I’ve come to the realization lately that I spend a whole hell of a lot of time sitting around thinking about how awesome things used to be. It’s so easy to do that, isn’t it? To only remember the awesome things from the past and especially when things in the present aren’t exactly as I would want them to be. So instead of wishing for something that I only partially remember, I’m going to have to start creating as much good stuff in the present as I can.
Again, I know I must sound so ridiculous, but for me, the only way I can ever hope to hold myself accountable to anything is to say it outloud.
My resolutions from January have been going about the same as the last time I cared to mention them. TV viewing is not getting out of control, I’ve been trying to spend as much time with the kids as I can (and I’ve had some extra time given Spring Break on my own). Book reading is up thanks to the Hunger Games trilogy and my making has been on the increase due to the fact that I’ve committed myself to an arts festival in May. Eating and excersing are really nothing to write home about for now. But having the farmers market back in full-swing is helping a lot. Correspondence is tricky. This is where I might get bogged down in nostalgia. Trying not to do that. And snarkiness is hopefully being kept in-check. I’ve been super good at not looking at news (and comments) that I know will do nothing but get me riled up. That has helped a lot.
So I think I still have a manageable list of things that I need to keep in-check and to keep working on. Adding one to be mindful of making the present as good as it can possibly be, and not spending a lot of time wistfully considering the fairly recent past, is not going to kill me. In fact, I think it can only help.
After we got the basement completed, we were able to rearrange furniture in such a way that our turntable now has a place in the living room. Among Brendan’s 45 collection is a set of 80s singles that includes Nena, Men Without Hats, DEVO and Weird Al. And then there are the Motown singles. It’s awesome. Our LP collection is a bit of a mish-mash including records I saved from my Dad’s purge several years ago, Beatles albums I purchased at thrift stores and other miscellany. Powering the turntable is my old stereo from college. Which also gives us a place to play actual CDs and TAPES! I think I have more nostalgia for tapes these days than I do for my records.
My dad had this one tape titled – 90 Minutes of Good Music. It was a mix compiled of tracks he had taped from records including Jimmy Buffet, James Taylor, CCNY and others. At one point I had it in my possession but since it was one of his favorites, I had to give it back. I did though, in 1998, make a copy of what were my favorites of his favorites. And today, I found it! I don’t know if Dad still has his copy of the tape (probably not) and I don’t recall exactly what all was on it anyway. But at least part of it survives.
There’s also a pile of CD mixes that have been just sitting on the shelf. Since our cars both have a hook in for the iPod, we rarely use them anymore. It’s like a little time warp, really. What songs was I obsessed with in 2002, 2003, 2004?
I’m dorkily excited about all of it. Of course, there’s no way that we’ll be getting out the entire CD collection again (it has all been digitized afterall), but I like the idea of curating a little selection.
For just about everyone, being 13, 14, 15, is hard. And for some, it’s very hard. Finding a tribe, a pack, a gang, is integral. For me, that tribe was Teen Leaders Club at the Western (nee Catonsville) Family YMCA. I do not believe that is is purely coincidental that the acronym for Teen Leaders Club is TLC.
I was lucky, my best friend at that time in my life was my cousin. She had a really good understanding of my quirks. The rest of the world, not so much. I would consider my middle school years among the worst in my life. I have little memory of how we stumbled onto Leaders – a friend of a friend perhaps? Who knows. The important thing is that it found us.
The group was in its very beginning stages; there were perhaps a half-dozen or so of us who came regularly. I began Leaders as a painfully shy, awkward teen. By the time I left I had grown into myself and was sure that I’d always be moving forward and be doing good things.
But how did this happen? How did it really help? Wasn’t I just growing up like teenagers do every day?
At weekend rallies and week-long PACCA (our leadership training school), we met other groups. We sang silly songs, performed skits and spilled our guts. And aspired to be more than six, to be twelve, twenty, and more. We exchanged addresses with Leaders from other clubs (and states) and wrote letters. Do people do that anymore? Real letters. With inspirational quotes. And stickers. And not a touch of irony. Not even a hint; all of it was completely sincere and earnest. We called each other. Made each other mix tapes. Made plans.
