For My Daughters: La Clase De Música

Just a funny little story about daddy, love bugs.

This week, because of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, dad was able to join us at your beloved clase de música on Monday. I think he was able to see how enraptured you two are by the songs, dancing, singing, playing instruments. It made me think of a sweet story that I thought you girls would like too.

Daddy had just gotten home from a show in the city and was especially impressed at how the 8-piece ensemble (metal band at that) was able to stay in sync so well with with one another. He was so impressed, in fact, he stayed to chat with the band and when he asked, somewhat rhetorically, "how the hell do make music like that?!" the man guffawed, and said, "the only thing you need to make music are two ears... (then placing his hand on his chest) and a heart."

Poor daddy had to learn the hard way that you turn into drama-mama when your shoes get taken off in music class.

Poor daddy had to learn the hard way that you turn into drama-mama when your shoes get taken off in music class.

Vee, you NEVER have been more excited to be in music class. You were showing off your moves to daddy from the moment you walked (more like sashayed) through the door.

Vee, you NEVER have been more excited to be in music class. You were showing off your moves to daddy from the moment you walked (more like sashayed) through the door.

You twirl the ENTIRE 45 minutes in class, Ru. As you can see I'm always quite amused by it :)

You twirl the ENTIRE 45 minutes in class, Ru. As you can see I'm always quite amused by it :)

Dancing with scarves is your very favorite thing to do in music class. Vee, you love getting goofy with them too. Silly billy!

Dancing with scarves is your very favorite thing to do in music class. Vee, you love getting goofy with them too. Silly billy!

Then of course you love to jam at home.

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Hoarding the recorders (I won't tell sissy!)

Hoarding the recorders (I won't tell sissy!)

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Sis was serenading you, Vee. hehe

Sis was serenading you, Vee. hehe

I love you my little musicians,

Mom

And I Feel Fine | An Alameda Twin Newborn + Family Documentary Session

Meet new mommy, Sharon, new daddy, Ian, and their beautifully basking twin daughters, Lillian Ada (in dad's arms) and (in momma's arms) Matilda Eliot...

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24/52: Sunset


 
 

Took my first look at this week's theme this afternoon, as I've had a busy week. Looked on my sun calc app and saw that sunset was at approximately 8:34 pm today. The girls go down right between 8-8:30 pm. So, I decided to take a stroll about an hour before sunset - 'cause there ain't no way momma is messing with bedtime!

I was focusing on this beautiful church's bell-tower just across the street from our place. When I kept walking down the street this solitary palm tree showed itself. It made me think of how giddy my siblings and I would get at the first sight of a palm tree while road tripping from our home in Washington down to California. Still have to pinch myself sometimes that this is right outside my door.

For My Daughters: Twinheritance

Hi boo boos,

We had some friends over last night to watch the Warriors game. You two have really made progress in your reaction to daddy -- well, pretty much everyone in this case -- hootin' and hollerin' at the top of their lungs when something exciting happens in a game. In fact, you even joined in; flailing your arms up in the air and shouting "yeah! yeah!" when you noticed the commotion. Vera, you have always been especially sensitive to abrupt noises. I'll never forget, when you were just a few months old daddy had a little cough and you would WAIL each time he cleared his throat. It made for some long nights, but was certainly adorable. So NOW, your growing ability to pause and determine the type of reaction you have to those loud noises, it just makes me so proud of you.

 
Here you are, Vavvy, strutting your stuff at Hazel's school carnival last month

Here you are, Vavvy, strutting your stuff at Hazel's school carnival last month

 
Daddy asked you to pick out your own outfit on Saturday, Ru. You got SOOO excited and, when you did your fashion show for me, holding your plush doggie "Door" tight in your arms, you giggled with delight! Then daddy and I did too!

Daddy asked you to pick out your own outfit on Saturday, Ru. You got SOOO excited and, when you did your fashion show for me, holding your plush doggie "Door" tight in your arms, you giggled with delight! Then daddy and I did too!

