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.