Saturday, February 20, 2010

I beat Bob Dylan in a talent contest...and other little-known facts

Two young women whose blogs I really like have each selected me for the Beautiful Blogger award! I have exchanged many comments with Mad Woman Behind the Blog over at Diary of a Mad Woman; she shares anecdotes about work, home, and her adorable daughter, along with Friday photos of hot guys. And I have been drawn into Emma's story at Divorced Before 30, which opens with a bang: "How I Left My Husband On My Lunch Break."

Besides posting the award and linking back to those who bestowed it, I'm asked to post seven interesting things about me, and then pass it along. These are somewhat long-winded responses, because they are things I've been intending to write about for a while.

Seven things about BLissed-Out Grandma

1. I beat Bob Dylan in a talent contest. I was a couple of years behind him at Hibbing High School. He and his band entered the Hibbing Winter Frolic talent show in January 1959. So did my friend Sharon Nelson, who sang "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes," and yours truly, who provided piano accompaniment and a brief solo. Sharon and I split the $25 first prize.

2. I gave my autograph to actor Bill Murray and baseball player Darryl Strawberry. As superfans of the St. Paul Saints minor league team, Peter and I have been at a number of gatherings with Bill. We also got to know Darryl, one of the nicest guys you could meet. They both seem to appreciate the fact that we never hounded them for attention or autographs. One day in 2008 we gave each of them a copy of the book we co-wrote, signed by each of us and the book's subject, Wayne Terwilliger, whom they both admire. Speaking of which...

3. I have a book on Amazon. It's called Terwilliger Bunts One, and it talks about his six-decade baseball career. It's Wayne's book; Peter and I spent about five years helping him write it.

4. I've learned that it can be useful to have people underestimate you. Peter and I were a couple of nobodies when we decided to save the Minnesota State Fair carousel from being broken up and sold at auction. We made a few calls, and before we knew it we were setting up a nonprofit organization, working with city leaders, and negotiating to buy a carousel with $1.3 million of borrowed money. We made headlines every day for a month as we put the deal together (and more headlines later as we raised money and moved the carousel into new digs). At several points high-profile business leaders and politicians tried to intimidate us into stepping aside so they could acquire the carousel for their own purposes. They underestimated both our resolve and our ability to strategize. We bought the carousel, restored it, installed it in an indoor park downtown and later moved it into its own new pavilion at Como Park. We operate it with one employee and 100 volunteers. We've gotten media coverage all over the world, and I won a Silver Anvil, the highest individual-project award from the Public Relations Society of America. We're still just regular folks. But we are proud of what we've been able to accomplish.

5. I kissed my husband on national TV. I mentioned this in my last post; here's the story. On the day we bought the carousel at auction in New York, CNN was among the media to interview us. The reporter played up the personal aspect (as in, this couple just bought this million-dollar carousel, are they crazy or what?), and at one point we gave each other a little celebratory kiss. They used it as part of the story, which of course drove our then-12-year-old daughter crazy. (ABC evening news did two stories on our work; one of Peter's claims to fame is that both Peter Jennings and Sam Donaldson said his name on the air.)

6. In real life, I don't talk about myself much. Just the other day at work, for example, a colleague asked conversationally, "Who's the most famous person you've met?" I mentioned Dylan. Then other people prattled on about people they had once seen across a crowded room, or on the street, or whatever. I didn't push my way back into the conversation to mention that I met for two hours with Gloria Steinem or spent a weekend at the 20-year reunion of the 1987 World Series champion Minnesota Twins. But here, in my own blog, it's fun to share these things.

7. Objects in the mirror are older than they appear. In March, I will turn 67. I am often told I look younger. I think it's partly because I got my mom's good-skin gene and partly because I still try to think young.

Now to pass this award:

* Amber at Airing My Dirty Laundry, One Sock at a Time, who is consistently hilarious and word-perfect
* Pearl at Pearl, Why You Little..., a fellow Minnesotan who cracks me up daily
* JenJen at Jen's Voices, who entertains with her writing AND is an awesome, friendly commenter
* Miss Buckle, who has a fabulous eye for color and form and a sunny outlook on life
* Sassy at The Sassy Curmudgeon, whose comments about fashion and life are witty and occasionally curmudgeonly
* Wow, That Was Awkward at It Was Dark, Stormy and I Lost My Serial Comma, whose blog title cracks me up while his stories about his sons melt my heart
* UberGrumpy, who seems more droll than grumpy and is always amusing in a British sort of way

The seven of you may post the award and follow some, none, or all of the other "rules." I'd love to read your responses, so I kinda hope you'll accept the challenge.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Valentine message

Dear Peter...
Once upon a time we embarrassed Abby (who was 12) by kissing on national television. At the risk of embarrassing somebody, somewhere, I’m posting this Valentine’s Day message--just some of the reasons that my life is so much richer with you than it was before we met 25 years ago.

* You have made me a stronger person, little by little, time and again.

* With my influence, you have become mellower. In other words, we’ve each made the other a better person.

* You consider it part of your job to chat up my bosses about how talented and clever I am.

* You see how things can be and encourage me to do the same rather than complain about how things are.

* You understood from the beginning that happiness in our life together would depend on making good use of the little moments...taking time, appreciating one another’s company.

* Most of our Great Adventures originated as your visions--including saving the carousel, publishing the book, becoming diehard baseball fans, and, most recently, becoming Wild Rumpus Daycare for Grandkids Only.

* Your talents complement mine, and we do great work together.

* You like my sense of humor...especially the snide streak that I keep mostly off the record.

* We share a language based on pop culture and family jokes (these flowers, for example, will always be "bleeding-heart liberals").

* You share my love of figure skating and brag to your friends that I “let” you watch sexy women in scanty costumes doing seductive dance routines. On ice. In slow motion.

* In so many ways, you are the nurturer in our relationship.

* You think I’m beautiful.

Happy Valentine's Day. Love, Nancy


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