Las Vegas. Total class, that lady.

Now, what you have to know about each of these concert memories is that yes, the music was memorable. But each memory is also associated with the person with whom I shared that music. Obviously I could go on and on.


8) How do you feel about speaking in front of groups?

They say that speaking in front of a group is the most common fear among adults.

Always a talker, my own stance has been, “Go ahead. Give me a hundred people and a topic.”

I dare say, I could do it.
9) How old is the oldest person you ever met? Who was that?

I believe that person, today, is my mom.

She wouldn’t want me to divulge her age, but let’s just say she is “retired.”

In the span of her life she has seen events that made history: the rise of transportation, communications, and the dawn of the information age. She has lived through times of war and peace…and war again.

Her perspective and wisdom are invaluable to me; she has keen insight into human nature and is usually right. She keeps an eagle eye on political events. She reads the newspapers daily. She seeks out learning, and carefully budgets her days so that there is enough time to do the things she loves most.

She is generous. She is an encourager. She is genuinely interested in others. She draws people to her, and always has.

She lives her life with the kind of quiet dignity that I can only dream of having. (See above, as I work on that listening thing.)
10) Who’s your favorite comedian or comic actor?

Comedy is difficult to pull off. My favorites are the classics, from the days when comedy didn’t rely so heavily on how many times “that word” could be worked into a monologue.

The best of my lifetime: Lucille Ball

The best currently living: Carol Burnett and Bill Cosby

One I wish I could see more of: David Hyde Pierce
11) Do you own a functioning record player?

Nope. But I did hold on to the core of my LP collection for many years, eventually passing the best of these on to my son Bryce. There is a comfort knowing that he has, and that he values, The Concert for Bangladesh, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, and Teaser and the Firecat.

He, by the way, does own a turntable.

Phase III: Pose 11 questions of your own for others to answer.

Feel free to take these on and reply via comment, FB note or message, or e mail.

1.         What is your favorite photograph of yourself? When and where was it taken?

2.         What is your greatest artistic or musical talent?

3.         Are you thrifty, or does money burn a hole in your pocket?

4.         What is the last new thing you learned?

5.         What are three songs that you count among your lifetime favorites?

6.         Do you wear lipstick? Any special color or brand?

7.         Tell us about your favorite pair of shoes.

8.         Are you afraid of heights?

9.         Is your closet neat, or more like an episode of Hoarders lurking behind that door?

10.       What is your guilty pleasure?

11.       Are you a Rosie O’Donnell fan?

Feeling much better now that I’ve done it right!

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One Response to Read And Follow Directions: The Meme Redux

  1. Jay says:

    This was not indulging your ego. It was indulging my unending curiosity about my friends. Thank you 🙂

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard that Elton John song before – how is that possible? I’m listening to it now and I love it. Thank you.

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