jianantonic: (Seahorse)

When I was a little kid, I had an uncle I could always count on to slip me a $1 bill whenever I saw him. Uncle Arthur was my maternal grandfather's brother, I think, and he and his wife Mina would always visit my grandmother when I was staying with her in Lynchburg. This was around 1988, when I was 5, and when a dollar actually had some purchasing power. At least for a 5-year-old.

There wasn't ever a whole lot to do at Gramma's house. She only had 4 channels on her TV, and they were all the news. So I filled my time by walking around her neighborhood a lot. I was allowed to walk the 1/2-mile or so to the stores at the end of her street. I would spend my dollars one of two ways: the craft store had embroidery thread at 5/$1. If they'd invented any new colors since the last time I was there, I would snatch them up for my one-child friendship bracelet factory. It never occured to me that such stores might also exist in Charlottesville -- for me, visits to Gramma's were my opportunity to supply my business. The other option, if I was well-stocked in thread, was to take my buck to the Kroger next door where I could get donuts at 4/$1.

One day, Uncle Arthur gifted me a fiver instead of the usual Washington. The craft store had just hiked the price of my embroidery thread to 4/$1 instead of 5/$1, so as a form of protest, I took my business elsewhere. I spent all five of those dollars on donuts. Glazed, with chocolate frosting. And sprinkles. And I ate all 20 of those delicious treats in one afternoon.

My family has always embraced the philosophy of letting kids make mistakes and then learn from them, rather than preventative intervention.

That night, I broke out in hives. Gramma said it was from all the donuts. I was horrified to realize that I was allergic to my favorite food. I cried all night, partially because the itching was miserable, but mostly because I thought I'd never be able to eat another donut in my life.

And for years, I didn't. Eventually, after years of deprivation, I braved the risks for the sweet, sweet reward of processed sugary delight. And lo, the hives did not come! I was thrilled to realize that I was not allergic to donuts. Huzzah! Turns out, I was just allergic to twenty donuts.

jianantonic: (Seahorse)
Questions from [livejournal.com profile] noodledays. Comment here if you'd like 5 questions from me :)

Do you have favorite memory from when you were 11 or 12?
Oh gosh, those were like my most awkward years EVER. I think back on them and I'm just cringing at myself! But...probably the most fun I had during that time was inventing the game of doorknob tag while babysitting the Bloomfields across the street. It was easy to win because Aaron was too little to catch me and Elana would freeze in terror if you screamed at her, so I never got tagged, unless Emily was playing with us, too...she could catch me.

What's the most you'd be willing to pay for a shirt and why?
I won't pay more than 10-20$ for MOST shirts, but if I saw one that was really perfect (hilarious reference to something really important to me), I'd probably spend a lot of money on it. Up to 50$? And I've bought really nice tops (not really shirts, though?) for $80...

Who has been a mentor to you in your life?
My brother William was one of my first mentors. He is 14 years older than me and the last year that he lived at home before college, we were very close. He taught me lots of things, some far too advanced for my toddler brain, but he was the first one to start shaping me into the bleeding heart hippie that I am today.
My grandmother, Marma, lived in our house until she died on my 15th birthday. Of anyone in my life, she has undoubtedly influenced me the most. She taught me about being a strong woman, about valuing education and knowledge, and loving games.
My cousin Allan lived with us during the summer when I was 13 and he was 20. He taught me about the world of music that you don't hear on the radio, and further cultivated those hippie seeds my brother planted. He and I remain very close, and we continue to inspire each other.
My husband has mentored me in bridge more than anyone else has, and he transformed me from casual player to fierce competitor.
My "little sister" Emily has been my emotional rock through every challenge I've ever faced, and has shared in all of my accomplishments and joys. Running is the main thing in my life for which she's mentored me, but I feel like she's got a hand in basically everything I do.

