Monday, February 21, 2011

5 Things That Defined Growing Up McGurgan

I love my family. My mother was an incredible woman with amazing strength, patience and love to be able to raise three girls the way she did under the odds she did. My Mom is tough and made me like and respect being the presence of strong women. Growing up in the McGurgan house is something I look back fondly to. I was never lonely as a child because I always had my sisters around. I never felt unloved by my mom and therefore never felt that desire to rage against the machine as so many teenagers like to do so. We are not your typical Southern American home by any standards. Not a single one of us played soccer (the closest we got to sports in our house was my little sister doing competitive gymnastics and my older sister being a JV cheerleader. I never even got close to anything competitive other than public speaking and debate. I'm probably one of the least coordinated, least sports enthused people in the universe! Our house was a place of art and international culture. And in a tiny town like Griffin: it made growing up McGurgan a pretty unique thing.

1. The Half Breed Thing
My Father is an Australian immigrant to America. The whole time he was married to my mother he was on a green card. All of us kids have both US passport and an Australian passport, which could come in handy for travelling to certain countries with travel restrictions on Americans. My Father only recently got his US citizenship. It was quite a big thing in our family. My Father's Australian identity and therfore our 1/2 blooded Aussie-ness was one of the more unique things about us as kids. We grew up eating Cadburys and Tim Tams and wearing Ugg boots before they were popular with Britney Spears.
My father's main business now is even importing Aussie products into America for rampant Aussie consumption. Who needs a giant pile of anzac bisquits, oo, I do! Pick me! We grew up in a house that was more than USA all the way. We had art from Vietnam and Japan on the walls growing up and had a lot of international clients come stay at our house when I was very small. My appreciation for all things foreign started young, I was on my first airplane before I was one years old. I know people I went to high school with who still haven't done an airplane ride yet. This concept is very strange to me as travel, foreign exposure and world cultures were very common place in my house as a kid.

2. Three Sisters
I am one of a set of three, and I'm the middle child. Do I have parental attention issues, heck yeah! Why do you think I'm in the theatrical arts?! I grew up with two sisters and I was never jealous of them and never wanted them to go away. I always loved my sisters, although sometimes I think my sisters had a hard time loving me back. I was pretty annoying at times! My God, my nasally voice can get very loud sometimes without me noticing it, Sorry Melissa!!!
Theatrically plays are often written with three siblings in them. Audiences find it familiar and comforting and a lot of similar conflicts can come up between the sets of siblings. Odd Numbers often create more controversy as one person is inevitably left out, normally ME!
My older sister, Melissa was perfect in my eyes when I was very small. She was smart and pretty. She had a lot of friends and was a naturally good artist from the time she was really small. I was also creative and artistic but because we shared similar interests and then argued over the (wrong/right) way things had to be done it caused a strain in our relationship. I respect my elder sister a lot. She is very well educated and always well put together. I never seem to have the time to brush my hair but my sister has the time to make sure she looks perfect every day.  I respect that.
My younger sister, Heather was always the smart one. She came out that way. She was also the one who strangely quiet compared next to me! I have hella respect for my little sister. She is one tough cookie. I think she tries to appear strong to those around her but I know she's sensitive. Afterall, this is the girl who is terrified of wardrobes due to a wardrobe locking incident at an old Inn in Scotland when she was four. If you were traumatized at the idea of going Narnia then you're a bit of a Sensitive Sally, somewhere in there. I could make friends with a toaster oven but Heather takes serious time/investments in her friends. If Heather decides you are her friend, you will be her friend for life. Her loyalty and smarts are something to be admired. I think she is probably the most like our mother of any of us.

3. Mommy's Girls
All three of us are Mommy's Girls. All three of us call our mother almost every day and talk to her about everything. I know, for some people this kind of mother/daughter relationship seems weird but my mom is my best friend. I can't imagine NOT sharing everything with her. She made me the sparkling personality I am today and I thank her every day for not running away pulling her hair out. My mother is NOT one of those mother's you see on Maury Povich in the hoochie clothes refusing to grow up. My mother is a grown up and always has been but she's a fun grown up! She nags us to death about things sometimes but she is our authority figure in the house. She was a mother who was willing to let us be kids and have fun and get messy (unlike some of our friends' moms who I swear had OCD their houses were so freakishly clean); she was that mom that all our friends wanted to adopt as their own because she listened and didn't judge but always told you the right thing to do. My mother taught me right from wrong strictly by leading a good example and treating others with kindness.

4. Moundsville, WV
The small town in the mountains of West Virginia where my mother grew up was also where I spent a lot of my summers growing up. Every summer we would go up for a few weeks in the summer, visit my Gram and bond as 3 generations of women. Moundsville, WV is famous for two things. 1) Fostoria Blown Glass Company, which my grandmother worked for. 2)The most haunted penetentiary in America. It was in the pilot episode of the MTV series, FEAR. Where the people had to sit in the electric chair Sparky and it threw sparks. I knew about that place before MTV told me about it! I loved going to this place as a kid. In a way, I kinda wish I could go back now. There were things about it that were so quintessential small town America, they made us feel comforted by just being in the city limits! I haven't been back since my Gram's funeral in 1999, I don't think it would be the same without staying in her perfect little pink house but I would like to go back again and remember.
1) Mad Dogs- Donuts where the hotdog is made out of frosting. Nuff said, it's awesome.
2) The Indian Mounds museum where their used to be a statue of a Kodiak Bear. Known as the Big Bear by our family, apparently he was adopted to a local highschool. LAME! Bring back Big Bear!
3) Sitting on a porch swing with lemonade and my Gram listening to her play her accordion. She could rock that thing out!

5. Public Television
My mother didn't want us watching garbage television when we were kids. We were mainly ONLY allowed to watch Public Television which was educational based or cartoons which she knew were kid friendly. Cartoons not allowed in our house included The Simpsons, which was banned because my mother thought they were rude. I grew up as a little little kid watching NOVA and Wild America on a regular basis. I would remember the best shows always came on pledge drive time and this is when we could watch Narnia (BBC production), Pollyanna and Anne of Green Gables which we totally taped and watched over and over again. My television and movie catalog before the age of ten were mainly musicals, Disney films or classic cinema. I remember watching Gone with the Wind with my mom when I was 8 and liking the costumes but not really understanding why that Scarlett lady had to be so mean! Public Television gave us a base in knowledge that really helped us in school. I can't imagine never having seen Sesame Street growing up! I still can remember all my Elementary Japanese from when Big Bird Went to Japan!!! Arigato Big Bird-san! With all the funding cutting in the states I hope that Public Television gets to stick around and continue to do it's work. Because they helped make me who I am today and I still refer to those Wishbone Shakespeare episodes before I go see a big version of it. They were so much easier to understand!!!

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