Archive for November, 2009
1985. The beginning of eighth grade. Without a doubt, the most terrifying time of my life. I arrived in Klamath Falls, OR directly from Mexico City. You talk about your culture shock. In some ways though, I suppose twelve year olds are better able to handle that kind of shock than say, thirty-six year olds. Looking back, I’m sure life was pretty terrifying for my parents back then. All I had to do was settle into my new room and go to my new school. I’ll never forget that first day of eighth grade. Kids everywhere who seemed to know exactly how to dress, how to talk, how to fix their hair, how to open their lockers, how to carry their books (boys – under their arm, all cool-like and girls – cradled in front of them and protective, like a baby doll). How did all those kids know those all things? I realized right off the bat that I needed to try to stay as inconspicuous as possible while I observed all these strange new native customs and imitated them. Sigh. What a lot of work that was. As hard as I tried to stay inconspicuous, it seemed that everything about me screamed CONSPICUOUS. From my poofy hair that always seemed to be wider than it was long (yes, I spent countless tears in Mexico battling that as well, surrounded by people with perfectly straight, perfectly sleek, perfectly black, perfect, perfect hair) to my clothes that I was sure announced DORK to everyone who was looking, to each and every new pimple on my chin. You would think that after moving eleven times in my twelve years of life, I would be used to figuring out new customs and figuring out how to fit in.
Ah, but eighth grade is a whole different kind of beast.
There is no fitting in. But we made it, as do most people who go through it. Maybe it’s where we started speaking of ourselves in the third person plural. Maybe too many personalities developed back then to ever be able to reconcile themselves back into one again.
Again, music is the one thing that brings it all back like nothing else. As I listened to this mixed tape the other day, I was transported. Completely. Suddenly I am in love with Michael J. Fox and seeing his cute little face as clear as day during “The Power of Love” and imagining all sorts of different scenarios where he will meet me and realize that I am the one he’s been waiting for all his life. I am laughing hysterically during “One More Minute” and making it my life’s theme song. I am crying during “Against All Odds” and spending countless hours in the dark at my piano, writing down and memorizing every note and singing along with such passion, one would think that I’ve been alive for fifty years and seen most everything, rather than twelve and sheltered by the grace of God. I am in my upstairs bathroom, getting ready for school in the morning, listening to my favorite morning radio program and hearing the voice of a little boy named David call in to dedicate “You’re the Inspiration” to a little girl named Leslie. I am hearing his twelve-year old voice, still in the treble range of a boy, but trying to act cool and confident like a man, but sounding nervous like someone in love and my heart is pounding itself right out of my chest and bouncing all over the bathroom sink as I realize he’s talking about me. I have never known love like this before. I am singing every single word to “Spies Like Us” and “I Miss You” even though I haven’t heard even one note of either of those songs since 1985. And I am pretty sure George Michael still has one of my favorite voices ever as I sing along with “Freedom.” And while I realize that “We Built This City” has been the source of much ridicule over the years as possibly the stupidest pop song ever written, it defines me. It defines me and my entire generation. And I’m not sure why. But I still hold out hope that we’re not the stupidest generation ever.
So here we go again. I do realize that this is more for my benefit than yours. But I hope you receive some measure of enjoyment anyway…
[clearspring_widget title=”Grooveshark Widget: Chameleon” wid=”48f3ef6c29317865″ pid=”4b01d02fabe51ba0″ width=”600″ height=”500″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]
Alarm goes off at 6:15 this morning. My thoughts, in order:
1. Ugh. I can’t do this again.
2. Wait. It’s Friday! I can do it, knowing that today is Friday.
3. Did Chris make it home alive last night? Let’s see, can’t yet open eyes or raise head to see if he’s here in bed with me. Will the muscles in my leg work? (Slowly move leg over until it hits another body. Assume said body is husband.)
4. Phew. He’s here. I wonder when he got home. Thank you, God, for helping him through one more night of running across five-lane freeways in his orange reflector vest. This sure is a strange game of Russian Roulette that we play every day. Thank you, God, for this game that pays our bills.
