Mae’s First Concert Rule

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been places I don’t belong.  Usually it’s not so much that I truly don’t belong, as much I don’t appear to belong.  I am sort of an old soul chameleon.  I enjoy having different hobbies and interests that don’t necessarily mix amongst themselves.

When I moved to California and became involved in a few different scenes, whether it was music, surfing, desert camping or antiquing, I found that as long as you play the part and believe that you belong, you can generally avoid standing out.

The first time I met the Red Hot Chili Peppers, I was at a charity event with a friend/date; I’m not sure what he was, honestly.  I bought my way into a small show, but there was a clear segregation between invited celebrities and ticket holders.  My “date” was clearly more interested in mingling with the bartenders while I was interested in making my very first attempt to score a couple minutes with the Peppers; any of them would do.  So while my “date” and I went separate ways, I found myself locking eyes with another fan who did not dress the part.  I mean, I had clearly been prepared in a sparkly pink sequin shirt, leather pants and spiked heels.  He was in a Chili Pepper t-shirt and Dickies.    Still, as I stood alone, as did he, at least we knew we had something in common; Chili Peppers.

After the usual introductions, he quickly asked if I’d been into the forbidden area of the evening; the main house.  I likely replied with something goofy like, “but we aren’t allowed in there”.  Fan Boy had a hint of trouble in his eyes, said “come on” and grabbed my hand.  As we approached a kitchen area, which had a wide open door to the back of the mansion, he stopped me and looked me dead in the eyes and said “if you act like you belong here, no one will question you.  Act like you own the place”.

So in the door we went, amongst buzzing kitchen workers, up the back stairs in stilettos I could barely function in and there we were.  We were in.  This was my first concert rule that I’d keep branded in my mind for all time; act like you belong and no one will question you.  It works because we clearly did not look the part, but we acted like we did…until we approached the band Continue reading

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How Do I Become A Girlfriend?

Growing up in a neighborhood of boys, I only played with Barbies in private, unless they were invited to a GI Joe game and they needed a nurse doll present.  I was an only child till I was eight and I was fascinated with so many things.  My parents never led me to understand what was meant for boys or girls because I think they wanted me to experience childhood the way they both had.

I didn’t really have girlfriends until I started grade school.  Still, I played ballerina or Paula Abdul (don’t ask) with the girls and then army or Pogs with the boys.  As I got older, I found girls like me.  My best friends in high school were not girlie.  They could play rough with the boys but dress pretty for prom too.  We were a perfect fit.  We still are, except out of the group of girls I cherish the most, we are scattered amongst four states in separate geographically regions of the United States.

I’ve been hopelessly awkward since I began college.  I left home and found myself having to start from scratch.  Southern California does not give an East Coast girl the same kind of welcome a surfer girl gets, particularly Continue reading

I Belong to Nowhere

I visited an old friend last weekend and she was asking what my husband and I were up to, and if we had any future plans.  I told her that depending on what happens with my career, we wouldn’t be opposed to moving to Europe or some authentically historic American town, but we’ll see what happens.  She said how she could never do that, just pick up and leave, but it’s something that we have grown accustom to and maybe it’s slightly hereditary.

I’m an avid ancestry enthusiast.  Every key member to my family tree, at least going back a few generations, had the same defining quality; the ability to be fearless and never look back.  This to me is a quality because I admire their courage and ambition, to pick up from their place of birth and independently find a new home in a new state, country, continent, etc.  And they did it alone.  They all did.

This is a blessing and a curse because combined; these adventurous ancestors gave me life.  Had they not, I don’t want to say “ran away”, but rather “looked for better opportunities”, I wouldn’t exist.  It’s a curse because, as a researcher, it’s very difficult to track them.  I run into possible distant connections and it appears my ancestor was always the black sheep who left and never wrote home.  There never seems to be hostility or a tragic story that I’m aware of based on family stories, they were just ok being independent.