Girls, I've had something on my mind lately that I want to share with you. Two days ago, on June 6th, you turned 21-months-old. I think for any other mom in the world they might say, "Today you girls are 21 month old! Only 3 more months until your 2nd birthday!" Something of that nature. But, for me, you girls turning 21-months old immediately made me think of one thing. My mom. Your Grandma Melody. 

I'm very sure, by the time you read this, you will have been told approximately 1,000,000,000 times that it is "sooooooo amazing" that you are twins that have a mommy that is a twin and uncles that are twins. Well, at the risk of sounding redundant, I will tell you that it truly is amazing, love bugs. In fact, back when mommy was just a few months old, your uncles, auntie, and I were photographed by the local newspaper in Fresno and your grandma and grandfather were interviewed for a little article about just how unusual it is to have two sets of twins! Kind of cool, huh?

This article says "19 months," but I think your grandma may have been too tired to do the math. Oh well!

This article says "19 months," but I think your grandma may have been too tired to do the math. Oh well!

Aside from the sheer amazing-ness of you girls being twins, I often times ponder (and probably even more often am asked by strangers to ponder), "How in the world was your grandma able to manage so many children at once and (on days when your Great grandpa couldn't help) on her own?!" As, shortly after this, your grandfather was no longer in the picture. Then, sadly, my next thought is "I'm not sure she did manage."

Eight days old. Eight. Days. That is how old your siblings would be today if mommy (and daddy) had a second set of twins at exactly the same interval as your grandma Melody did. I've been thinking a lot about how it would be to incorporate two newborns into our family. Even with the wonderful support system our family has, it would be a struggle. A struggle financially? Sure. A struggle physically? YOU BET! A mental struggle? Let's just say, I am sure I would probably be too stressed for my own good. Period.

You were so fascinated by your cousins' slinky, Vee. You knew you were being silly and just kept on doing it. I love that about you!

You were so fascinated by your cousins' slinky, Vee. You knew you were being silly and just kept on doing it. I love that about you!

Ru, you want to be a big girl so bad! I think these girls were jealous of your sweet shoes ;)

Ru, you want to be a big girl so bad! I think these girls were jealous of your sweet shoes ;)

I think I may be subconsciously skirting the main reason I want to share this with you. So, I want to be frank. When I said that I am not sure your grandma was able to manage all four of us at once, what I am saying is that she allowed that stress to get the better of her.

Your grandma Melody had Bipolar Disorder.

Simply put, when she was up, she was up -- extremely energetic, creative, impulsive. It was during these "up" episodes that she would go on her vision quests, of sorts; once vanishing for a couple weeks, returning home to tell us she had been seeking out her biological family, spouting off tales of her adventures; never alluding to her real goal of trying to find understanding and acceptance of her own childhood struggles.

And, when she was down, she was down -- erratically violent and abusive, recklessly self-medicating, and deeply depressed. It was during this time that I would find myself pacing outside her room, told "LEAVE ME ALONE!" in my 8-year-old effort to comfort her as she loudly wept behind her locked bedroom door. My heart still breaks for her in recalling those low moments.

Because she is no longer living, the only way to recollect those very dynamic moods is through the hindsight of memory. Unfortunately, however, in an effort to protect both you girls as well as myself from the pain of my past, it's difficult for me to ruminate on your grandma's mental condition. So, for these thoughts to cross my mind, upon you girls reaching 21-month-old, I wanted to be open and honest about them with you.

I guess the big thing I want you to know is that you don't ever have to be ashamed of your feelings. Right now in your life you are both unabashedly honest about how you are feeling and what is on your mind. It is an admirable quality to be freely expressive of your emotions. Even if it is not the most positive of emotions sometimes.

