Yesterday morning, I wound up getting another one of those annoying eye migraines, so rather than pretend it would either go away by itself or simply never materialize into the full-blown headache, I took Ibuprofen the moment I saw the bright shapes in my left eye. And then I set aside any hopes of doing any sort of writing yesterday at all.
Instead — I cleaned!! Yay.
I caught the headache before it had a chance to really blossom into anything too painful. I went from minor headache into complete exhaustion, and just skipped the middle part. So that was sort of good.
And I finally got the house clean. I even did a lot more dusting than I thought I was going to do, so I felt really good about that, too.
Today is all about washing the hair, painting the toenails (winter, spring, summer, fall, it is always Sally Hansen’s Flashy Fuschia; for some reason, it is the only color I like), doing yoga and then working on a new segment of In the Shadow of Narcissa.
I’m still not 100% certain what that segment is going to be about. I keep coming back to the idea of my name — my adoptive name, that is. When I was born, my birth mom named me Dory. I had that name for a few weeks, and then I was put out for adoption, and my adoptive parents (my dad, specifically) named me Marilyn.
My adoptive brother’s name was Adam and when he was about 4, he learned how to write his name, and so I wanted to learn how to write my name, too.
You can imagine how appalled I was to discover that I had this truly laborious name. It kind of wasn’t fair. Not only did my brother’s name have only 4 letters, but also, 2 of those letters were the same! Although one was upper case and one was lower case, but still!! My name had 7 letters, none of which were the same.
I can remember clearly, sitting at the breakfast counter in the kitchen and my mom spelling out my name for me on a piece of paper. Then it was up to me to try to figure out how to duplicate all the letters by myself.
I have no memory of whether or not I was able to do that. I’m guessing, not. Because I was a very slow learner in that regard. I was 6 before I learned how to read and write. (Although I was 4 when I learned the Hebrew alphabet, so that’s sort of strange.)
But my mind just definitely wanted to do whatever it wanted to do and I only learned certain things when I was literally forced to learn something in school. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy learning how to read and write, once I was seriously focused on the task. It’s just that, what I preferred doing — endlessly — was listening to either Julie Andrews or Mary Martin sing.
And I do not exaggerate when I say that I never got tired of that.
We had a reasonably nice record player in the playroom and since my dad had been an accountant for Columbia Records in Cleveland, he would bring home a lot of records. I will never forget the day that he brought home the Original Broadway Cast recording of My Fair Lady, starring Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison.
He came into the playroom and put the record on the record player for me and said, “I think you’re really going to like this.” And then I sat in my favorite rocking chair, rocking away while listening to all those songs from My Fair Lady and, boy, was my dad correct! I fucking loved that thing. Oh my god. For a really long time, I never stopped playing it.
It’s funny, in retrospect, to think of me being 4 and knowing all the words to all the songs in My Fair Lady because they’re pretty sophisticated songs. Of course, I had no idea what the songs were about because I didn’t know the story. I only knew the songs. My favorites were “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “On the Street Where You Live.” I would sit in that rocking chair (which was huge, actually. It was for adults. It wasn’t a little kid’s rocking chair. It was upholstered in white leather and it had very modern lines. Not sure that is was really Danish Modern, but most of my parents’ furniture at that time was Danish Modern.) Anyway, I’d sit in this huge rocking chair, rock furiously away and sing along to all the songs.
At some point, Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins and Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music came along, too — my god, I just loved her. (And, yes! I follow her on Instagram!) Somewhere in all that, my mom also bought me the Original Broadway Cast recording of Peter Pan, starring Mary Martin and for awhile, that was my favorite.
As you can guess, I loved Broadway musicals. That whole style of songwriting and singing. And when I was old enough to start going to see movies, my grandma took me to a lot of musicals. My grandpa had died right before I was adopted, but he had owned the neighborhood movie theater as well as a drive-in movie theater, out of town a ways. Even though the neighborhood theater was now run by other people, my grandma would still take me there a lot. (My dad and my uncle continued to run the drive-in, though, for a couple of decades after my grandpa died.)
I will NEVER forget when my grandma took me to see The King and I. It had been re-released in theaters for some reason, when I was 4. It starred Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner. I was watching the movie and really loving it, you know. And then halfway through the movie, the bad slave girl gets a whipping from Yul Brynner! He has her top ripped open, and then has her thrown down to the floor by two slave guys, and then he prepares to whip her (sort of) bare back — WOW. It was the most exciting thing I had ever seen in my life! I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was the first time that I was responding sexually to anything, ever. Sadly, though, right at the moment when the slave girl is going to get her whipping from the stupefyingly masculine king for being so bad, my grandma scooped me up out of my seat and whisked me right out of the theater!
I’m so serious. I was, like, “No, Grandma!! I want to see that!” And my grandma said I was too young to see it. We got right in the car and drove home. And so it was years and years and years later before I ever saw the ending to The King and I.
(This is the only still I could find of that scene. But trust me, on the big screen, it was overwhelming to a little 4-year-old white girl in Cleveland — and in the very best way!!)
Anyway. My point is that, when things had my attention, they had my complete attention. And I simply wasn’t interested in learning how to read and write until I was forced to really focus on it in school, in the first grade. So I’m guessing, that’s when I really learned how to write my long, laborious, complicated name.
Okay! On that delightful note, I’m gonna go wash my hair, paint my toenails, get started on In the Shadow of Narcissa… have a great Monday, wherever you are in the world!!
Thanks for visiting, gang. I leave you with the obvious — “My Lord and Master” from The King and I! Yippee ki yi yay!
All righty. I love you, guys! See ya!