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Don't let Mosley (a.k.a."Mouse") sit with us—he has nothing to say. Demosthenes learning to speak.


Dear Kim,

Catch up time. The Girl Scouts show brought up kid-ness. So want to talk more about being kids. You said...

(Kim: There was a lot of pain for me being a kid. I had trouble learning to speak, trouble getting by in a competitive school.)

(Kim: I had a lot of trouble learning to speak. I still have trouble with new words, or with a foreign language. As well, I don't process information like "the normal bear." I also had lots of allergies and was always plagued by a runny nose. I was short, which was not good for athletics. And then when I was 12 my foot was crushed by a horse. But I discovered photography when I was 12 and from that point thought of nothing else.)

Can you say more about your pain of being a kid? I have written previously about my difficulties being a teenager. Interestingly, the Post-Dispatch has been doing an in-depth series about teenagers and how their brains undergo such differences when they enter adolescence, that they have major mood swings. It will be good to have some science by way of explanation for some behaviors and feelings. Although some of the mood swings are also environmental in my opinion.

In some ways, most teenagers are so ready for certain kinds of independence. But the dangerous world we live in is not. And their parents are usually terrified and sometimes punishing of their burgeoning sexuality.

I remember being frustrated at age 15 because I desperately wanted to wear black--so much seems desperate when you are 15—and my mother categorically refused. I knew I was a young sophisticate. I knew I should be wearing black and drinking coffee. I knew I should be studying African art and reading Lawrence Ferlingetti.

Think about it. So much of one's self expression is censored as a young person. Sometimes, you cant even choose your color palette.

I painted my room purple at one point, which I guess was a fairly radical departure into the world of paint and my mother said it looked like a whore house.

I wish instead, she had congratulated me on my style and boldness.

I also know she was doing the best she could. She came from an extremely poor immigrant family. The idea of painting walls period was fairly foreign to her.
Still, I wonder if most adults and parents understand the impact of some of their casual comments.

As I write, I have a very strong memory of sitting on the stoop of our old apartment in Hyde Park at 55th and Everett. (Kim: I lived on Woodlawn, between 55th and 56th streets.) Down the block from where Saul Bellow used to live, by the way. Hyde Park was filled with writers and intellectuals, as you know. Because of the University of Chicago.

So I remember sitting on the stoop, and watching the glow of the sun setting, the sienna casting over the old brick apartment buildings and feeling a kind of dread and melancholy about life, about going in for dinner, about the confinement of school and the demands of family.

A kind if existential dread, really. And I was all of eight or nine years old.

Later,
Joan
Monday, Dec 12, 2005
1:44 PM

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