Posts Tagged ‘childhood’

A Dream So Vivid

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016

I kneel in the dormer window of my childhood bedroom, but I’m an adult wearing a white, flowing nightgown. I am frantic, trying to shove the plastic window shade into the corners of the window panes to block out the streetlight streaming in around the edges of the shade. The edges won’t stick or wedge in, and the light is a shining pool across my face, body, and carpet. I am not sure if I am trying to block out the light from shining on me, or keep people from looking inside.

Suddenly, I’m downstairs in that same childhood house, dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and my black hoodie. Except the downstairs is no living area, but a black-walled, red-lit rock venue, with a stage and booths, and high black, industrial ceilings, almost warehouse-like. I am sitting across from an aging musician, black-clad himself. He is handsome but no longer young, a bit worn about the edges like a well-loved, subversive book. Looking more closely at him, the lines and years are more apparent. He works there. We discuss the sound for an event, raising our voices over the song playing out of the speaker above us.

We walk around the room looking up at the ceiling and he shows me the locations of speakers and wire. He stops under a gaping hole with jagged edges in the ceiling above us, points it out to me. “We call it the Dungeon,” he says with a wry smile. It appears as if a large object has ripped through the ceiling above. Through the hole, I can still see my bedroom bathed in the light of the streetlight. I wonder what caused the hole; What could have fallen through and created a hole so wide?

Something changes suddenly, in the way that change sometimes cracks time wide open, and I have to perform onstage. The stage, though, is across the room in the opposite corner, and I realize that whatever came through the ceiling created a massive crater in the concrete floor of the room and the hole is full of bright blue water, aquarium-like and brightly lit. I stand at the edge, and notice dark shapes moving smoothly through the water.

“Sharks,” I think to myself.

There are probably three of them, maybe four. As they cut through the water, one and then another jump out of the water in an arc, then make a smooth dive back under, continuing to circle the pool. I realize I have to make my way past the shark pool, and on to the stage at the other side of the pool. My breathing picks up. I look around for ways to get around the pool. There is no overhang between the walls and the edge of the pool, nothing to tightrope walk across. The man tells me we have to go on. We? I look to my right. Ty Segall is standing next to me. “I know how to get there. You  have to go through the sharks,” he says. He is shorter than I realized.

The panic is rising in me, but he says, “dive” and plunges in, a clean California surfer’s dive, and I feel sick, but dive in after him, my head feeling like it will explode with the pressure. I do not feel like I am cutting through the water like a swift, smooth shark. One of the sharks bumps me as I swim frantically, my arms feeling no propelling traction or friction, my clothes weighing me down. I am tiring and running out of breath. I see a shark coming out of a halo of bright light, straight towards me, as my hand touches the far wall, which is only the black-painted wooden edge of the stage. I haul my torso up over the lip of the edge, and kick my legs like a child learning to swim, trying to push my hips and legs up and over. I get a leg up and then just as I see a shark coming at me, pull the last of my leg and foot out of the way. The shark strikes the wall and I feel nothing, but imagine a thud. I roll over and lay on my back, sucking in air, then hear someone yell, “Watch out.” I see the shark jumping out of the water at my face, it’s teeth all red and white. It’s dead eyes must be fixed on me, but they show no recognition or light.

I wake up terrified, lying in cold sweat, the dream as vivid as a movie, so strange a dream that it awakened me so violently that I thought it must mean something.

It must mean something.


Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Todd took Rollie to Monster Jam last night and when Tills heard they were going, she was a little upset. So, my sister and I decided we’d take the day and drive to Cleveland to take her to Babyland General. (We took Dash, too. You know. To see if he’s gay or not.)

Now, neither of us had been there since we were little girls, and admittedly, we were pretty excited. We had “Adoption Dolls” as little girls, before Xavier Roberts sold to Mattel and they renamed them Cabbage Patch Kids, and they were like magic. It is funny now to think how all the moms and daughters of the 80s drank the kool-aid on this one: These dolls are really nothing much to look at. Some of them are damn ugly. (Lisa, I’m looking at Tiffany!) But there was something completely magical about them. I can still remember getting my first one (a knock-off named Stephanie.)


