Thursday, November 01, 2007

100 Things About Me

1. I was born on Indiana's birthday near the state capitol. After a blizzard. When it quit snowing my doctor went outside the hospital to hunt rabbits while my mom labored and told the nurse to yell at him when it was time. I don't know if he got a rabbit. Mom got me.That hospital is now in a rapidly growing, upscale community. My parents are now both dead and I miss them.They were married 46 years when mom died, and dad died two years after mom.

2. I spent my babyhood with my grandparents, and Aunt Linda (and the rest of my dad's family) in Tennessee because my mother had TB and was sent to a TB hospital in Ft. Wayne and my dad was a long haul semi-truck driver. They were sure she would die (her mother had,) but she made my grandmother(now 93) promise that she would give me back to her when she came out of the hospital. I think it was for me that my mom determined to live for while she struggled for life 3 years and through numerous lung surgeries. She came out with only one lobe of one lung, but went on to have my brother and live until she was 64 and she even played tennis with me.

3. I wanted to be a dancer like Ginger Rogers and Shirley Temple. I wasn't allowed to take dance lessons. I took 2 dance classes in college. My pediatrician told me I was very limber and should take dance classes. I would dream about it. My junior high P.E. teacher said I was gifted at dance and let me help her with her class during my study hall. She (Susie Engle) was my inspiration for being a P.E. teacher.

4. I did dance routines in high school at half-time of ballgames, in parades and at the State Fair with the pom pon corp which performed with the high school band. I was called an Argyllette and my favorite routines involved '50s costumes. I borrowed my neighbor Lee Leckron's letter sweater for each '50s show we did.

5. I was Best Actress of my high school my senior year after playing a multitude of parts including "Hot Lips Houlihan" in M*A*S*H*. I was on the speech team.

6. I won a scholarship in journalism based on my high school newspaper writing and pursued that for 3 semesters in college.

7. I let my parents and high school counselors talk me into being an elementary teacher after being a journalism student and publishing articles in newspapers.I often wished I had done something else, but it did allow me to get a job as a preschool teacher while going to college, and I loved doing that.

8. I loved art and my high school art teacher wanted me to pursue an art career. I was art editor of my high school newspaper and had a cartoon strip, too.

9. Portraits that I did in art class were displayed at Central Administration.

10. I took 3 art classes in college. Loved them.

11. I loved sports and wanted to be a sports reporter. I was sports editor of my high school newspaper.

12. I played on the high school basketball and track teams. I was a 98-pound shot-putter who putted an 8-pound iron ball, ran the mile relay, 1/2 mile run and threw the softball.

13. I coached girls basketball and track and sponsored cheerleaders when I got my teaching jobs.One of my teams were city champions. One of my girls went on to play college basketball and was a valuable player.

14. I won my first teaching job over 135 applicants, 7 days after school had started. It was 6th grade. Some of the boys were bigger than I was. One of the dads( of my student) threatened me when I was alone in the building over a misunderstanding. I would have died for sins I did not commit! I talked him out of killing me and won his respect. I learned not to stay in the building alone on the second floor!

15. I loved reading and worked in the high school library for 3 years.

16. I took every English course my high school offered. We even had The Bible as Literature. One high school English teacher in my freshman year had one of my poems published. I won the English medal my senior year. My high school English teachers, however, do not remember me, but remember my husband!

17. I lost 10 pounds the year I took geometry because I had lunch in the middle of the class and would work on geometry instead of eating.

18. I lost 15 more pounds my freshman year of college because I was in physical education major classes and took conditioning (I also skipped meals.) I was a P.E. minor. That was the year I also worked in the college cafeteria as a dessert girl and ticket-checker.

19. I loved Tennessee and my family there, and would cry half the way back to Indiana after a visit.

20. I went to  a Seventh Day Adventist(my mother's religion) elementary school for my first 5 years. I asked Jesus into my heart when I was in first grade, but they told me I was "too young" to know what I was doing. I wasn't too young. They refused to baptize me until I was older.I preached a sermon on Joseph in fifth grade in church when the kids took over the service one Saturday.

21. I walked to a Sunday Christian church by myself when I was 12 and from then on worshipped on Sunday and they allowed me to be baptized. My mentor was my pastor who went on to work at Taylor University. I still keep in touch with him and his wife. They influenced my life in the best way possible.

22. I did a lot of Bible study. My favorite verse is Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. I didn't understand or embrace grace until I was 12. Before that I thought I had to "be good enough." You can never "be good enough."  I love the book of Romans and the Romans Road(see tomorrow's post for that.)

23. I read Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell my 13th summer. Loved it.

24. I read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee my 13th summer. I read it again 22 more times over the course of my teens and early 20s. I was in love with Atticus. My favorite part was where Scout would read with Atticus, and he told her they could keep it a secret from her teacher when the teacher forbade Scout to continue the practice. I still read the newspaper every day, like I did with my mother.

