Thursday, November 30, 2006

13 things that put the Q. in Quirky

No self-respecting art blog would be complete without a copy of Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises. I’ve always seen the single white iris as a self-portrait of the artist – a lonely man, alienated by his genius and mental illness. But his uniqueness also made him beautiful and made his artistic vision of the world priceless. I think that kind of individuality is worth emulating.

So today’s Thursday Thirteen – in honor of Vincent – lists 9 ways I have tried to stand out from the crowd plus 4 ways that my kids are carrying on the tradition.

1. I often sign my name “Julie Q.” This started when I was young and I felt deprived by my parents’ politically incorrect tradition of giving their daughters no middle names because they would get them when they got married. (Ask my 2 unmarried sisters how much they love this tradition.)

2. For a few years growing up, I also eliminated the “e” from the end of my name because there were far too many other Julies around. I confess, I occasionally even dotted the i with a cute circle that (in retrospect) was a little too large for common decency. I strongly deny any vicious rumors that I ever made the dot into a heart.

3. I have no white walls in my home. We’ve got yellow, two shades of green, a kind of pinkish-brown speckle, a paint color called “camel-spit,” and in the boys’ room sky-blue with clouds and green hills with a huge freight train that runs across the base of three walls. I’m sure if we ever tried to sell this house, the realtor would walk through and shake her head, “Good grief woman, have you never heard of neutrals?” But I like it this way. Color makes me happy.

4. I grew up in a family of polyglots which literally means many tongues but thankfully here means speakers of many languages. We sing “O Tanenbaum” in German, “I am a Child of God” in Chinese, “Un elefante” in Spanish, and an odd little song in Guaraní called “Wasington,” which we chant while passing rolled up socks around in a circle. I’m assuming this is somewhat unique, but you never know.

5. I have a blog. I named it something strange enough that I have to put a glossary in my sidebar.

6. At my Junior High, it was the height of coolness to own an Izod™ shirt. To be authentic, these shirts had to have an official Izod insignia alligator on the left side and be purchased in the mall at Copper Rivet for the exorbitant price of $12. Just to be different (and perhaps also because I couldn’t afford to keep up with the trend), I found a knit material with tiny, bright pink alligators all over it and made my own shirt. My motto: “If you can’t join ‘em, outsew ‘em.”

7. Our family celebrates Groundhog day. Every year on February 2, my husband and the kids and I watch the movie Groundhog Day and wax nostalgic about our visit to Punxsutawney, PA. I’ve suggested many times that GD should be a national holiday, but for some reason my bill never makes it out of the Senate committee hearings. Darn those politicians.

8. My all-time favorite movie – Sense and Sensibility – isn’t all that unusual since lots of people like Jane Austen. But my 2nd favorite movie is Harold and Maude – a dark comedy made in 1971 about a young man who drives a hearse, stages suicides to get his mother’s attention and falls in love with an 79 year-old flower child. Weird enough? My friend Tara and I have hosted a couple of Harold and Maude parties where we served food from the movie and decorated the place with sunflowers. And cleavers. And a severed arm. (You need to see this movie).

9. During each of the past few years we have homeschooled our kids in one form or another. This means we stand out from our neighbors. But we also do a kind of dual enrollment arrangement where the kids attend public school for part of the day. This means we stand out from our homeschool friends, who see us as less than fully converted to the cause. Maybe I just have a hard time making up my mind. Or maybe not. I’ll have to think about that one.

+ 1. You thought I was joking when I said that Ethan once wanted to be Hoover Dam for Halloween? We take the creative costume thing very seriously.

+ 2. McKay went through a phase where he insisted on wearing turtlenecks every day. For an entire year. Fall, winter, spring and summer. We humored him on his one and I bought a whole bunch of turtlenecks because he was the middle child and needed a way to assert his independence. When I’m looking through old family photos I can always date the ones from that year by what McKay is wearing.

