Sunday, January 22, 2006

Origin of my species: Brooklyn nostalgia

I live in Kansas now.

It's the butt of jokes of course now. Kansas, where we don't evolve...
It's not so simple, though. I have friends who live in wonderful places: New York, Toronto, Seattle. My family, for the most part now lives in the Bay Area: Marin County and Walnut Creek.
I was not born a Kansan--I'm here by default.

My family came from what are now Byelorus and Ukraine. They emigrated in the early part of the 20th century. They started in Brownsville, Brooklyn and the Lower East Side and eventually moved on up to the Kensington neighborhood in Brooklyn: Albemarle Road and McDonald Avenue.

If you're from Brooklyn or just curious, you might want to visit the website of theBrooklyn Public Library and check out the My Brooklyn page for the essays and photos from people who live or lived in Brooklyn.

There's also another nostalgic "my Brooklyn" site and a Brooklyn board, an ongoing forum with different nostalgic topics. They also have a photo gallery.

The word nostalgia refers to homesickness--nostos means "return," and algia means "pain." There's a real sense of pain, almost physical pain when I think of the land of my origins. It's not a pain in the sense that oh yeah, my family of origin was dysfunctional and so on. It's pain because I can't return.

If I do go back, I can only look and remember. I know that much of my nostalgia is for growing up in Brooklyn and even if I were to move there now with my family and all my friends (current and past), it would still not be the same. I'd have to live with the fact that I can only go back physically. I can't go back in time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I remember Clifford the Big Red Dog

This post is actually about my autistic son. Clifford is only tangential.

I'm doing whatever it is in the kitchen and I hear in the background, my almost-15-year old son chattering to himself. He's creating dialog for a pretend live action movie of Clifford, the Big Red Dog.
He's uncanny in imitating the voices from the tv show, the show's theme song. He fades up music from iTunes at appropriate places and hums tunes in others.
The main music he uses for this "movie" is "Somewhere Out There,"from "An American Tail." It's a haunting, sweet pop ballad.

He hums it as the action demands: Clifford is feeling sad and guilty about something he was supposed to do for the little girl who cares for him. Suddenly my son shifts his humming into minor key.

He knows, he understands music and how it works. Will he be able to harness his knowledge and love? How much do we push him?

His abilities constantly surprise us.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Kansas Governor Supports Libraries.

More from our wonderful governor, Kathleen Sebelius (she's one of the best in the nation!)

This from Kansas City's Infozine:

"Learning can't stop at graduation. We rely on libraries to help us keep up-to-date on knowledge that helps us in our jobs and in our lives. Libraries serve as our window to the world," Governor Sebelius said. "Plus, reading is a great alternative to spending time in front of a TV or computer screen."

Little does she know that so many patrons come to the library to use the public computer stations.

But I'm just writing to put in a plug for Governor Sebelius--no other reason. I don't feel like listing ad infinitum what folks do and don't do in a library.

Maybe later. Because depending on my mood, some of it makes me seethe. I want to get out of seethe-mode before I write anything librarial.