How many cookies are too many for you to eat in one sitting?
There have never been enough cookies to answer this question :)


What musical artist do you like today that you also liked 10 years ago?
Eddie From Ohio is the band that I have most consistently liked and like in the same way that I did 10 years ago...other artists that I saw in concert in 2004 and have seen or will see again this year are: Indigo Girls, Tracy Grammer, The Kennedys, Crooked Still/Aoife O'Donovan, We're About 9, Arlo Guthrie, Dar Williams, Ellis Paul...I'm sure there are some others, mostly Falcon Ridge performers.
jianantonic: (Seahorse)
A totally random and kind of ridiculous memory jumped into my head this morning on my way to work. I was listening to Phil Ochs' "I Ain't Marchin' Anymore," and I was thinking about how the generation just before mine never really had a good hippie cause. Vietnam was before their time and 9/11 and the ensuing political hubbub belongs to people my age (for better or worse...). People my brothers' age had the Gulf War, I guess. So I was thinking about that, and how I felt about it at the time, when I was 8 years old. My knowledge of it then was basically that Saddam Hussein decided he wanted to take over Kuwait, and so he invaded, and America and all the other good guys went to bat for Kuwait, and this was Operation Desert Storm, or something. Actually, that's still about the extent of my knowledge of the situation. Anyway, I remember knowing that we were at war, and that Iraq was the bad guy, and Saddam was the really bad guy. And it was on the news all the time so it was definitely a big deal.

One day in 1992, my friend Kathleen was over at my house playing, and we had the TV on while we were doing whatever we were doing, and I got up to go to the bathroom. A moment later, Kathleen burst into the bathroom while I'm on the can to tell me that "they killed Saddam Hussein! The war is over!" And I was so excited in that moment that I wasn't even pissed at her for bursting in on me like that. I didn't really get the whole war thing, but I knew enough to know that war was bad and we wanted it to end. And killing Saddam meant the good guys won. So Kathleen and I are jumping up and down and celebrating this thing we really don't understand, and then she goes "psyche!"

I don't remember the actual ending point of the Gulf War -- my Saturday morning cartoons were never interrupted with the breaking news announcement that the world was all back to normal. It just kind of stopped being the thing that was in the news all the time. As far as I could tell, America stayed the same, Iraq stayed the same, Kuwait stayed the same, and I guess eventually people stopped killing each other about it. (Or so I thought.)

I have no idea why Kathleen thought this would be a good prank, but she got me for sure, and I guess it just goes to show what was on our young minds at the time. We thought that would be our generation's big war. We had no idea...
jianantonic: (Seahorse)

There's a billboard near my house with a mother on it that says "How do I talk to my 13-year-old about alcohol?" Well, I was a goody-two-shoes kind of child, and a simple "don't drink" from my parents was very effective. Too effective, actually.

See, when my mother first talked to me about drinking, she just said that drinking was bad and my brothers were in trouble because she'd caught them drinking and she didn't ever want me to drink. Do you see anything missing from that sentence? Perhaps, the word "alcohol"? A sheltered five-year-old does not know what "drinking" means.

When my parents gave me milk at dinner the night after that talk, I didn't touch it. They scolded me for not drinking my milk and I cried. I WANTED to drink it, but they told me they'd be very disappointed if I drank. But now I was getting scolded for NOT drinking. So what was I supposed to do? Were my parents trying to trick me into breaking the rules?

I actually don't remember how this got resolved -- I only remember being terrified to drink anything at all. It's possible my parents figured out what was going on in my mind and explained it to me and all was well after that one dinner. But I don't remember that happening. What I think went down is that I remained terrified of drinking anything in front of my parents for a long time, and I would sneak up to Marma's apartment when I got too thirsty. I'll ask my mom about this incident, but I doubt her memory is accurate. She denies ever spanking me, for example, and seems to really believe that she never did. My memory is very different. Anyway, the point is, whenever you talk to your kids about drinking, make sure you don't traumatize them into dehydration like my parents did.

jianantonic: (Seahorse)
Perhaps I overestimated how busy I would be today. Or perhaps I correctly estimated how busy I should be, and I am choosing to blog instead. I'll let you guess.

I'll just do a day-by-day rundown of my trip.
with pictures! )
jianantonic: (Default)
Today is my friend Erin's birthday.  Happy birthday, Erin!  I've known and loved her since kindergarten, and I spent a long time flipping through my mental scrapbook for the best story to reference in the perfect facebook birthday message.  Of course I came up empty and just went with a generic "Happy birthday!" followed by some hearts to somehow pitifully communicate that her birthday is more important to me than just anyone's birthday.  Sigh.  I'm supposed to be better at creativity than this.

