Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Colin Yu-Lang


7 pounds, 6 ounces.

everything changes, again. 

Monday, March 08, 2021

why my daughter rocks.

this is not meant to be a “wives & daughters” post (AOC FTW), but rather a “getting older” reflection on some funny things with my daughter, as she approaches FIVE.

When i was in grad school, reeling from a some self-inflicted, female-related drama, i went for a drive to clear my head, as i often did in those younger years. i somehow ended up in the toy aisle of a local Target, and found a“Playskool” Spider-Man figure. $7 of retail therapy later, Spidey would sit on dressers and desks for the next few years, cheering me up with his super hero cuteness. 

More than a decade later, awaiting the birth of our daughter, Spidey moved from next to my keyboard to the ledge above the door in what would become my daughter’s nursery (it was the same room, as i was giving up our home office, and all the comics and toys that had filled it =). Joining Spidey perched on that high ledge from which he would watch over my daughter were a few other “super friends” collected over the years - my prized Japanese super-deformed Boba Fett & Chewbacca, the Mighty Mugg of Johnny Storm, a Funko Groot (who once sat in a houseplant), Ganesh (obv), the Mighty Thorbz (o.g. big hat), and even some custom Cubecraft figures of my wife + i (thanks Kickstarter!)

My daughter was born, and every day I would walk+rock her to sleep - strolling between her room and the adjacent kitchen of our small apartment, singing whatever words i could put to lyrics - rock songs, ad jingles, the co-mingling recycling instructions on our fridge, and the names, secret identities, and secret origins of all the heroes protecting her. 

As she got older and could start to form words, she’d point to each figure and ask for their names. Our Mega Man dorbz became known as “boy” (he was blue), and our Naruto dorbz became “girl” (that hair). In the less than two year old language that only we could understand, she’d ask for all of their real names - Peter Parker, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner. And i quickly soon realized one thing: they were all boys (even Naruto, believe it!)

The woke, Uber-nerd Dad in me was taken aback. This was the guy who, upon the credits-roll The Force Awakens, had his 6-months pregnant wife turn to him and say “we’re not naming her Rey.” The guy who rolled his eyes at every little girl in a Wonder Woman costume*, bc that was “too obvious” (esp if you understand the troubled history of WW’s creator). 

eBay and Amazon made a lot of money from me in the months to follow. Starfire, Gamora, Katana, Jean Grey (Dark Phoenix, obv), Barbara Gordon (purple Yvonne Craig version, obv), Kara Zor-El - all quickly crowded out the boys on that ledge above my daughter’s door. I even begrudgingly bought a Wonder Woman figure found in the $1 bin at the local toy store. I eventually found a dollhouse at a local yard sale, and all the ladies had some pretty epic house-parties over the years (boys were allowed with chaperones, obv).

As my daughter got older - she went in and out of playing with her action figures as her interests evolved. But to my delight, a curiousity about super-heroes and comic books persisted (that award-winning, and always great Tiny Titans, Smile, and Calvin & Hobbes have become favorites. Rey, Ahsoka Tano, and Princess Leia (the only acceptable princess) also moved into the dollhouse, alongside Hawkgirl and Raven. 

And somewhere in there we finally let her start watching videos (don’t judge unless you have kids and are working full time / don’t pay a nanny =). We discovered the often cute, always silly antics of Bluey, PJ Mask, the Octonauts, the Rocketeer and many more. But best / worst of all were the animated film soundtracks. Trolls, Trolls 2, and Sing, in particular. Don’t get me wrong, those are some fresh, catchy beats, but after playing them exclusively in the car for any road trip, I found myself longing to for the monotone voices of Teri Gross, Jad Abumrod, and Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vitor.

After about the 11-thousandth time of singing along with Justin Timberlake (“Can’t Stop the Feeling!”), confirming my platonic dad crush on Anna Kendrick, Rockin out with Barb, Going off the rails on a Crazy Trainhearing 2 Pigs channel Taylor Swift, or the last straw (needle?) Scarlett Johansson rocking the porcupine, my daughter was feeling the pull of my other great love - rock music. Don’t get me wrong - in the early years we fed our kid a steady diet of Casper Babypants, Flaming Lips, and Pharrell…but nothing sticks the landing quite like animated creatures singing pop/rock songs***)

As we made her listen to REST of these soundtracks, she started to ask questions about the singers, and other great songs. DESPERATE to listen to anything else in the car, i mined my MP3s and playlists for songs I knew we could both enjoy rocking out to. And while i could - and would - easily default to my favorites - the Beatles, Weezer, the Dandy Warhols - i was not going to make the same superhero mistake as before. Especially because it was clear - be it Anna, Barb, Ash, Scarlet, or even Taylor - that she had a preference for the girl rock (bonus thanks to Grandma + Uncle Mike). 

the Breeders, the Bangles, Blondie the Cardigans, Elastica, and No Doubt.

Alanis, Ani, Bjork, Fiona, Lauryn Hill, Joni Mitchell, Josie & the Pussycats, Liz Pahir, Neko Case, and more. 

And whatever kind of guitar she wants to play - electric, bass, or air - we’re going to start rocking out - and turning it up to ELEVEN.

*i clearly had not received the Christmas card from myself +1 year in the future**
**i over-corrected with a home-made Bat-Girl costume for her the following year
***though FWIW - the song “Zombie Bastards” (Weezer) appears on a mix CD frequently played in my wife’s car, and my daughter thinks its called “Zombie Wetzlers” after our family dentist (it’s catchy!)
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