FIRSTSAn entry for the On Display Collab
14 January 2003
Baby books. Most of us buy them or receive them when we are expecting our first child.
Most parents are pretty good for the first month or so, and gradually the project dies.
They may make a half-hearted attempt with subsequent children, but if there are more than
two, the last ones in line may miss out completely.
Then there are some of us who are obsessive about such things. Our kids each had TWO
baby books--one was from birth to age 7, the other one is the kind my mother kept for
me--a "Log of Life," which the child is expected to take over at some point
during life and complete (there is, fortunately, no place to record death records, but
just about everything else!)
So, whether obsessive or less obsessive, we start out to record all of those special
moments in a child's life: the first smile, the first tooth, the first solid food, the
first steps, the first day at school, etc. But sooner or later, we stop recording
"first" in little books, with cute little photos to accompany them. What about
the "first" as we get older? Where is there a book to record those?
Here are some of the other "firsts" in my life...
When I was 16, I had a big day: four firsts in the same day. In the afternoon, I got my
first driver's license. My father had taught me to drive, and his requirements were 1000%
more strict than the DMV's. Since we lived on one of the steeper hills in San Francisco,
before he would let me apply for a license, I had to be able parallel park (with a stick
shift!) on the hill before he would let me get a license. The DMV had me drive around a
block on the flat and pronounced me fit to drive in San Francisco. (I shudder to think of
some of the "drivers" they let loose on those hilly streets!)
In the early evening, I received a call from the nuns at the school. I had
inadvertently brought something home with me that they needed (I can't remember what now)
and they needed it back. My father was out of town and I convinced my mother to trust me
to drive to car to school. It was my first time out on my own with the car.
I was so thrilled about showing off that I was driving alone, that I didn't pay
attention to how close I was to the parked cars as I pulled up in front of the school and
hit the tail end of a parked car--my first accident.
I was so terrified, I drove away and never told anyone--my first (and last) hit and
Then there was my first (and last) skiing trip. The Newman Club at Cal was going up
into the mountains and I was very excited about learning to ski. We rented equipment in
Berkeley and one of the guys gave us some lessons in how to put on skis, how to make
We arrived at the snow and I was ready to Learn To Ski. I went up the rope tow on the
bunny slope twice and by the second time I had lost the grip on my hands and couldnl't
hold on to the rope any more. But it didn't make any difference because I twisted my foot
somehow and the heel of my boot snapped off. Since I'd rented it in Berkeley, some 2-1/2
hours away, there was little I could do to get a replacement, so I sat out the rest of the
day in the lodge (and think I was relieved about that!). I never tried to ski again.
We have five show biz kids. What they don't know is that their wallflower Mom had a
show biz career too, though much abbreviated. My first time on stage was in a Girl Scout
"talent" (I use the term loosely!) show. We did a lot of lip synching to popular
records of the day. I was part of a "barbershop quartet" which sang "Heart
of My Heart." I wore a paper moustache and halfway through the song, the moustache
started to slip down. I still remember the embarrassment of trying to get through the song
and the "choreography" while still trying to keep my moustache from falling off!
I won my first (and perhaps only) big prize when "I" wrote a paper on the
Merchant Marine for a writing contest when in high school. In actuality, I had so much
"help" from one of the nuns that to this day I don't know what I wrote and
really think what I did was transcribe what she told me to write (perhaps a precursor of
my lifelong job!). But the paper won me 5th prize, which was a trip by luxury liner from
San Francisco to Los Angeles (overnight). I went with my mother and sister. We went to
Disneyland (for the first time) and then flew home--my first time on an airplane.
I still remember the first time I felt good about myself, felt loved for me alone. I
even remember the date--October 9. I had spent the day with my date in San Francisco and
at the end of the day we sat on a couch to talk over what a good day we'd had, and I had
my very first meaningful kiss. It is a very sweet memory.
My first computer was an Apple IIc, which didn't even have a hard drive. I remember
buying my first PC with a whopping 60 mb hard drive. I thought I'd died and gone to
heaven. I knew I'd never need more than 60 mb of storage (and now I'm thinking that
12 gigs isn't nearly enough!)
The very first time I ever connected to the Internet, it was with an external modem and
I dialed up the UC Davis library, across town from here. I didn't know what to do
when I got there, but I was absolutely thrilled to be connected to a
"distant" computer. That seems like a very, very long time ago!!!
Funny, but there wasn't a page for any of these firsts in my "log of life."