I was born with an attitude problem and no eyebrows.
How did I wind up with strawberry blonde hair as a child? Unsure, because neither of my parents had orange hair in childhood, or...ever. Nor anyone I can think of!
A carrot haired* rodent arrived in the world on June 26. Her name was Nicole. She was born in Chicago and felt Chicago running in her blood. Her dad did not get the memo and worked at hopsitals in assorted downstate Illinois towns on weekdays, dragging her along. My younger self viewed downstate Illinois and eastern Missouri as the most boring places on earth. "Like, ew!" my bored baby self would have said.
Sailing the High Seas
As a youth, I declared to people when they asked what I was going to be when I grew up the truth. A "pirate black and white movie star princess." I would sail the high seas in the daytime. For my main job, I was going to be an old movie star like Marilyn Monroe and her friends, because my younger self thought Marilyn Monroe was BFFs with all the actresses she co-starred with. I thought Marilyn and pals made every aspect of their movies: writing, music, costumes, hair, makeup, set design, and of course, the acting. Little me absolutely misunderstood. What I thought she did was a real job called being a movie director. And, a film score composer. We'll get to that in a pinch.
As a youth, I liked playing GameBoy and SNES, known as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. My favorite game series was anything with Donkey Kong, and I loved playing computer games like Monkey Island. I used to find all kinds of books laying around at home, the library, anywhere and read them. Some were about DOS commands, apparently! My mom proudly loves reminding people how I once corrected an insurance salesman and fixed his malfunctioning software by inputting the proper DOS command. #LOL
I loved Hayao Miyazaki movies because my great aunt gifted them to me on VHS when she came back from her travels in the original Japanese. Any moment I went over to my great aunt and uncle's home was a blast! He married a lovely lady from Okinawa, so as you can imagine, I was heavily involved in both Midwestern and Japanese cultures and cuisines at once. She also encouraged positivity, much as if I were in Japan, so I had to do things like play piano, practice my flute, paint when she gifted me a paint set, learn about trees, or blow bubbles in her backyard. You had to have a perfect balance of work and fun. Origami was a major pastime. Always with a Roald Dahl book afterwards.
Back then, I was really into children's literature and learning about science from books made for kids. I loved books. But I also loved retro TV shows I took in with my cartoons and retro cinema. That Girl. Bewitched. Mary Tyler Moore. I'd poof my hair up and, starting when I was 7, dye my hair! I went blonde like Elizabeth Montgomery and deep brunette like Marlo Thomas. Hair dye at a young age isn't really the best hobby, I get it, yet when you think about it compared to smoking ciagrettes or the stuff other children start doing young, it's really harmless.
Going to the mall as a child getting free samples of grownup makeup, like red and pink lipstick, made me feel all the more like my favorite old film stars. I'd part my hair on the side, finger wave it, and pretend I was Jessica Rabbit, until I began dyeing it and wanted to be Veronica Lake, or whomever else made my day back then. I've never once felt like, "Yeah! I'm a girl, cool!" but me playing dress up was fun and made me feel special, like I was playing with dolls but on myself. You'd never have expected it from someone so geeky like me.
My family often took me to hotels, sometimes but not always to attend medical conferences, anywhere for a week to nine days. Whenever I was at a gift shop, I loved getting treated with an activity book. There were things like how to make lanyard bracelets, DIY pottery, anything activity based. A deck of cards with questions you could ask people on airplanes. Silly things. I loved playing tennis on a skyscraper terrace, a roller blading machine, the children's museums in every city, the adult art and science museums, and so on. I joke that I was BFFs with the mummies at the St. Louis museum! The zoos, oh yes, those were always amazing. I to this day love animals and conservation.
My lifelong love of going out to restaurants begin in childhood. Whenever I had a boring day, meh day, bland day, any day gone unhappy or tedious, a good meal at a restaurant made it all so much better. I was photographing my food before the web knew what a selfie was. People then thought it was a goofy habit. Today, all of you are imitating the younger me, haha, with your blogs and social media accounts! If I weren't living this life I am today, I would be a chef like Emeril Lagasse, Thomas Keller, Nobu Matsuhisa, and my other career role models because food, like film and music, is beauty, a perfect blend of art and science.
BOREDOM LEADS TO KNOWLEDGE
Because everything is a blessing in disguise as I later learned, the fact everything on my downstate weekdays was so boring to me caused me to obsess over learning about my great loves like computers, music, and film. There was nothing else to do! I took art classes in elementary, yet my true love was music classes. And wow, did I love music. My music teachers, both vocal and for stuff like flute, private lessons and classroom style, gave us your standard music lessons, Disney galore, classical standards by old dudes like Rachmaninoff, and by popular demand, basically anything ever written by Hans Zimmer or John Williams. The lovely Mr. Zimmer owes me McDonald's French fries for life due to the amount of music I have had to practice originally written by him. And, I had one teacher who every week made us sing Mary Poppins tunes. And you wonder why today, I'm so cheesy.
A-ha! You're curious about the other side of me. That naughty side, my sarcastic side, my rebel half. My parents had no rules about me watching R-rated films nor listening to rap music on my borrowed Sony Walkman, a hand-me-down from my dad. My Walkman looked like that one from Guardians of the Galaxy. Gifted with a Vanilla Ice cassette for me to bounce like I was "Ice with a brand new invention!" I loved tagging along to action and adventure movies my dad liked or watching them on HBO. One time, an elderly man gifted me a copy of E.T. asking what movies I liked. I said something about my dad letting me watch Leon: The Professional. He seemed really surprised. But in truth, I loved action and adventure films like I did my standard children's audience movies like Matilda.
My favorite movies growing up were anything Disney because I loved the songs and funny animal characters or the weird-cool guys like Aladdin's genie, any sci-fi or action movies I ever saw like the Alien series because I thought Sigourney Weaver's character was the most awesome woman ever on screen and who I wished I could have been on a fictional adventure, and must I say enough? Anything from the days of old Hollywood and/or Cole Porter. Oh, Cole! I loved learning about Midwestern people like him, Walt Disney, and others who made it big in entertainment because that meant I too could do the same.
Weird and sweet American-made cartoons I liked back then include but are not limited to Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, lots of Cartoon Network and The WB’s The Animaniacs.