25. I only liked my elementary education classes so-so, but was good at teaching. However, I loved my children's literature class and asked my professor if she thought it was possible for me to be a children's author. She said yes.

26. I have yet, if ever, to be a children's author, but love children's books.

27. I taught elementary (1st, 1st/2nd combined, 5th, 6th) and  enjoyed teaching P.E. and pre-kindergarten, too, in my 10 years as a professional teacher in schools.

28. I was a book reviewer, had a column, and published in excess of 500 reviews. Loved it. I got to read books for free. Still do occasional reviews for a magazine.

29. I have collected over 100 cookbooks,rarely use them, but love reading them.

30. I had a "boyfriend" every year of elementary, junior high and high school. Different ones. They were just friends, though. My best friend from childhood was my cousin, "Mary Beth." Her real name was Mary Elizabeth. We lived in different towns, but spent a lot of weekends and summers together. I wasn't "in love" until college and he was the one I married, after dating him on and off for 5 years. I'm still married to him and we have 4 sons.

31. I played churchyard baseball every day of the summer, weather permitting, with neighbor kids when I turned 12 years old. My dad made me quit when I was 14 years old, because he noticed I was the only girl playing. I was so mad, I could barely stand him for a long time.

32. I loved to ride my bike. I rode 50 miles one time with a group, and got heatstroke and a severe, blistering burn(and a badge for my Pathfinders group.) My bike was stolen when I was 8 years old, but my dad bought me a new one.

33. My family loved to fish, but I didn't really like it. I loved the river, however, and observing, hiking along it. We primitive camped and fished for three weeks every summer along the Tennessee River on my dad's Uncle Pat's lot. Once it rained so much, we barely made it out before it flooded the campground.

34. I can bait my own hook.

35. I survived the Palm Sunday tornado that killed many people, destroyed the town,(and other towns) and left us without electricity for over a week. I still remember the sound of glass windows imploding and my dad yelling to cover our eyes while he held the curtains shut in the room we were in.

36. I was in a head-on collision where my Suburban was totaled. I wasn't. I still have a scar under my lip on my left side(with a "lump.") I had glass in my eyelashes, nose, mouth. I felt my legs go up under the brakes and remember thinking, "My legs are going to break." Miraculously, they didn't.

37. I was caught in Denver International Airport in a blizzard for 24 hours returning from a writer's conference in California. We were one of only 5 per cent of planes that got out the next evening. The alarms went off and on all night long. I didn't sleep. When I got home, my husband finally told me about my son (who just got his license) having a wreck the day I was in DIA. He was ok.The sun was shining and it was in the 70s in Indiana.

38. I have been shot at (purposely) and wasn't hit. The bullet lodged in the wall above my head. I talked him out of killing everyone and hid the gun. On Monday I went to school like nothing happened. This scene repeated many times. Sometimes on Sunday morning I could barely keep my eyes open in church from staying awake all night.

39. I have had 4 concussions. (Yeah, it probably has affected me.)

40. I get migraines. (The kind that make you want to die and you throw up.) A  ton of my mother's relatives and my mother got them, too. Three mg. of melatonin each night seems to keep them at bay. I have a $25. prescription pill for when it doesn't.

41. I got a dog badge for memorizing and telling the attributes of over 50 breeds of dogs. I rescued many dogs and a cat or two because we lived in the country and many people dumped pets by our house.

42. I have had several dogs of my own and read a lot of dog stories as a kid, like Old Yeller. I love the movie, My Dog Skip that I saw with our kids and my friend, Sue and her kids.

43. I am of Swedish, Norwegian, English, Irish, Scotch and Cherokee descent.

44. I am a second generation American on my mother's side, who was Swedish and Norwegian and from Minnesota. My dad was from Tennessee and from a family who had lived in this country for generations, some on the same land that is still in our family with a graveyard of family dating back to the 1700s. They met in Indiana. I love stories of my family.

45. I won third place in an art contest in 6th grade where my teacher argued with his artist sister(the other judge) that my drawing was "too real" to be art. He didn't want to give me a prize at all; she wanted to give me first place. My prize was a compromise and he told me about it. It was a drawing of a man walking to his cabin with an ax over his shoulder, next to a lake with pine trees. I can still see it in my mind's eye. The picture is long gone. I still would like a cabin by a lake.

46. I competed in trapshooting tournaments around the country. I own my own Perazzi competition grade shotgun. It has a single barrel and double barrels that I can interchange.

47. I have owned 4 different competition grade shotguns: Ljutic, Kreighoff and 2 Perazzis.

48. I love the Italian Perazzi gunmakers who come to America every summer for the Grand American. I just look at them, look at their guns and smell the great food they are cooking in their building. I have talked to them a couple times about my gun.

