Tag Archives: childhood

productivity, contribution, and self worth

I guess it came with growing up relatively poor, or having good role models, that I don’t tie my self worth to having a fancy car or fancy clothes (although I do have a lot of clothes – many of them still secondhand) or how much money I make.

But how do people define their self-worth?  How much you mean to your friends?  How much you mean to your husband (wife/significant other/etc.)?  What a good mother you are?  How clean your house is?  How healthy you are?  How much you contribute to charity?  How much you know?  How educated you are?  How much your job, or your beyond job activity contributes to society as a whole?

The job thing and the education thing contributes a great deal to how I tend to feel about myself.  As an overachiever child, this plays out in bizarre ways in adulthood.

T-storm talked a lot awhile ago about Erikson’s theories of lifespan development.  I never considered a career as a psychologist, but of all the things he’s come home with from his counseling grad classes, this to me is the most interesting.  Hooray lifespan development!

(This is also kind of funny, as we re-watched Scott Pilgrim vs. the World last night, full of slow motion silhouettes indicating the vs. battles.  Now I’m going to think of things like shame & stagnation dissolving into a giant flurry of coins.)

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breaking up with cable

I would not have gotten through my parents’ divorce (which essentially extended from 1990 to 1993, with all of the attempted reconciliation, etc.) without cable.  Babysitters’ Club books were another big factor, but let’s be honest.  Reading quietly doesn’t drown out screaming and crying like MTV does.  Or did.  Nowadays all MTV contains is screaming and crying, but that’s another story.

Much of my pop culture obsessions stem from this time, where we moved around a lot, trying to find a place we could settle as a family and be happy – be that idealized four person unit, just like in so many fictional stories (the one that sticks out to me the most is the Berenstein Bears).  But it wasn’t to be found.  My mother saved our lives by eventually leaving my father, more in an emotional and even financial sense than a physical harm one, but the point being that MTV and Nickelodeon got me through it all.

When I was 4th grade, after parent marriage reboot v.3.2, we moved into an apartment that didn’t have cable yet.  And I was distraught.  I had to watch SNICK, the much touted Nickelodeon line-up.  My parents agreed, and hauled us off to my grandparents house every Saturday night for my appointment television.  And to be honest, looking back, Clarissa Explains It All (and later appearances of The Adventures of Pete & Pete) were totally worth it.

Which is why, of all the stupid things I could worry about in the future in regards to having kids, I worry about them not having television that stimulates them.  Because for its imperative role in my development as a kid, I don’t think I could ever go back to having cable at this point.

Yeah.  I broke up with cable after a long relationship.  And not to be flippant about my parents’ divorce, but some of the aspects of my break-up with cable echo their break-up, as well.

The first round of separation came in 2006.  After two years of living with a roommate with a DVR and every station imaginable at the moment (and so many class projects completed with a background of an America’s Next Top Model marathon on Vh1), I was about to go cable free that fall.  And it worked out beautifully.  I was house-sitting for a semester.  I was working like a dog, as well as going to school full time, and writing my undergrad thesis.  Said thesis required a good deal of research on Sonic Youth, who had been one of Clarissa’s favorite bands.  Coincidence?  Your guess.

Cable free Round One was fine.  I was very busy, and living alone, and I’d also bought my first season of Gilmore Girls on DVD.  (Season 4 was by far the weakest, but we’ll get to more about that later.)

That spring, I moved back in with dear ol’ mum and was interning.  And cable was back in the equation.  However, I was able to moderate my useage.  I still watched a good deal of Gilmore Girls on DVD, and was beyond hooked on Vh1’s Charm School.

When I moved away from home and all I’d known, there was more cable, though again, it was mostly movies and lots of Vh1.  However, to this day I’ve still not watched an acclaimed Rock Doc about 1977 in New York City, dubbed “The Coolest Year in Hell.”

Then there came a different massive break-up (this time, in one fell swoop, and including quoting LOTR) and a shake up in my finances.  I let cable go, and was fine.  Again, I was living alone, and at that time there was a huge living room and a record player and lots of dancing to Adam Ant to be had.  It was during that spring of 2008 I also learned how to cook.

I had one more bout with cable in the fall of 2008 when I had moved yet again, but at that point I was just getting depressed.  Too many evenings watching too long blocks of Rock of Love made it easy to break-up with permanently.  The bills piled up too high, and it was time to say goodbye.

Besides, a Season 1 DVD set of 30 Rock gave me much, much more pleasure than a month worth of cable, anyway.  So much that I’ve bought every other season as well – at least, after I got every season of Gilmore Girls.  For awhile it was really easy to buy me Christmas presents.

I guess it’s just a shift in the paradigm.  I’m sure there’s still worthwhile programming on cable that I’m missing, but especially with the no more free network TV deal, I am perfectly fine rebelling from having any TV service at all.  T-storm is a longtime video game addict, and so with his Xbox Live membership we also get the streaming Netflix.


Any TV show you might even want, no commercials, most seasons available.  Although having a lack of Dexter past season 2 on the instant queue really messed me up, and forced me to read spoilers while we waited on discs to come in the mail.  It also forces you to heavily put on the brakes when you hit a slow point in watching a show, as it did for T-storm during Battlestar Galactica at the point where Starbuck starts to have PTSD and go nuts.

Maybe he’ll have hit that point with Breaking Bad and the episode about the fly in the lab.

