Thursday, September 13, 2012

50 things

Celebrating a birthday makes one look backward as well as forward. I thought it might be nice, if a tad self-indulgent, to jot down some favorite memories, or things that have made me smile over the years. If you can't be self-indulgent around the time of your birthday, when can you? These don't get overly personal or intimate — I like to keep that sort of stuff to myself — and are in no particular chronological or prioritized order, except #1, of course.

  1. The birth of my daughter.
  2. 2
    It doesn't get much cuter than this.
  3. Deciding to go to art school/move to New York City.
  4. My asking to play the Middle Billy Goat Gruff in 1st Grade, a part that had been originally intended for a boy. Our teacher presented the roles in the school play as boys will be billy goats and girls will be flowers. Then she went around the room and asked who wanted to play what part. I was familiar with the story and knew that I wanted to be one of the three leads. It was probably the first time I really sounded off for myself, and tried to grab a bit of the spotlight. The pattern was formed.
  5. MiddleBillyGoatGruff
    My grandmother made the costume. The tinfoil horns were genius.
  6. Starting my blog. It's led to so many good things for me, for my mind, for my well-being.
  7. The homemade ice cream at T-Cone in Shipbottom, Long Beach Island, in New Jersey. I loved their strawberry, but the blueberry was out of this world and my absolute favorite.
  8. All of the wonderful people I have met in my life so far. Thankfully things like the internet have helped us keep in contact, or reconnect after many years.
  9. Appearing off-off-Broadway at the Henry Street Settlement in George C. Wolfe's Return to Glutten, where I got to act (and sing!) on stage.
  10. Getting a sell-out crowd for two nights for a performance piece I co-wrote, Flesh, in New York; and a positive review in The Washington Post for my role in a dance/performance art piece I co-produced, Hammer.
  11. Happy cocktail hours with good friends — with my daughter in tow — in Washington D.C.
  12. sc0001046c03
    The greatest opening that I ever attended at MoMA.
  13. Getting dressed up for the Warhol opening at MoMA and bumping into Steve Martin, who, said "Excuse me!" He was hanging with his friends Julian Schnabel and Paul Simon.
  14. Hanging out in the East Village and beyond in the '80s with friends — Dojo's, the Blue & Gold, the Holiday, the Kiev, the Pyramid, Danceteria — the list goes on and on.
  15. My junior year at Parsons was wonderful. I had great teachers and was given the freedom to express myself and worked in all media — painting, drawing, sculpture, performance, you name it. The following year, my senior year, was unfortunately oppressive and just a countdown to graduation.
  16. sc0001701a02
    Rutger Hauer from Blade Runner facing out, and Mary and me on the right
  17. Plastering New York City with posters publicizing Guilt Free Enterprise, a company, or more accurately, a state of mind, formed by my friend Mary and myself. My brother, on a weekend leave from the Navy, helped us guerrila-decorate.
  18. Lying on a blanket in the middle of Central Park in the summertime, with wine, bread, cheese, and friends, and staring at the stars while a Metropolitan Opera star sang Puccini.
  19. Running out of candy on Halloween night when I was in 3rd grade — my dad set up his telescope and gave looks at the full moon to the late trick-or-treaters and my brother and I got to stay up, too.
  20. Seeing a movie in seventh grade science class about Stonehenge and saying to myself that one day I would go there. And being able to make that dream come true many years later on a trip with my mom to London.
  21. Being lucky enough to get my 11th grade English teacher Mr. Brown, who recognized how much I loved to read and just made me want to learn more and more.
  22. Clash photo collage
    A large-scale photo collage I did for drawing class
  23. Painting and drawing while my record player blasted Sandinista.
  24. Having an "aha" moment, whether in relation to something in a meeting at work, in front of a blank piece of paper or screen, or just walking somewhere peaceful, where my mind can open up and receive new ideas.
  25. Holiday celebrations with my family, where I'd get to see my cousins and aunts and uncles and eat Grandma's amazing food.
  26. Turning 20, visiting home in New Jersey from New York, and lying outside in the front yard, looking at the stars at midnight. It was a nice feeling being separate from my family, but having them nearby, while being one with the universe. It seemed a fitting way to bid goodbye to my teenage years.
