Thursday, March 28, 2013

My Precious

I have a cedar chest in my bedroom that’s packed full of yearbooks and dried flowers and graduation robes and notes from my favorite college classes and other things I can’t currently list or even remember that I still have but clearly need to keep forever-and-ever-amen. I have similar personal-history flotsam and jetsam filling more than one cardboard box in my garage. The Boy (usually) refrains from saying anything about the presence of these boxes or the weight of my cedar chest as he knows it’s futile. I fall into the Wonder Women keep-it camp.

But from among all the things I have collected throughout my many years—and a good number of which I insist on carrying with me from state to state, house to house—what would I consider my favorite? What’s the most special? What do I truly treasure? And what was its fate? Do I still actually have it in my cedar chest or in one of the garage boxes?

The further away I get from the age of the new students I take under my wing every fall, the more I realize that teenagers are for the most part still very much children even when they’re in college. If I were to say that to my 14-year-old self, she would be quite offended, of course. So I won’t say it … I’ll instead claim that though they’re technically not from childhood, my pointe shoes qualify as my favorite childhood treasure.

I always loved my leather ballet slippers, but nothing could compare to the joy and pride I felt the first time I tried on a pair of Blochs. Going to pointe class always made me feel willowy and strong. Successfully executing a pirouette en pointe was exhilarating. Coming from pointe class, I was always giddy and flushed. I didn’t drink in high school and maybe it was because I had ballet … it was a pretty potent high.

I still have my shoes, my gels, and even some lamb’s wool in a little blue satchel I made in one of my classes in middle school. I can’t remember the last time I actually opened the lid of my cedar chest to look at the satchel or its contents, but I know it’s there and it makes me smile every time I think of those pink satin remnants of my teens. I toy with the idea of trading my lunch hours for a Tuesday/Thursday Ballet I (slippers only!) class just to see if I can somehow get back into adequate shape to put my pointe shoes on at home and maybe do a relevĂ© or two in the kitchen … but I always chicken out. I think I like preserving the mental picture of myself as a graceful, lithe young ballerina: I would hate to have that picture replaced by my own personal version of “Dance of the Hours” from Fantasia.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


When I moved back to my homeland and got a house of my own, my mother started showing up with Rubbermaid containers of my old stuff.  Containers and containers of it.  My letter sweater from high school.  Old letters from a pen pal that I started corresponding with in the fifth grade.  Old sorority t-shirts and composite pictures.  Dried flowers from boyfriends long gone.  Programs from junior high volleyball games.  Trophies from when I twirled baton(!!!) in early elementary school.  The list goes on and on.  My mother kept most of the things thinking that I would want them.  I went through them and laughed and smiled as memories flooded over me.  Then, I left those containers in a corner of an unused bedroom and forgot about them.

Part of me wants to toss all of it.  I know my mom kept all of the things that really mean something to her -- my poems from third grade, the cards I have sent her over the years, the paper that documents first time I wrote my name by myself.  I get why she saved all of it.  I am a saver.  Not a hoarder.  I am a sentimentalist.  I love looking at those sorority composite pictures and remembering everyone.  I have a happy memory of nearly every single person on that page.  However, I often wonder what those things would mean to anyone else besides me?  I mean, if I leave this Earth tomorrow, Superman is not going to want my old Junior Miss newspaper clippings.  Superboy will probably never care that I saved a ritual book from when I traveled as a consultant for my sorority.  Neither of them will pore over the stats books from when I broke volleyball records in high school.  Still, most of the things in those boxes will probably be saved for "someday" so that I can look through them again and run my fingers over the faces in those pictures, the engraving on the trophies, and the fuzz on the sweater and smile.

Saving Superboy's things is another thing entirely.  I am such a sap and I want to save everything.  He scribbled on a menu at a Mexican restaurant back in August and I had to physically restrain myself from tearing that menu off of the table when we left.  It is ridiculous, I know.  He loves art and painting and I have so many things that he has "drawn" or finger-painted and I just cannot make myself get rid of them.  Superman jokes that we will need a second house to store all of this "stuff" but he is almost more of a sap than I am about it.  I love seeing the hand prints we helped Superboy make during his first year of life and it makes me smile every time I walk past them in the hallway.  Those tiny little newborn prints nearly kill me.