Either way.  Thus, my break-up with cable extended from 2006 to 2009, and I cannot imagine going back.  No one ever plans on it, but having analyzed my parents’ break-up, the conditions that caused it, and having put my husband through the emotional ringer already, I cannot imagine a time where any future children would need a 4 hour block of music television to get through us breaking up.

At the same time, sad as it may seem, many of my good childhood memories are associated with books & TV, so who would I be to rob my kids of that?

The plan is to wait quite a few years before we test that theory.  For the moment, we’ll be happy with watching selected Twilight Zone episodes during dinner (watching them all in sequence hasn’t been as successful), and continuing to plow our way through How I Met Your Mother, which has enough slapping and Canadian dick jokes to keep us in stitches for another few months.

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so this is Christmas

Today was my first Christmas away from my mother.

When I went to college, I didn’t go very far away.  And almost immediately after I graduated high school, my mother moved down and almost sort of followed me.  When I played in concerts for the next six years, she’d always be there.

Ever since I graduated high school, Christmas had always been homecoming.  That first post-hs Christmas, it was a friend coming home from Parris Island, and everyone reconnecting after our first six months or so apart.  Last year, my brother had a fiance who had a kid, and for what it’s worth, Christmas with a kid involved is always more fun.  It’s about kids, anyway, even when they are horrible sometimes, to see their faces light up is always something magical.  His fiancee and her kid are no longer in our lives, but I do miss having a little, super excited kid around on Christmas.  And after the kid Christmas, it was me and my two best friends together, with T-storm as well.  It was really something special.

The lines about Christmas being too commercial and too whatever are quite honestly, tired.  Are you doing anything to change how the holidays are celebrated?  Then STFU.  Most of the time, whatever’s going on during the holidays, I just sort of give in.  It’s good to be surrounded by warmth and love and friends and family and I personally don’t care that I now ignore the religious aspect of it altogether.  It’s a good enough excuse to get together with family and loved ones and appreciate each others’ company.

And yes, this Christmas, I went to my husband’s parents’ house, and had dinner and hilariously fun card game time and even watched an episode of The Real McCoys (now on DVD!) with them, his brother, his brother’s fiancee, and her mother.  And the hubs, of course.

And then we watched the second half of Fellowship of the Ring (we started last night – from the extended cut DVDs) tonight and he fell asleep on my lap while the cat jaunted around the couch.

(Wait – you haven’t met the cat yet.  You will in a day or two.)

And I laid on the couch being grateful for all I had, and all I’d been lucky enough to receive this year.  Whatever homecoming and friendship rededication or whatever we usually wait until Christmas for, we had tenfold at the wedding in November.  I should watch our wedding slideshow again and remind myself of these things.

But I go to bed, not long after T-storm, for once, and I realize quickly that I cannot sleep.  It’s a futile effort.  When I’m out I’m out, and there is never any joy derived from waking me in the morning, but when I can’t sleep I know better than to let my mind wander while awake in bed.

In the last week before the holiday, I sort of overdid it on Christmas a little bit.  On sentimental things in general.  Rewatched all of the Christmas episodes of 30 Rock several times.  Must have listened to The Pogues “Fairytale of New York”, The Smashing Pumpkins “Christmastime”, and The Waitresses “Christmas Wrapping” at least a dozen times apiece.  I made a dining room full of Christmas bunting in one night, and even a line of holiday card bunting.  I went through a Gilmore Girls greatest hits rundown.  I baked like a madwoman on Christmas Eve.

But nothing could be going home.  Nothing could be best friends, nothing could be having a morning of making fun of parades with my mother.

In all honesty, I wasn’t terribly connected and affectionate to my husband this Christmas morning.  We had gifts last night, and I think some of my last-minute holiday cheer sort of wore thin on him.  I was back in craft focus mode, and not marriage focused partner mode.  I can’t blame him for not being thrilled with that.

But we watched Fellowship and laughed at the cat, and all was better.  And now I can’t sleep.

Part of it is just the shift of moving toward being the old married lady.  All of our friends seem to be heading in all different directions.  Once I graduated high school, I was amazed at all of the different directions everyone would take.  I guess I’d never thought about it before then.

I continue to be amazed at all of the different directions everyone’s lives take.  But I guess it’s more important to be grateful for the bonds that keep us together, somehow.

A good end to this would be me going back to bed, into my husband’s arms, but I have a feeling there will be a few rounds of Peggle between me and that happily night after.

Merry Christmas, anyway.

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Go Mavs

I live in South Florida.  I do not want the Miami Heat to win the national title.  I am irritated that they’ve made it this far.  Why? For a number of reasons.  Well one short one and a really long one, both relating to my childhood.

1) Living in Florida as a young kid in the late 80s, when we got the first two Florida teams as NBA expansion teams, I lived in Central Florida.  Thus, the Orlando Magic were a somewhat central theme to my childhood and adolescence.  I really enjoyed watching them play the Lakers in the NBA Finals two years ago, despite the outcome.  I learned that watching high stakes sports  I was emotionally invested in was a huge motivational force to clean my apartment.  More than ever.  I was very sad to see the Magic fall so early this post-season.

2) Then there’s that whole Lebron deal.  That guy sucks.  Back to two years ago, I delighted in the fact that Dwight Howard had busted up the Kobe/Lebron battle that was supposed to be the NBA Finals that year.  I hated Lebron then.  I still hate him now.

The whole stacking the deck down here in Miami smacks of playground politics.  I feel like I’m back in elementary school…

(insert crazy harp runs and wavy visuals that invariably indicate we’re going back in time)


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