This is Lisa and Me, Christmas 1981. I am not sure if we got Stephanie and Samantha this Christmas, or if they just came downstairs with us on Christmas morning. (Yes, this was also the year we arrived in the future and got an Atari! And I got The Black Stallion Breyer horse. A magical Christmas, all in all.)


And here I am a month later, on my birthday, holding both of the girls before opening my gifts. Lisa and I played with these things So. Much.

And I can remember loving her, and wanting another! I remember going into the toy shop in downtown Alpharetta. (I forget what it was called – maybe the Indian Trading Post? It had an old cigar store Indian out front.) I would go in that shop, and look at all the “real” adoption dolls they had in there. I think part of the magic was that there were so many different colors and combinations of eye and hair color, and they had real baby clothes on, and they were given real first and middle names, just like real babies, and when you adopted one, you got a real birth certificate, with baby footprints and your name signed on it, and their birthdays and everything.


So, in the end, i ended up with one knock-off, who was my first, and whom I loved just as much as the next two. Stephanie Lynn was later joined by Minerva and Betsy. (I think those were their names. Guess I need to check the birth certificates.) I suppose i remember Stephanie’s name because i named her myself. The other two came with laminated tags on their hands that had their names Sharpied on.) Minerva was a redhead, and Betsy (?) a raven-haired beauty.

Anyways, I digress, but the point of all this is to say that being a parent is hard and sometimes infuriating, sometimes scary, sometimes sad. But sometimes it is wonderful. Taking your child to do something you did as a child, or teaching them to fish, or seeing them touched by magic that you can still remember and feel? That is one of the most special parts of parenthood. Yesterday was one of those days.

Snowsuit Sound

Monday, December 13th, 2010

Snow, even flurries, in Atlanta never fails to remind me of being a kid in Fairport, New York. We lived there for two years when I was in 2nd and 3rd grade.

Seems like I spent all my time in the winter as a kid wearing a snowsuit and boots, sledding in the front yard, or ice skating at Potter Park. (Think that was the name.) When you walk in the snow, dragging a sled behind you by a plastic handle, your snowsuit rubs together and makes a little whicka-whicka-whicka sound. Which is why my favorite Sloan song is “Snowsuit Sound.”

Funny, too, because my kids are just about the same age that Lisa and I were when we lived up there.

Dug up some pics of my snow boots:
(Weird. Just looked at my face, and i think Tiller makes that same face sometimes. I want to lock her in her room when she does it.)

Check out my sister’s bitchin’ snowsuit!
1980__winter 001
We both had orange sleds. The boy up the hill from her lived next door and I believe someone told me he was a doctor now. He used to make a lot of fart noises and try to poot on me while we watched cartoons. Him being a doctor also explains why he is not on Facebook. Almost no one I know who is a doctor is on Facebook. Or if they are, they are never on it.

Totally bummed I can’t find a picture of my red snowsuit with the bars on the chest. This is me on my sled, though, next to Karen Rapp, who lived two houses up. We played Snoopy together a lot. The taller dark-haired girl was one of my babysitters, Sarah.

Oh, wait! Here we go!
1980_latefall_me 001

Good stuff. Kind of makes me sad my kids might not get the full day of sledding, or building snow forts, or tapping trees for maple syrup. All very fond memories for me.

Oh, God. Black hole of photos tagged with Fairport on Flickr!

The Wegman’s where we shopped for groceries!
Fairport / ER Wegmans

The Mushroom House we used to pass on my way to softball.
"The Mushroom House"
Totally cool!

Found those while trying to find a picture of the park where we ice skated. No luck. Guess that’s a sign from God that I should actually get some work done and stop messing around on the Internets.

Time Warp

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Things are so different now than they were when I was a kid, but then i am always surprised that some things stay the same.

Rollie: Indian name - Walks with Pumpkin

Rollie’s class went on a field trip to a farm. They did a hayride, and made corn husk dolls, and Rollie got off the bus wearing an Indian feather headband, and carrying a pumpkin. (Or Punk King, as he called them when he was little.) And, instant timewarp, it was like Alpharetta First United Methodist Kindergarten, 1978, all over again.

I am bummed I can’t find the picture of me in my indian headress and with paint on my face. I know I have it here somewhere. . . Mom?