+ 3. My 5 year old son Gabriel has more quirkiness in his little finger than I have in my whole body. The other night at dinner he befriended his biscuit and refused to eat little “Indoors,” and instead made him a bed in a Tupperware container. Gabie then made us put Indoors up on top of the fridge out of harm’s way. This was because the last time we had biscuits, Gabriel also made a new friend who sadly met his demise when a bouncy ball knocked him from the counter to the floor where he crumbled, as biscuits and sometimes friendships do.

+ 4. Admittedly it’s difficult for a 6-month old baby to distinguish herself. But so far Nora has shown an amazing aptitude at making dolphin noises. I don’t speak dolphin so I’m not sure if her vocabulary is particularly eloquent or not. But I suspect she’s going to be a poet. Either that or a yoga instructor.

Well that's my list, but I have one more side note. It makes me sad when on the first day of a new semester I ask my students to tell me something unusual about themselves and a few say they can’t think of anything. I’m hoping this is just because they go blank under pressure, not because they don’t feel unique. I think everyone needs to be quirky in some way or another.


TARA said...

You won't tell my boss that I look in on your blog most days from work, will you?

Harold and Maude - Heh, heh! I remember those parties with fondness. Harold and Maude happens to be one of only 3 movies I actually own. And talk about Quirky! I'm the one who gave you a cleaver as a wedding present... What on earth was I thinking?!?

Perhaps when I get home I'll have to search through old correspondence to see if I can find any evidence of "Juli Q" dotted with a heart - thought I will say I don't ever recall you do that!

Love the blog!

Julie said...

I love my cleaver! Coolest wedding present we got.

You really only own 3 movies? I'm thinking I have your Groundhog Day present all picked out :)

Ann Kroeker said...

Laugh quotient: 8.75

Didn't think I was going to get a good throat-clearing guffaw when it started out with lonely, white-iris Vincent, but then the humor flowed throughout your list.

Very nice post.

I especially noted the biscuit friend. My quirky daughter #3 has made me set aside a wide assortment of odd bits and pieces on top of the fridge: a dead walking stick, many branches collected on walks, rocks, shell fragments from beach trips, deformed apples that charmed her...and as a hybrid homeschooler myself, I tend to humor her in the name of Lifelong Learning.

TARA said...

Perhaps I should just come to the next GD Party!

amy said...

Thanks for letting us get to know you a bit more

Julie said...

It's funny to see what odd things kids form bonds with. I've been known to discard pine cones and melted plastic cup blobs that turned out to be REALLY important artifacts. I'm learning to ask before tossing. Although a dead walking stick might just get chucked without approval if it were on my fridge :)

We'll reserve you a spot on the couch. But really we should be coming to your house since it's so much lovelier in Arizona during February than here.

diane said...

What a great Thursday Thirteen!
And #6 had me laughing out loud. How cute. :)

Anonymous said...

Umm...I didn't need the sidebar glossary to know what your blog meant. What does that say about me?

TARA said...

Absolutely! There's plenty of room for all, and though February can be our coldest month, it feels downright springlike compared to Utah then. Come on down anytime!

Will you still come if I confess that I've never seen Sense and Sensibility?

Anonymous said...

What a fun and inspiring Thursday Thirteen! We all need to celebrate our own quirkiness more. After all, life would be boring if we didn't have diversity. I know I am grateful that not everyone chooses to be a lawyer, doctor or business person. I am grateful that we have artists and chefs and remarkable teachers.

And instead of trying to always be like somebody else, we should be trying to be more true and honest to our self. Thanks for your insight!

ali said...

hoover dam! i love it!

Anonymous said...

Where has your blog been all my life?! Love it, Harold & Maude and the Hoover Dam. I live in Albuquirky so I understand what it's like.

Annie said...