One of your very favorite books is "Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You" by Nancy Tillman. Whenever we get to the page that reads, "So hold your head high and don't be afraid to march to the front of your own parade..." I repeat it emphatically, as the thought that you would choose to be anything other than YOU in an effort please others would be depriving the world of the unique marvel of Ruby Joan and the unparallelled wonder of Vera Kathleen. So, I'll reiterate it again:

 

 

Hold your head high

and don't be afraid

to march to the front

of your own parade.

If you're still my small babe

or you're all the way grown,

my promise to you

is you're never alone.

Promise promise.

Being chased by daddy on the UC Berkeley campus. You are so beautiful Ruby!

Being chased by daddy on the UC Berkeley campus. You are so beautiful Ruby!

I love this expression, Vee. You were NOT happy when we first arrived at Hazel's carnival (you CANNOT deal with no nap), so we left and decided to try going again after you girls had eaten and calmed down a bit. I'm so glad we did. You were roaming all over that elementary school lawn like you owned the place. Love that sass!

I love this expression, Vee. You were NOT happy when we first arrived at Hazel's carnival (you CANNOT deal with no nap), so we left and decided to try going again after you girls had eaten and calmed down a bit. I'm so glad we did. You were roaming all over that elementary school lawn like you owned the place. Love that sass!

At Illum's 2nd birthday party, you girls wore your new swimsuits that your cousin gave to you. Ru, you were most excited to swim...

At Illum's 2nd birthday party, you girls wore your new swimsuits that your cousin gave to you. Ru, you were most excited to swim...

and Vee, I think you were most excited to show off your new suit :)

and Vee, I think you were most excited to show off your new suit :)

I love you so much boo boos,

Mom

 

 

 

Thoughts on Dr. King and Photojournalism

Joe and I went to a Warrior’s game on Monday. He had the day off, as it was Martin Luther King Jr Day. In remembrance of Dr. King’s birthday there were several beautiful tributes scattered throughout the ball game. Joe and I chatted a bit about how truly incredible it is that one person had such magnetism, to say the very least, to unify a once staunchly polarized society; most impressively surrounding an issue that many believed to be a foundational, even defining aspect of that 1960’s society.

I got to thinking about how King was not only charismatic in his speeches, his profound writings, but also quite strategic in his use of sociological dramaturgy to aid in creating resonance and eventually activism for the Civil Rights Movement. I believe the images documenting communities protesting en mass, illustrating youth objected to ghastly violence at the hands of those who were supposedly there to protect and serve, or depicting peaceful students being viciously tormented for sitting at a lunch counter; all of these images paved the way for what I believe the essence of photojournalistic documentation should be: a means to bring to light a visual representation, that illustrates an otherwise verbal/written explanation or presumption, in which someone may find resonance, invoking and stirring up latent sentiments, deep significance, and overall sense of connectedness to your fellow man or woman.

Here is a (lengthy) paper I wrote several years ago regarding the concept of dramaturgy in two specific campaigns for social justice; one of Dr. King's and the other of César Chávez. If you’re interested, Take a look.

A picture may be worth a thousand words. But, it also may impress upon in the hearts of many who do not need words, only actions, to describe how it affected them.

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Take care,

Melissa

My Icarus Complex


Photo Credit: Meghan Schmidt

In Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Daedalus, before embracing his precious son, Icarus, for the final time, cautioned him:

“Take care to wing your course along the middle air;

If low, the surges wet your flagging plumes,

If high, the sun the melting wax consumes:

Steer between both:

Nor to the northern skies,

Nor south Orion turn your giddy eye,

But follow me.

Let me before you lay rules for the flight,

and mark the pathless way.”

In one ear and out the other.

My “Icarus Complex.” That’s what I call it.

I’m sure you know the type...

The type that daydream in the back of the class and, only when called upon without warning, you come to realize were lost in their own thoughts for the last hour...

The type that seemingly have no verbal filter, chatting insistently while interrupting you mid-sentence in a thoughtless but well-intended attempt to wedge in their two-cents without the slightest regard for courtesy...

