On My Own Two Feet

Growing up in the city doesn’t give you a lot of exposure to the country. And somehow living in the city makes country living look really easy. I was lucky enough to go to camps and away with my parents occasionally, and my father would rent a rowboat in Central Park. So naturally I thought I knew it all.

When I was 12 or 13, my parents went to the Berkshires one year and we stayed at this hotel called The Berkshire Hotel. Go figure. It had a series of cabins we could stay in.  But that year I got very sick. The doctor came and gave be an unusual number of shots in my butt. I swear it’s why I’m allergic to penicillin today.  Anyway, I was bored to tears and saw they had horses there and that was it! I was determined to get on a horse. I didn’t care how sick I was.

So my parents got me lessons. The horse was much bigger than I imagined. I was secretly frightened I would get hurt but I put those thoughts away and rode every day. They called the horse Judy, after me.

One day the horse slid and bucked on some ice and fell and I fell off the horse. We were both ok, thank goodness.

Even though Id been thrown I loved horseback riding. So my parents to me to horseback ride in Cunningham Park in Queens. It was across the park from us and I got on another horse. But this one bucked too! It was very hungry and kept pulling in things to chew on from the side of the rode until it tripped and bucked and I fell off again!

After that I was done with horses. People make it look so easy, but it isn’t.

Another time I got into a rowboat with a couple of kids. I was the rower. Well we got out in the middle of the lake and wouldn’t you know, I lost my oars. We were stranded for 2 hours in the Lake before someone came out and saved us.

Another time I thought Id give a bike a try. In the city this time. I was again, determined to get really good at biking. It was Autumn and started to get dark earlier. I was on the road with a bunch of cars all of a sudden. I got very nervous as the cars got closer and closer. Eventually I swerved and fell off my bike and the handle cut into my thigh to the bone!

Well I took myself to the hospital and got patched up. It was ridiculous. Every time I try to be mobile on a horse, a bicycle…one time I went on a motorcycle with my ex-husband. You know where this is going right? I have scars on my legs TODAY from my calves burning on the motor! Who does that?

I seem to do ok on elevators. Escalators. Busses. But risky steps for me were hard and I usually fell flat on my back if something else other than myself was moving me forward. I have to go at my own pace. On my own two legs. I’ve learned that at and 78 event tough I want to, I promise not to go roller skating. I’ve learned my lesson.

Judy Looks Up

I would like to find times in my life when I look up and not down. When I look at my life, so much of it was comical. Like when I played basketball. I was almost 14 and my whole team was Jewish. One day we had to play another team from Harlem. They were all twice as tall as I was. We lost that day. We won the second game because they never showed up.

Our team was created as part of a league The Mirror put together. The Mirror was a NYC newspaper. They put together several teams and we all competed for college scholarships. We lost.

One time in kindergarten I painted a cloudy sky. My teacher was concerned. She thought I was disturbed. She called my mother in to talk. My mother was a very good-looking woman. Needless to state, my mother didn’t agree with my teacher. She showed the teacher what I painted. My mother asked me why I painted it and I said it was because the paints were too watery. They were! I wanted to paint a circus.

In life I find its easy to find my failures or criticisms. One of my teachers, Mrs. Powers, looked like Norman Bates mother in a rocking chair. I wasn’t scared of her, but she gave spelling bees and I always won. But I focused on the fact she gave me bad marks for chatting with my friends.

These days I usually blame myself for almost anything that happens. I always look at myself first, which is a good quality, but I take it too far. I blame myself for things OTHER people do! If I make mistakes in speaking I’m always worried people will think Im stupid.  I guess I had relatives when I was young who resented me which made me think things were my fault. Im realizing now things aren’t my fault, necessarily. But I could waste a whole day worrying.

I find when I talk about it stops me from this cycle. I work with a lovely group of women in a small real estate office. They have confronted me about choices I’ve made because they were concerned for me and thank goodness! So I’ve been going there more, even though I could work from home. People are good for me.

Back in the day, my therapist Tony helped me realize my passion for architecture. At the time I was really confused about what to do. Teaching was making me miserable. I thought interior design but he pointed out I didn’t have a big hat and interior designers had big hats and limousines. I finally had a dream about a slide rule and Tony said, “Well I guess we know you’ve decided.” I get goosebumps remembering it. Talking these choices out with someone helped me stay clear and listen to the signs. When I talk to people I look up.  I have to remember that.