Oh Julie, I've never run into anyone whose even heard of Harold and Maude! Yes~I loved that quirky movie! But I think I'd have to pass on the party -- LOL Loved your Izod shirt idea, think your kids are all brilliant (like mine, of course!) and suspect your neighbors and homeschooling friends are secretly envious if not downright jealous of you and your household. There's a strand of pure JOY running through everything you write about -- which can't help but rub off on your lucky children. Wonderful post. Come visit me again -=-I actually have something NEW on my blog! Wonders never cease!!! LOL

Annie said...

Forgot to mention this, Julie. Did you know (or am I the LAST to know this?) that the song "Starry, Starry Night" is a song written about Vincent Van Gogh?? Yup. Now that I know this, the song makes perfect sense to me -- whereas before I thought it was wierd.

Annie said...

Okay. Comment #3. So shoot me!! The biscuit thing...boy does that bring back memories of my middle kid. He had this thing about wierd foods. Like when you find a potatoe chip in a strange shape, or breakfast cereal pieces, etc. etc. Back then there wasn't digital photography so I'd not want to use up a single exposure for just one item. He had a "wierd food" plastic container he'd lovingly put these "treasures" into. Then when the container was full, he'd have a "photo-shoot" by laying all the items in a certain order on the kitchen table. I wonder what the photo developing people thought when they'd see these pictures! LOL I think our children become better individuals BECAUSE WE HONOR their "quirks". My son is all grown up now and still loves those pictures. And he turned out just fine! LOL

Anonymous said...

Harold and Maude is etched into my memory. I saw it as a teenager. What is it about that movie that makes it so unforgetable?

Ruth said...

I didn't need the sidebar glossary either, I'm scared to start listing the unique things about myself, I'd never stop. Loved your post and your son's relationship with the biscuit is just priceless.

Heth said...

So the Q is for quirky? Juli Quirky?

Funny list. LOVE the biscuit.

Bernita said...

Hmmm, I'm like your students I guess.

Jenn said...

Juli- I don't think I have seen anything more wonderful in blogland than a kid dressed as the Hoover Dam! I can hardly wait to wake my dh to show him! He thinks I am weird because I really wanted to go their while we were dating. Then he thought I was weird because I looked at the snowglobes in the giftshop. "Snowglobes at the Hoover Dam!..." Can you hear the rant? Well I made a photo snow globe of us at the Hoover Dam for his birthday. Yep, I agree with you- wierd is wonderful. And I think we need to bring back, "It's just a phase." My grandmother said that all the time to excuse weird behavior-no diagnosis, no Child Study Team meetings- just a phase.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a great list! I think the thing about growing up singing songs in different languages is my favorite of all your "quirks."

Love the Hoover Dam, too.

scribbit said...

Can't think of anything quirky? Irony, that in itself is possibly quirky. But then artistis, writers, etc. examine a bit more minutely I think. Your post makes me want to know your children better (and I mean that in the most non-offensive, non-stalker way of course :)

Julie said...

I'm sorry it sometimes takes me forever to respond to comments. I have no excuse since I'm a slacker even when I don't have a broken foot. My students hate how long it takes me to return papers too.

But I do love to hear your remarks and I hope it's obvious that I read them and think up clever replies but just don't get around to typing them until its too late and I figure you'll never return to see them. I'll try to make it up to you by stopping by your blogs

And a big Wahoo! to those of you that have seen Harold and Maude already. It's a rather hard movie to forget. If the hanging in the opening scene doesn't grab you, the last scene will.

Annie, someday I'll have to figure out how to post my slideshow of Van Gogh paintings set to Starry Starry Night. I'm not the first Humanities Prof. to ever do this, but I put a lot of thought into matching the images with the words. Maybe I can You-tube it?

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Hey, we homeschool too! Seeing your Van Gogh picture stirred up that old ditty, "Vincent", now playing endlessly in my head.

"Starry, starry night, paint your palette blue and gray...."

The Lazy Organizer said...

Man you people are weird! Naming biscuits? My children aren't even clever enough to name their stuffed animals!