Of all the things that I have, though, from my childhood, my most prize possessions are probably pictures.  I have Bear, sure, and a quilt my mother made for me when I was a wee little thing.  I love those things, but pictures hold a special place in my heart.  There is a picture of my dad and I when I was just born.  A picture of my mom when she was pregnant with my brother.  A picture of our whole family hamming it up for the camera at my aunt's wedding.  Pictures of my grandparents when their hair was not yet gray and they were traveling the world.  The pictures tell a story -- my story -- and I treasure them more than anything else.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

So long, Stuff.

I think I've said it before, but I'm quick to toss Stuff.  He and I are not friends.  I don't become attached to things that people give or create for me.  Instead of sweet sentimental gems, I see it as clutter.

I loathe clutter.

Seeing stacks of my girls' school papers on the table when I come home from work ignites in me a mini panic attack.  To avoid hurting their feelings, however, I'll hang their artwork or "A" tests and what have you on the refrigerator for a suitable time.  Then, when they aren't looking, I'll deposit their "treasures" in the recycling bin.  I'm a terrible mom.

Because I hate Stuff, I've never really wondered about my old childhood things.  Certificates of awards, softball trophies, drama club t-shirts...I haven't seen them in nearly 20 years.  Most likely, my parents tossed them at some point, but it honestly doesn't bother me.  I would probably have tossed them myself if I had them.  The only thing I truly hold dear from my younger years is my quilt which I wrote about here .

For me, it's not about Stuff; it's about memories.  Stuff comes and goes (quite quickly in my home), but the memories that I have from my academic honors, softball glory days, and drama performances will far outlast a piece of paper, an old trophy, or a ratty t-shirt.

Friday, March 15, 2013

I Wonder Why Fate Was So Cruel to the Women this Week?

At first I thought I'd just picked a bad topic . . . but soon I realized that misery had been unleashed upon the Wonder Women, all but me.  (Knocks wood, throws salt over shoulder.)

No, but seriously, my 3 compatriots are suffering some miseries, ranging from minor to major this week.  Please send positive thoughts and prayers their way, and let's hope we're all back to our old, posting selves next week!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Passing this week...

Hi there.  It's me, Super Jane.  Unfortunately, I need to pass on this week's wonder.  I'm so sorry, but my mind is mush. 

My littlest, Baby Angel, broke her elbow on Sunday night during a wrestling match with her sister in the living room.   She had emergency surgery at midnight that night and came out with 3 pins and a big, honking cast.  Life has been a blur since then, so I need a week to allow my life to return to normal.  Hopefully, I'll be thinking clearly by next week. 

Prayers and happy thoughts for my girl are appreciated!  Thanks! 

Monday, March 11, 2013

I Wonder About My Old Childhood Treasure?

I was discussing on facebook recently some strategies for how to deal with preschooler art.  For those of you who have not had the experience of living with a preschooler, allow me to explain - from Minute One of that first day of school, you Preshuss Darling will begin bringing home a metric ton of construction-paper-and-paste confections, the bulk of which (at least in the early years) are actually mostly created by their classroom teacher.  Eventually, the hallmarks of a toddler's touch will become apparent - a half-assed scribble here and there, the inevitable handprint turkey or butterfly (every darn thing has their little handprints on it) - and the art will become less the teacher's and more the handiwork of your unique little Snowflake.  And you will have to face the dilemma of determining what the the ever loving heck to do with all of it?  This PRIIIIIINT of your baby's HAAAAAANDS when he was just TWOOOO and one day he'll be a MAAAAN and his hands will be bigger than MIIIIINE and WAAAAAAAAAH.  What do you put aside to save forever and ever, for those days when your baby's a man/woman and you miss the little kid he used to be (knowing that it will just be clutter that your grown children will one day have to clean out of your house, after you've shuffled off this mortal coil)?  And what can you praise lovingly and loudly, and then slip secretly into the recycle bin at the first opportunity?