That being said, I began frequently re-establishing myself early and being the “new kid” by changing schools throughout my youth.  Not by my choice, but my parents, due to transportation, tuition, educational factors and eventually a move just before high school.  I settled in well for the most part at each place and sought my own adventure to California after graduation.  I never truly felt like I fit in anywhere. Though I did find myself back in New Jersey a few years ago, close to family and old friends, I really don’t feel that I have a home.  The town I grew up in until I was 13 would probably be the closest thing to a “home” feeling but most of the people who lived there are gone or have passed away.  If you remember, I was friendly with the elderly people.  Sure I had friends that were my age, but they’ve since grown and moved too.

Today we live in a town close by, which feels like a neighborhood that people grew up in, finished school, started to grow their own family and then moved back in.  There is a sense of community, but not for me.  I am friendly with people here, but my roots weren’t here.  I think it is why I find the idea of moving anywhere that feels comfortable, so appealing, because I don’t need to stay anywhere out of obligation.  No one else in my family has.

My husband and I are the same way.  Having grown up in Iowa, and then joined the military, it caused his zip code to change more than a few times.  We come from heritages that we didn’t technically belong to.  My family has strong Irish and German tradition, but I don’t necessarily belong there.  My family for generations lived in Philadelphia and I was even born there, but then became the first to be raised in the suburbs of New Jersey.  Although it’s only minutes away, I didn’t grow up in a row home with a corner candy store or play baseball on the asphalt, so I can’t claim that as home either.  I grew up in a house where people had their own space and minded their business.  They were people looking to remove themselves from city culture; maybe culture altogether.  I don’t want to come off as ungrateful, I’ve had a fortune life with loving parents, but the circumstances have just left me feeling a little lost as an adult.

We aren’t tied to anywhere and maybe we’re not quite sure where home is yet.  I suppose we’ll have to find it together and make it that way ourselves.  We can be the “new kids” together.

You lived where?

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I recently read a fellow blogger’s account of San Diego. We lived there for seven years, but relocated three years ago to the Philadelphia tri-state area. I thought of all the great experiences my husband and I had there, from Legoland to Los Angeles daytrips. I realized that all my life, I’ve lived in places that people pay good money to visit.

We heard Sea World’s fireworks every summer night from our apartment and viewed the San Diego Harbor from the top of our street. We were within minutes of the Gaslamp Quarter and the famed beaches. We enjoyed each special place lesleycarter noted in her blog but San Diego simply never felt like home to us. I guess we weren’t California people.  As beautiful as it is, it is expensive as well. We often worked so hard to live, that we actually rarely lived at all.  Sure, we hit all the main highlights over the years, but we probably have seen the beach more by visiting now, then we ever did living there.  Yes, it’s regrettable, but there is no going back now.  We will always remember what we did do instead.

There was one place missing on Lesley’s list.  Sunset Cliffs was a special place that I miss the most. The eroding cliffs stand tall over jagged rocks with, you guessed it, gorgeous sunsets as the backdrop each evening. The regulars were so varied; the occasional homeless but harmless wanderer, the rich jogger, stoned surfer and eclectic photographer. The weekends brought pale tourists and couples taking their pups for a long stroll. It was free and beautiful, while expanding just long enough to find an escape from the crowded San Diego freeways and neighborhoods.

We are now lucky enough to live within a short drive of every historical and prominent city on the East Coast.  The amount of cultural and geographical points of interest is simply astounding.  Still, there’s no doubt that when the snow starts to fall, people will ask, “You moved from San Diego?  Are you crazy?”

Now, we make an effort to incorporate ourselves in as much of the culture as we can here, without taking it for granted.  So one day, when we’ve worn out our welcome or find a new destination, we can look back and say that we really lived.

Check out the referenced blog:  Top 10 Favorite Cities Visited – #5 San Diego, United States of America. By LesleyCarter

*Sunset Cliffs photo courtesy of www.toomuchwinetoolittletime.com