Let Weirdness Reign

Sundance Catalog Attacked by Lego Hobbit Figures
Sundance Catalog Attacked by Lego Hobbit Figures, as staged by the boy and me (teen swears she was not involved).

So in honor of one weird week, I wrote one of my odder guest posts. It’s like a “you got peanut butter in my chocolate” moment, except my Sundance Catalog got in some Hobbit movies. The catalog, if you didn’t know, is a Robert Redford product that offers the ageless adventurer clothing and jewelry so free-spirited your Amex will weep turquoise tears (my description, not theirs). I’ve included a link to the piece below. Hopefully it will make more sense to you than it did my family. They–particularly the teen–think I’m not only dreadfully busy, I’m also dreadfully weird.

I could blame Daylight Savings Time. It’s been one wacky week over here–and by wacky I mean non-functioning until 9:00 a.m. My new twitch on Monday was disconcerting until I figured out I’d just put a contact lens in backwards. And honestly, I was too exhausted to take it out. That was a relief, though it would have been kind of a fun social science experiment to see how long people could go without commenting.

But no, my weirdness dates back to childhood. And speaking of, if there was one thing I would have my children know (ok, let’s be real, one of many things I’d have them know), it’s embrace your weird. Own it, and all that motivates it.

Teen has  particular concern about my childhood weirdness and references in two recent posts about our neighborhood kid practice of scooping up roadkill and giving it a proper burial. Here’s the backstory. Apparently, one of our crabbier neighbors put out some pretty strong poison to kill the raccoons rummaging in his trash. And apparently raccoons are smart but squirrels are not. The result? Lots of staggering (and eventually dead) squirrels during one spring in 1970-something Takoma Park. We kids thought that was terrible. So we shoveled them up (I’m fairly certain we delegated that to the youngest kids), dug holes in the alley behind Sarah B’s house, and buried the critters. There were solemn prayers. We thought ourselves noble, although we sensed the possibility of controversy and chose to keep our good works to ourselves. Alas, the adults in our world found out, and that was that–something about disease and health and maybe clarifying Catholic doctrine as it pertained to squirrel souls (or lack thereof). I think the poison stopped too though. We most likely saved some squirrels from a painful demise.

So see? Weird can lead to good. All those happy great-great-great squirrel grand-babies roaming Takoma Park might never have been, were it not for a childhood band of resolute squirrel grave-diggers.

My point: Austin doesn’t own weird. Let weirdness reign across the land. Read weird books. Go see weird films and weird art. Visit weird places. And do share: what’s your favorite weird place/book/art/story?

I took two eleven year old boys to see the American Art Museum’s “The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art” exhibit. They were truly enthralled, particularly by Rachel Berwick’s resin tree of birds entitled Zugunruhe. They got on the floor, checked it at all angles, talked about what they saw, and what it meant. They thought it was weird–in a good way.

Berwick's Stunning Zugunruhe
Berwick’s Stunning Zugunruhe

So maybe when “weird” comes up, explain to your kids that weird’s just another word for seeing things in a different light. And the results can be weirdly wonderful.

As for today, read my weird post about a magazine and some hobbit movies. (It may be that I had a Tolkien obsession as a kid, as evidenced by this journal my mom uncovered.) Owning it!

Here’s the article: My Sundance Catalog Shares 26 Thoughts on Three Hobbit Movies. Hope you enjoy it, that was a lot of build-up for one off-kilter piece.

My Hobbit Journal. I may have been 12.
My Hobbit Journal. I may have been 12.


6 thoughts on “Let Weirdness Reign

  1. mom says:

    You have really been industrious, honey. Read both pieces with much delight, but will have to reread at leisure to absorb. I approve of your interpretation of weird, though I confess to not remembering the squirrel business, but your dad remembers vaguely, he says. Obviously, therefore, It’s great to get it all down while the memories are vivid and contextualized.

  2. Jenny Gaylin says:

    Both of these pieces were delightful! I had a wonderfully weird childhood, including a phase in which my best friends and I played “Little House on the Prarie” and dressed the part after school. And then one of us had the great idea to wear our costumes TO school. In the 6th grade. Sigh. Perhaps our mothers might have warned us that our social lives would most likely be stunted for years to come because of that…But at least they allowed us to embrace our weird.

    1. Kristin O'Keefe says:

      I loved “Little House on the Prarie,” Jenny! My absolute favorite show (and few of few hour long shows I was allowed to watch). I may have had a bonnet. That I may have worn with my purple unicorn shoelaces. I think we’d have had a grand time together! Cheers to weird.

  3. Aviva Goldfarb says:

    Thanks for helping us keep weird alive, Kristin–truly not enough weird in our lives. Which is why I adore Halloween and Sherri Holdridge parties.

    1. Kristin O'Keefe says:

      Absolutely! Nothing more fun than dress-up. Love it!


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