49. I once talked to a master German gunmaker on the phone about my shotgun, which was misfiring. He fixed it. He was very nice and actually listened to me.

50. I was trained by one of the top champions in trapshooting in the world, Kay Ohye. He believed in me as a shooter. Competition trapshooting takes a lot of time and money. I've competed in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and with the top competitors in the world, including my husband's family members.

51. I learned to play the guitar when I was 11. My teacher, who later went to Nashville to try and be a songwriter, made me write my own songs and sing while playing my guitar.

52. I learned a lot of Neil Diamond songs because my guitar teacher loved Neil Diamond. His dog, a very large St. Bernard, loved me and would slobber on my arm. My guitar teacher's wife would bring me a towel. 

53. I took guitar back up when I was 45 but haven't played lately.

54. I've played and sang with a band. Our band has been paid money to play.

55. I'm not that good, but my family are all good at music and singing. My sons have their own band, too.

56. My Tennessee family did not like my name Crystal and I really wasn't called Crystal until I married Chris over 25 years ago. They called me Crissy or Cris. I spelled my name "Chris" when I went to public school because I thought it was cool and my chance to be myself.

57. I love Southern food.

58. I also love Italian food.

59. I love to eat avocados,tomatoes, almonds, Herdez salsa, anything lime-flavored and Lay's Potato Chips. My favorite flavor is lime--anything with lime. I prefer salty and sour over sweet, but I love creme brulee dessert. I like coffee black, and did not drink it until I was 28 years old. I love Real Coca-Cola and will drink a Coke anytime! I might drink a diet Lime Coke, but hate Diet anything. I also love raspberry iced tea, especially Olive Garden's. Love to eat at all kinds of restaurants and talk to the chefs. My favorite thing to do is go out to eat with my husband, and our friends, Gary and Sue. I also love going with our boys, who make me laugh.

60. I once considered being a vegetarian like my mother's family, but I loved ham, bacon, sausage and hamburgers too much.

61. My favorite books as an elementary student were these childhood biographical fiction books and I have never seen them again as an adult. They were about historical people as children. My second favorite books were Little House on the Prairie books. However, my favorite stories, hands-down, were stories my mother told while I sat eating or drawing at the kitchen table.

62. I sketched pictures all the time as a child. It was my favorite thing to do. I still sometimes sketch in my margins while taking notes.

63. My other favorite thing to do was play with paper dolls and with my Johnny and Jane West dolls and play set ranch with horses.I have a paper doll with my face on it from childhood that my mother got for me.I still have a Tiny Golden Library.

64. My other favorite thing to do was play "pioneer people" by the creek, and direct everyone, telling the story as we played, which amazingly, they did as I told them. And we built bridges and shacks with Phil's boards and nails that his dad, Lee, gave to us. Phil's dad was a brick mason.

65. I wasn't allowed to read Nancy Drew (and in fact had never heard of her!) until I was in junior high and I read every one of them in the junior high library during study hall. I think I read all of the Hardy Boys then, too.

66. My sixth grade teacher read to us Edgar Allan Poe stories and I was totally won over. I don't remember any other stories my teacher read, although he read to us every day after lunch recess.

67. The first book I bought through Scholastic Book Club in 6th grade (the year I went to public school) was My Life and Hard Times by James Thurber. I still have that book. I thought he was hysterically funny. No one else got it--either the book or his humor.

68. I also loved anything written by Mark Twain. I did dozens of reports on him, including a paper in college. I still have a notebook I did on him.

69. I was in college when I first heard of C.S. Lewis. My cousin, Darrol, gave me a set of his outer space trilogy. I didn't know that I loved fantasy and science fiction until then.

70. I worked in the high school library for three years and read almost everything in there. I particularly remember East of Eden by John Steinbeck. James Dean who was from our hometown became famous in the movie based on that book. I read the book before I saw the movie.

71. I love any story written about Savannah, Georgia or the South, and any Native American story, preferably historical.

72. I loved James Michener books, particularly Centennial.

73. I collected Will Rogers' columns that were being rerun in the newspaper when I was a teen, and Peanuts comic strips. I have a few of them still in a box. I also occasionally clipped an Erma Bombeck column and anything that interested me.

74. I collected wild plant seeds for a badge in Pathfinders Club and had them in prescription bottles(over 50) my mother gave to me for that purpose. I still have these, too, in a shoe box.

75. My favorite TV show as a kid was Daniel Boone with Fess Parker. My second favorite show was Medical Center with Chad Everett.I was pretty fond of Dr. Kildare, too. I liked country music shows, too. And I adored movies.

76. My grandfather showed us an ancient Native American graveyard in the backwoods of Tennessee not far from the family homestead. This began a lifelong fascination with anything Native American (his mother was Cherokee.) I did reports in history classes and even did a presentation on their plight and struggle, read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and loved the movie, A Man Called Horse in high school. I have several arrowheads we found in a field.

