Thanks, Mom


I got up this morning, made myself a cup of coffee from Sumatran beans purchased in Makanda, and stood sipping it on the deck as I looked out over the little organic garden in my backyard.

I spent the afternoon working at a job I adore and then drove home with an album of Bob Dylan covers pouring from the speakers in my tie-dyed artcar.

I am complicated and eccentric and outrageous and confident, a latter-day hippie with a social conscience, a DIY streak, and a taste for vinyl records, historic preservation, and irony, and it occurs to me that my mom had almost everything to do with that.

Here are some things Mom did for me, without which I would be a different person:

* Taught me to read at age 2. That pretty much set the tone for everything that followed.
* Let me read Mother Earth News and Organic Gardening over her shoulder when I was 3. I think I knew the recipe for thermophilic compost before I knew the recipe for oatmeal cookies.
* Matched my donation to Greenpeace to save the baby harp seals when I was 4.
* Exposed me to great music — Neil Diamond and the Beatles and most of the ’60s folk revival — and looked the other way while I was wailing into a hairbrush about having “two kinds of lovers, one on each coast” at age 9 or liberating Diamond’s Tap Root Manuscript and Joan Baez’s David’s Album from her vinyl collection at 15.
* Loaned me her copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull — and encouraged me to fly.
* Never, ever allowed me to own a Barbie.
* Tipped me off to the story that more or less cemented my reputation as a journalist and led to my first paying freelance gig when I was 14.
* Bought me my first espresso machine. (This may or may not have been a ploy to get me to quit cutting class to hang out at Longbranch, but the end result was a taste for good coffee that remains part of my life all these years later.)
* Set aside her personal tastes long enough to let me dye my hair when I turned 17.
* Scoffed — frequently and always within my earshot — at people who are afraid of aging.
* Never accepted “I can’t” as an excuse.
* Encouraged me to express myself, whether she agreed with the sentiments I was expressing or not.

Thanks, Mom. I love you.