This discussion (I'm of the TOSS IT ALL school of thought) got me thinking about a rubbermaid container I have upstairs.  This container is full of preschool art, of pictures and handprints and I LUV YOO MOM scrawled in a child's hand across a notebook page.  The preschooler who created this art was me, and the rubbermaid was a "gift" from my mother who finally decided, about four years ago, that she was done trucking five of these darn things around every time she moved to a new house (which was often).  So she gathered her five children to her, and whispered, lovingly, sweetly, to each of us in turn: "Get your crap out of here now or it's going in the trash."

So now I have a bucket full of crap up there, and even in this latest move when I majorly purged our stuff in order to make it fit in a tiny little POD for the trek 2 hours down the highway, I was unable to touch that container.  I know I need to go through it.  I know I can probably toss most of it.  But it's kind of hard to look at something that has been lovingly cherished for 30 years, and just put it out with last week's papers, you know?  

Emotional baggage aside, it is kind of entertaining to look through the container, as in addition to my old art it also holds many things I used to treasure.  I have a Science Olympics medal which I won in the 6th grade.  I have the Math Counts trophy I won in 7th grade.  (NERD ALERT, am I right?)  I have the petals from a flower that my first boyfriend gave me, over twenty years ago.  (More like, I have an envelope full of dust that used to be petals.)  I also have in there the mix tape he gave me back in those days, which says on it "Name" (he wrote his name) and "Date" (he wrote Yes Please!)  I have my Girl Scout pin and my sash full of badges, with three or four that still need sewn on.  There are honors and awards and certificates, carefully pasted into a scrapbook by me - there is a sticker book that I treasured when I was five, and when I look at it I can still remember carefully organizing my stickers into categories in order to select which pages to put them on ("Prty" and "Animl" are two I recall).  That rubbermaid holds a lot of childhood memories, tied up in a bunch of stuff, and I don't quite have it in me to purge it yet.

I think if I had to pick, of all my dearest treasures, the one I most loved is not in there.  It is gone, forever, victim of my love for it.  Like the Velveteen rabbit, it got all loved up and kind of ruined, and eventually thrown away.  This treasure of which I speak is my Cabbage Patch doll - whose birth certificate I still have, though she is long gone.  I watch my own kid carry his disgusting, deflated, hole-covered, filthy Yellow Bear everywhere he goes, and I wonder if one day he'll remember it the way I remember that doll.  Boy did I love that doll.  

I toss my boys' art day in and day out, exclaiming over it and then putting it out with the recycling before it gets so heavy with emotional baggage that I cannot bring myself to part with it.  I jettison as quickly as I collect, lest I end up some crazy old sentimental lady with a house full of talismans, little pieces of her offsprings' childhoods that she could not bear to lose once she lost the children inside the adults they would become.  It's kind of my way of forcing me to embrace the present, to love whatever phase of life I'm in and not weep over the lovely ones I've left behind.  

God love it, though, that disgusting Yellow Bear will be with me until the day I die.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

On Music and MTV

Ever since I was a kid, music has been a huge part of my life.  I truly have a soundtrack to my life.  My dad passed on his love of music to me in a big way.  In the days of family vacations, we would always play music trivia.  We would name the songs, the artists, the year the song was released, etc.  My dad had all of this knowledge in his head and I learned so much from him.  He used to talk to us about arrangements, different genres of music and sampling.  I can easily name any song in one or two notes (given the song is from the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s).  I can tell you who sang it and who might have re-made it.

I did not watch a lot of television as a kid.  I did watch some childhood favorites, but the tv was mostly off in our house.  I do not remember spending hours watching MTV, but I do remember loving music videos when I got to see them.  I loved listening to the radio so getting to see the song made into a story was really cool!  I have quite a few favorites, but I will spare you the full list and go with these below:

Bon Jovi - "I'll Be There For You" or "You Give Love a Bad Name":  Hello, Bon Jovi!  I loved me some Bon Jovi.  "You Give Love a Bad Name" will always remind me of the juke box (remember juke boxes!?) at Pizza King.  I loved their videos and I mentioned these two because the videos were awesome.

Bruce Springsteen - "Born in the U.S.A." or "Glory Days":  I loved Bruce Springsteen.  He was the first record I got as a birthday gift in elementary school.  We had tons of records when I was a kid, but this one was the first that was MINE.  I loved his voice and the stories of his songs.  I loved "Born in the U.S.A." for the butt shot (it was on the album cover too!) and "Glory Days" for the kick-ass opening.  So good!