I have to admit that I was surprised that they still do this. I would have thought that someone would have complained about how offensive it is for 6 year olds to dress up like Indians. Me? I remember that i just thought it was the most awesome thing ever. Hope Rollie felt it too.

I love a good time warp.

For Roswell, and for Spanky. RIP.

Friday, September 11th, 2009

A friend of mine is being buried today. I could not make the funeral and I am sad about that. I know that there are others who couldn’t make it either, but that we are all there in thought and, some of us, in prayer.

Charles (we all called him “Spanky”) was not a close friend, but he was a friend, nonetheless. He was a boy who was in my classes. He was a boy who was at parties, who gave great hugs, had a big heart, and was quick to laugh. Charles’ laugh was so distinctive that I can still hear it in my head, clear as a bell. After twenty years, I can still hear his laugh like it was yesterday.

Last Saturday, Charles shot his father, and then he shot himself. The grief one feels over a friend killing themselves is overwhelming. The grief of knowing that someone you cared about took a life, much less the life of someone so close to them. . . that grief is almost unbearable. It makes you want to sleep to escape the thought of it. It makes you want to climb right out of your own skin to stop feeling it. You don’t want to imagine the grief of a mother, a sister suffering the pain of such a loss. And yet you cannot get away from it. It permeates everything.

You try not to think about it, but you can’t stop. It keeps you up at night, wondering how it turned out this way. You think, here I am, with my loving husband, my wonderful children, and my happy home. Here I am twenty years later (a blink of an eye, really) and where did Charles go? What happened to him in the last twenty years?

I cannot reconcile the boy I knew with the picture in my head of the man he became.

I have thought of it hourly for the last five days. I have wondered how it was him that ended up with an addiction. There were so many of us, and so many of us did more than we should have, and what made him the victim of addiction? It could have been any of us. “There but for the Grace of God go I” is on a loop in my head this week. I have thought about God, and heaven, and forgiveness. I have thought about whether there is an afterlife, and if it is punitive, or if it is a place where we all will find forgiveness, solace, and peace. I came up with no answers, save one: We are all so intertwined.

When I think of the community I came from, one that is grieving from top to bottom, one that was touched in so many ways by this one family, I know this: We are all intertwined. The things we do have an impact. Sometimes that impact is not seen until we lose a piece of ourselves. And then it breaks down and we are so very aware of the gaping holes in our lives. This one boy with the unique laugh was a friend to so many of us. He was a son, a brother, a cousin. And his loss and the loss of his father are felt so very strongly by one community today. The one thing I know is that we are all stronger for having known one another and that each and every one of us can never forget that we hold those that love us in the palms of our hands.

This is for the town that I have scorned. The town that has changed so much over the years and which I was so glad to have left. But that town is not just growth and development and a homogeneous population. It is the town where I grew up. It is a community, no matter how far flung we all our now; Deep down, we are still those kids that walked to school through an old cemetery to sit in run-down classrooms together. We are church groups, and football teams, and kids who sneaked into neighborhood pools together. We fought at the water tower. We are a bunch of kids in the McDonald’s parking lot on a Friday night, waiting to see where the party would be that night.

This is for Roswell, a community that lost two of her own this week, and who is the lesser for the loss, but the greater for having known each other.

Another friend sent me the lyrics to this song. I have heard from distraught friends all week long. It has hurt my heart, but reminded me that I came from somewhere, that we all came from the same place. That when one of us hurts, we all hurt.

Adapted from the Will Oldham song.

Adapted from the Will Oldham song.

And the original:

Don’t Mess With My Tutu

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Things here in Dogwood Girl world have been a little wild lately. This whole year has been a roller coaster, but the commencement of school has really amped up our schedules. Oddly, though, in the midst of all of the rushing around to practices and stores to find shoes and helmets and gloves and bats and tutus, there have been these wonderful moments where I am struck by deja vu. I have been here before. I have felt this joy. Parenting is funny like that: You reach a milestone in your child’s life, and it brings you back instantly to that time in your own childhood.

