Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Under the Influence

A few days ago dickiebo posted about 5 people who have influenced his life the most. And...he encouraged readers of his blog to do likewise. So, close relatives excluded, here goes.

CORNELIA WOLFE was my 7th and 8th grade English teacher. She was a true teacher. Old school. She was boss and her students were there to learn the subject. She was fair. No favorites. At least not publicly. I hated having to read aloud as I was shy. Never raised my hand and feared being called upon. Yet she always just expected that I would do my share. No options. Then there were the dreaded oral book reports. How I suffered for days beforehand. I gave her excuses of not being prepared. Mrs. Wolfe's answer, "just let me know when you're ready". Well, the only preparation that I lacked was the nerve to get up there in front of the class! Despite the fact that she never let me off the hook, I never did get accustomed to public speaking. She could see that I loved the subject. I was a reader of almost anything (still am). It was Mrs. Wolfe that "gave permission" for me to read Tolkien's trilogy "The Lord of the Rings" when I was only 12 years old. And then watched me struggle to write a report on it that was limited to three hand-written pages! If I hadn't majored in Art, Literature would have been my field of study. Mrs. Wolfe retired the same year that I graduated high school. We stayed in touch until her death just 4 years ago.

BARBARA BALDWIN was mentioned in a previous post here. She died at 93 years old this past May 5th. Barbara was my oil painting instructor for six years. Once a week I would spend 2 hours at her studio. Although I was only 12 years old when we met, and she was 53, she treated me as an equal in maturity. I learned a lot about independent thought from Barbara. I also learned of the open mindedness and reasonable ideas of my parents. Barbara and Gene lived together. Gene was another woman. Some folks questioned whether a twelve year old should be "associating" with "them". Evidently townsfolk had talked and wondered about Barbara and Gene. Pfft. Anyway, Barbara encouraged me to pursue a career in fine arts, but insisted I should get a degree in education. Her advice was sound and I did continue on to teach in the Gloucester (MA) public schools.

A. J. PETERSON and his wife, Vivien, owned an antique store in Dunedin, FL. A. J. was my cheerleader when I decided to become self-employed. It was a scary time for me. I was recently divorced after 15 years of marriage. I hadn't worked "outside the home" for over ten years and I had to find a way to (re)become a wage earner. My ex was paying child support and 3 years of rehabilitative alimony. This amounted to about $900/month on which two of us were to live and was also supposed to cover whatever educational expenses or job training were necessary for me to obtain suitable employment. Well, it wasn't enough to do all that. So...venturing in to self-employment as a piano technician was an option. There were many moments that the thought of not having a regular paycheck reeked havoc with my need for security. A. J. was always there to talk it through with me. He was a big brother to me. I've lost track of A.J. and Vivien. They sold the antique business and moved to England. Vivien's family is all there. Last I heard they were renting part of a manor house. A.J. had just arranged transport for their daughter, Vycki's, horses from the states to England. That was in 2002.

THE SOUTHWEST CHAPTER OF THE PIANO TECHNICIAN'S GUILD had an enormous influence on my life. Never before have I met a group of people that were so welcoming and truly made me feel part of the group. Immediately. Day one. As a group of friendly competitors (yet not "competing"), we met once a month for a business meeting, refreshments, and a technical presentation. It was social and educational. Each member taught me something about being a piano technician and about being in business. Most specifically F.P. F.P. sat next to me that first meeting that I nervously attended and kept making wise-ass comments under his breath. It took me by surprise that he would be so blatantly open to someone he didn't know! I didn't know quite what to think of him! Well, turns out that I have learned more from F.P. than anyone else in piano technology. PLUS, I couldn't dream of a better friendship; one that has continued on for nearly 15 years and survived a few major differences of opinion. I know that I have a true and loyal friend in F.P. as I am to him.

MYSTERY PERSON is my number 5. I thought that I might list someone that had a negative influence on my life but that would be too easy. It would be an excuse for where I am rather than acknowledging that *I* ultimately control my decisions. Therefore position number five is left to be filled at some point in the future.


dickiebo said...

S'funny Deb. You, like me, have listed mainly people who have affected 'work'. Seems like that is telling us something - perhaps that work is the main aspect of our lives!
Shouldn't be - d'you reckon?

deb said...

I've always enjoyed my work. In that manner it intermixes with pleasure. Not always a good thing! Considering the number of hours spent working versus sleeping and free time, I don't find it surprising that our major life influences are heavily weighed towards those through work.