George Michael - "Freedom! '90" or "Faith":  "Freedom! '90" was just awesome.  Let's all just agree on that one.  The supermodels!  The amazing arrangement!  It rocked!  "Faith" is a personal favorite because I remember taping this song off the radio to learn all the words.  My cousin and I choreographed our own dance to this song and I loved George's voice.

MC Hammer - "U Can't Touch This":  Hi, this man can dance!  I loved this song and video for all of its cheesy glory.

Put any Madonna video here.  The Queen of all music videos.  There, I said it.

Prince - "Kiss":  He's provocative.  He has that falsetto.  I just love this song.

Sir Mix-a-Lot - "Baby Got Back":  Oh, Sir Mix-a-Lot.  I love this song.  It is so wrong on so many levels, but it is so, so right.  He dances on top of a big butt!  Also, I it makes me happy that he appreciates large buns.

I could seriously go on and on.  Poison, U2, Cyndi Lauper...the possibilities are endless.  Ah, the heyday of MTV surely was amazing.  The VJs, the anticipation of new videos and the countdowns.  I do miss that.

I should also mention that I still love MTV.  It may not play music anymore, but they have some fantastic programming.  Catfish: The TV Show is my new favorite.  I find it fascinating.  I also love any The Real World or Gauntlet or Duel (or any competition show where the characters act like idiots and compete in insane events).  I also love their True Life series -- I have learned a lot from that show and I have been shocked by that show.  You have to love that!  I appreciate the mindless entertainment of it and appreciate that MTV is still trying for some good programming.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


My parents decided to get cable during my middle school years.  Prior to that, I got my music video fix at the roller skating rink.  I remember skating round and round and round with my friends, trying to look super cool for boys while eating a rainbow snow cone from the concession stand.  The DJ would play songs through the speakers and every once in a while a music video would accompany the song.  The one that everybody stopped skating for? 

It was 1/2 movie, 1/2 music video.  It was edgy.  It was scary.  It was freaking Michael Jackson.  And, in that day and age, anything MJ did was incredible.  When Rin posed this question, Thriller was the first video that popped into my mind.

Faith was a very, very close second!  There really isn't much to the video...well, except for George Michael's incredible butt.  I just rewatched the video, trying to find reasons as to why I would remember this video with fondness.  Yeah, I got nuthin'...except for that butt (and I'm not typically a butt girl).

And finally, the last sound that really wowed us at Skateland was 'Fat' by Weird Al.  Everything that man did was hilarious to my 10 year old self.  It's so offensive now when I listen to the words and watch the video, but back in the 80s - when there was no such thing as being PC - it was all good. 

Ah, yes, Skateland on a Saturday afternoon is where I learned all about music videos.  Thanks for this wonder topic, Rin.  It's been a fun trip down Memory Lane!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

I Want My, I Want My, I Want My OK-Go

My parents were fairly strict - almost afraid of popular culture - and I was not allowed to watch MTV as a kid, because SIN.  By the time I was old enough to out on my own, it was no longer very musical on the old Music TV.  So the bulk of my music videos have come to me via blogs like this one - people linking to awesome videos that I just. have. to. see. (Or JUST! HAVE! TO! SEE!!!!!)

I've seen a fair few videos this way, though after a few seconds of most I just minimize the window and listen to the song.  But the quirky synchronized feats of the Chicago band OK-Go always caught my attention and kept me watching.  

This Too Shall Pass.  This video starts with a line of dominoes, which kicks off a Rube Goldberg machine that includes a lego RV, a guitar that "plays" glasses of water by spinning in a circle and clinking them, an old tube tv playing another famous OK-Go video that gets a hammer right in the screen, a barrel rolling down a ramp, a Delorean, and a glorious finish in which umbrellas, beach balls, and paper airplanes rain down over a warehouse floor while the band members (who have wandered around the machine lip syncing and have been mysteriously covered in paint) line up to be shot with paint cannons, and the members of the company hired to create the whole silly project stand on a platform and cheer.