Tiller started ballet last Thursday. She takes it at the rec center here in town. The minute I walked in there, I was rushed back to the old rec center at Wills Park in Alpharetta, the one next to the awesome wooden playground thingie – the ultradangerous one, with a bridge that went over a creek and lots of holes high up on the structure for little kids to fall out of. We never did. We also never injured ourselves on that fast merry-go-round; we just went faster and faster, squealing our guts out. Pretty sure those are gone now, replaced by some safer, more plastic, less wood and metal playground, with sustainable mulch or some such crap underneath it. I used to take baton twirling there at the rec center. I think it was maybe only one room, with some public restrooms. As soon as I walked in the dance room, i was brought back. Tutus and tights and little black patent leather tap shoes with ribbon laces. Pale pink ballet slippers.

I had been told that Tiller should ‘wear something comfortable” that first day. She had on shorts and a t-shirt. All of the other little girls wore tutus and had their hair in ponytails or buns. Most of them had their own shoes.

Ballerina Parent Fail.

Tiller didn’t even notice, though. She doesn’t realize yet that her mother is a Bull in a China Shop who never took more than one year of Dance. I was hideous. To this day, my photos from that one year of ballet and tap, taken in a studio that I believe was in the upstairs over the Indian Trading Post toy store in downtown Alpharetta, right across from Milton High school, are still the most-commented-on of all of my childhood pictures. (They do not, however, compare to the still-much-discussed naked run around the parking lot photo from a college game of truth or dare gone awry.) People think they are hysterical. So, before someone leaks them, I will share them here on Dogwood Girl, for all the world to see.

This is me on the left end of this group. I want to say the girl next to me is Heather Flack. Not sure who the other sad girls are. . . . It appears that the red monstrosities are what you wear for tap. I can still feel the material these little numbers were made of . . . .


Okay, this next one is me in. . . I don’t know what this getup is. I think this was the ballet number. Because nothing says graceful ballet like a CountryBumpkinVaudevilleShowgirl costume. Who comes up with these? Nice lipstick, huh?


This is the one that people really dig. . . Look at that poof in my hair. Yes, that is mom’s attempt at giving me a Dorothy Hamill, but I have curly hair, and it never did work. See that polka dot trim? It itched like a motherfucker. Red lipstick on a five-year-old is classy.

1978ca_me 001

Now, this post is about how parenting reminds one of their own childhood. And one time that I was really struck by this was when I took the kids to Tucker Day last year. Tucker Day is for all the world just like I remember the Alpharetta Parade being. Tractors, and farmers, and bands, and groups like baseball teams and dancers. Yes, I believe that my dance troupe was in the parade, and I seem to remember wearing the above red and polka dot-trimmed outfit, while this next picture was being taken of my sister and my cousins, who lived right across the street from me back then. (Yes, I told you I was Southern. Southerners live across the street from their cousins, people!) Mom evidently parked the red Caprice Classic station wagon, with wood on the side, in the filling station parking lot near the Food Lion. (Food Giant? I get those confused.) The one on Hwy 9. She propped Graham, Adam, and Lisa up on the hood, and gave them a couple of bottles of Coke. Please note Lisa’s lionhead. (See also: The Lionhead Files.)


This next one is prompted by Rollie playing t-ball. This is my softball team. Before that, I played t-ball with a bunch of boys, and one other girl, Ashley Marvin. Now, I don’t remember exactly why i played t’ball with a bunch of boys. But this next picture is from a softball team I played on. We had an after season party at Ashley’s house. Ashley had an awesome old renovated house near Crabapple, and a pool. Also, please note our totally trippy 70’s-style Fulton Co. Parks and Rec shirts.


This final one is just one of my fave pics ever. It is of the spectators at one of my b-ball games. I guess it was when I played on the boys’ team, because my cousin’s mom is there. I LOVE this picture. The folks are sitting on the bleachers at Wills Park. I guess it is cold. Maybe my dad took the picture? My mom is standing to the left, in the plaid pants, smoking a cigarette. The blonde next to her is my cousin’s mom, Connie. That is Adam in her lap – I love that he is twirling his hair, like he always did at that age!.  To my Mom’s left is my sister, Lisa, sitting next to my Uncle Harry, a.,k. a Gran, my grandma Smith’s brother. His wife, Virginia, or Bubba as we called her, is sitting the next row back. You can almost make out her reddish hair. Would love to know who some of the other folks are.


