Fun Fact: I Can’t Swim

Photo credit: dutruong.t733 on VisualHunt / CC BY

My dad threw me in a swimming pool when I was 7. He thought that I would immediately learn to swim in order to save myself. Well, I didn’t. I sank slowly to the bottom. My dad pulled me out of the pool.

I never was angry with him for doing this, probably because I was terrified of the water — chlorinated water got into my nose and mouth and eyes. (I had forgotten to close them!) The chlorine tasted gross, and I felt like I was disappointing my father. All of his friends were at the pool, too, and witnessed what happened. Before tossing me in, he seemed so sure that it would work. Well, I proved him wrong!

When I was 10 years old, my mom had the bright idea of signing me up for swimming lessons. I wasn’t looking forward to it. I thought it would be another opportunity for me to fail, and I was right. The first thing the instructor taught us was how to float. I couldn’t float then, and I can’t float now. You have no idea how many times I tried floating in the pool and my feet remained planted to the bottom. I couldn’t figure out how people could go from a standing position to lying on their backs practically above the water!

My parents gave up after that, and I decided that I don’t need to know how to swim even if it saved my life. But it could save my life, like if I fail out of a touristy boat or something else that I happen to be riding.

As an adult, I’ve looked into swimming lessons, most of which are for kids. There are a few adult swim classes out there. However, I just can’t stand the thought of anyone seeing me in a bathing suit. And I don’t like getting water in my ears, and anyway, I’d have to remove my hearing aids because they aren’t supposed to get wet, but then how would I hear the instructor?

So I have decided not to learn to swim. I mean, there are flotation devices on those boats, aren’t there?

How did you learn to swim? Or did you?

Fun Fact: National Wine Day

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Guess what, people??? You have a reason to celebrate: it’s National Wine Day!!! This is a real holiday, and apparently, no one knows how it came about. Maybe someone suddenly declared, “May 25th should be National Wine Day!” Then they might have popped the cork from the bottle of vino in their hands, and chugged without bothering with glasses. It could have happened.

Some ways to celebrate:

  • Make your own wine, though I think it involves more than just stomping on grapes while you’re barefoot.
  • Go to an upscale liquor store and buy something with a fancy vintage.
  • Have the sommelier suggest a wine and food pairing while you’re out at a fancy restaurant.
  • Have a glass of wine with a friend — or by yourself if that suits you.
  • Tour a winery.
  • Be creative!

There are plenty more ways to celebrate, I’m sure. Pick the one that you like best and go with it! Happy National Wine Day!

Fun Fact: Encyclopedias

Image by Julia Schwab from Pixabay

Does anyone remember encyclopedias? Do they still exist? If so, does anybody use them?

Encyclopedias are a set of about 20ish, identical-looking, hardcover books. Each letter of the alphabet has its own volume, and the letters that don’t have many entries are grouped into one book. So, for example, topics beginning with XYZ might take up a volume.

Basically, encyclopedias were what Google and especially Wikipedia are now. If you needed to do research, you used an encyclopedia. If you wanted to know more about a particular subject, you used the encyclopedia. As you can imagine, these were a pain to use because you had to carry around several volumes, usually, in your school bag and it was all so clunky. And unlike Wikipedia, they didn’t cover as many topics.

Every year or two, the encyclopedias were replaced by a new set, which were edited to include more topics, change any sort of recorded stats, basically update information. I don’t know what people did with their old encyclopedias. My own family didn’t have them, so I don’t know. I don’t think there were many recycling programs back then (the 70s). Maybe they were donated? Ha! We could probably Google it to find out!

Did you have and/or use encyclopedias when you were growing up?

Fun Fact: What’s in a (Filipino) Name?

Photo credit: JCT(Loves)Streisand* on / CC BY-ND

I was named after American singer/actress, Barbra Streisand., who was actually born with the conventional spelling of her first name: B-A-R-B-A-R-A, and then dropped the second “a” to be unique. Hence, B-A-R-B-R-A.

My mom named me after her because she was a huge fan; me, not so much. And I’m certainly not a fan of my name because I have to spell it out for everybody. Even then, they don’t always spell it correctly, which is really frustrating.

Up until high school, I went by Barbra, that is, Bar-BRA, not Bar-BA-ra. To simplify the matter of how my name is spelled/pronounced, I began introducing myself as “Barb.”