  27. Visiting Venice during acque alte.
  28. Getting my first car, a golden Acura Integra.
  29. Requesting a lemon cake with orange icing for my fifth birthday — and getting one (and then many years later, having a friend try to replicate that cake again for me).
  30. Writing a story about a little red fish for school when I was in first or second grade — my dad was so impressed with it he took us out after dinner and bought us a fish tank, full of tropical fish — and a red platy, which I named after my character, Redert.
  31. Flying to Palm Beach, Florida on my own, at the age of 14, to visit my grandmother. She took me everywhere, introduced me to all of her friends. I had my first vichysoisse, went to Lion Country Safari, saw polo, and rode on an elephant. And now I live here.
  32. Elizabeth Periale at 14, Palm Beach, FL
    A very serious, or very tired, 14 year-old
  33. Buying my first legal drink, at 18, at the Lone Star Cafe, across the street from Parsons School of Design, and just around the corner from where my dorm was on Union Square.
  34. The first time I was on an airplane, at age 8, visiting my grandmother in La Crosse, Wisconsin. I'll never forget the thrill or the feeling when the plane's wheels left the ground.
  35. My first taste of my Grandma's sfincioni.
  36. Visiting Greece with my mom, seeing so many places I had read about for as long as I could remember, like the Acropolis and Delphi, and being surprised and amazed by the difference in terrain as we moved through the country — hot in Athens, snow in Meteora, temperate in Corinth.
  37. The frescoes in the Palais des Papes at Avignon.
  38. The Botticellis at the Uffizi in Florence.
  39. Having the ocean so close, the feel of sand under my toes.
  40. IMG_0386
    It's hard to beat that view
  41. Impressing my mom and cousin Ann and Aunt Paula with my Italian while we were traveling in Italy. I really just had enough to get by, but they loved that I could converse with the Roman taxicab drivers and get us around the city.
  42. Staying up late and whispering with my brother, debating when Santa would come.
  43. Visiting Mont St. Michel and staying out on the plain after we returned to the mainland from the city — we were waiting to see it in the sunset, not realizing that in the summer the sun doesn't set until long after 10 p.m. — but the sight was well worth the wait.
  44. The Gainsboroughs at the Frick in New York.
  45. "The Hon. Frances Duncombe," by Thomas Gainsborough, Frick Collection, N.Y.
  46. Spending enough time in Florence to really feel that I could live there, that I knew the city. Maybe someday ...
  47. Inheriting my dad's insatiable curiosity and life-long student status. There is always a topic of interest that I want to research and know more about.
  48. Traveling to Paris by myself and day-tripping all over the place — Versailles, Chartres, Giverny, and the medieval walled town of Provins.
  49. My mom making me feel that I could do anything, achieve anything, and that she would always be there for me.
  50. My mom's idea of a lullaby for my brother and me — tucking us in as the Beatles' Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds drifted up from the stereo downstairs.
  51. At Yankee Stadium, c. September 1972
    Probably waiting for Roy White or Thurman Munson to come to bat.
  52. Going to see the Yankees games with my dad, from childhood to adulthood — just the two of us went one time, while I was living on my own in New York.
  53. My first glimpse of the Pyramids.
  54. Having a sense of humor, in pretty much all circumstances.
  55. TV shows, books, and movies that have moved me or entertained me that I can share with friends and family, and being able to talk about them later over dessert, which helped hone my critical skills.
  56. Going on a road trip to Kentucky with my cousin Ann, and the millions of other journeys we took together before and after the birth of my daughter.
  57. obama!
    Celebrating at Obama's Inaguaration
    The kid took this picture of Ann and me at The National Arboretum, one of our favorite haunts in D.C.
  58. Being able to share my love of family with my mom and other relatives. My mom, daughter, and I recently took a trip to Salem, Massachusetts after I discovered one of our ancestors was one of the first to be accused and executed as a result of the Salem Witch Trials. History is amazing and always brings us back to human nature.
  59. Any opportunity that I get to sing.
  60. Knowing that if I put my mind to it, this list could go on and on and on. I've got lots of fun things to remember and share. I'm sure we all do, if we sat down and thought about it for a while.

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