What we learn watching home videos… of ourselves.

For the final movie of my collegiate career, I am required to “insert” myself into the cinematic equation. My professor demands that at least ten percent of the film be autobiographical. And so, taking my cue from an old Nick at Nite sitcom, I responded, “Your wish is my command, Master.” (Sadly my professor is Italian and my I Dream of Jeannie reference was lost on him.)

Upon my return to New York, I collected family home videos documenting my life between ages 0-4, and Moses was I a hand full. Development psychologists claim, though, that a child’s personality becomes visible when he or she is a toddler, and so I have made it my goal to extract the portions of the film that properly reflect Yaffa at age 21.

I now provide you with the highlights of my digitization experiment:

1. My love of journalism. Like any good Jewish parent, my father aspired to raise a leading intellectual. As a result of this aspiration, he would repeatedly place The New York Times on my high chair during breakfast time. When I wasn’t spitting up KIX cereal or throwing my Lieben’s chocolate yogurt at the camera, I would spread the newspaper wide and smile. Journalism– even if was composed of words beyond my toddler understanding– was fascinating stuff.

2. My refusal to ever quit. Upon my first birthday, my great aunts and uncles presented me with several boxes of lady-like attire. When the boxes were placed before me, I set about opening them. My mother asked that no one assist me in this endeavor, and sure enough, after a few minutes of scratching, clawing, and tearing at the cardboard, I still had failed to open the presents. I look distressed at first, but then my frustration gave into determination and I employed a new technique: biting the box with my budding teeth. I succeeded and floral dresses abounded.

Did I mention some of relatives are ex-hippies?

3. I am never going to be a hairstylist. The two most memorable hair styles I sported were the blonde mohawk at age 1 and the Billy Cyrus mullet at age 2. Seriously, my hair was long in all the wrong places. And my mother wonders why I am willing to cough off so much of my her money for a decent haircut these days.

4. I have a love for random trivia. As Andy announced at my Passover seder, I should be on Jeopardy because I have an affinity for random bits of historical and pop-cultural trivia. I was the only girl in my first grade class who knew the only American president to never wed was James Buchanan (the bachelor who preceded Lincoln). And while in diapers my parents sat me down in front of Jeopardy on a nightly basis to prime me for my eventual appearance on the show. The best subtitle in the whole film is beneath an image of me holding a remote: “Alex, I’ll take Toys ‘r’ Us for 100.”

5. I have a love of all things caloric– and particularly fried. Many of the highlights of my home videos are shots of me consuming my body weight in fried dough at a Native American Fair; strawberry shortcake at my first birthday party; a potato latke during my second Chanukah. Yes, even as a toddler I appreciated food. And while I occasionally ate a banana, my mother managed to juxtapose those banana moments with images of monkeys at the Bronx Zoo– subsequently drawing a parallel between babies and animals: a lack of self control regarding anything edible.

And with that I conclude my trip down memory land in my parents’ humble Queens abode.


37 responses to “What we learn watching home videos… of ourselves.

  1. hysterical…. love it…..

  2. Amazing post to wake up to. Cannot WAIT to see the finished product!

  3. I really appreciate your use of the phrase “fascinating stuff.” Was this an intentional shoutout, or am I not the only lady at Wellesley capable of infiltrating your vocabulary?

  4. What a fun post!

    As a writer by profession and passion, I share your love of journalism — even from a young age (I was reading the local newspaper for fun when I was 5, and I contributed my first article at the ripe age of 8).

    And I sported the Billy Ray mullet, too! By-level with a tail, I think it was called. Ugh. 😉

  5. I too love all things caloric and fried! Congrats on a great post, and FP-ed, as well! Hang on for the ride!

  6. Oh, the things you learn about yourself when taking a trip down memory lane 🙂

  7. Interesting assignment. As a film school grad, I can honestly say I’d have a tough time putting myself in a video and showing it to people, but that might just be me. Sounds like you have some great memories.

  8. I’d so love to do that kind of assignment! Wicked awesome. Too bad I’m not in school anymore xD But I’m sure you’ll come up with something great with all your memories.

  9. Loved the post! I too have a love and passion for trivia!!

  10. I love looking back on old photos and videos. You definitely realize how young you are when you find things you are pationate about.

  11. on FP, I have a similar post I think, but mine has nothing to do with home videos and by the way that dress looks like an Ukrainian/Russian country uniform.:)

  12. Wait mullets aren’t cool? Great post, nice to see you Freshly Pressed!

  13. Love the post. Although I never sported the mullet or the mohawk, I have seen some pics/movies of me with some cool ‘do’s. Thanks for the flashback.


  14. Fun post. Your personality comes through. Congrats on being FP. Arla

  15. Haha, great post! Via my old home movies I re-discovered the following about myself:

    1. I am hyper and way too loud
    2. I am impatient
    3. I believe I am an awesome dancer – this may or may not be true
    4. I don’t see the point in combing my hair

  16. Hipster Wandering Asian Gnome

    I read this blog before it made FP XD

  17. Congrats on being Freshly pressed



  18. This was such a great, eye-opening and interesting post! Congratulations on being FP’d, this post definitely deserves it. It’s inspiring in fact, i’ve never thought to explore my traits as a character when I was a toddler and compare them to my personality now. Perhaps on a rainy day, i’ll follow your path and dig out my own! I hope you do well on your final movie, by the sounds of it you’re half way to a brilliant film! Rebecca.

  19. i recently watched a video of clips from the first few yeards of my life and was Amazed at how much my personality has not changed. Kesha was right, we are who we are 🙂 cheers on FP!

  20. Haha, it’s amazing how hard-wired our personalities seem to be! Your writing is beautiful, as I’m sure your film will be! Congrats on FP!

  21. Myra's papers

    This was cute. Thanks!

  22. We didn’t have the luxury of videocams in the 70’s, so I learned to draw.

  23. Good luck on your assignment. You’ve actually given me an idea for a blog post of my own… IF there were any video footage of me as a child, what would it show? Too bad you didn’t post a small snippet of your home movies for us.
    Well done on the FP!

  24. Dos iz eh grosser shaina poist. How’s that!
    Yashar koach!

  25. Pingback: What We Learn Watching Family Home Videos of Ourselves « if the sky's the limit.

  26. I love this post! It’s so funny, yet so real! I learned something from one of my videos as a little one… I cried everytime my mom was about turn the video camera off. Hahaha!

    Anyways, good luck and thanks for sharing!

  27. Good Luck for the assignment.

  28. I completely identify with this article! Especially part 5. Funny post, thanks for it.

  29. Hi.. you are interesting.. it’s a funny post 🙂
    Thanks for sharing it 🙂

  30. This is hilarious 🙂
    will send to your neighbors ’round this way who knew you way back when…

  31. Hi.. you are interesting.. it’s a funny post
    Thanks for sharing it

  32. Pingback: The Seven Year Old Refrain. | Living on a Latte and a Prayer

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