Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Rock Star

We bought an IPad a couple weeks ago and it has been a hot commodity. Mihiretu plays Angry Birds, Mae plays Spellcraft and Lana, it turns out, uses it for a purpose all her own.

She asked for the IPad last night before she went to bed. Much later, after Ben had tucked her in, he brought it to bed with him. While I read my novels, he surfs craigslist for strange and varied vehicles (“Look, honey, at this old school bus!” or “That’s a cool pick-up” or “Nobody wants the big Airstreams”). This has long been his favorite pastime, first with the computer, then with his IPhone and now, hallelujah, with an IPad. He’s come a long way, baby.

As he turned on the IPad, he saw several videos on the desktop, all of Lana’s face.

There is a Justin Bieber imitation. She’s not a fan – I don’t believe she’s ever even seen a video – but Justin Bieber is this year’s Miley Cyrus so the second graders are all atwitter. In these she’s naked from the waist up (her favorite outfit, really, and what she deemed most Bieberesque). She speaks as if she has a heavy cold, her accent is vaguely Southern. Her hair is swept across her forehead in a cunning imitation of his famous locks.

She says, “Hi, I’m Justin Biebah and I’m gonna SING for ya. But first I have a few words to say.” Here she brings her hands in front of her face in desperate upturned claws, her face contorts with pain and she moans “Nevah say NEVAH!” She drops her hands, relaxes her face, sweeps her hair across her forehead and says, matter-of-factly, “And I just said ‘never” so I should go to jail shouldn’t I? Well, first I’m gonna sing my song and then I’m gonna march to jail.”

Then, nostrils flaring, she sings tunelessly, expressively, “Oh, this is my song. It’s my best one so far.” And it goes from there, something about “I’ve got a chicken and I’m saying HEY!”

My favorite video, I think, is an extreme close-up. She says, very simply, by way of introduction, “I am a girl but I have a very funny name. You will hear it in this song many times. Heeeeere we go.” Her brows draw together, her eyes widen and her voice deepens as she sings, “Bob, Bob, Bob, that is my name. Robert, but Bob for short. Bob, Bob, Bob, that is my name but” here she pans out to a wide shot and her voice raises three octaves “I am a GIRL!”

The best thing about these videos is that she is alone. She has no audience beyond herself and so what we see is very pure. Purely goofy, yes, but here I have evidence of the essential Lana.

The world sees a blond, blue-eyed child, generally quiet in public, seeming particularly so in contrast to a brother who is always either racing, jumping, climbing, teasing or screaming. Acquaintances, until they truly know her, imagine her as docile. In fact, she is possibly the strongest personality of the bunch – and that’s saying something, given the bunch. She is publicly reserved and privately outrageous. She is my secret extrovert while Mae, who strikes the world as bold, is my secret introvert. Mihiretu, of course, is no secret.

I will treasure this bit of – what is it? video? bytes? IPad magic?. Whatever it is, I will hold it close so I can remember this covertly wild girl, this angel with the devilish sense of humor.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Same Shit

I wrote a piece about our trip to the snow, or rather our trip to the “snow” as it’s the driest winter Tahoe has seen in recorded history (you were so right, Al Gore), but my essay got erased. Twice. That’s what you get for having children up your nether-regions – and all over your computer with their sticky little fingers – during the “holidays”. I don’t know who was having a holiday but it certainly wasn’t me.

Here’s the “snow” in a nutshell: one of our party (I won’t say who) subjecting the rest to highly stinky HAFE (high-altitude flatulence explosions, an actual medical ailment, look it up), two different Caprons simultaneously slipping on ice and peeing their pants (I won’t say who), sleeping - or should I say “sleeping” - in five bunks stacked on a wall with children crawling through the beds like a Habitrail at four a.m., Mae violently struck with altitude sickness when we took the tram to the top of Squaw (migraine aura followed by terrible headache followed by vomiting) while Mihiretu and Lana ice-skated with walker-like contraptions, like drunk eighty-year-old hooligans. And, of course, all the discomfort and hassle was worth it with one glimpse of our three children bundled like Michelin Men pulling a red plastic sled up a small hill of icy, muddy snow. That’s pretty much the long and the short of it. Can I call it done now?

In other news, we gave Mae her own room a week ago. Our office is now her lair. My desk is now in the sunny livingroom, one friend’s painting and another friend’s shadow box arranged above it. I’ve given up a room of one’s own but I like my new little space and Mae certainly likes hers. She has escaped her brother and landed in a pre-teen haven, her own private Idaho.

Last night Ben and I listened as Mae sang herself to sleep. “The flower said I wish I was a tree,” she warbled. “The tree said I wish that I could be a different kind of tree. The cat wished that it was a bee. The turtle wished that it could fly really high into the sky over rooftops and then dive deep into the sea.”

It was lovely, her singing. Not that she’s particularly gifted musically but her desire and ability to do it for herself was beautiful. She didn’t know we were listening. This was raising her voice in song for the love of it, for the love of herself.

When she moved on to a different song on the same Kimya Dawson album, a nice little number entitled “Same Shit”, it was clear it was time to pull the plug.

“Go to sleep, Mae,” Ben called.

“Day after day after day, it’s the same shit. Day after day after day, it’s the same shit. Day after day after day, it’s the same shit.”

“Mae!” Ben and I called together.

There was silence and then quietly, happily, “Day after day after day after day after day.”