Now we have the metal bleachers, but there is still that same feel at practices. I am looking forward to enjoying some of those after-game ice creams, and to watching my Tiller keep herself occupied around the field while Rollie plays this season.

Beater: A Creepy Childhood Memory

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

So, not sure how this came up last night, but it is scary and funny all at the same time. Growing up, we had this guy living with his parents down the street from us. He was probably somewhere from 18 to 25 and he was ultra strange. He had an arm that didn’t work, and it would just hang at his side as he walked down the street past our house. I never saw him drive. He would just walk down the street back to his house from where ever he had been, carrying a brown paper bag in the good arm. Never knew what was in the bag.

So, we always thought he was scary, and he rarely talked to us kids. We never talked to him. If anything, we moved away from the street edge of the yard when we saw him coming. Even at ten years old, a kid senses when someone just ain’t right. Turns out we were right on the money.

A little girl was selling girl scout cookies one day. She rang the guy’s doorbell. He came to the door wearing nothing but a towel. He stood there and stared at her, then dropped the towel. Eeewww.

Then, another time, he got caught playing with himself while watching kids play at the pool! Double eww.

My memory is fuzzy, but I want to say that there was another time when he may have asked us kids about the girl that lived next door to us. As in, “who is that blond girl?” Creepy!

All in all, I am surprised that there was no parental outpouring of hatred for this guy. I tell you what, though. Kids are mean as all get out. What did we call him?


I don’t know why that makes me laugh now, but Todd thinks it is funny, too. (So, maybe there is something wrong with both of us.) Also not sure why i had to write about this, but it is part of the landscape of my suburban Atlanta childhood and I didn’t want to forget it.

Just Like Kids Again

Monday, March 16th, 2009

When I was a little girl, I used to go visit my Grandma Smith in the summers. She lived in an apartment complex in Chattanooga, Tenn. Mom grew up in Chattanooga. Mom would pack me and my sister up in the red Caprice Classic station wagon and we would go spend a few days with Grandma. This was the most fun ever for my sister and I, as everyone knows that Chattanooga is the epicenter for kitschy tourist traps found on those pamphlets in motel lobbys, Howard Johnsons, and rest areas.

We would go to Rock City, ride the incline, and get candy from the candy shop at the top of the incline. See, we had the hookup, because Grandma’s best friend worked at the candy shop. Fudge and rock candy. Ahhhh. In the afternoons, we would swim at the apartment pool, while mom or Grandma and Aunt Dot watched us. Grandma and Aunt Dot did their laundry in the laundry room in a room right off the pool area while we swam. This is also, I assume, where they kept the liquor. Now, i don’t want to question my mother’s parenting, but she would let grandma watch us swim. I never ONCE saw Grandma swim in the pool. I assume she could swim, but have my doubts as to whether she could retrieve either me or my sister from the bottom of the pool if necessary, especially without putting down her drink or getting her cigarettes wet.

My favorite thing to do, though, (other than go to the castle, which was a toy store near Grandma’s, with a castle facade and an awesome board that counted down the days until Christmas, and where I would buy a Breyer horse every time we visited) was go to Lake Winnepesauka.

Lake Winnie is awesome, even though they have a really shitty website. It is an old school amusement park, and has been open since 1925 and is still run by the grandchildren of the original owners. It is pretty much a family tradition now, as my grandparents, my mom, and me and Lisa all grew up going to Lake Winnie. I have not taken the kids there yet, but can’t wait to do so.

It has a pretty famous old wooden roller coaster, the Cannonball. It has my faves the Himilaya and the Tilt-A-Whirl. It has Leelee’s fave, The Scrambler. A boat chute. An awesome merry-go-round (that was originally at Lakewood fairgrounds in Atlanta). A great haunted house fun house, skeeball, all set around a lake (that I believe used to be a swimming pool before my time) filled with the biggest damn carp ever. Paddleboats. It is very old-school, and family-oriented. I heart Lake Winnie. I cannot wait to take the next generation there. I think Dash needs a couple years and he will be ready to party with us, too.

