Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Another School Year: Once More Unto the Breach

The start of school is imminent and I am filled with dread and anxiety.  How will I parent my children through another year of High School? This time of year always used to be one of parental joy as I released my children joyfully to the care of their teachers for seven glorious hours a day. Now the first Wednesday after Labor Day marks the onset of an unpredictable campaign of seemingly overwhelming odds comprised of rocky social terrain, precipitous homework climbs, fractious wake up battles and extra-curricular pressures which seem to exist solely to beef up the mole hill's status. I'm sure there are parents among you who feel the same; who fear the future and the unknown perils that lie ahead. This year I truly feel I might not have the strength for this; I am a coward who's chief desire is a full on retreat into denial and familiarity.

I am a mother in need of a locker room speech. So I will seek strength and resolve in the original locker room speech, from Shakespeare's Henry V, St. Crispin's day.

Do not click away for fear of esoteric literary pontification. You must know me better than that.  No, I beseech you lie in wait as I lower the dignity and majesty of Shakespeare's verse to fit my puny insignificant anxiety.

This day is called the feast of Crispian:
(The first Wednesday past Labor Day will do, 
for this irreverent bastardizing
of the Bard of Avon's hallowed verse)
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
(When all are put to bed and wine is poured)
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
(Or shall I clarify, reach older age,
As each year brings more wrinkles
faster than Loreal can erase )
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
(Shouting "we did survive another year!)
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
(To psyche and self-confidence alike)
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin's day.'
(And, frankly since the day that thou wast born)
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
(Unless thou art a teen who holds a grudge
for future guilt and bribery anon)
But he'll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day
(Like refraining from crushing the XBox)
Then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
(Yes all those names will show up on the test)
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember'd
(Let's face it they will be forgotten e'er
Ink has dried on said wretched exam)
This story shall the good man teach his son:
(Unless his son tells him to fucketh off)
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
from this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
(Unless you have a name like Salisbury)
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
(Oh shit that's right he has to practice vi'olin)
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
(For the love of all that's holy take a sho'wer
E'en don some Axe body spray, I beg you please)
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
(Get up! Get up! the bus has come and gone!)
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
(I'll take being accursed if only it will mean
I can escape this den of teenage angst)
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
(Assuming thou and I art still speaking)
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.
(June cannot cometh soon enough for me!)

My apologies Mr. Shakespeare.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Why I'm Listening to Skrillex

I've recently become obsessed with the song Level7 by Avicii, the Skrillex remix of course. Have you heard it? Genre of dubstep? Probably next to Love Me Do on your favorites? Anyway, it started simply, as all obsessions do. I was listening to music on my phone on shuffle and this song came up. Contrary to the hip vibe I naturally give off, this was not a song I downloaded, it came from teenager #2. Since I have ICloud and haven't filtered my songs, because I'd rather spend my free time knitting, drinking wine, watching the BBC's Musketeers or doing all three of these at once, Level7 came on in my shuffle as I was heading to work. And it touched on a memory, teenager # 2 dancing dubstep in 7th grade in the Middle School Talent Show.

What's dubstep? It's actually pretty amazing. It is commonly defined as "A form of dance music, typically instrumental, characterized by a sparse syncopated rhythm and strong bass line." Skrillex is a popular artist in the form. Dancing to this music is also syncopated, a little bit of pop and lock, a lot of syncopation and there's a fluidity to it that is beautiful and often mind-blowing. Here's an example.

It's probably useful to note that teenager #2 looks like an overgrown leprechaun. Curly red hair, skin so fair it's almost see through, blue eyes, about as Irish as you can get. At first look, not your typical dubstepper. Rewind a year and a half ago, I'm out of town visiting a friend, I call home to say Hi and it is actually Teenager #1 who tells me that Teenager #2 apparently was great in the Middle School Talent Show. What? I didn't know he was in the talent show. What? He never told any of us. I email all my colleagues at the school and see if a video exists. It does. I watched it.

WOW! I'm not sharing that one, that's his call. But I'm just saying, WOW!

And I kept thinking, this is a thirteen year old boy who just got up in front of the entire Middle School and danced. The risk was huge. But all you saw on the stage was a thirteen year old boy having the time of his life. No fear, or if he had it he certainly did not show it, just joyfully, skillfully sharing something he was into. I was impressed by his skills, I was blown away by his guts.

So, fast forward to my current obsession of listening to Aviccii's Level7, Skrillex remix. This was the song Teenager #2 dubstepped to. I'm listening a lot. You see, I'm currently working on a project that is a great challenge and I'm honored and flattered to be a part of it and I am capable of the work ahead, but I am fighting my life-long nemesis Lord Self- Doubt. So I listen to Level7 and remember my boy's fearlessness. You get the picture.

There's a common question that is posed to us all at some point, sometimes several points in our lives. We usually get asked this question when we're kids and the answer is often Fireman, Wonder Woman, Optimus Prime. Then we get a little older and learn a thing or two and the answer sometimes changes to Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa, Optimus Prime. And then we get blown away by a video, or a hard-earned B+, or a beautifully written thank you note to a grandfather and the answer changes to my children.

It almost feels arrogant and self-serving to give that answer because that might insinuate that I made one or two okay moves while parenting. But these children of mine, they are becoming people I like. They are taking what they know, what they like, what they are curious about and what they fear and they are becoming their own quirky, funny, brave and smelly selves.

They are becoming my Heroes.

Well, them and Optimus Prime.