Category Archives: children

Monday Morning Music – I See Monsters

“Oh, people are screaming, people are screaming

My baby, she’s dreaming

Oh, people are shouting, people are freaking

I’m staring at the ceiling, waiting for the feeling”

Songwriter: Ryan Adams

If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry. If we don’t hug, we’ll rage. If we don’t speak up, we will fall apart.

There’s no need for me to add to the infinite election postmortems. I mean, how can I say anything meaningful when The Pope and Coach Popovich have already weighed in? So HRC should have visited Wisconsin? Would that have made a difference?

I’m devastated. My children are crushed. They don’t want to talk about it, but I can see it on their faces. The shell-shocked realization that the bully won. That everything they’ve ever been taught to cherish – respect, kindness, empathy – doesn’t matter in America.

May you find solace in these dark days. May you find the strength to keep fighting. Question, challenge, call people out, protest, volunteer, lend a hand. Try to be better tomorrow than you are today.

Love, therockmom.

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The 8 Stages of Puzzle Building

Eisenhower, MacArthur… Dad.

Here’s my latest short film, starring friends, family and one of our cats!

Hope you enjoy it!

 

College Pt 1: the view from Hong Kong

final illu

Conceived by therockmom. Realized by Bonnie Wong.

Kids deserve your high expectations! No, no – they thrive following their own paths! The world needs engineers and doctors. The world needs creative thinkers. If you don’t get in to the Ivy League your life is over. What’s wrong with a state school? Don’t sacrifice Fine Arts in education! Everyone should learn to code!

How are we going to pay for all of this?????

My oldest is two years away from university so we’re already starting down the path: PSAT, IB, ACT, campus visits, personal essays, community service, summer prep work, faultless transcripts, blah, blah, blah.

I waiver from a rebellious ‘Does it really matter?’ attitude to a creeping anxiety that, as a parent, I should be more engaged, more helpful, more ambitious for my kids. Not helped by the fact that I live in Hong Kong, ground zero for Over Achievers Anonymous. A place where you can find a class, workshop or tutor for any and all intellectual, personal or cognitive failings.

It’s easy to say: well, I did this when I was your age and I turned out just fine. Yeah sure – in the ‘80s, when perms were awesome, Cosby was America’s Dad and China was a nation of peasants.

The world is a very different place now.

All I can say is: listen to your kids. And then find a good Physics tutor 😉

With many sincere thanks to Hong Kong artist & creative thinker Bonnie Wong for helping me realize the vision above. You can find her at: http://bonnieeewpy.com/

Monday Morning Music – Capsized

Where has the time gone? That’s my typical, yearly response when I realize my kids have only FIVE more weeks of school until summer vacation. So many plans, so much to do, so much undone. I guess you’ve noticed how I’ve neglected the blog these last two months, but I will try to rectify that situation, at least until the actual summer hols roll around.

In the meantime, here’s a so-simple-it’s-brilliant video from my current obsession: Andrew Bird. He’s an eclectic musician from Chicago, vocal-kin to Bill Withers, and this song – this song! – I’m playing it at least a dozen times a day.

Check it out, let me know what you think and enjoy the rest of your week!

 

2015: The Year in Random Thoughts and Obsessions

For my yearly wrap up of 2013, I wrote, “All hail the return of the king – David Bowie – and the art of the music video.” And I included a link to his surreal collaboration with Tilda Swinton for ‘The Stars (Are Out Tonight)’. Two years later and RIP, we’re talking and posting about how much we’ll miss Bowie. (My thoughts can be found here.)

Yes, the last year has been especially tough. I’ve lost friends and heard of marriages dissolving, read helplessly of terrorist attacks in France and the continuing assault on women’s rights in the U.S. Not to mention the masses of refugees desperate for safe havens and the innocent lives struck down by gun violence.