Then there’s my sort-of middle name. It’s A-N-N, without the “e” at the end. My dad was a huge Beach Boys fan, and I guess my parents compromised and named me Barbra Ann, after the Beach Boys hit, “Barbara Ann.” If you’re of a certain age, then surely you know the song. If not, well, here it is:

In Filipino culture, babies’ middle names are their mothers’ maiden names. So when I was born, I was Barbra Ann Lingat Natividad. My first name is actually Barbra Ann, like Mary Ann. But no one ever called me that because . . . well, I don’t know why. So when I became a naturalized citizen, I dropped “Lingat” and made “Ann” my official middle name.

My family, on the other hand, calls me “Chic” or “Chic-Chic” (pronounced “chick,’ not, “sheek.”) In Filipino families, it’s very common to have a nickname. My paternal grandfather called me his little chickadee, and that’s how I became “Chic-Chic.” Most of my family members call me by the shortened version — “Chic” — while my siblings and younger cousins call me “Ate (pronounced AH-teh) Chic-Chic.” In Filipino culture, older brothers/sisters/cousins have an honorific as a sign of respect. For girls, it’s Ate; for boys, it’s Kuya.

The first time I was married, I changed my last name to my husband’s. Whenever I’d show up for an appointment or something, people would look at me with mild surprise because they were expecting a white woman. So when we divorced, I took my maiden name back. When I married my current husband, I kept my name because: 1) I didn’t want to lose my cultural identity; and 2) for professional reasons — I had already published poetry under the name “Barb Natividad.” Is your head spinning yet? Lol!

Do you have cultural norms surrounding your name? Do you know how you got the name you have? If you’re a single/married woman, would/did you change or keep your last name?

via Daily Prompt: Simplify

Fun Fact: I Didn’t Quit Smoking For My Health

Why I Quit SmokingNope. I didn’t do it for me. I did it for my cats. I can almost hear the trill of laughter coming from those of you reading this, but bear with me. I also didn’t do it cold turkey, take a pill, use a patch, or chew gum.

I began smoking when I was 16, and smoked one-half to a full pack a day for the next 12 years. I wasn’t a heavy smoker, but a smoker is a smoker. I’d tried quitting cold turkey during my smoking years because I wanted to be healthier, but it never worked. When I quit for good, I was a broke college student, and at $3.50 a pack, cigarettes were getting expensive (that price is probably laughable to current smokers).

For me, the motivation was my cats’ health. I lived in a studio (1-room) apartment at the time, and I knew about second-hand smoke. One day, it occurred to me that if my cats got cancer, it would be my fault. That was the wake-up call that made me determined to quit smoking. I didn’t care about my own health, but I sure as $hit cared about theirs! Here’s what worked for me:

In 1998, we didn’t have cell phones, but we had wireless phones. So my first step was to quit smoking in my apartment. Back then, texting didn’t exist, so I’d spend hours on the phone with my friends, during which I smoked a lot. Fortunately, my apartment was at the end of the hallway where the fire escape was located, so I talked and smoked out there.

Writing papers was stressful, so I smoked plenty while doing homework. Because I made the decision not to smoke in my apartment, I started eating Blueberry Morning Cereal. Every time I craved a cigarette, I’d eat handfuls right out of the box! This included after regular meals, when I’d normally smoke. Whenever I felt like smoking, I’d reach for that box of cereal! I gained 10 lbs., but lost it once I stopped substituting cereal for cigarettes, which happened once I quit smoking for good.

My next step was to quit buying my own packs. I bummed smokes from my friends at school. They didn’t seem to mind. At that point, I had quit smoking in my apartment altogether and just smoked before, between, and after classes. As I smoked less, my cravings declined. And then one day, I had my last cigarette, and haven’t had one since 1998.

This isn’t a traditional approach to quitting smoking, but it worked for me. Again, my cats’ health was my motivator. Hopper (Princess), on the left side of the picture, and Basil (Blue-Eyes), on the right, lived to be 18 and 17 years old, respectively. After having worked with cats, both as a volunteer and as a veterinary assistant, I knew they had lived fairly long lives, even with the health problems that comes with being a really old cat. Towards the end of their lives, Hopper and Basil had a host of health problems, and were on all sorts of medication. Our current cats have never been exposed to cigarette smoke in our home and at 17, they aren’t even on medication!

I don’t know if quitting smoking made a difference in my cats’ lives, but in retrospect, I’m glad that I’m healthy for having quit.

This post was inspired by Beckie’s of Beckie’s Mental Mess series of posts on quitting smoking, which you can read here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. As of this writing, these are the only posts in the series. Please visit her blog to see if she writes more.

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