So, all of this is to say that we took the kids to one of those temporary carnivals at a nearby mall. OH. MY. GOD. Most fun i have had in years. It was pretty awesome to see so many of my neighbors there, and kids from Rollie and Tiller’s schools. Met my sister, BIL, and nephew, Dash there, too. Dash was unimpressed by the rides, but did like the lights and the music from the Himalaya.

Dash finds carnies fascinating.

Dash finds carnies fascinating.

Lisa loves the Ferris Wheel, so she rode with my kiddos, which is great, because those things make me really nervous. Sure, it made me nervous to see my babies riding, too, but common sense tells me that they will be fine, and I should stay on the ground and try to smile. I am pretty sure that if I was up there, my fear of heights would kick in and i would have a panic attack and they would have to pry me out with a crowbar, because my fingernails would be embedded in the ride. The children would be traumatized and need years of therapy. Plus, if you stay on the ground, you can eat cotton candy and hold the baby, and what is better than smelling a baby’s head while eating spun sugar? Not one damn thing.
Tiller fearlessly rides the Ferris Wheel with Aunt Lisa.

Tiller fearlessly rides the Ferris Wheel with Aunt Lisa.

Rollie rode the big slide thing with one of the twins from down the street (Sydney, I believe).

Rollie and Syd Slide

Rollie and Syd Slide

Tiller was too scared to ride it, so she went with the teacups. A classic choice. She rode with the twins, Leah and Sydney, and loved it. When their cup went by the carny, he would reach down and give them a huge spin, eliciting screams and laughter, along with a slight chance of whiplash. I have seldom been happier in my life than standing by my friends Lauren and Scott at near sunset, watching our little girls smile the widest smiles and scream the screams that only happy little girls can emit, all the while holding my nephew, who was mesmerized by the lights and sounds.

Tiller rides the teacups with the big girls.

Tiller rides the teacups with the big girls.

Money’s tight, so Todd and I picked a couple rides we wanted particularly to ride, and left the rest to the kids. When I say the kids, I really mean me, because I would have pitched the biggest fit ever if I couldn’t ride both the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Himalaya. Rollie was very brave and rode the Tilt-A-Whirl with me. I have to admit that I choked up a bit getting up there, navigating the metal platform to pick out a car with my son in hand. He was so brave! We climbed in, and all i could think of was what it was like to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl with my mom at Lake Winnie. I think I remember Lisa going one time, but now it makes her sick. (Or so she says.) There is something so cozy about leaning back with your arm around your kid and then when the ride starts, screaming your guts out and hoping he won’t puke on you. We actually rode with another kid, a little girl who had never ridden it before, about Rollie’s age, who was going to ride alone. (Her wussy mom was over there to the side with my wussy sister.) I sat in the middle and put an arm around each kid and we just laughed when we were going slow, catching our breath, and screamed when we went fast. I had forgotten that when you are little, it actually looks like you are going to run into the other cars whirling around, but Rollie and the little girl kept saying, “We almost ran into that one!” And that thing spins a lot harder than I remembered. I am sure it had nothing to do with the fact that i weigh sixty pounds more than last time I rode it. Nothing at all to do with that.

Lisa and I saved the best for last: The Himalaya. Lisa decided she would be scared and nervous to ride it. Just like the old days! I sat on the outside, so I wouldn’t crush her. We had a discussion about how the one at Lake Winnie must be bigger. Mom and Lisa and I used to all ride together. No way that we would all have fit into this new one. Again, had nothing to do with the fact that we were under ten last time we rode it. Nothing at all to do with that. Mark took pictures of us nervously waiting for it to start. Tiller and Rollie looked on with Daddy from the side, and danced to the music. Again, I felt a wave of emotion, hearing the loud music blaring and the siren going off when they hit top speed. You know how I love Kid Rock! They still play all the hits (Hey Ya!, Hot in Heerrre! Lisa, Todd? What else did they play?), but i am pretty sure they would make more money off us old fogies if they would play some Def Leppard, Van Halen, etc. I am pretty sure that the best job ever goes to the carny who gets to play DJ on the Himalaya. I mean, that, that is a job. Every time we went around, I waved at the kids, which is easy to do when your hands are in the air the whole time. Lisa had the bar in a death grip, all the while laughing maniacally. We screamed, and laughed our asses off, and discussed how we should just leave the kids and run away with the carnies.

