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LJ Idol, week 14: Resolute

I didn't grow up knowing how to ask for things, and I didn't grow up knowing how to express desire. Wanting was too much of a risk; it was always too easy to get mocked for my wants: mom and dad are snobs and they laughed at me for a long time over Cabbage Patch Kids. They wouldn't get me one because they were ugly, they said, and too middle class.

"You don't actually want that, do you?" My mother said and after that there was no desire I could ever have that it was easy for me to be sure was real.

And I wanted all sorts of things.

Like I wanted to be famous, and like I wanted to be a pageant queen.

But I knew, more or less, not to ask. My parents weren't going to let me act, and the pretty girls at school were gonna tell me I wasn't attractive enough to do it anyway. So I sort of sneaked and cajoled and backed my way into all sorts of things.

Like Miss New York National Teen-Ager 1987, which I sent my picture in to all on my own and when they chose me for the state finals I told my parents I had to go and then got my orthodontist to pay the $300 sponsorship fee. I didn't do well; he died a year later; and it was only a year or two ago I realized the national organization had Phyllis Schaffly on its board.

A year later I wound up reading on camera for some agency in Times Square in much the same way. I lied to my parents about it and said it was just that I had gone with my friend Lisa and they were more interested in me. I had gone with Lisa, true, but they liked her just fine and worried after my teeth. Still. My parents said I was lucky it wasn't like Fame, that no one asked me to take my shirt off, and that I got away with not even a warning from them was pretty darn lucky.

So I didn't grow up with a force of will. Just a sense of how to sneak, how to get away with things, and how to move between the grasses. Maybe. Just a little.

Which is sort of funny, when everything I do now seems to involve staring things down or playing, at least a bit, a little god. Horses are like that. So's fencing. You've got to be sure.

I used to take flying lessons, a long time ago. I was 22, and I'd seen another plane go by in the air on a flight to Chicago and decided I wanted to learn how to fly.

It wasn't really how I imagined it would be. Cesnas aren't jets; they sort of waft about in the sky like flying lawnmowers. It's not a powerful feeling, but still, you've got to be sure, drifting over houses in New Jersey.

Of course I wasn't sure of anything, -- hell, I was 22! -- but I was expected to stare down the sky.

I wasn't so good at it really, the flying -- a bit queasy, a bit nervous, and with an instructor who didn't have enough force to bring out the authority that surely lurked in me somewhere.

After all, I wanted to fly.

Real bad.

Before dawn I would take a cab to a bus to a NJ airport and then walk a mile to go up before work, and I shelled out a lot of money for the privilege. That's got to be some sort of certain.

Anyway, I never got far with it, never got my license. Ran out of money. Ran out of time. But I thought about it, I've talked about it, for years.

"I can sail a boat, ride a horse and fly a plane. Can't drive a car though." I say it at auditions when the casting folk want to know something interesting about me. It works like a dream.

This summer, it so happens that I will finally be out of debt. Which means that this summer, it so happens that I'll finally have money to fly again, to rent a plane I'll whisper to as I climb her wings to check the fuel, knowing I look just a bit sexy doing it.

Flying has been a part of my story for so long, even with merely 14 hours in a log book and a headset on my living room bookshelf, I don't even have a choice about doing it now that I can afford to. But I do wonder if I've learned enough to pull it off. If riding a horse, if holding a sword, is somehow enough. After all I still don't have the authority to handle dogs, and yet here I am, somehow telling you that I've grown resolute enough to stare down the goddamn sky.
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    The birds are back, which means Patty is coming home soon. In the realm of absurd auguries, despite the habits of the ancient Romans, this is about…

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