Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I've Done These Things

I was working on a post in the wee hours last night and Blogger ate it. Sigh. It was too late then to start over from scratch and now things are going to be busy for the next several days, so in lieu of that (sadly) unsaved post, I had this sitting around as a draft and decided to post it instead. What's a girl to do?

I got this from LeeAndra at A Mom and Her Crazy Ideas... I will answer any questions about highlighted thing's in comments. Feel free to ask or comment about anything.

1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
2. Swam with wild dolphins
3. Climbed a mountain
4. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
5. Been inside the Great Pyramid
6. Held a tarantula
7. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
8. Said “I love you” and meant it
9. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped
11. Visited Paris
12. Watched a lightning storm at sea
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon
22. Watched a meteor shower
23. Gotten drunk on champagne

24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse of the moon
34. Ridden a roller coaster
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country
44. Watched wild whales
45. Stolen a sign
46. Backpacked in Europe
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Got flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage

85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date

89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents
93. Been on a cruise ship

94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
99. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over
100. Lost over 100 pounds
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lived in a foreign country
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident
150. Saved someone’s life

Well, there you have it. A smattering of my life experiences. Any thoughts?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Camera For Sale. Some Assembly Required.

I hate my digital camera. Well, sometimes.

This past weekend, I was getting ready to take the family photos for our holiday letter and I was this close to hurling the confounded thing at the wall. To say that my husband would have been a little upset is an understatement, since he spent a pretty fair chunk of change on the stupid thing for my birthday over a year ago. However, the temptation was nearly overwhelming.

First things first, though. Let me explain the background of photography in my life. My father gave me my first single lens reflex camera when I was 14 and I loved to take pictures right from the start. After choosing and loading the film, it was easy: choose the aperture, choose the shutter speed, compose the shot, focus, shoot, advance film, repeat. Simple. Drop off the film and then pick up the pictures. I was hooked. Over the years and as my interest in photography expanded to higher-end cameras, studio lighting, and medium format photography, the equipment became more and more complicated, but there was still the option to shoot simply by overriding all the fancy features and shooting manually.

Then, my husband bought me my first digital SLR, a Nikon that we'd been thinking about for a while. Now, it's not like I'm a Luddite. I'd actually been dreaming of it for ages and thought that I'd be ecstatic. Yippee! A good digital camera! After all, we had a digital point-and-shoot that we never used because the picture quality couldn't match the film that we were shooting, but now I had the camera in my hands that would change all that. Wow!

I started shooting with it and the honeymoon was quickly over. What was once a joyous pastime became a tedious exercise in menus, submenus, white balance settings, noise reduction settings, image opimization, format options, resolution settings, focus zones, ISO choices, downloading, labelling, sorting, burning back up copies, and so on. While there might be a few good things about digital cameras, having to spend so much time at a computer just to get a picture has yet to become appealing, which is why we have over 3,000 images on our computer now and have exactly 5 printed out. It was only one print until we printed out four more yesterday on our inkjet printer, which is a waste of time. Over a whole year of photos and, in effect, nothing to show for it, all the while with the risk of the photos being lost by an errant keystroke or two accidentally sending them out into the ether. Well, that and having our computer crash or the back up copies being damaged somehow.

To take a break from all this, I've picked up my father's 25 year old film camera again and have found that I'm loving the simplicity of it all, not to mention taking some of the better pictures that I've taken in ages. Point the camera, turn two dials, focus, compose, and shoot. So beautifully simple.

So, back to this weekend and my wanting to hurl this poor, undeserving, expensive camera into the wall. Turns out (after having to go out and buy a book about the camera to replace the AWOL manual) that the feature that I was looking for was buried in a submenu that 20 minutes of searching hadn't located. *sigh*

I hate my digital camera. Sometimes.

Tuesday, December 5, 2006

Touching Velvet

I was in a fabric store briefly the other day to check out one of the clearance bins and couldn't resist going over and running my hands over the velvet samples hanging on the rack. I'm very tactile and I really love velvet, so I couldn't help myself and had to touch it. It struck me that the name that I assumed for blogging was more appropriate than I had previously realized. People used to touch me all the time. My clothes, my hair, shoulders, back, arms, whatever.