“Day In Day Out

Stay In Fade Out”

Yet, in the midst of everyday upheaval, small glories continue to reveal themselves. Glimmers of hope to remind us that we are not alone, that quite simply, wonders never cease. Here’s a small sampling of some of my favorite things from the world of popular culture:

lady story

Yes please! More stories about strong females. (photo taken at a shopping center in Sha Tin, by therockmom)

  1. Serena Williams tops my list for consistent awesomeness. What a joy to watch her match against Heather Watson at Wimbledon. I was with my daughters and nephews on a sunny summer morning, trying to explain the arcane scoring system. All of us cheered on Williams yet at the same time felt inexplicably proud that Watson could stretch her to three sets. Later in the year, the girls and I watched the marvelous doc, Venus and Serena, and although Williams didn’t get her Grand Slam at the US Open, we still knew: she is the greatest.
  1. In movies and television, we sought out strong girls and women and, even in the midst of the industry’s glaring inequalities, still found a few to shout about, namely: Kate (Emily Blunt/Sicario), Riley and Joy (Inside Out), Alex (Priyanka Chopra/Quantico), Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw/Beyond the Lights), Anna (Agata Trzebuchowska/Ida) and of course Rey (Daisy Ridley/Star Wars Ep VII). Recently I’ve had the pleasure of introducing my kids to The X-Files Season One and the complex relationship between Scully the scientist and Mulder the believer. As the new episodes remind us, the X-Files is just great storytelling.
  1. While I still can’t convince EO and YO of the wonders of Jane Austen, school assignments and various recommendations (not quite me shoving a book in to their hands and saying: read this! but close, lol.) have introduced them to classics by Harper Lee, Truman Capote, Joan Didion, F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Golding along with plenty of Judy Blume.
  1. And in the Department of Obsessions, I still can’t get enough of Castle, Mesut Ozil (COYG!), Maneki Nekos and Justin Beiber’s (lack of) facial hair. Say what you want, go on, I can take it 😉

    Imagine Dragons & phones

    The lights! The sounds! The… phones. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. (photo taken at Imagine Dragons’ HK show, by therockmom)

  1. Last but certainly not least, music! Live highlights of the year were Clockenflap in Hong Kong and Taylor Swift in Washington DC. For Swift, it was the girls, Grandma plus me and my dear friend and her daughter. We sat (and stood) in awe at Swift’s seemingly effortless command of the stage. She is a Force, thankfully using her powers for good, not evil. However, due to her dissatisfaction with Spotify, she’s not on my playlist of the year’s best. Instead I’ve included Ryan Adams’ version of ‘Wildest Dreams’, which was my favorite song of hers from 1989. His cover is just okay, kind of standard, sensitive RA. As I listen I realize that his whole take on 1989 has missed the point entirely. The point is that these songs were written by and about a young woman and her very specific experiences with the push and pull of desire. So a guy in his ‘40s? I don’t think he can quite capture what she’s feeling, that moment in time. As much as I love Ryan Adams, he could have given this project a miss.

I’ll finish here with the playlist – 25 songs from fantastic recent releases and a few new-to-me-this-year discoveries (KING, Sun Kil Moon). Interestingly, over half the songs are from female singers/bands and women-fronted bands. Not that I was aiming for that gender balance, it just happened, but I’m pleased nonetheless.

So much good music out there – listen, discover, enjoy!

 

Slaying the Dragons of Sarcasm

Take a ride on a sea of light (photo by therockmom).

Check your cynicism at the door and take a ride on a sea of light: Imagine Dragons in Hong Kong. (photo by therockmom)

You are merely auditing this class. You are not in control. You are here for the ride.

This is not your party.

You know that going in. You barely know any Imagine Dragons songs. They’re a young folks’ band. But so what. There’s no need to criticize the band name (which is kind of kids’ cartoon silly) or get all snarky about their connection to the Transformers movies. They work hard and deserve to earn a living, don’t they?

However, try as you might, the atmosphere at their concert makes you feel old and cynical and angry – angry mostly about the lack of anger. A rock band with songs called ‘Tip Toes’ and ‘I’m So Sorry’? Whose lead singer never utters a four-letter word? Where’s the edge? Your memory takes you back to a scrawny, strung-out Guns N’ Roses opening for The Cult. Now that – that felt dangerous.

