Funny the World...


May 17, 2000

One of the rewards of parenthood occurs when your children grow up and you discover that you like them as people and that they have become good friends as well as your children. You don’t have to fight about cleaning their bedrooms or getting home on time. You’re free to sit and talk as a couple of adults, sharing ideas.

Our oldest child, age 34, is currently attending Berklee School of Music in Boston, getting her degree in music composition and arranging. She’s home on a mini vacation before returning to Boston to work as the music director for a summer show. We only have her for a couple of days, but I’m enjoying having her around.

On her flight out here, she had a 3 hour layover in Nashville and attempted to find something in the airport which was indicative to the area. But all she found were the same generic restaurants and gift shops that you’d find in any airport. Nothing to let you know anything about the city of Nashville whatsoever. We talked about what I’ve come to call the "USA Today-ing of America" -- how you can get on a plane anywhere in this country, fly to any other city, transfer to the nearest Holiday Inn, attend a meeting, pick up a burger at McDonald's, read USA Today, get back on the plane, fly home, and other than a few hours of actually being inside an airplane, never know you’d ever left home. We’ve become a homogenized country. The interstates take us past towns and cities at 70-80 mph (ok, so the speed is usually 65 mph--do you drive 65?) so that we have only small glimpses as we whiz by. But it doesn’t really make a difference. They all have malls. The malls all have the same restaurants, the same chain stores, the same book stores. The local accent of the sales person may be the only indication of which part of the country you are visiting.

To find the heart of America, Jeri tells me, you have to get off the main roads. She’s traveled from coast to coast in her trusty truck, visiting such great places as the "Elvis is Alive Museum," the "Corn Palace," and the famous Peabody Hotel. She likes looking for the "real America."

Along with the homogenized look this country is working to create, there is the upsurge in all sorts of gadgets. I remember sitting in at the Chicago airport not too long ago, waiting an hour for our connecting flight. O’Hare is one of the country’s busiest airports and I swear every third person walking by was talking on a cel phone. What did these people do three years ago? Who are they talking to? Is it really something so important that it can’t wait 5...10...20 hour? I remember driving a client to a doctor’s appointment not too long ago. The drive took about 20 minutes. She got into the car talking on her cel phone and hung up when we got to the doctor. The conversation concerned her cousin’s boyfriend and how this client had engaged in sexual relations with him because her cousin had just gone to sleep and if she really wanted him she should have stayed awake. Since she was sleeping, of course the client was going to take advantage of the situation and have sexual relations with him. Did this woman realize I was sitting at her elbow hearing everything she said? Cel phones have have made eavesdroppers of everyone--and does anyone care about the total lack of privacy? On the ride home from the doctor, the woman made four telephone calls and was dialing the last one as I was pulling up at her front door. When did cel phones become such an appendage? I own one. I carry it in case I have an emergency. I never turn it on unless I’m expecting a call.

Berklee School of Music has the reputation for being one of the best schools in the country for learning all the high tech stuff used to create music these days, but Jeri still likes the feel of a pen on paper, hearing the music in her head, figuring out how it’s constructed before it goes into the computer. When people tell her how clever they are for using recording devices to dissect a piece of recorded music so they can write down the notes, she likes to say "Mozart didn’t do it that way." "I like to get my hands dirty," she told me this morning. She talked about a friend who composes music on his computer and controls volume by using a mouse to move a picture of a lever on his screen. Jeri wants to feel the lever under her hands. She feels there is a place for modern technology, but she wants to have a solid foundation in the basics. She learned the value of learning her craft from the ground up when she worked as a lighting designer for a summer theatre. As in most little theatres, equipment was not state of the art and when a college kid showed up to be her assistant and asked where the computerized light board was, she was able to give him a lesson in how to use duct tape and safety pins to rig special effects when you are presented with old equipment and a minimal budget.

I love these things about our daughter. I love it that she feels she has no need of a television set but carries library cards in her wallet for libraries in California, Ohio and Massachusetts. She has never seen "Who Wants to be a Millionaire." I love to tell people that she lives in a garret, which she does--a large attic room in a house near Boston. She prefers riding her bike to driving around town. She’s a back-to-basics kinda gal who would rather sleep in a tent in the wild than a plush RV. She’s a dying breed, but I suspect she gets more out of life than an awful lot of people. She certainly is one of only a few people who can brag of having visited the country’s largest thermometer and who plans to visit "Carhenge" on her next trip across country. (I just hope that when she gets there she won’t find a McDonald’s across the street.)

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created 5/17/00 by Bev Sykes