We had monthly Teen Nights. Dances. Sure there was dancing and making out in corners, but also palm reading and meeting people we otherwise wouldn’t have met. And we grew. People wanted to be like us. The year I “graduated” we had over forty members. I remember being super proud at how much we had grown. The kids we attracted came from all types of situations. Kids like me who were over-achievers, kids from good homes, kids who didn’t, who needed something to do on weeknights and weekends.
Leaders gave me confidence. Leaders introduced me to people who dyed their hair Manic Panic Blue, and people who knew Emily Dickinson by heart and read the Tao. Leaders taught me that people are good and want to do good in the world. It taught me how to be brave with my feelings. And that 60s music is awesome. To appreciate others. It was a safe place where we all were allowed to be as weird and unique or as mainstream as we wanted. We sold Christmas Trees, we babysat while parents shopped, we helped at Y events, we fundraised, we worked at cleanup days, we helped at summer camp. We became good citizens.
Our advisers always treated us like adults. We were the ones who made the decisions (or at least it felt that way). If we wanted to have a Holiday Party, then we planned one. If we wanted to have a lock-in with teens from another Leaders Club, then we worked it out. We wrote newspaper ads and school announcements for our Teen Nights. We learned how to organize and to plan and to problem solve. We also learned what it was like to have adults have our backs. To be trusted. Opinions valued.
I needed Leaders at least as much as it needed me. It pulled me out of the hole that I found myself in at the age of about 14. It was a little extra family. I didn’t have a rough family life by any stretch, but aside from my brother who is two years younger than me, my parents had two more children, one when I was 11 and one when I was 13, and they couldn’t help but be just a little bit distracted (not that they had to worry about me). Having a larger support system was wonderful. Learning that I was capable of taking care of myself, and capable of planning events and being a role model to others was invaluable.
Without Leaders I don’t think I’d have had the courage to just go and join the tennis team, not knowing anyone else who was on it. I wouldn’t have taken speech class in high school and talked about meditation and freeing Tibet. Or thought I was capable of being a cog in a machine that does good.
Others Leader alumni are social workers, teachers, soldiers, community managers and organizers, nurses.
There are dozens of people I would never have met without Leaders and I truly believe that a lot of them would step up and help me out simply because I was a Leader, too. It’s like any club, it’s members are devoted.
When I heard that our club was going to be no more I was immediately saddened. Without the support of the Y, the Teen Leaders Club cannot exist. Saving it and giving it a place to flourish is absolutely necessary.
My almost 21 year old brother recently posted this photo on Facebook: he’s now in possession of our father’s blond Gibson Hummingbird guitar.
And I’m a bit jealous.
Though I don’t remotely play guitar (too frustrating to learn and I like having nails), and he does play very well. So it makes sense that he’d eventually obtain it.
When I was little, Dad was so careful with this guitar. It was the only one he had, and he was proud of it and protected it. We weren’t allowed to touch it. Dad has newer ones now that he uses more regularly.
There are just a lot of memories wrapped up in this one thing. I know Kevin has memories of his own, and I know he’s responsible. I just can’t believe Dad let it go outside the house.
Goodbye blue chair.
No matter if someone takes it home (for free!) or not, I am parting ways with my blue chair. It’s been with me for a long time now. I took it with me to my first apartment and sat and made quite a few phone calls (on a phone with a cord*) from it.
Then once Brendan and I were married we had just a few pieces of furniture. He had a recliner (also blue) and I had the blue chair. Our first night at our new house was on an air mattress with just the two chairs and a little TV.
The chair though, has seen better days. It’s been shredded in spots by cats, and is all around worn out. At our last yard sale I put a “FREE TO A GOOD HOME” sign on it and though a few people seemed to think about it, no one took it. At the end of the day, I couldn’t bring myself to take it to the Salvation Army with the other things that didn’t sell. I’ve always intended to recover it.
