This is the first part of who knows how many parts where I talk about some of the decisions I am attempting to make.
Mainstream. I've never been it. Even the times I have tried to catch on to the rest of the world I am usually a few beats behind. Sometimes I wonder if people are receiving radio transmissions in their tooth fillings or something, telling them to all buy the same pair of shoes, because it seems like all of society would suddenly run one direction and I'd just stand there, alone and confused.
I tried, sometimes. Like when I was twelve years old and I was invited to a slumber party. The main feature being an NKOTB concert video that we were all expected to shriek over. But the only problem was...I didn't listen to NKOTB. I was well-known for only listening to my parent's Beethoven records and the occasional show-tune. Also whatever mournful 1970s love ballads that played between news and weather on the "adult contemporary" station we listened to every morning.
My sole exposure to modern pop music came solely through my morning and afternoon school bus rides when 96STO blared through the speakers. I secretly relished this hour of every day. But they never played NKOTB.
I was kind of panicked. I was being invited to a social gathering of epic averageness! I was expected to behave like a stereotypical pre-teen! The last time this happened to me in a similar setting was in the second grade. We were all dancing to the verboten MTV when George Michael came on. The video was "I Want Your Sex."
The mother of the birthday girl howled "OW! THAT'S MY SOOOONG" and proceeded to bump and grind with all these little girls around her knees. I hid around the corner until it was over, my heart pounding. Way to blend, kid!
I wasn't willing to be that girl again. I wanted to blend. Obviously my only recourse was a crash-course in New Kid-ology. I borrowed a soft-cover "biography" of the band, roughly the size of a yearbook, and crammed. I had to pick a favorite. Jordan was too pretty, Donnie was too scary, Danny had a monkey face, Jon was too "meh." Obviously, Joey was the one. Young, blue-eyed, devoutly Catholic and obsessed with Frank Sinatra. He loved the movie "It's A Wonderful Life!" I borrowed a tape from a girlfriend and practiced feeling shivers down my spine whenever Joey's adolescent falsetto crooned "Please, Don't Go Girl."
It worked. My 2 days or so of self-brainwashing turned me from a girl whose favorite radio hit was "With or Without You" by U2 to a hormone infused fan-girl of the most irritating kind. My mom remembers that I came home "a different person." Not in a good way. And, like everything I do, I was rather late to the game. Because I started liking this band Two Years After Everyone Else I also quit liking them Two Years After Everyone Else. Â When everyone else had moved on to who knows what, I was still buying Tiger Beat, gluing posters to the wall that my brother would later slash, Â and planning my marriage to Joey-Joe. He would guest-star on my sitcom (that would be offered to me after my success in the rap group FRESH YOUNG SISTAHS). We would date for two years, during which time we would stay virgins but make out ALL THE TIME, and then we'd get married when I was 18.
That might be the last time I approached normal. Freshman year I fell in with a bunch of Jesus Freaks, accent on "freak." I started wearing black nail polish and too large dresses from the 1960s that reeked of cigarette smoke, purchased for 10 cents from the St. Vincent De Paul near my house and the XXX theater. I came back to my roots, only this time I had a crew. I felt isolated from them too, at times, but overall I was accepted as cool enough.
And through all this I found my voice, my inspiration. My people. This group influenced me from the tender age of 14 on through marriage and motherhood. Some of the ideas I still embrace, practice, and feel fully vested in. Others I have rejected, and others I am taking off while I try on a few other identities. If I stop testing the waters that probably means I am dead.
For those of you who don't know me, here's some of the stuff that I do, or have done, that make me a little...different. I feel silly and self-indulgent making a list like this. I hate it when people use these type of labels to box themselves in. But if you don't know me, you might not know that I:
Have homebirthed four children
Breastfed for longer than 18 months
Tried out cloth diapering
Practice "baby-led weaning" and before that, made my own baby food
"wear" my babies in carriers
Cook according to whole food standards
Co-slept with my kids for a period of time
Consumed my placenta in capsule form to help control post-partum bleeding and depression
Used herbal remedies
I also wear big, silly earrings. I know that doesn't really fit in, but it's kind of my trademark. That, and red lipstick.
That's just since marriage. Before that, I was involved in other geekery, including attempting to go back in time. Well, maybe not literally.
But I was in the rockabilly, which meant:
Wearing only vintage or vintage inspired clothing from the 40s-60s with the occasional 80s throwback.Â This includes underwear.
Only using chrome appliances with fabric covered chords
Collecting mid-century modern...well, everything. Dishes. Furniture. Art. Books. Fabric.
I even used hairpins from the 1950s to help style my hair, which was cut, permed, and dyed to exactly resemble Bettie Page.
Everyday objects that would normally be tossed aside were especially collectible, which anyone who watches Antiques Roadshow will tell you.
Cooking only things like meatloaf and mashed potatoes, preferably from vintage cookbooks.
Trying to find a boy to date with a pompadour, Kramer shirts, and an old car he was fixing up. Trying to be the kind of girl he wanted.
The idea was to recreate, as much as possible, an earlier time, apparently.
Kind of like the movie Somewhere In Time, where the guy buys an old suit and sits in a hotel room that hadn't been redecorated since the 1890s and wills himself to the past. Except the rockabillies still wanted to keep their tattoos and Social Distortion cds.
So, all this to say, yeah. I'm a big fat weirdo. I haven't even told you much about my childhood, where I was the weird child of weird parents. But trust me. I'm not good at normal.
I run from it. Not on purpose, but just because it's something I'm not good at. And I hate failure. And failing at being normal? That has to be the worst.