Monday, April 10, 2006

You Spin Me 'Round Like a Record

I recieved an early birthday present from my biological father Bruce on Thursday. My CD player/stereo finally gave up the ghost about a month ago, and we'd discussed my getting one of those Victrola-type consoles, with a CD player, tape deck, and record player built into the set. I'd wanted one for years, but never had the money and had heard that the CD players on most old-time sets tended to break easily.

Bruce found a set with a front-loading cassette player and CD player (most have one, the other, or both loading on the sides), and that's the one he surprised me with on Thursday morning. But that was only half of the surprise.

I was even more shocked when he brought out two boxes of records that belonged my late stepmother, Bruce's wife Kaye, and said he was giving them to me. Kaye was a sweet woman and always good to Rose and me when we saw her, and the few memories I have of her are fond ones. Kaye was a huge fan of the 20s, 30s, and 40s, and many of the albums were radio recordings or recordings from the era - especially of Humphery Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Bette Davis, and/or Shirley Temple.

The majority of the albums, though, dated from the mid-60s to the early 80s. The range of Kaye's collecting surprised me. She never struck me as a country girl, but had four John Denver albums (the most of any one artist) along with Neil Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Crystal Gale. She also didn't look like a disco type...but more than a quarter of the albums were definately disco, including the "Saturday Night Fever" soundtrack and albums by Gloria Gaynor, Diana Ross, Donna Summer, and KC and the Sunshine Band.

I was a bit surprised there wasn't more jazz. Maybe those were harder to find in the 70s and 80s. There was nothing made after 1981, either, despite record production continuing for another decade. She was a successful graphic artist when Bruce married her in the mid-80s. Maybe she got too busy for record-collecting after '81, or maybe the music of the MTV era didn't hold the same interest that the music of the previous decades did.

It's a wonderful and facinating collection, though, and even though most of the albums are avalible on CD, I'm glad to have them. I've missed records. Yeah, tapes last longer and CDs run longer...but there's just something about a record. Tapes and CDs don't have that wonderful musky smell that vinyl does, they're not as much fun to set up, and you can't watch most of them go around and around and around, somehow producing the magic of music from a bunch of plastic grooves and a needle. : 0 )

Oh, and Kaye, wherever you are now...thank you. : 0 D

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Suburban Living Ain't So Bad

I came to a realization this afternoon, after I called my mom to say "hi" and ask what was going on for Easter. She said she was going away to visit my aunt for Easter, and that I could stay here, if I wanted. We got to talking about my birthday next week, and my sister Rose, who had her birthday next week, and I told her about a gorgeous sunset I saw yesterday. Mom laughed and said "Em, you just came from the BEACH! You could see more beautiful sunsets there! How could you like it there, in the suburbs?"

You know what, Mom? I don't LIKE the suburbs. I LOVE them. I know it must sound sacriligious, but I do. I love it here. For the first time in years, I feel like I belong somewhere. I don't miss Cape May County. I miss Mom, and Dad, and Keefe, but I don't miss Cape May County.

I HATE living in a resort. I think I always have. In Wildwood, I had to take a bus five minutes over a bridge and a swamp just to get to a decent mall. Here, I just need to take a fifteen-minute bike ride. In Wildwood, my apartment had a view of two condos, a hotel, the back of the apartments I lived in, and the Wildwood High School. Here, I have an unobstructed view of a river and a park.

I am sick of resorts. I'm the opposite of Mom. She spent her childhood moving from suburb to suburb. I spent mine in a resort. And you know what? I don't recommend it anymore. Maybe Cape May was a great place to live when I was a kid, but all it is now is a bunch of fancy old condos owned by snotty New York millionares. That's no way for anyone to live.

I like walking out my front door and into nature. I like being able to just grab my bike and ride to work, to a decent mall, to historic areas. I like hearing planes overhead and trains rumble by. I LIKE having people around. I've felt so isolated my entire life that it's a pleasure knowing there are people downstairs and next door who literally and figureatively speak my language.

The beach is pretty, but it's not enough to keep me in Cape May County. If I want to go to the beach, I can visit Mom in the summer, or finally take that Ocean City trip with Amanda we've discussed for years. I never really went to the beach all that much when I lived in Wildwood, anyway. I hate sitting around on a blanket, letting my brain bake and my back get red while sand gets in unmentionable places. I prefer moving around on the beach. It's nice, but it's no longer something I really NEED.

How can Rose ignore the beauty of this part of Camden County? The parks are lovely. The historical areas are well preserved, with wonderful shops and stores. There's malls and museums and theaters and libraries...and I don't need to take two busses to get to them.

And the transportation! If I can't take my bike to my destination, I can take a bus or the Speedline trains or a ferry if I somehow end up in Camden (which I hope I never do). Folks in Cape May County have yet to understand that not everyone can afford a car, especially in this state, despite half of my neighbors in Wildwood not owning one.

I've wanted to live in a nice, normal town for years, one whose daily life didn't revolve around four months out of the year, one that felt like a community and not a "resort." Mom always told us how terrible the suburbs were, how everyone hated each other and everything was so dull and gray.

You know what, Mom? If this is suburban living...I'll take it!