This time though, it’s not coming back inside. I will miss it, I am sure.
*When the phone cord wasn’t plugged into my modem, or someone else wasn’t using the line for IM or Napster…
Tonight as I was searching for a show to watch with Bridget before she went to bed, I came across a channel, Nick Rewind, available on demand that I had never noticed before. It was awesome, we watched an episode of Doug.
As I was searching for more information about the channel, I came across another piece of news that I [somehow] managed to miss that there’s going to be a new block of programming in the fall on TeenNick that will include Clarissa Explains It All AND The Adventures of Pete and Pete. I about died. Thank goodness for DVRs, because they’ll be on between midnight and 2am.
The past few months, Bridget has become completely obsessed with the Transformers. Not the new ones, but the classic ones. At some ridiculous hour (4am or so) the old school episodes are on and so very excitedly, Brendan set us up to record them and he and Bridget faithfully watched them all. And then there were no more new ones to watch. They went back to the beginning and started showing the first (and second?) series again.
So Bren has taken it upon himself to acquire the rest of the classic episodes. Maybe 40 or so of them in total. Every evening it’s pretty much the highlight of her day. Today, before putting on another one, I asked (ok, I whined a little) “Do we have to watch Transformers?” and she looked at me and said, “Um, Yeah.” (DUH!)
I’ve been signing the theme song in my head for weeks. It’s so damn catchy.
I’m also convinced the Autobots weren’t smarter than the rest (Decepticons, Insectacons, Constructacons… so many -cons, I can’t keep them all straight), but just luckier.
I do appreciate Bridget’s need to be a completist on the subject and to have to watch them all and to watch them all in order.
Maybe we can get her hooked on She-Ra or Voltron next…
Thanks to an email from my uncle with a photo of my grandparents on their wedding day, I realized that my favorite shots I scanned way back in 2008 were also from that day. Still, there’s a little discrepancy as to who it is with my grandmother. Is it her best friend, as I had written down, or was it her younger sister as my uncle said? I’m inclined to think it’s her sister.
I think it’s time to buckle down and get myself to the archives again.
This morning I had a nice coffee and chat with my cousin (second cousin, if we’re being technical) who I haven’t seen in what we figured was about 8 years (more or less). It used to be that we’d see each other once a year at the ol’ Morrison Reunion. The one pictured above is circa 1990 (I am rocking Jams and an OP sweatshirt). It always seemed to take a day or so (over a weekend) to get straight who all the adults were and how they were all related.
We always had a lot of fun.
And then we grew up.
When I think about it, here in 1990, my mother was in her 30s. I’m just inside of mine, so as strange as it is to think about all of us, especially the younger ones, as adults, it’s the way it is. My kids would be the ones sitting on that big rock (or bench) now.
I’ve got some really great memories of those times. I was the youngest of the girls that used to hang together, and I so admired all of my cousins. They were cooler and braver than I was. We had our own cabins/rooms (depending on the year), and always stayed up late and ran around like we owned the place. Canoes and basketball and badminton and camp fires. And the talking! So much talking.
The talking with some cousins has always been easy. No matter how long is in-between visits.
One of the things we have always said we would do is to scan the negatives of our wedding film and add them to our digital gallery. Brendan completed the black and white ones years ago, but the remaining 400 something photos have been sitting there, waiting. Finally, yesterday we packed them up and shipped them off for scanning. In 4-6 weeks we should have digital copies of our wedding and honeymoon photos.
Since we were going through all things wedding, I pulled out a box we’ve got sitting around with notes our wedding guests wrote us on small (business card size) cards. We look through them every once in a while, and a lot of them are warm wishes, and thanks for having us at your wedding type notes.
And some are more awesome.
By far, our favorite has always been this one from Brendan’s brother and his wife (though I suspect mostly Pat).