My parents are James E. Arconati and Lois C. Arconati. They are both St. Louis natives and met in high school. They were married in 1970 and I came along in 1976. I don't know all that much about the intervening years, but I'd like to believe they were happy years. I do know that they were very happy when I was born. They look happy in the pictures at any rate. And I should mention the pictures as that will be important.
My Dad, The Photographer-Geek
My parents took a disproportionately large amount of pictures. My father was a professional photographer at one point in his younger years, so this was a natural extension of his interests. But there are pictures of me from a few hours old and on. This may not seem that unusual but there is even some video of me at a crawling age. This was the late 1970s. My dad had access to a video camera through his work and was given limited permission to borrow it and learn how to use it. Of course, he pointed it proudly at me.
I've always viewed his interest in video as a natural extension of his interest and experience in photography. More recently, my mom said something that struck me funny though that shows a different perspective. I believe Dad was working at Southwestern Bell. Someone there had asked for volunteers that knew something about Television. Dad raised his hand because he "watched a lot of T.V." That's funny and I'd bet my dad is humble enough to admit it's at least partly true. But then again, it's got to be an oversimplification. For instance, I like food. I eat two or three meals a day, but I can't cook. I have no interest in it. Gadgets, particularly cameras, make my dad's eyes light up.
As a result of all this, I'm very comfortable around cameras. I'm kind of glad that I'm not a celebrity since they seem to develop so many issues. But I will never feel awkward with a camera pointed at me as is the case for some people. I am also very comfortable with technology in general, but if you are reading my web site, you could probably have guessed that.
My father, my sage, my fountain of knowledge...
My Mom, The Teacher
Perhaps my mother is as much of a geek in some respects. But more than anything else, she is a teacher and an educator. Briefly and prior to my birth, she worked at a telco just like my dad. But for most of her adult life, she has worked in education. She was a full-time teacher for many years and worked as a substitute on and off after my birth. I think as I got older and Jon was born, she switched to full-time daycare within the home. She'd later get her Master's degree (yeah mom!) and she now works as a school counselor. But as I was growing up, she was always a teacher even when her full time job was raising Jon and I.
She was also very interested in psychology and science in general. It's probably an unfair oversimplification to draw a line from her mother's mental illness to an attraction to studying the mind. I prefer to think of it as a ... an attraction to discovery.
Something I have learned as a father is that children teach you to discover things again. Adults look at a lawn full of fallen leaves and see chores; raking, bagging and/or mulching. Children see piling and crunching and jumping. Adults drive long trips across country and wouldn't even notice the beautiful sunset until the children in the back seat marvel aloud about it. To an adult, bugs should be swatted or sprayed. Children stare in fear, or awe or wonder or curiosity as the caterpillar makes it's cocoon. The child picks up the leaf or the stone or the bug and sees it for what it is, simple but yet beautiful and new. Perhaps I really only understand these things now because my mother encouraged me see them as a child.
I've joked over the years about what it was like to have a mother who was also a teacher / psychologist. "Eat your greenbeans!" I'd mimic. And then in the same breath, "--And tell me about your mother," as I stroked my non-existant Freudian goatee. The punchline being that she was my mother.
My mother, my guru, my fountain of wisdom...
So Much More...
Some of these details are really very fuzzy to me because I really didn't live them. I only heard these stories years later as I grew. Like any impermanent memory, I may be filling in the details haphazardly. And what's worse is that these events are all second-hand. My hope is that you get the impression of these early things as I experienced them --or quasi-experienced them, if you prefer.
There's a lot more I could say about my parents and they deserve whole volumes. Trust me when I say that they play a large role in the chapters to come. But now, let's get back to my brother.