The type that find such true insight and resonance in a piece of music that, while bussing to school/work/home, they can’t help but ignore the stares as they tear up and get lost in the melody…

The type that grin widely and wave hardily at a beckoning stranger, moments before cowering in embarrassment as they catch a peripheral glimpse of the oscillating hand (and eyes) of the intended recipient behind them…

The type that actually stop to smell the roses; then grab their camera, put on the perfect lens, adjust their settings, take seven photos of the roses from differing angles, stop to smell them again, look around for where their friends wandered off to, then go on their way...

The type that find it impossible to not express (all over their face) what they are feeling the instant they are feeling it...

The type that, though try as they might -- be it bleaching their arm hair to the point of numbness, extreme dieting to be able to beat the scale and squeeze into smaller jeans, even traveling the world in an attempt at self-realization -- simply will never fit into the mold society deems appropriate for them.

Now, I’m sure you’re savvy enough to know that this is me we’re talking about here. These types are my people. I love, nurture and wholeheartedly accept these aspects of myself now. But, there was a time I neither loved nor accepted my strange brew of idiosyncrasies.

Although I feel I’ve been an anomaly since birth, being in one of two sets of twins, I do have several very specific life experiences -- some of which I will doubtlessly share at another time on this blog-- that help to shed light on my disposition. From childhood abuse and severe trauma to bouncing from one temporary home to the next as a very young child (until my aunt and uncle intervened when I was nine), the chances of me becoming a square peg were pretty much guaranteed. But, you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Let me explain my “Icarus Complex.”

I tried so so hard to conform. To fit in. But, I wasn’t being my authentic self. Like Icarus, in trying to be somebody I wasn’t, I foolishly flew higher than my fabricated wings could handle because I thought it felt right, and, as a result, felt myself plummeting into a sea of negative emotions. For a long time I felt constant, overwhelming anxiety, bouts of paralyzing depression, unfounded heated jealousy and, probably worst of all, an aggressive, unrelenting sense of self-doubt.

I felt doubt in my ability to truly listen to and reciprocate happiness or even sympathy for dear friends. I felt doubt in my ability to excel academically when rightfully challenged by a plethora of highly intelligent peers. I felt doubt in my ability to grant the type of emotional support and understanding that my husband so instinctively and consistently provides me. I felt doubt in my ability to connect to my daughters in such a way that they fully understand the aching love that swells in my heart for them, the unconditional appreciation I have for their uniqueness, and yet still the deep-seated, petrifying knowledge that I mustn’t shield them to the sometimes harsh realities of this world (at this point in their lives their “harsh realities” include not being allowed to eat books or dip their hands in the toilet water, but you get the idea). And, I think perhaps more than anything, I felt doubt in my ability to escape the self-fulfilling prophecy of somehow following in the footsteps of my mother.

So, I had a decision to make:

A. Sink under the weight of the negativity and ever-mounting stress.

B. Continue to doggie paddle through, dodging the tempests as they come.

C. Stop the wading, grab onto the outstretched hands reaching in from the shore, dry myself off,  fashion some kick-ass wings, and soar.

Through the encouragement of my insanely supportive and creative husband, as well as other dear friends, I chose C. This Icarus survived, is wiser from the long journey, is forgiving to herself (mine’s a chick). This flight may still be foolish and undoubtedly filled with risk, but I believe that taking flight despite the risks is related to the profoundly interconnected nature of the human spirit and overall meaning for purpose in this life.

So as I stand here at the precipice of this tower, prepared to embark on this new flight, determined to stay the course, staving off the storms as they come. But as I hunker down in preparation to push off, I will reflect upon these befitting words of Oscar Wilde’s...

“Never regret thy fall,

O Icarus of the fearless flight

For the greatest tragedy of them all

Is never to feel the burning light.”

and take the leap.