October 10, 2007

Mi Familia

I'm the oldest of three kids: me, then a brother and sister. OTRsis, seen frequently in the comments is, in fact, my fabulous, gorgeous younger sis. Wave to the crowd, carisima! She is another graphic designer (she got into it before I did, lest you think she followed me). She has two young kids and a wonderful husband who is a high school teacher.

My brother is a professional disc golfer by day and bartender by night. He doesn't sit still long enough to read a blog...

Our parents chose to be downwardly mobile and raise us in Cincinnati's #1 poverty community. Mom chose not to work and stay home with us while Dad operated a VERY non-profit housing firm. We survived 6 months on food stamps and years of donated clothing and cars.

Mom died 10 years ago. She'd been the director of drama, and first female professor at a conservative midwestern college before marrying my Dad. She fulfilled her drama urge through numerous performances for our church and for retreats. I grew up being on stage, in gospel choirs, marching in protests, eating carob chip cookies and bean sprouts--all because of my Mom. She was also someone who worried all the time, carried lots of bitterness and was usually frustrated by our family dynamic (lest you think she was a saint. I mean, she is one now, depending on your theology, but she was a very human, complex woman when I knew her).

Dad is still in Cincinnati. Dad is 72 and has been writing plays for years. He's recently decided to try for a second income in a theater related job. His goal is to become a stage manager so he's now training as an assistant production manager for a theater company. Our house in the inner-city has become a communal space which he currently shares with a married couple. He's had various ex-cons and assorted misfits in the house; I never know who is going to answer the phone. My father is "anonymous" in the comments. Not because he is afraid of being noticed, no it's cause he's the classic absent-minded professor type and can't recall his log in info. Take a bow, impressario.

Those who know me would recognize me as an oldest. The scary thing is to think, I could have been even MORE bossy than I already am. Mom was the oldest of 10 kids so she knew the pain of being the little extra parent. She didn't let me take on that role. Anytime I started to boss my brother and sister she would say, "OTRgirl, stop. That's my job, not yours." I was always hurt by that since I was 'just trying to help'--but now I am grateful for her wisdom. She also never made me babysit them. Instead, when I was old enough to know how to handle an emergency, they would leave us with these instructions, "We're going out for three hours. When we return, if the house is in order and you have nothing to tell us, we'll split the babysitting money between the three of you." As a result, OTRbro and I would get into two-round knock-down, drag him over the back of the couch in a headlock, split my lip fights. Then clean the house together. Talk about training in conflict resolution!

What truly makes us weird: we grew up without a television. My father maintained that he was an addict and couldn't have it in the house. The main impact of this has been that I can't participate in conversations that are about a television show. Which has maybe impacted 2-5 percent of my conversation time. On the positive side, it meant our parents had to be very creative with how to occupy three hyperactive children. We built indoor forts, created puppet shows (and some puppets), played dress-up for hours, fought (see above), read books, played cards, went to church events, talked, drove each other crazy, giggled, explored the neighborhood and spent every summer day at the public pool down the street.

We weren't, and aren't, a perfect family, but we can talk about anything that's bugging us and usually find something to laugh about in the midst of our pain.

See, it's the stuff you probably know already if you've read here or known me long. I love telling the stories, but it's almost rote with new people. Of course, if I did this as a card, it would be more visual and far less wordy...

9 comments:

scarp said...

I'd love to see the visual version. Mostly because I never cease to be amazed at your ability to express things that way, and happen to truly enjoy the particular ways in which you do.

I wonder...have I told you that too few or too many times?

Inkling said...

I don't get tired of hearing about your family or the dynamics of growing up. I find it extremely interesting, and it always serves as a motivator to keep me from getting a martyr complex about the way my husband and I have chosen to live. I don't know if that makes sense or not, but I'm trying to say that you spur me on and keep me encouraged.

As for the television thing, I have to say giving up tv has been very freeing. Granted, I would probably benefit from getting in less "screen time" overall by limiting my computer time, but not having constant television shows going through my thoughts has made for a much nicer life. It's nice to hear that it's possible to grow up without it too, for I didn't really plan on introducing the big black box to any future children outside of the occasional Thomas video or National Geographic flick. It's always fun to gauge people's reactions when they discover we don't have a television. You'd think it was as necessary as air and water.

Keep on writing, and keep on telling us stories.....even if we've heard them again and again.

Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing that. Reading about your family gives me insight into the life events that made you who you are.

Lots of similarities between our families. We also grew up TV-free.

OTR sister said...

Right on.

Snickollet said...

Love hearing about the family and getting more background info on your life. Thanks for sharing!

Beloved said...

That was so interesting. You describe your family members so articulately.

I knew you grew up without TV (from some past comments), but I never really thought about how it would impact your life now. There are so many references to it in conversation, it must feel awkward at times. We were only allowed to watch an hour a day when I was growing up and I thought I was deprived. :)

Sunny sunny SUNNY said...

Thanks for the interesting post. We also were without TV for over a decade of my childhood. Parents were of the opinion that "TV rots kid's brains." We didn't miss it. Plenty else to do. The parents had banded together on this one, so, most of our friends didn't have TV either. When we moved to a different State we finally got one for the purpose of helping us fit in with the other kids at the new school. Like you, the only drawback is that folks will be talking about TV movies or sitcoms from that era and I'm like clueless. Worse things could happen

Mama Nabi said...

ha. I, too, grew up mostly without TV so I also get lost in TV conversations and references. (Of course, the fact that I didn't grow up in the US adds to it.)
I loved finding out about your brother... just because I knew about OTRsis. (I also thought of Rachel (Kitchen Fire) who loves these tidbits from the past.)
I love that there's so much color in these snippets.
Thank you - for sharing.

Miss Two said...

Hi! *waves madly* I grew up in Evanston... so my next question is going to be, what high school did you go to? (That? True Cincinnati question! You don't have to answer, I'm just having fun.)

It was awesome to meet you...