Here it Goes Again.  The four band members use six treadmills to do a very intricate, if not delicate, dance while mugging for the camera.  Heck ya'll, this even includes a preview of the horsey dance from Gangnam Style, so that's proof that OK-Go did it first and PSY is just a poseur. (Gangnam Style is another fave video that I will cheat and stick in here - I enjoy it because I know that PSY isn't being serious but is making fun of rich jerks in Korea, and also, the horsey dance!  I taught my children the horsey dance.  That's what kids are for - to do party tricks for you.)

Needing/Getting is not my favorite song, but the video's another silly romp, this time through a desert in a car.  The band members play the percussion on the car itself by banging, slamming doors, and clicking the wipers, and then drive it along a sort of plinko machine so that tiny tiles can clink out a tune.  Then it drives down a ramp, with appendages hanging off the cars banging keys on broken pianos lined up along the route, whacking into poles strategically positioned to be banged in time with the music, and doing other various silly things.  It's not as good as the others because it's not a single shot, but it's in the same OK Go vein.

That'll do ya, for a Tuesday morning.  Check those out, and I can't wait to see your selections!  Or rather - CAN'T WAIT TO SEE YOUR SELECTIONS!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 4, 2013

I Wonder What My Favorite Music Video Is?

I certainly do not want my MTV. From what I can tell there are no current music videos to be found on the once-glorious and formerly addictive channel. But I’ve kicked my habit. Now it’s all fish and underage parents and ridiculousness. (Seriously. That last one’s a show title. Check out the schedule.) You can have it [haughty sniff from the old fogey in the room].

Back in the last millennium, the “M” still stood for “music” and I was a devoted fan. I was also a devoted fan of FM radio, so there wasn’t much in my teenage life that was better than watching the world premieres of videos for songs to which I was just starting to swoon when I heard them in the car or my room. And there wasn’t much in my college life that was better than zombie-ing out to “mtv after hours” when I needed a break from my all-nighter work on a paper.

There are two important points I need to make before I start gushing. First, I’m not going to even touch on any of Madonna’s videos b/c Her Madgesty’s oeuvre has, I’m sure, been the focus of many a graduate thesis in women’s studies, dance history, human sexuality, religion, iconography, cinematography, and musicology (but maybe not vibeology). And it’s not fair to the other videos if I include any of hers in this list b/c that’s its own Wonder: which is my favorite Madonna video? Second, I’m not trying to say these videos are the best videos. I’ll let everyone who has a Moonman keep it without argument. They’re just videos that transfixed me at the time and stay with me now ... ones I can replay in my head almost frame for frame. I saved my very favorite for last, but the other three are in chronological order.

a-ha’s “Take On Me”: How charming was it?!? It was a hand-drawn, life-sized comic-book romance in both black & white and color, complete with evil motorcycle dudes who had sidecars! And a hunky Norwegian guy with a pompadour and lovely cheekbones singing through the comic-strip panel to his new lady love. He’s a drawing! Now he’s real! Nope, he’s a drawing again! Look out, that crabby waitress is crumpling everybody up because lady love in the rad high-tops-and-skirt combo seemly ditched out on her coffee tab! And the climax where pompadour has to slam himself against the wall over and over to become real while lady love can only watch in anguish … what will happen? Hooray! He makes it! He’s human! Let’s watch it again!

Billy Idol’s “Cradle of Love”: How naughty was it?!? I would watch MTV for hours with my sister and/or my BFF J in the hopes of catching it again. It was just so relatable … who among us hasn’t asked to play some music in the apartment of an older, uptight yuppie stranger only to be so overwhelmed by the song that we had no other choice but to kick off our shoes (I know I’ve lost many a black pump in a neighbor’s goldfish bowl), steal his wine, strip, writhe all over his perfectly made bed, and then crawl across the apartment like a bad kitty to give said stranger a thank-you kiss goodbye before our British punk boyfriend came to collect us? All the while, Billy-as-Pop-Art snarled happily in the background. I was definitely probably not supposed to be watching it and I love it to this day.

Radiohead’s “Karma Police”: How mesmerizing was it?!? I have never been a big enough fan of Radiohead to buy any of their music but I’ve loved people who loved them and patiently allowed those people to spell out the multitudinous reasons OK Computer is the single best album of all time. I can’t recount any of those reasons because (shh, don’t tell!) I wasn’t so much listening as nodding with a half-smile on my face while thinking about something else. Anyway, Radiohead make some good videos and this one is the most disturbing. And genius, in my opinion. What other band has the cojones to put you in the driver’s seat for a slow-speed chase that continues in one take for over three minutes and only ends when you go up in flames as the person you were trying to mow down gets the last laugh?

Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”: How perfect was it?!? The black sand, the lonely waves, the off-kilter camera angles, the melancholy, the curled lip, the ice-blue eyes, the breeze, the chipped nail polish, the sexy indifference. I don't even need to continue to describe it because you're about to be playing it in your head on a loop for the rest of the day now. (You're quite welcome!) It’s my favorite video of all time.

MTV is dead. Long live MTV. Sigh.

Yes, I know there are other ways to get a video fix. Yes, I did seek out Lady Gaga’s canon online and her videos definitely helped me see what all the fuss was about. Yes, I realize that the world of music videos didn’t come to an end when I stopped paying for cable even though part of that decision stemmed from not needing MTV anymore since it wasn’t hooking me up like it used to. But there’s nothing like having all those yummy images sent right to you one after another without your having to type anything into a search bar.

So what’s your favorite video? And why didn’t I have any female artists on my top four?

Friday, March 1, 2013

I Wonder When I Became Such a Lightweight?

I never drank in high school.  I tasted beer once as a kid and thought it was disgusting.  None of my friends in high school drank.  I tried alcohol early in college but never got drunk.  Around age twenty, I made some new friends and became part of a different social scene.  Thus began my "drinking days".  Back in the good old days I used to be able to drink like a fish.  I mean, I could really put it away.  The first time I got truly intoxicated was with a good friend I trusted and he commented, "You have had a LOT to drink.  Are you sure you aren't drunk yet?"  It took nearly an entire bottle of tequila before I felt tipsy.  My name even went up in a fraternity house as an all-star drinker (my parents were so proud!).

The thing during college is that people are drinking to get drunk (for the most part).  I mostly enjoyed the buzz.  I still had to drink a lot to get there and, yes, I did enjoy more than a few nights of drunken debauchery.  It also helped that as a female I never had to buy alcohol for myself -- the boys were more than willing to share!

After college, I began a job where I traveled constantly.  I had two days off a month and I was strictly prohibited from drinking.  At all.  I mostly used those two days off to sleep.  The job was exhausting and excruciating and it was no wonder that three of the eight of us quit halfway through the assignment.  I like to think that we were the smart ones.  After I left that particular circle of hell, I joined the regular workforce.  I got an apartment.  I had no money.  Alcohol was something I could rarely afford.  I went out with my single girlfriends on occasion, but we only paid for one or two drinks for ourselves.  Luckily, I had attractive friends who managed to wrangle free drinks for all of us.  Still, where we live is not a place where cabs are used frequently and someone had to be the sober driver.  That usually ended up being me.  So, over time my tolerance for alcohol dwindled.

I met Superman and we would enjoy a glass of wine at dinner or a margarita here or there.  We rarely drank enough to get drunk.  I can say that has happened less than ten times for the two of us.  When we moved to the east coast, we visited many lovely wineries and I slowly built up my tolerance again.  We loved to share a bottle of wine on a Saturday night.  We would have a glass of wine with dinner or a beer or two while grilling out with friends.

Then I got pregnant.  Obviously, no drinking during that time.  Even if I could have had a drink, I was so sick that I could barely stomach crackers.  Forget a glass of wine.  *gag*  Then the exhaustion of a newborn meant that even a small glass of wine would have put me to sleep immediately.

I am telling you all of this to get to a point here, I promise.  The point is that I can get completely hammered from drinking just a little bit anymore.  For example, Superman and I celebrated my birthday by visiting one of our favorite restaurants.  We sat at the bar, watched basketball and had a few drinks.  I had a couple of beers and we shared a shot (I know that sounds lame, but Superman had to drive home and the mere idea of doing a shot makes my stomach turn).  By the time we stood up to leave, I was           d-r-u-n-k.  I was giggly and feeling fine.  By the time we made it home, I had mostly sobered up, but the point here is how in the world did I become such a lightweight?  I guess it was the passage of time and me getting old, but man, college me would be so disappointed.