Renaissance Woman

4 11 2008

In my Junior year of High School (yes, I can still remember that long ago), I ventured into an Honors English class. Above the general English, but well below the AP level, thank God. The man who taught the class remains one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. Part of the reason is that he terrified me. The other part is the amount that I learned. Overall, a few things stick with me from that class: 1) the words plethora, penultimate and ergo; and 2) the idea of the Renaissance Man (or in this case, Woman – me).

When we were asked in that class to raise our hand if we knew a modern Renaissance Man, I did. Because I not only know what I feel is a Renaissance Man, I also know a Renaissance Woman. This post will address my very own Renaissance Man.

That man is my father. My dad preferred to read the paper or McLean’s rather than watch TV, and to listen to classical music or the news. He made my sister and I help him around the house fixing things, painting, cutting the grass, raking leaves… You did NOT sit in front of the TV on the weekends in my house. Now granted the TV was most likely ON and tuned to the current golf tournament. Just in case Dad needed an iced tea or something… But you did NOT change the channel. And, God help you if you moved any of his tools and did not put them back exactly where they started. I can’t even tell you the number of times he came home from work, went to his work bench and yelled out my name… Most often, I had borrowed a small screwdriver to repair my clarinet or another tool for my euphonium, and put it back in the wrong spot, if at all.

My parents took us alone and together to a number of Ice Capade shows at the Civic Arena. I remember once my dad told me we were going somewhere, he wouldn’t tell me where. I think there’s a picture of me, taken by my mom before we left, standing outside of the big brown car we owned. I remember getting to the show and being incredibly excited that my dad did this for me. For me.

My sister and I were total tom-boys. Not what my mom would have dreamed of, but I think we were less of an issue than two boys. The two of us as boys would have been a nightmare. Especially me. And according to my mom, when my sister and I were young, my dad decided that his girls would be able to do everything we wanted to do. This can be summed up by the fact that both of us are more than willing to take on our fare share of the labor in a situation, and well, we are stubborn. My mom thinks it’s one of the places they went wrong as parents. My sister and I are most thankful for this.

My dad also taught us to ice skate. He played minor league hockey before there were helmets. I remember vaguely spending a lot of time as a toddler through age 4 in arenas or hockey players rooms. My dad couldn’t wear a helmet. He felt top heavy. One of my favorite things in life, above rugby, is to ice skate. I spent countless hours literally trying to catch up to my dad on North Park Skating rink. I don’t think I ever did. I still love to skate. Alone. Just like my dad.

As a result of my dad, my sister and I learned about tools and things you can and can’t do with them. My dad built a gorgeous mantle piece for my mom. I remember seeing the wood in the garage and how my dad cared for it. How he sanded and stained and polyurethaned it to perfection. It’s still at my parents house in Forida, and despite an Echo incident and a moving incident, it’s perfect. Personally, I can’t wait until I move out of my dinky apartment into a place with room to work. I’m dying for a saw and a rotary sander. My Dremel and all the attachments I get every Christmas are collecting dust. I want to build and create things. I have a million ideas. And my sister was able to do the work on the townhouse she owned in Virginia and she’s able to do the work on the townhome she now owns with her husband.

My sister and I also learned how to polish and shine shoes. Imagine! I know three men at the current point that either have no clue what I’m talking about or have no idea how to do so. The only reason half of my shoes last so long is because I polish and care for them.

The best thing to me that I learned from my dad, not that the rest isn’t fantabulous, is my love of music. Mostly of the Classical variety. That’s what my dad did, and still does listen to. Always. In high school, my dad and I went to the sympohony on Sunday afternoons. It was there that I heard a song that will forever be my favorite. Ravel’s Bolero. Just they way it starts out so quiet, so individual. And builds to this gigantic force of sound and every instrument. It’s a force. It’s my ringtone on my phone, because when it comes on, I always smile.

And to close this out, I learned something absolutely wonderful tonite… the Pittsburgh Symphony is performing my song, Bolero, next year. In February. I’ve invited someone and mentioned it to others. But I’ll go alone, if that’s what it takes. It means that much to me.

Tomorrow, I’ll share with you my Renaissance Woman. The person who has inspired me to take on the current projects I have. 🙂

They don’t read this, don’t know it exists, but thanks, mom & dad.