You grump about the sea of smart phones and the ADHD tension this creates. Documenting is not experiencing. But then you find your own self, posting a snap, and you vow to put away your phone and enjoy the show. Let the music wash over you – close your eyes, come on. They’re a tight band, and their live experience and skill shows. They’re not bad. Yet you can’t quite relax and embrace the spectacle due to the random thoughts in your head, such as:

  1. Did he just sing: Dream maker / Heart breaker*? Because that would be a total crib from Pat Benatar.
  2. I blame Coldplay for this aggressive earnestness. They’re all so sweet! Jeez, for all their higher power positivity, at least U2 wrote ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘Bullet The Blue Sky’.
  3. Rock guys don’t take off their shirts anymore, do they?
  4. All this man-bun lead singer needs is an indie film girlfriend and vegan cookbook tie-in.
  5. ‘Forever Young’ is a truly lame cover tune.

What’s happening? Have you really become some misanthropic music snob? Let go, let go, let go. Lose the sarcasm. Swim with the spirit of the band’s 2.5 million Spotify followers, the 300 million plays of ‘Demons’.

Behind you, six true believers bring hope. They wave their glow sticks in solidarity and sing the words to every song. They are sweet, undaunted, and they’re having the time of their lives.

So is your youngest one, who hip bumps you and hugs you and stands arm in arm with you during the slow songs.

It’s then you realize why you’re here. This is her party.

But you’re still invited.

*The line is actually: Dream maker / Life taker from ‘Smoke and Mirrors’. I heard what I wanted to hear. A little imagination 😉

Spader Fans! Here Are Your Quiz Answers:

Thanks everyone for reading and participating in my quiz: Trending Baby Names or James Spader in the ’80s?

The hair, the HAIR! From The New Kids, courtesy of Creative Commons and www.ingridrichter.org/cheese/new_kids.html

The hair, the HAIR! From The New Kids, courtesy of Creative Commons and http://www.ingridrichter.org/cheese/new_kids.html

Here are Spader’s muy beloved characters from the ’80s. Do you have a favorite?

Let me know!

2. FenwickDiner (TV short), 1983

3. LowellFamily Secrets, 1984

5. MorganTuff Turf, 1985 (Kim Richards was the love interest, FYI)

7. DutraThe New Kids, 1985

8. RichardsMannequin, 1987

11. Digby (I inadvertently wrote Dutra twice, so changed this later. Sorry for the confusion!) – Greasy Lake, 1988

13. SteffPretty in Pink, 1986 (Those deconstructed linen suits and loafers, no socks)

17. GrahamSex, Lies and Videotape, 1989 (his most normal name for arguably the weirdest guy in the bunch)

18. DeforrestThe Rachel Papers, 1989

20. RipLess Than Zero, 1987

As for those trending baby names, most of them came courtesy of The Huffington Post. But there are three baseball-loving boys in North Carolina who deserve a mention:

Price, Grey and Preston (future attorneys-at-law) – you rock!

Trending Baby Name OR James Spader in the ’80s?

Hi all & welcome back to a bit of weekend fun. A rockmom quiz inspired by a group of young boys we encountered at a minor league baseball game over the summer.

God loves minor league baseball. (photo by therockmom)

God loves minor league baseball. (photo by therockmom)

The trio sat in front of us the whole evening: chatting, wearing their giveaway jerseys and eventually – inevitably – pouring ice cubes down each others’ backs. As local boys and fans of the team, they knew a lot about the players, such as who’d been called up to the bigs, who was the team’s best left-handed pitcher and what the heck OPS stands for (on-base plus slugging, a sabermetric i.e. ‘extra fancy’ stat). Their parents were sitting several rows behind and would periodically call out their names. As you can imagine in 2015, the Year of Our Whole Foods, there was absolutely no Tom, Dick or Harry in this group. They all had names that sounded like partners in an accounting firm. Or, as I realized a few weeks later when Pretty in Pink popped up on cable (you can’t not watch it), the names of James Spader characters from the 1980s.

His best roles, IMHO.

But I won’t say any more. See if you can identify each name as either a James Spader movie character from the ’80s or a current popular boy’s name.

Enjoy yourself and please, no fair consulting IMDB! I’ll post answers on Monday.