Before you think that this is a post about sex, it wasn't that kind of touching. It wasn't grabbing or groping (I think people knew better than to try that), but people would just come up and touch me in a fairly non-threatening way. I never knew that this wasn't the norm for everyone until I was at a bar with several friends, knocking back a few beers and having a rather spirited discussion along the lines of "dontcha hate it when that happens?"

"Dontcha hate it when people just come up and touch you?" I asked. If this had been a commercial, this is where they would have put the "needle scratching across a record" sound effect. They all stared at me. The conversation started again and it came out that, apparently, I was the only one who this happened to. Even the guy who I was seeing at the time didn't really believe me. It was a startling revelation for me, though. I never knew that this wasn't normal.

Later, while my boyfriend and I were playing pinball, I was in the middle of a good game and felt some hands running down the hair on my back.

"Who's there?" I called back, unfazed and without taking my eyes off my game. An unfamiliar female voice answered.

"I just saw your hair flowing down your back and I had to touch it. Sorry!" Alright. Whatever. I was used to it and, to be truthful, it really didn't bother me. While I respect others' personal space, I'm fairly flexible with my own. She walked off and when I finally lost my ball and stepped aside so that my boyfriend could take his turn, he just stared at me.

"What?" I asked.

"I can't believe it," he said. I shrugged my shoulders.

"Told you," was all I could think of to say.

This all stopped when I moved to a part of the country where people will barely talk to you, let alone touch you. Here, heaven forbid you talk to the stranger next to you while standing in a line because they'll look at you like you just peed on the floor. Ah, it's just as well. My husband wouldn't be all that crazy if people still came up to touch me and it's been so long that I probably wouldn't be so crazy about it either.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Ghost of Christmas Past

I love the holiday season a great deal. I'm all about senses and Christmas has it all: the shining decorations and lights to look at, the seasonal music to listen to, the smell of cinnamon and pine, and the feel of velvet (as you may have guessed already, velvet is my favorite sensory experience... I would wrap myself in a cocoon of it if I could, but I digress).

Still, amongst the revelry, each year I go through a period of quiet, a time where I reflect upon past Christmases. Or to be more specific, one past Christmas. My family had a difficult time with this season for several years. I usually don't talk about it much, but if I can't talk about it here, then where can I?

This post is about my father.

As a background, my father and I were perhaps not that close. We loved each other very much, but he had no real idea how to relate to me at all, probably stemming from his idea that he, and he alone, had the answers. He was a good man, but there was much that we didn't agree on. Looking back on it, I can't fault him too much because his life as a refugee during WWII was not easy (from what little we could get from him about it) and it's a wonder that he turned out as well as he did. That said, I respected him a lot and loved him a great deal, but didn't share my ideas with him because he wouldn't have taken them into consideration anyway. That was our relationship in a nutshell.

One Christmas, over a decade ago, I travelled down south to visit my parents. I knew that it was already going to be a rough time since my grandmother (my mom's mom) had just passed away about six weeks before that. I wasn't prepared for what was to come. My father had been travelling for work and came home a few days after I had arrived, leaving us a few days to spend together around Christmas. Knowing that we had to find a way to connect in even the slightest way, we decided to go out bike riding. So, Christmas Eve day, out we went.

We had taken the mountain bikes into the woods the day before, but that day decided to stick to the streets. Not long into the bike ride, I looked back and my father wasn't there, so I doubled back and found him walking his bike. He didn't look well. He was short of breath, pale, sweating, lightheaded, complaining of a pain across his back and a tightness across his chest. He kept trying to shake out his left arm. Um, diagnosis anyone? Heart attack was my first thought based on the symptoms that I had learned in 8th grade health class. He rejected my suggestion with a dismissive wave of his hand.

I called my mother and she came to get him while I walked the bikes home. I paced the floor at my parent's house, even calling my (soon to be ex) boyfriend back home to talk to someone and tell him that I thought that my father may have had a heart attack.

Turns out that I was right. And the ER doctor was wrong. By the time that I got to the hospital the doctor was going to release him, but after talking to me, he admitted him "merely for observation." My mother and I spent the night at home and went back the next day. It took until 4:30pm on Christmas Day for a doctor to come in to examine my father. The diagnosis: he had had a major heart attack. They put him on oxygen and transferred him to Intensive Care until they could bring in a cardiologist, then told us to go home and have something to eat since the cafeteria had been closed on Christmas Day and we hadn't had anything to eat all day but a few packs of scavenged crackers. We had wanted to get out of our dress clothes, at least, since we dressed up for our "holiday in the hospital" in order to keep up my father's spirits. When we got home, we had barely walked in the door when we received the call. My father was really sick and needed to have a catheterization immediately to assess the situation and that we were to get back to the hospital as soon as possible. From that moment on, everything got worse.

