The other night, I had a dream. It was a dream based on reality. In the dream, I was supposed to do a podcast about me, but I couldn’t find anything interesting to say. I thought about recording my book, but there’s an awful lot in my book I need to change, big sections that need rewriting plus many areas where I have changed my mind and feel the book is misleading. I can’t view it as “just fiction.” It’s basically a true story with names changed and some characters compressed to control the flow of the story and keep it from getting too complicated.

There are a number of really good pieces I’ve written for this blog, a few that were published elsewhere — in Israel and Mexico.

Mexico? Many thanks to Judy Dykstra-Brown for making that possible. It was delightful to actually get a new publication credit. I may not have sold much, but I’ve been published in three countries, so that’s something. Not exactly going to make me famous — or interesting — but still, I find it sort of thrilling. I am easily thrilled.

The dream was going on and on. Everything I thought about doing seemed dull and tepid. Nothing exciting. I finally woke up and stayed awake for a few hours because I didn’t want to go back to the dream.

I had never thought much about whether or not I’m interesting. Garry was always the more interesting of the two of us. I’m much more entertaining as a writer than in person.

I told Garry about the dream and he did his “reporter” thing on me, questioning me about what I did in high school and college, the answer to which was “not much.” That’s only partly true. The things I did that are interesting are also personal and very private. I’d never put any of them into something as public as a podcast.

Garry asked me if I was an “outsider.” Yes, I was. But I wasn’t an outsider because I was particularly fascinating. I was an outsider because I never found anything that made me want to join. We didn’t have much in the way of sports because what had been our playing fields became a new technical high school. The only team we had was a swimming team. We had an Olympic-size pool.

My high school was enormous. My graduating class alone had about 1280 people. The whole school housed close to 4,000 students which had been designed to hold no more than 1200 for all grades. We didn’t have a typical student body either. There were the Jewish kids, the Hispanic kids, a block of Irish and Italian kids. We were more or less broken down by college-bound or not. After that, we were further divided by “likely to win scholarships” and everyone else.

There weren’t a lot of extra activities in which to take part. Too many of us had long commutes just to get home.

We came from a broad swatch of Queens, New York. I was from Holliswood whose two famous people were Art Buchwald and Colin Powell, both of whom went to the same elementary school I attended. Otherwise, Holliswood was a bit of a lost area, having remained sort of rural, but surrounded by city. Otherwise, there were the (mostly) Jewish kids from Jamaica Estates, the Queens Village kids, mostly Irish and Italian and a contingent of brown and black kids.

The school was very achievement driven. I wasn’t. I should have fallen in with the high achieving group, but I didn’t live near them — and I didn’t have terrifically high grades. I did well enough in classes that interested me, but there weren’t many classes that I found particularly interesting. I had a very high IQ, so everything I did was accompanied by some teacher or counselor bemoaning my failure to get grades to match my IQ. My parents didn’t push me and I didn’t push me, either. I never failed anything and I ran a nice “B” average, with higher grades when I really enjoyed the subject.

I was, however, very good at taking tests which is how I won a Westinghouse and a Regents Scholarship. Neither scholarship did me any good. They wouldn’t give me any of the money because my father earned too much. Even after I got married, they still wouldn’t give me any of the money because my father was, as far as they were concerned, the only earner that counted. It was a different world — not in a good way.

I went to college and back then, at $43 per credit, it wasn’t the monumental debt it has become. After I married Jeff (who was a staff member marrying an 18-year-old student — something which these days would be regarded with a jaundiced eye), half my courses were free. If I kept the number of credits I took down to 12 or fewer, I only had to pay for one course. It slightly — by six months — extended my time in school, but I was delighted to have a light schedule. It left me time to hang out.

Jamaica High School

That was what I was good at. I was a fabulous hanger outer. I could smoke pot, watch old movies, listen to music and discuss the meaning of life with the best of them. Unlike Garry, I didn’t have a driving need to “be” something. Garry wanted to be a movie star but being a reporter worked out well. It combined his love of writing with his passion for performance.

I knew I would be a writer, but I was also happy being an editor with some writing too. When I more or less fell into technical writing, I was content with that. It didn’t require I work all kinds of strange hours or cover murders, blizzards, war or politics.

I had no discernable ambition except that I wanted to be as good as I could be at whatever I did. When I took on a writing assignment, I wanted to produce the best quality work I could.

I loved writing, but I loved hanging out more. I was never willing to dedicate my life to work — not any kind of work. I was also not a performer. The only thing (performance-wise) at which I was good was public speaking. I could not play piano for anyone. Even my piano teacher who I’d known since I was a very small child had to go into another room and “make tea” so I could play. I had a terminal case of stage fright. I could act a little, but I never tried it as more than a classroom exercise.

Dublin, September 1990

I did some interesting things, but the things in which I’m interested are not the kinds of things most people find riveting. Medieval history, for example. Ask me about the effects of the Black Plague in the 14th century and I’m ON it. Ask me about archaeology, the life and times of birds — and almost anything pertaining to American or English history and I’ll light up like a 200 watt bulb. Professionally? Technical writing is not the kind of work that excites most people. Now Garry, he could start a story and the room would gather around him. Me? They’d ask me what I did. I told them. Their eyes glazed over.

I was, as time went on, something of a super nerd. The only people who were interested in engaging me in conversation were other super nerds.

So — am I interesting? Yes and no. I’ve done interesting things and lived in interesting places, but I’m not inherently interesting. I’m not bubbling with exciting ideas. Really, the only way super nerds become fascinating is when they get very rich having founded companies like Apple and Microsoft.

Massive wealth apparently makes one much more interesting.

Categories: #Photography, #Work, #Writing, Anecdote, Humor, Performance, podcast, Video

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9 replies

  1. You sound very interesting to me, Marilyn. You have certainly done more with your life than I ever did. And a high school class of over a thousand? My class graduated 38 people, the class total!
    Just keep on doing what you do so well, but think about doing the podcast. Never lose sight of how interesting those of us who follow you think you are. Gerry is sweet and talented, but it’s YOU we are following.


    • New York city high schools were hugely overcrowded. We actually had traffic directors in the hallways because between classes, we were body-to-body. You had to plan you classes so they weren’t too far away from each other because it was a huge building — even when not crowded — and getting from the left first floor wing to the right third floor wing was impossible.

      I did interesting things and because of that I have stories to tell but personally, I’m not fascinating. I have met a lot of really interesting people — and I’m married to one of them — but me? I’m an aging nerd who can’t find half the functionality of Windows 11 — the first PC format that has flummoxed me. I know what I want to do and I even know how to do it. I just can’t figure out where they’ve hidden the panel I’m looking for. Is that interesting or what 🤩

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think I am very interesting as a person either, quite ordinary really.
    Inside my head though, it’s a very different story…
    Lovely to meet Garry, BTW!


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