About Martha Grossman

Who am I? What makes me tick?

I’m a five on the enneagram personality profile. No. 5’s are nicknamed The Observer. Curious, interested in people-watching, find human behavior fascinating, enjoy a public forum because that’s where the people are, yet No. 5’s are intensely private. They require quiet time to process interaction with others.

Back when my mother was alive and healthy, she would visit me several times a year. Invariably, she would arrive early, perhaps an hour before her estimated time. These unexpected arrivals felt like violations of privacy; they jiggled me off-balance, and made me feel irritated at being discomfited. At the same time, I used to feel guilty. Why wouldn’t a daughter be pleased by her mother’s early arrival? Thankful for the extra time provided? Yet I wasn’t. I felt violated somehow.

I don’t feel guilty about this anymore. I accept this as just how I am. Over the years of coming of age, I have come to accept, even embrace this concept.

“Congratulations on a beautifully crafted and thoroughly engrossing narrative told with admirable equanimity, honesty, and passion.”

– Carol Farmer

marthat-playing-pianoI realize that the most prominent layer of my personal bedrock—that layer of truth about who I am that keeps me stable—is my positivism. I got it from my mother. It’s in my genes. From an early age, I have managed to turn practically anything into something positive. In my head echo the two aphorisms my mother lived by: think the right thought and if you can’t say something good, don’t say anything.

So the top scoop of your double dip ice cream cone has tumbled out on the ground because of your enthusiastic licking? Don’t cry over spilled ice cream. That was too much ice cream to be eating anyway.

So you didn’t win the essay contest for school-age children sponsored by the local newspaper? No doubt you needed to not only know about not using clichés; you needed not to use them. This was a lesson you needed to learn. (A teacher for seventeen years, I was always big on lessons.)

All my life I have been called Polly Anna, often in a less-than-flattering context. I realize it can be very irritating to others to hear someone chirp something positive as a rejoinder to an account of some disaster. It can be interpreted as insensitive, even cavalier. It isn’t. It is just my inevitable take on a situation. With me there is seldom a half-empty glass. It’s always half-full, maybe even close-to-full.

Another thing that goes hand-in-hand with my positivism is my energy. I have been called more than once “an Energizer Bunny.” I know I give off some sort of vitality and intensity. I strike others as being “at attention.” I am not a passive person.

I love people. If I ever feel down-and-out, it’s because I’m not up-and-in with people. I have been too much alone—in solitary activity like reading or writing or playing piano. I need an injection of people¸ punctuating periods of aloneness. I need togetherness. I love the phrase, “only connect.” I am always seeking connection, just not too much of it, and not-always and not-too-much-too-soon.

There’s something of the voyeur in me, not in the sense of prying into the sexuality of others. Private needs to be private. But in the sense of seeing inside someone’s head. Knowing what they’re really thinking. I don’t like fiction books that catalog only what the characters are doing. It reminds me of those children’s books with cartoon folks busy busy busy doing activities like shopping, playing tennis, climbing mountains. That’s exhausting.

What interests me is why they are doing them. What are they thinking? How are their minds working? What are the games people are playing with their thoughts? The books I enjoy the most are those with psychological dimensions. Interior monologues exposing the inner mental and emotional workings.

The social contacts I enjoy are those when folks share what’s really on their minds. I don’t like small talk and posturing. Skating around on the surface. I like to go deep.

However, on a frivolous level, I love scarves. Soft material caressing my neck. They also give “flair.” My favorite scarf is multi-colored and heavily textured, and feels like velvet. Soft and bright. That’s the way I like to think of myself: soft, in the sense of gentle and kind, bright in the sense of colorful and interesting.

How to be—that’s what I’m concerned with, as well as who I am. Not only how to access and know, really know, some inner soul that sets each one of us apart and makes us distinctive and unique, but also how to be true to that self. I want to know myself and act on my own truth.

In my professional life, I received a B.A. in history from the University of Colorado at Boulder. I taught in the public schools for seventeen years, teaching Spanish in high school most of the time in the Aurora Public Schools. Until recently, I never considered myself a writer. I had been trained as a classical pianist and taught piano lessons for six years. I have written only one book, Coming of Age: Come Rain or Come Shine, but enjoy the process of expressing myself for the enjoyment and edification of others.

A woman’s story of transformation from heartbreak to joy.