Still in our dress clothes, we raced back to the hospital to sit in the empty corridor, awaiting news. My mother and I played "Hangman" in the notebook from her purse. Don't ask us why. We don't know other than to say that we could think of nothing else to do at that point, but needed to do something, anything, to calm our minds. Finally, the bad news. My father needed open heart surgery immediately, but they weren't equipped to do it there. He would have to travel over the border to a hospital in the next state that could perform the surgery. So there we were, Christmas night, going 80mph behind an ambulance, speeding across the state line, unsure of what even the next 12 hours would bring.

My father went on the operating table at midnight with a 50-50 chance of making it through surgery. We found a couch to sit on in the dark, crowded open-heart-surgery family waiting room, clutching sick stomachs and waiting to hear some news of how the surgery went. The nurse came to deliver the news around 3a.m. that my father made it through the surgery. We would learn over time that it was usually good news if the nurse came and bad news if the doctor came, especially if he or she brought you into the "little room" off of the main waiting area.

After three days, he was stable enough for me to go back to my parent's house to get changes of clothes for both of us and to finally take a shower. What a week, a whirlwind of highs and lows. My father was in the recovery room for nine days with all sorts of complications and setbacks. We witnessed heartbreak and joy for others around us. We comforted those whose loved ones didn't make it and celebrated with those whose loved ones were on the way to recovery. We rang in the New Year there. I made party hats for everyone in the waiting room out of wrapping paper and ribbons scavenged from my parents house. We had some cookies and hospital approved non-alcoholic beverages. We all did the best that he could under the circumstances.

Two weeks and many uncertain moments later, he was finally home, but the experience had altered Christmas for us forever. I wish that I had a Hollywood ending for this one, but I don't. My father had only 20% of his heart function left and didn't make it through June. He died the day after his 59th birthday in Atlanta, Georgia, while waiting for a heart transplant. It was right before Father's day.

The first Christmas after it all happened, still in shock, we chose to spend the holiday in Europe with my brother to get as far away from the memories as possible. By the second Christmas, we all spent the Christmas apart. I didn't even go home because, for the first time ever, it had never even been brought up. Instead, I laid alone on the couch in my central Ohio apartment in ripped jeans and a well-worn sweater on Christmas Day (this was during my six year "Midwest experiment"), nursing a punishing hangover from my attempt to self-medicate at my favorite bar down the street on Christmas Eve. The only thing that even hinted of Christmas was the small potted pine tree on the coffee table that I had decorated with blue lights. That year was the lowest that it got for me.

As the years went by, it became easier and easier to deal with the memories as grief turned to acceptance. More than a decade has gone by now and sadness has been replaced with peace and reflection. Sure, despite our differences, I miss my father, but life does eventually get back to normal. My mother has found someone who makes her very happy (as she promised my father that she would) and much joy comes from my own family now during the holiday season. Christmas is what it once was and is a season of happiness again.

Still, my father isn't forgotten. Every year at this time, I go through this quiet period, in memory of him and as a reminder to treasure the time that I have with those in my life. Christmas is again a happy, wonderous time, only perhaps now with more depth and thankfulness.

Monday, November 20, 2006

What's a Girl to Say?

"Mommy, what's bondage?" My six year old son asked me this question the other day.

Excuse me?

I'll have to say that kids have a way of catching you off guard. When my son was first learning his letters a few years ago, he was writing random combinations of vowels and consonants and one day he wrote the letters A-S-S... in chalk... on the driveway.

"Mommy, does this spell something?" he called across the yard. I walked over to check it out.

"Um, yes, it does. It says 'ass', which can mean either 'a donkey' or 'someone's backside', though the word 'ass' meaning 'backside' is considered bad manners to use around adults when you're a child." He thought about this for a second.

"Oh, okay, then I guess that we better say that it means donkey." Good idea, kid, but we'd better hose it off the driveway anyway. Honestly, though, I secretly think it's pretty hysterical that my son's first real written word accidentally turned out to be "ass." Still, I'm not telling the in-laws about that one.