Shortly after I posted my totally cliche birthday wish, as my mind continued to dance through fourth grade, something came back to me that I hadn't thought about in a long time.  It's a good story, and I want it to be public, but I'm not entirely sure that I or Erin will be comfortable with it being available to the whole internet, so I'll just tell the story and decide at the end if it's going to need a friends-lock.  

I think this began in fourth grade, and I can't say for sure how long it persisted, but it was definitely an ongoing thing with us.  You know how days feel like months and yet still the years run together when you're a little kid?  My best guess is that this was a schtick we had going for about a year, mostly in fourth grade.  Possibly 3rd or 5th but it definitely didn't carry over to middle school, or I'm sure we both would've had lots more appointments with school counselors.  

Erin and I played a form of makebelieve where we were policewomen.  And the only thing we really knew about the job of police officer is that they write tickets for people who speed.  Somewhere early in our narrative, a strange little boy named Gene suggested that we shouldn't just be policewomen -- we should be naked policewomen.  In the years that followed, we would look back and laugh at what a little perv Gene was to suggest such a twist to our story, but the thing is, we totally went along with it.  We were equally pervy.  But this is normal for a 10-year-old, right?  On the outside of adolescence, looking in, full of curiosity...yeah, totally normal...

Now it was all makebelieve so just as we were only pretend policewomen, we were also only pretend naked.  But there's one more part of the story that makes it a little more disturbing.  For some reason, and I have no idea where this originated, our naked policewoman characters spoke very slowly, in deep southern accents, and called everybody honey.  It was the 10-year-old version of sultry.  The dialogue was always something like this:
"Hi, honey, I'm afraid I have to pull you over."
"Oh no!  Not the naked policewoman!"
"Honey, I'mma have to give you a ticket."  We always drew out the word "ticket," as if it were some kind of particularly naughty euphemism.  Of course in real porn, this is where the action would begin, but this was basically as far as our story went.
It wasn't a very deep narrative, and it was pretty much the same thing over and over again.  One of us would bust the other one for speeding and write a ticket, all the while the speeder would lament her bad luck at being caught by the naked policewoman.

I don't think we were trying to be scandalous, and I really don't think we were very secretive about this -- I'm SURE our teachers witnessed this and wondered what kind of porn we were watching at our sleepovers.  But somehow we both made it through elementary school without awkward confrontations with teachers or counselors or concerned phone calls to our parents.  Maybe this kind of behavior really is completely normal for little girls that age.  Or maybe our teachers just wrote us off as beyond help.  Or maybe they were too disturbed to say anything.  I honestly have no idea how I'd react to such a situation.  Certainly I would be alarmed -- it REALLY did sound like we were taking our cues from porn.  I can't speak for Gene, but Erin and I honestly did just pull it all from our own ridiculous fourth grade imaginations.  

Neither one of us grew up to hold careers in law enforcement, though to this day, Erin has never pursued a driver's license.  I wonder if the prospect of being pulled over is just too traumatic...
jianantonic: (Default)
Just before 5th grade began, we had an orientation at school where parents and students were invited to come meet the teachers for the next year.  It must have been on a bridge night, because my dad went with me, and my mom didn't come.  Meeting new people and being social and being surrounded by 5th graders was never really my dad's scene...but the night did produce what is perhaps my all-time favorite memory of my father from my childhood.

We had a student teacher in Ms. Boyer's social studies class.  She was there that night, meeting and greeting parents.  She was not the most attractive lady in the world, and I wonder if that colored my dad's interpretation of her name.  When Miss Amos introduced herself to him, he started giggling.  A lot.  I knew he'd misunderstood her, but I didn't correct him, because seeing my dad giggle is a rare and precious thing.

When we saw Mom at home after the orientation, he was still giggling as he told her that I was going to have a teacher named Miss Anus -- and that he thought the name suited her quite nicely.  Dad was kind of a mean girl that night.  Miss Amos was a really nice teacher, and I hope she went on to have a great teaching career, and married a guy with a last name like Smith...

Random

Nov. 13th, 2011 10:02 pm
jianantonic: (Default)
When I was a kid, we used two terms for pooping in my household.  My grandmother taught me the proper language, and it was always a bowel movement or BM with her.  But the other word I used for it was "stinky."  As in, "Mommy, I have to go stinky."

I don't really remember when I stopped using this terminology, but I think I'm going to reintroduce it to my vocabulary.  I encourage you all to do the same.

PS -- did anyone else call it that, or is this something my parents made up?

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