For My Daughters: The Music Man

Dear Vera and Ruby,

Yesterday, your daddy took a giant step -- a nerve-wracking, well-considered, brave, giant step. But, before I get into that, I first want to tell you a little story.

Back when we were in our late-teens and early-twenties, your Auntie Minette and I would go to see foreign films at these historic movie theaters scattered across Seattle, called Landmark Theatres. I can assure you both, this is a super cool thing to do on Friday and Saturday nights.

I always knew the film was just about to start when the lights would dim and, faintly through the theater speakers, a singular, clear, monotone voice would begin delivering the following phrase -- the first whispering, but the volume escalating with each new voice in each new language:

 

"Le cinema est un langage universal...
El lenguaje del cine es universal...
Paha des filmz es ooneeverzel...
Egano! Kotobowa! Sukyteki!...
El linguaggio del cinema è universale...
The language of film is universal..."

 

The language of film is universal. What did that mean to me?

It meant that, for one, although a movie may have been written and filmed in a completely different language than my own, it didn't mean that I couldn't have access to it by way of reading subtitles, studying the actors' body language or even taking note of subtle intonations in their deliveries (though, I must admit, subtitles were certainly the most convenient). Even more so, however, the language of film is universal meant that, when I observed a particularly moving scene, one in which an actor -- whether male, female, living in another era, from a distant part of the world, or even on another planet, younger or much older than myself, you name it -- going through a situation or experiencing an emotion that resonated with me, I had the right to interpret that scene through the always-mounting, ever-fluctuating experiences of my life. It spoke to my soul. Period. Now that is a powerful language, don't you think?

Okay, I get it. You might think I'm a big film buff, considering what I just said.

But, you know what, boo boos? Here's a secret: all forms of art have the power to speak to your souls, so long as it rings true to you. In other words, if one day you're in Paris and find yourself overwhelmed with emotion while strolling through le jardin du musée Rodin then, to you, in that moment, the language of sculpture is universal. If, on the train one Sunday afternoon, heading to meet a friend for lunch, you read an excerpt in your book that doubles you over with laughter then, to you, in that instance, the language of literature is universal.

Let me give you an example of this in your present life:

On Tuesdays, we regularly attend a story-time at our local library. It is one of your very favorite activities at this time in your lives. I use the term "story-time" loosely, as nearly the entire 45 minutes is filled with singing songs. No matter how exhausted, cranky, or disheveled we (all of us) may be, the very instant the first song begins... "Good morning, dear Earth. Good morning, dear sun..." we transcend to a state of goofy, fun, melody-filled contentment. It's in that contentment that, for us, the language of music is universal.

Story-time with Grandmom and Grandpop while visiting last week!

Story-time with Grandmom and Grandpop while visiting last week!

Your favorite story-time song these days, Vee, is "The Hippo Bus," where you drum your lap and do silly animal sounds (I'll tell you all about it if you'd like). You were all set to do it and Mr. Michael, our librarian, skipped over it! Fortunately, you weren't too disappointed about it. :)

Your favorite story-time song these days, Vee, is "The Hippo Bus," where you drum your lap and do silly animal sounds (I'll tell you all about it if you'd like). You were all set to do it and Mr. Michael, our librarian, skipped over it! Fortunately, you weren't too disappointed about it. :)

This leads me back to your daddy's giant step! (But first, just to be ornery, here are a few photos of your daddy and his precious girls)

 
Ru, here you are with daddy at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, while we were visiting your cousins, Uncle, and Auntie over Valentine's Day weekend. This expression you're making here, sucking your top lip down a bit, is just too cute!

Ru, here you are with daddy at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo, while we were visiting your cousins, Uncle, and Auntie over Valentine's Day weekend. This expression you're making here, sucking your top lip down a bit, is just too cute!

 
Vee, (yes you're there under that coat!), this was from our trip to the East Coast for the holidays. We went to the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on New Year's Day 2015, something that your Grandmom did with her grandmother! Very fun. Very cold!

Vee, (yes you're there under that coat!), this was from our trip to the East Coast for the holidays. We went to the Mummers Parade in Philadelphia on New Year's Day 2015, something that your Grandmom did with her grandmother! Very fun. Very cold!

Yesterday your dad started a brand new job. After over two years of commuting from our home in Berkeley to San Francisco (which may not sound too far, but feels it when he has you two waiting at home for the moment he walks in, so you can squeal and yell "DAAAAAAADDOOOOO!" while running up to him, beaming from ear to ear), he made the decision to seek other employment that would ensure he had more time with you two (and mommy, of course). I know you will understand this one day, but, it isn't easy to go through a process that could potentially lead to rejection, especially while working another full-time job. But, your dad persevered and was rewarded for his effort and hard work.

So, what does this have to do with the language of [insert art form here] being universal? You might ask. Well, your daddy started working at a company that helps a whole lot of people have access to all different types of music in their lives. In fact, we stream music into our home by way of its services every single day.

How cool is that?!

We went to the Oakland Zoo a couple weeks ago, Vee. Here you are, in your cute pony tail, with daddy, waving "hi" to the hog.

We went to the Oakland Zoo a couple weeks ago, Vee. Here you are, in your cute pony tail, with daddy, waving "hi" to the hog.

Ru, you are, without a doubt, 100% a daddy's girl. One morning, while visiting your Grandmom and Grandpop in New Jersey in December, you woke up pretty upset. Guess who was the only person that could make you happy? :)

Ru, you are, without a doubt, 100% a daddy's girl. One morning, while visiting your Grandmom and Grandpop in New Jersey in December, you woke up pretty upset. Guess who was the only person that could make you happy? :)

The thing is, the minute you two were born (you were born in the same minute, so I can say that!) your daddy and I realized something. We realized that movies, music, story-times, and statues all have one thing in common: they inspire wonder. They make us see the world as something more than a small public library or a crowded BART ride. They make us smile. They give us a true sense of joy and purpose. You girls fill us with wonder everyday, and all we want to do is be there to share that with you.

I love you,
Mom

P.S. I've been thinking about this very literal example of "the language of music is universal" lately. It's one of my very favorite songs, teleporting me a carefree, warm, summer's day; at times I even find myself jumping around and spinning in circles when I hear it (the way you and your sis do when you're dancing). It's in Icelandic. I don't know what a single word means.