77. I went on a trip for nearly a month after high school graduation through the upper West (South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, a toe dip into Canada) with my high school chemistry teacher/Campus Life sponsor, his wife, and my soon-to-be college roommate, Linda. I loved every minute of it. I also was getting over a broken heart during that time, as I had broken up with my unfaithful boyfriend whom I found out was lying to me about everything, right before we left.

78. I fell in love with my husband in high school, but he only asked me out a couple times. Once was to our junior prom.

79. I saw him off and on during college--he went to one state college and I went to another.

80. I got a job in one town as a teacher, and he went to med school.

81. He asked me to marry him and I did right before he started a summer internship in a hospital. We went out to eat that night after our small church wedding, but he had to be at work on Monday. We didn't have a honeymoon.

82. He gave me a map of Indianapolis, and told me he didn't have time to show me how to get around.

83. I had never driven in a big city. I spent a lot of time praying and sitting alongside the road trying to figure out where I was. I didn't get my Dad's sense of direction. I did find my way because I always managed to find my way back home. I had three different teaching jobs at three different schools in that time. I lived a couple blocks from the 500 racetrack and once Little Al Unser held a door for me.

84. I once had to stop one night on I-465 in the dark,in pouring-down rain, to wire up my half-dragging exhaust system. I did this while semi-trucks blazed by, spraying me, as I laid on my back under my car, twisting a coat hangar around it, crying and praying. The repair guy said I did such a good job, it could've lasted a long time.

85. Two of my students, at two different schools, were murdered by family members. I was devastated and didn't want to return to teaching, both times.

86. I did teach again--I taught P.E. at a Christian school for grades K-8 and loved it, about 9 years later in another town.

87. I was elected as a Christian school board member and served five years before moving away. Loved my position and at one point I was the only female on a 9-member board. I served as education, curriculum and vice chairman, and hired teachers.

88. I also went many years to Bible Study Fellowship and became a discussion leader. Loved my groups and prayed for them every day.

89. I also served as editor to the Psi Iota Xi chapter newsletter and put out over one hundred newsletters each month, designed on my first computer. I lost many a completed newsletter before figuring out how to save and not delete it. I probably started getting my first gray hairs over that computer. I learned everything about computers and word processing by the seat of my pants.

90. I was children's department director of my church and had over 100 children under my direction and many teachers. Loved it. I directed VBS, too, at another church. I designed/wrote children's church curriculum.

91. I wrote my first paid published article because I was upset at how under-appreciated Christian classroom day school teachers were. I called them missionaries in our own backyard.

92. I didn't write for publication again until I moved here. I joined an online Christian writers group and met people like Sandy Brooks, Terry Whalin, Wendy Lawton, Bonnie Bruno and from there my community grew. My first online critique group still is together and we've come a long way. We no longer critique much, but pray, support and encourage each other. I now work on manuscripts and have worked for literary agents, editors and authors. My first successful author was Miles Owens who wrote Daughter of Prophecy. I have never met him in person and he was in that first online Christian group.

93. I wrote a book review column for over 3 years before quitting to concentrate on fiction. I still do book reviews for Church Libraries magazine on assignment. I am attempting to write a novel, but I keep going back to my voice in my children's stories I wrote several years ago and am doing poorly with my own goals.

94. I love the colors of brown(cocoa,)icy pink, sapphire blue and denim blue(gray blue.)

95. I used to love to write letters and once made it my mission to write encouraging letters to people.  I once was asked to write letters to prisoners for our Angel Tree project at church, and to write letters for those participating in the Walk to Emmaus. People told me they loved to get letters from me.

96. I became a mother for the first time at age 27 to a boy.  I turned 28 before he turned one year old. I had his brother 20 months after he was born, then had a third son 24 months later. I miscarried our fourth child, but had our fifth child 11 months after that child died. We named our last son just "Max'--short for the Maximum number of Miller boys we would have. He tells everyone he is Just Max.

97. I love newborn babies. I loved working with preschoolers and pre-kindergarteners/kindergarteners. My boys are the best boys in the world.

98. I love the outdoors and am outside every single day, no matter what the weather is. My favorite season is autumn.

99. I am passionate about reading, and taught reading, which was a joy to me.

100. My boys and husband are my best friends and encourage me to write about my life because they would read that. I wrote and filled several journals in high school, which I burned when I left my parents' home. Sometimes I wish I had kept them to see who I really was back then, instead of just remembering now.

2 comments:

Kevin Pace said...

Very cool. Sometimes you don't know if anyone reads through an entire post. I did, and found it very interesting. I am a "new" hoosier writer... former accountant (go figure!). Your words are inspiring.

Eileen said...

I remember the early online writing days. It was through that group that I sold my first article.

It still makes me smile to think of you with a gun!