5. Why did I set my alarm for 6:15 again? Oh right, Grace needs a shower and so do I so that I can take Callie and Grace on their treacherous cross-country journey to school, full of brake lights, honking horns and grouchy drivers and then come home and take Sadie to the doctor.
6. Ugh. I don’t feel like taking a shower. I’ll just throw on clothes and go get some coffee.
7. I wonder how Sadie’s doing? She hasn’t talked to me in a week because of her sore throat, so I wouldn’t really know other than the constant glare that I get looking out from eyes with dark, grey bags under them. I heard her coughing again all night, so yeah, probably still pretty bad.
8. Okay muscles, hate to do this to you, but one more time and here we go, swinging over the side of the bed….
9. (Stopping mid-swing)…Wait. Today’s not Friday! It’s Thursday. It’s only Thursday. It’s Thursday and we must get up anyway. Dear God, How can it only be Thursday???
And then I got up.
The years between 1983 and 1985 saw me move from Greenville, CA to Los Gatos, CA to Nashville, TN to Guadalajara, Mexico to Mexico City, Mexico to Klamath Falls, OR. From the beginning of sixth grade to the beginning of eighth grade, I went to six schools. Six schools in two years. Three of them were public, one of them was Christian in the US, one of them was Christian/Catholic for American kids in Mexico and one of them was British in Mexico. My family drove millions and billions of miles in our station wagon, where I mostly sat by myself in the rear-facing back seat. We lived with other people when we were in between homes. I learned Spanish, I learned to light a gas oven, I learned to feel when I watched movies, I memorized the entire Annie soundtrack, I learned to avoid crowds and find the quietest room in whatever house we were visiting, I learned to sing to my imaginary, adoring fans and I learned that Harrison Ford had to be the cutest person in the entire universe. But more than anything else, I remember discovering music during this period of my life. I remember getting my first personal little battery-operated tape recorder/radio and I took that thing everywhere. I recorded myself, I recorded conversations of others that I was spying on and I recorded songs and commercials off the radio. I recently came across a mixed tape that I made from the radio during those years. In an effort to bring full-circle-ness to my life, I am now posting that here so that I can listen to it any time I want. Of course, there are certain clips I couldn’t include like Coke and Pepsi commercials (in English and Spanish) and my grandpa singing live on the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night radio program. Couldn’t find those on this internet thingy. But everything else is there.
[clearspring_widget title=”Grooveshark Widget: Chameleon” wid=”48f3ef6c29317865″ pid=”4af6307e795bd075″ width=”600″ height=”717″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]
I’m almost getting older again. Tomorrow begins my 38th year of life. Last night our teenage daughter said what every parent knows their teenage daughter will say at some point.
“Don’t judge him! You don’t even KNOW him!”
Maybe this isn’t the best parental reaction to such a statement, but her father and I laughed so hard that we almost fell off of our benches at the dinner table. Literally, we couldn’t get ourselves under control and all three kids looked at us like we were insane. We couldn’t even find the words to tell them why we were laughing. We just laughed and looked at each other and said, “It’s so much more fun being the parents of teenagers than being the teenager.” The more she tried to defend her statement (since she was utterly confused by our laughing reaction), the harder we laughed. That’s what it is to be 37, I guess.
I know, I know. I’m not 37 yet, but I will be tomorrow.
I also heard something on the news yesterday that caused me to dissolve into giggles. Did you know that it’s possible that up to twenty people have touched that apple before you buy it at the grocery store? Gasp! Can you imagine the horror? People live in this world with you! And they touch things that you touch! I can’t believe it’s taken me 37 years to arrive at this astounding discovery. I think maybe we should all cut off our hands and surgically install hooks or something. Maybe that would keep germs from spreading.
Anyway, happy birthday to me. In trying to avoid my usual descent into the netherworlds of introspection on my birthday, I plan on going to the grocery store and touching every single piece of produce in the produce section. Imagine how connected I’ll feel to the rest of humanity.
And I do not plan on lining up around the block for the mass vaccination going on down at the health clinic.
Whee! If a person is going to be 37, they might as well touch and laugh and get sick and stuff. That’s what I say.