And then there was the day when he and his brother were playing right after Christmas last year and I heard him emphatically say,

"Look at Santa's SACK!! Santa's SACK'S so BIG tonight!!!" (Gee, son, I hadn't noticed, I was looking at his face.) My son took offense to the fact that I was laughing so hard at him for seemingly no reason. Maybe it wasn't funny. Maybe I was just really tired and delirious. Either way, tough titty toenails, kid. You caught me off guard.

So, what's bondage, eh? I always answer my son's questions as truthfully as possible, but I felt that I needed more information.

"In what context?" I asked.

"In the Wizard of Oz pop-up book, it says that the house landed on the Wicked Witch of the East and released the Munchkins from bondage." Ohhhh, well... that one's simple.

"It means that they were slaves and had to do whatever she told them." He looked satisfied with the answer.

Whew. I'd hate to think that he was going to ask for a pair of handcuffs for Christmas.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Adventures in Discount Travel

Apparently, there are a number of buses that run between New York City and Boston for dirt cheap fares. One of the bus lines is Fung Wah Bus (god, I just love that name), which runs from Chinatown in NY to Chinatown in Boston for some super bargain fare in the neighborhood of $10 -$15.

Of course, you get what you pay for.

In light of the recent rollover accident in Massachusetts, maybe a name change is in order. Fung Wah Bus? How about...


Uh, no thanks, I'll drive there myself.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Anti-Mom

When my four year old son was sitting in my lap earlier today, I just had to think how astounding it was that I actually made this little person. Wow! Of course, that led me to think the other recurring thought that often comes to mind when I consider my kids:

"What sick god made me a mother?!" I mean, really, I'm not what you might call the "mommy type". I am the Anti-Mom.

I don't dress like a mother at all (they look so, well, old). The twill dress shorts of the suburban mom? Uh-uh. Not my style. Gimme jeans and harness boots. I'm not dressing like some pop tart, though, because that just wouldn't be attractive. I've had two kids... the belly shirt is out.

I don't listen to what the other mothers listen to and my kids don't listen to what other kids listen to. My kids listen to my music, which runs from Ella Fitzgerald and John Coltrane to Green Day and Beastie Boys (depending on the language/subject matter). I'd rather be playing Gilbert & Sullivan for them than the pap that's out there for kids. As teenagers, they're going to rebel and start blasting easy listening music on their stereos to spite me. I just know it.

My kids have never been to McDonald's (or any other fast food restaurants, for that matter), which probably falls under the Patriot Act. I have actually told them that it's very yummy, but really, really bad for you... this way I won't lose my credibility when they finally taste it. If I'd told them that it's bad, they'll never believe anything that I say again.

My kids don't watch "kiddy shows", but we do have some Bob the Builder DVD's... Bob is tolerable because it doesn't insult the kids' intelligence as much. I confess to having a crush on Bob at one point, but that was during a serious sleep deprivation stage right after my second son was born. Nothing a little sleep couldn't cure. We also have a few Sesame Street DVDs for their educational content, but I've so far resisted the charms of Elmo because, hey, it would never work out. Elmo is what, three? That's sick.

I don't act my age, thank goodness, which rules out my hanging out with most other mothers. I like to horse around like a kid when the mood strikes me and I would rather be playing in the playground with my kids than standing at the edge of the playground equipment like the other parents. I confess to having way more fun with my teenage nephew than with many, if not most, adults. I think it's just because I have more shared interests with him than with the "grown ups".

I'm not a planet revolving around my kids and husband. Please. It would be nice to talk about something else for a change. I want to show the kids that we're just four people in a bigger world with an infinite variety of things that exist outside of our family.

At the heart of it all, I guess, I'm just not a big fan of doing something just because I'm supposed to do it. I can't think of a worse reason for doing anything. I do things the way that I do because I truly want to.

And there we have it. My kids are stuck with the Anti-Mom. Tough titty toenails, kids! And, kids, hands off the video games... those are mommy's!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Back to School... Hello, Fall!

We (well, I, really) homeschool the kids and I just spent the better part of the day ordering books for the school year. I love shopping for books, so it was hardly a drag and it was made all that much easier by the fact that the only time that I had to lift my butt out of my chair during the whole experience was to get my wallet. Gotta love the internet. Anyway, I can't believe that it's only two weeks until "school" starts again! I always loved getting that new pack of pencils and the new paper and binders and new books at the beginning of the school year.