Back on the Himalaya

Back on the Himalaya

Seriously, the most fun i have had in ages. Highly recommended for those stuck in a rut.

Can’t believe I haven’t updated in a week. Poor neglected blog.

Carnie Love Affair

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Dogwood Girl is not here. She renewed a love affair born early, a love of Tilt-A-Whirl stomach lurches, and Van Halen Himalaya rides. She and LouLou La Loush ditched their husbands and children and ran away with the carnival. They are carnies, now. They ride the Himalaya every night. They ride like the wind.

For the Love of a Monkey Pie

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

So, Todd and I listen to a lot of music in the car, and after a while, the kids will pick out songs that they really like. Remember when you were a kid, and you had a “phonograph” (at least, that’s what my family called it) and you played things over and over? For me, it was this little red and white-striped box that held a record player inside. You could fold up the box and carry the thing around. It was in our playroom forever. Even before that, my parents had a record player. It was actually a record player and an Am/FM stereo in a HUGE cabinet. You raised the lid and the stereo was inside. Awesome. It was in the living room, and one of my earliest memories is listening to one of those K-Tel compilations that had Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” on it. Played it over and over and danced in the living room. Later, in the playroom, i would play some of my albums (Macho Duck and the Jungle Book. specifically), but more often than not, I would play my parents albums (and later 8-tracks). I really remember listening to The Every Brothers Greatest Hits, Buddy Holly,  and The Beach Boys a lot. On 8-track, Linda Rondstadt was a fave. Bay City Rollers. The Eagles’ Hotel California. Elvis, Elvis and more Elvis. My mom loved her some Elvis. She was even a fan club member back in the day. (Membership card here.)I remember hearing Suspicious Minds all the time! I remember the day Elvis died, too. I came inside – had been out playing, and mom was sitting in the den blaring Elvis’ Heartbreak Hotel, and sobbing with tissues in her hand. Yes, my first experience with death and grieving was Mom mourning Elvis.

Another vivid childhood memory was Saturday mornings. My dad would put on Otis Redding, or some Stax/Volt compilations and do housework. I can remember Dock of the Bay being on, and then the sound of the 60s vacuum coming on, and shrieking as I jumped up on the couch to avoid the vacuum getting me; Cecil did not watch out for toes. Other important childhood albums: Dylan’s self-titled “Bob Dylan” with my mom’s friends writing all over it: “Virgin” for my mother’s name, Virginia. A bunch of Beatles and Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, the aforementioned Stax stuff, and Peter, Paul, and Mary. Hank Williams. Hank Williams, Jr. (also my first concert), a ton of Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. Sure, there was some crap: Abba, for instance. But mostly it was great stuff.

Where am I going with this? Well, i think back fondly on a lot of that stuff that I heard growing up. Especially now that my kids are inundated by media, and constantly singing some Barney shit, or wanting us to buy them Diego albums or whatever. So, we still try to listen to our stuff and hope the kids like it. And most of the time, they do have favorites emerge. Every few months or so, we will make them a playlist and now both kids have their own CD player in their rooms. They will play for hours and listen to music and sing in their rooms. I think this is awesome, because then I can also play somewhere else in the house without being bothered by the little pests.

So, Todd made them a cd a few days ago. Some of the stuff they like includes The Cure, Dr. Dog, The Ramones (Tiller knows most of the words to “Blitzkrieg Bop,” which is just funny), and their current absolute favorite is The New Pornographers’ “Letter from an Occupant.” Tiller makes up her own words and her version included a lyric that instead of the “Letter from an Occupant” line, sounds something like “For the love of a Monkey Pie,” which let’s face it, probably makes as much if not more sense.

You are probably asking yourself, “Does she really let her kids listen to a band with the word ‘pornographer’ in their name?” Why, yes. Yes, she does. Because kids never ask the meaning of words, they just like to say them. Rollie gets it right, and Tiller insists on calling them the New Photographers, which makes me laugh, and pisses Rollie off, which is always funny. We gang up on him and call things by the wrong names and he throws tantrums and we laugh at him.

We don’t get out much.