1. I first attended college at the age of four. Wasn't I lucky?
No, I wasn't enrolled. My mother was. She brought me to class several days a week and I loved it. Thus began my lifetime affair with learning and also with art, as she was studying art history.
2. I am claustrophobic in stadiums, occasionally in theaters, and frequently in jammed elevators. I once assumed this was a function of my diminutive stature. However, I have since come to believe it's due to my parents losing me at the 1965 World's Fair – amusing (in retrospect), since they wouldn't permit me to cross our tiny street alone, yet somehow, I was allowed to wander off in a crowd of, you know, a few people.
3. As a child, I imagined three thriving (simultaneous) careers: writer, designer, and astronaut. Chalk up that third to the Vulcan Mind Meld and the 1969 moon landing. I believe in reaching for the stars.
4. While no surprise to anyone who knows me, my first kiss was with a Frenchman in the south of France. I was living with a local family at the time, in a language immersion program. I was 15.
5. To be frank, many of my most pleasurable firsts involve that lovely country. However, my first proposal of marriage came from a dashing 20-something Persian gentleman, a friend of my grandfather's, when I was 12. It was a serious proposal, which I can only attribute to the appeal of my pearly white pointy glasses. Very Wonder Years. The offer was declined on my behalf, politely.
6. I drank vodka for the first time in Soviet Russia at the age of 16, while washing my hair in the Volga. I recommend the first in moderation, with olives. I do not recommend the second, under any circumstances.
7. I had one extraordinary date with a famous man 7'4″ tall. A real gentleman. I quickly realized we had no future, not so much due to the differences of 28" in height and 400 pounds in weight, but he traveled non-stop and therefore was GU. Remember that? Geographically Undesirable. Oh, and he was French.
8. I admit to a near-obsessive adoration of fabulous footwear. Shoes as art, if you will. And must I really clarify that I find no incompatibility between appreciation for the perfect pump to highlight a girly gam or appealing ankle, and women owning their strength, smarts, and passions?
9. Now to the blur years: one husband, 12 years of marriage, one divorce, and a decade since; two sons and countless bouts of laughter; 20-some years in the corporate world (on two continents); 400 testaments to terrible poetry (though #374 wasn't bad); 60-some art reviews (on two continents); 200,000 words sacrificed on the altar of system specs and marketing brochures; 1,040 trips to the supermarket, and 5,500 loads of laundry - give or take.
10. I have had recurring dreams from as early as I can recall, especially throughout childhood. One of the more vivid (and common) is the ability to fly. Along those lines, I was convinced that if I rigged the right habit and combined it with will power, I could glide through the air currents like Sister Bertrille in the Flying Nun, though I knew she was actually Gidget.
After several flying attempts, I concluded my failure stemmed from the fact that I wasn't Catholic. I did not, however, convert. Instead, I have spent my adult years dating tall Catholic Frenchmen who can scoop me up in their arms and carry me off, simulating a sense of flying and enhancing my otherwise grounded view of the world.
When that isn't possible (one must have contingency plans), I slip into my 5" Angiolinis, my 4" Taharis, my 3" Weitzmans, or my slides from Tar-gét.
11. In my post-marital decade, I estimate some 240 first dates, 40 second dates, relatively few close encounters of the third kind, and two serious love affairs – eh oui, one on each side of the Atlantic. During these years (as before), I have refashioned my mindset, my career, my style, and my priorities in periodic and ongoing assessments that continue to prove illuminating.
In part, I do this through writing, putting thoughts to the virtual page nearly every day for the past four years – through angst and amours, through disappointments and victories, through sending boys off to college and adjusting to young men returning on break, gleefully tasking them with the groceries and laundry.
12. My true North? More than ever, it remains a persistent, unrelenting, irrepressible desire to say yes – to whatever I can create, to questions that invite examination, to giving my heart and giving back, to unearthing the right words, and to dreams wed to discipline, both of which keep me standing tall and still – reaching for the stars.