I can't believe that it's going to be fall in a matter of weeks. The growing season is coming to a close and cool weather will be here in maybe a month. It'll be time to start putting the garden to bed soon, so to speak. Well, maybe it's not quite that time yet, but it's almost here. It's just as well because I'm always a little tired of taking care of it by the end of the summer, but I guess that the work is the price you pay for wanting to have beautiful things around you.

As much as I love summer, I really dig fall. For one, my birthday is coming up... that's always good for a laugh (especially if you knew how old I was... ha!). Then there are the leaves crunching underfoot, the sweaters, the crisp mornings. I love setting up the firepit in the back and sitting around a roaring fire in the evening with a hot cup of mulled cider; sitting by the fire reminds me of camping with my family when I was young, which we did a lot. I guess I spent a good deal of my childhood smelling like a campfire. Now I actually enjoy smelling like a campfire. Ah, mais oui, what an alluring scent... to an arsonist, perhaps!

Then there's Halloween, the official beginning of the holiday season. I love the entire time from Halloween through New Year's Day, probably because of all the great memories of the holiday season from my childhood. Hmmm, that reminds me... I've gotta order more candles for the Christmas tree. Hey, once a misfit, always a misfit.

But what am I saying?! Snap out of it, girl!!

Whew, that was close. There damn well better be at least one more trip to the beach left for this summer. Pass me the sunscreen!

BONUS QUESTION: What thoughts does fall bring for you and why?

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

The birth of music appreciation...

I feel I should mention that I really grew to love Jeddah in the years that we lived there. I knew that I had been given an opportunity to see a closed culture, one that only certain Americans would ever get to see. After already having to leave all that they knew in Europe to move to a strange, new country, my parents were savvy about what it took to make the transition to a new country: don't expect it to be anything like the country that you came from. Expect the differences to be extreme. Learn from them, adapt, and then you can enjoy it. I took their advice to heart and it made a huge difference on my outlook.

Moving to Saudi was to change many things in my life, but one of the things that I found was an appreciation for a large variety of music. Up to that point, I got my musical tastes from the same place that everyone else I knew did, which was from the radio. But in Jeddah, there was a venue that changed my outlook on music forever: The 747 Superstore.

747 was a black market music company from somewhere in Asia and the 747 Superstore was full of racks upon racks of black market cassette tapes of music from all over the world (this pre-dates CD's). For about $2 a tape, provided you bought enough of them, you could load up a shopping basket with just about any kind of music that you could think of. What a deal! Well, provided that you weren't very particular about the quality of the recordings. Among their odd quirks were the "special guests" on some tapes where a couple of songs from another artist were added to fill up space (like "Depeche Mode" with special guest "The Police"... you get the picture). These odd additions were not always very well matched in music type and it could be a very jarring segue, kind of like audio whiplash. Sometimes the special guests were even better than the featured artist and you wished that you had a whole tape of them instead. Then there was the cover art. Sometimes it was censored or changed altogether (being considered offensive), so there was no guarantee that you would even recognize the album when you actually saw it back in the States.

The problem with music shopping was that I was searching for music in a place nearly devoid of western culture. No western music stations. No internet. No satellite TV. No magazines. Nothing. If you hadn't been to the US in a while, you had no idea what was going on in the music world (and for a teenager, that's a problem), so you had to rely on the Billboard charts that they had in the store. However, these listings were not always the right ones and were not always current. This led to a lot of random buying of anything that looked "interesting", which was a total crapshoot. If you got lucky, you would find something that you really liked and you would spend months listening to it, incorporating it into your identity (as is often done with music), only to find out later that your friends in the US had never even heard of it. Or the kids that you hung out with on your compound were from another country, so you ended up absorbing things from them. This isn't that great for fitting in with your peers in the States. Musically, though, it opens up a brand new world. And so it was for me, the beginning of the great search for new things to listen to.

This was only the beginning of my love of finding new music... the other big influences were hanging out at a college radio station when I was in high school and, when I lived in the Midwest, seeing a lot of amazing live music shows. But those things were in the future. In Saudi, the seeds were being sown and I was suddenly exposed to a wide selection of music. I would never worship the "Top 40" again.