When you are my age, which is 71, it can be difficult to know where to start an About Me page. Does my life start when I entered the unique MFA program at The University of Baltimore? Not really. The MFA is just another chapter or maybe a really long short story in the anthology collection of my life.
One cannot ignore the fact that I have been succeeding and failing, gliding and dying, accelerating into the void or the floor or wall or a tree or across 25 feet of jungle in Viet Nam.
I remember, as a child of about seven or eight, falling onto a stick that pierced my leg. Think arrow with a blunt flat head instead of a point. Once I fell from a ladder at a construction site. My head hit every rung of the ladder on the way down and bounced several times on the wood boards below. I believe I was in my early fifties during that brief acceleration.
My body looked like all its bones were broken. Every appendage was twisted in some bizarre way as if Picasso had arranged my body for his latest painting. I was strapped in wood and stiff foam, and the ambulance was making its way to the Trauma Center. At some point before it arrived, I yelled out that my bones were intact. I could move my toes and fingers, and they brought me to the emergency room to stitch up my face. Nothing to do about the concussion I received from the fall.
So when confronted by the decision where to start, I guess, like all stories, the best place to start is from the beginning. This will be a long, extensive page and just like my blog, this page will be a work in progress. I’m glad they already invented scrolling.
So my life began in a hospital during a time when new mothers enjoyed several days or a week or so hospitalized while the nurses took care of the basic needs of the baby except feeding which was generally done at the mother’s breast.
So what could possibly go wrong…?
Both of my parents were Italian Americans born in America, but my mother spent her formative years in a small town in the mountains southeast of Naples. When she returned to America, she was more of an old world Italian immigrant with very traditional values.
Everyone on both sides of the family had jet black hair and various shades of an olive complexion. I too was born with jet black hair though I never learned what my skin tone was at birth. But something unforgivable happened shortly after my birth that haunted my mother till the day she died. My jet black hair began to lighten into what she called “dirty blond”. During the summer months it lighten to blond, and my skin tone was fair. I was atypical in a large Italian family.
I never knew I was different…
No one ever pointed out how different my appearance was; however, when I was old enough to understand English, my mother began to taunt me by saying I “was the milkman’s son.” She also had several Italian words she constantly used except when my father was home. Early on I knew the meaning of two of the names, stupido and cretino, stupid or dumb and idiot or mentally subnormal. The third name, “bruto”, means a beast or animal.
A Command Decision
Because my About Me page is going to become huge, I have decided to create About Me Posts and discontinue adding any information here. I have already posted the So What Could Possibly Go Wrong information and the I never knew I was different paragraph.