  1. Preston
  2. Fenwick
  3. Lowell
  4. Carson
  5. Morgan
  6. Grey
  7. Dutra
  8. Richards (with an ‘s’)
  9. Price
  10. Pax
  11. Digby
  12. Bennett
  13. Steff
  14. Logan
  15. Hudson
  16. Kingston
  17. Graham
  18. Deforrest
  19. Zed
  20. Rip

A New Chapter

Hi rockmom friends,

In case you haven’t come across any of my shameless self-promoting tweets and posts, I’ve started writing for a site called Expat Living Hong Kong, sister site to Expat Living Singapore. You can read my first post here. The super coolio thing is I’m getting paid. Crazy, I know!

No way, no tan, no how! (photo used with kind permission of Philipp Engelhorn)

No way, no tan, no how! (photo used with kind permission of Philipp Engelhorn)

Without mentioning any names, I’ve done the whole ‘write for exposure’ thing and found that I got about as much exposure as a mainland woman wearing a face-kini.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful for the experience but after 5+ years of rockmom writing I’m ready for the big leagues. Or at least a decent AAA team in a mid-sized market.

The other nice thing, aside from the do$h, is that I’ll be writing about the same range of topics I’ve covered here at rockmom: raising kids, living in Hong Kong, raising kids in Hong Kong (a very special kind of pressure cooker). Expat Living might not want my post about the latest Father John Misty album – dammit! – but I’ll learn to live with that. In fact I’ll continue to post here, and not just about the oh-so-fabulous work I’m doing elsewhere. Fear not, this site isn’t going to turn in to some platform-building, writer’s promo machine, even if I knew how to do that!

Many moons ago, I started this blog to write about music but then it kind of morphed in to a place where I can clear my head of inane theories about parenting and education and why the next generation has been unable to produce a David Lee Roth. But what’s been most gratifying is realizing there are other people out there (and not just my sister) who worry as much as I do about the pressure on children in today’s world AND the future of One Direction!

So I thank you, dear readers, as always for your support. I hope you’ll continue to enjoy therockmom and I hope you’ll feel that this is where you can connect with like-minded individuals and be yourself – much like these women:

Quindao Beach 1.

Everybody’s Free (not) To Wear Sunscreen (Sorry! Couldn’t resist. Photo used with kind permission of Philipp Engelhorn)

Have a wonderful summer – try the beach! See you in August!

All photos courtesy of the fantastic photographer, Philipp Engelhorn, from his series Qingdao Beach No 1.

Philipp lives in Hong Kong – right on! – and his work has appeared in publications around the globe. Find him at:

http://www.philippengelhorn.com/index.html

How To Be Selfish With Your Time

Hi all. My apologies for the radio silence but I’ve put aside the blog for the moment in order to finish a novel. My first. Normally I don’t like to talk about these things until I’m done because I don’t want to jinx the process or predispose myself to illusions of grandeur. But I’m far enough along (I won’t say how many rewrites I’ve done) to share this bit of information. 

I'm either going to finish this project or get diabetes. Maneki Neko, guide me! (photo by therockmom)

I’m either going to finish this project or get diabetes. Maneki Neko, guide me! (photo by therockmom)

As anyone who works from home knows, it is HARD, DAMN HARD to focus on your own creations, especially without deadlines and a guaranteed income stream. So many distractions surround you: dogs that need walking, cats that need cuddling, dishes that urgently need washing because you can’t figure out a transition from the front to the back story. Not to mention people who email, text or call requesting this and that because Hey! You’re a SAHM, what do you do with your time? Well, I’m here to tell you, you’ve got to be selfish with your time. Guard those hours when the kids are in school and you’re alone, with your life! They are gold. If you have any desire to create, start a business, learn a new skill, leave a mark in this world then don’t waste those hours. And if you’re prone to volunteeritis, you need to nip that in the bud. The PTA is going to be fine without you.

Thanks again for reading. I’ll be back soon with rockmom thoughts on the brilliant Laura Marling, BabyMen, fashion documentaries and how our apartment has morphed in to a cruise ship for cats.

Keep writing!