Unmistakable After School

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TBT- Batman China

img_9839From 1987 to 89 I wrote a weekly column for the local paper.  I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and ancient terms:  1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers.   For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past.  I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material.  But it’s interesting to learn how little things really change.  Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your scrunchie  and welcome to the 80s.

I had forgotten about the Batman China.  I still have it, I still use it.  Did you know that if you  put that gold rimmed china repeatedly in the dishwasher that over 30 or so years the gold actually tarnishes?  This kind of thing never happened to Batman.  But damn, there was no way I was hand washing all those dishes at midnight on Thanksgiving, not when I had to get up early to shop on Black Friday.

So for 30 something years, into the dishwasher that china went.  It looks a bit worse for wear. But then again,  I’ve used it.  I use it for casual Saturday dinners. I use it for friends. I serve burgers on it.

I use it because to save something like that for special occasions seems like such a waste.

Almost as pointless as acquiring something so expensive and delicate in the first place.

But what did I know? You get married, you chose a god damn china pattern.  And when you suggest to your husband, who came with the china, that maybe just using paper plates on Thanksgiving would steam line the whole process, it’s now his opportunity to point out that YOU wanted the expensive china, and WE are serving dinner on the god damn china.

So I think of Batman and my ill conceived ideas about what items are important in a marriage.  Faith, love, honesty, not necessarily good china.

  When one child married, he and his wife asked for no gifts.  At all.  They chose to start their lives together dishwasher safe.   

I’m pretty proud of them.

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TBT – Don’t Drive By

In 1989 I wrote a weekly column for the local paper.  I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and ancient terms:  1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers.   For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past.  I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material.  But it’s interesting to learn how little things really change.  Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your Scrunchie  and welcome to the 80s.

1980s article about the Renaissance FairDid this work?  Did dragging the boys to the Renaissance Faire accomplish anything at all?  Yes, it did.  The oldest has at least a small knowledge of Shakespeare thanks to short presentations like Shakespeare: the Bloody Bits (truly great, nothing but fight scenes, how clever was that?).  Both boys have an appreciation for blacksmith work.  Neither have, to my knowledge, voluntarily paid money to see a Shakespeare play in full.

After reading this column what struck me was not that my husband and I were so wonderful in exposing our children to living history in general and Shakespeare in particular.  The take away was that we took advantage of the Renaissance Fair when we could.

That fair  was held   at Blackpoint in Marin County. It was considered one of the very best of it’s kind. The venue  was hilly, and shaded by ancient oak trees.  It was a mere 25-minute drive from our house.  Yet every   summer, the only conscious decision we made about the fair was to avoid traveling in that direction.  Traffic was always backed up and annoying.  For years we passed the signs, glanced at the articles, thought – yeah, at some point we should check this out.

We finally did.  It was great, and we returned with the same boys three times.    We loved everything, but worked to make sure they were engaged (they were not required to love anything actually, but the loved those swords.   I should ask if they remember the Renaissance Fair, I’m too busy asking them if they like their work, if they still have work, if their housing situation is still stable so they won’t be thinking of moving back in with us.  So selfish.

Anyway, the take away isn’t to drag your children to a Renaissance Fair because it will make them better people.  The take away is don’t ignore the interesting activities, spaces, events that are close by, don’t pass them by, turn.  Explore.

   That beautiful, perfect spot to hold a Renaissance Fair?  It is now a golf course ringed by million dollar homes.  No more mead, no more turkey legs, no more Shakespeare, no more swords.   

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TBT – Baby Sale

img_9848

In 1989 I wrote a weekly column for the local paper.  I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and ancient terms:  1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers.   For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past.  I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material.  But it’s interesting to learn how little things really change.  Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your scrunchie  and welcome to the 80s.

The moral of this story is there is no moral.  Much,much, later I took a job as the Marketing director for a non profit.   By then, I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that babies sell.  They can sell any food, any drink, any color carpet.  AND they are great at solicitation.   

For years I  exploited  my own children to promote our own retail business, a bicycle store, In one ad we took a photo of Thomas in his play pen and called him our General Manager, which wasn’t all that far from the truth.  By  the time I worked for United Way, Thomas, though cooperative,  had grown out of the cuddly phase.  I needed to increase our donation base.  A baby was the man for the job.   I asked a friend who had in her possession, a rather round, easy going baby.  She allowed me to stage a photo with her boy. He was as easy as my son, once we handed him a chocolate bar (to emphasis that babies need good nutrition, we weren’t selling chocolate, although that would have worked just as well). Great baby, great photo, good results.  The only criticism came from the Executive Director of a Senior Service non-profit who complained that I always used babies in the marketing material thus favoring child-based services.

I was too busy hunting down a kitten for the baby to hold next to pay attention.

I suggested that seniors, as a group, are not cuddly. She was not amused, but then, nothing much amused this woman, not even a kitten.   

   Babies are natural sales people built to be adorable and appealing just to prevent their  sleepless, harried caregivers from giving them away.  We all know this.

Well, I know this now.

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TBT – Barbie Rages On

In the 80s I wrote a weekly column for the local paper.  I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and ancient terms:  1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers.   For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past.  I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material.  But it’s interesting to learn how little things really change.  Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your Scrunchie  and welcome to the 80s.

1980s article on CA BarbieThere wasn’t a time in my life when I didn’t have a Barbie. And there was never a time I didn’t admire her from Bob Mackie Barbie to Scarlett O’Hara Barbie.     But for my granddaughter, there is no Barbie. Not because Barbie is a bad role model, not because Barbie has large breasts. It’s because of Elsa.  A lot of Elsa:  tall Elsa, small Elsa, the Elsa dress, the Elsa lunch box. In this family, when it’s not about Cars, it’s about Elsa.

Barbie has succumbed to politically correct thinking since I played with one as a child.  It is possible to purchase a curvy Barbie, a tall Barbie, a smaller chest Barbie.  A noble effort.  I don’t have the stats on the sales, but I would imagine that little girls still gravitate towards the inscrutable original. The Barbie with the better tan.  The Barbie with the pink house.  The Barbie with tiny high heel shoes.

Her purpose is to not be real.  Play is not real. Barbie is a grown up, and as such, can do anything she wants.  Remember that idea?  That you will be able to to be  anything and everything you want?  It’s as real as creating a whole castle made of ice in the course of a single song.

But if we don’t dream, how barren and tragic our lives would be.

I don’t know about you, but I read countless articles about capturing the sense of play in your (our, my) life.  Be spontaneous, play like a child!  But that only works if you did play like a child. If you did dress up Barbie in a handkerchief or old doilies left from Valentine’s Day and paraded her down the aisle to get married – groom optional.  Or walked her down the cat walk for her fashion show.  Or stuffed she and her friend Skipper into her pink car and drove them both off the bed.

Parents seem to work very  hard to make sure everything in  their child’s life is reality based. A noble attempt, but eliminating play is not the answer.   How can we return to our playful selves if as children we were handed a  doll with small breasts and thick ankles and told, this is Insurance Adjustor Barbie, pretend she is commuting to her cubical.

Barbie is well into her sixties.  She endures. I hope she resists this more recent attempt to make her relevant and more real. She’s not real. It’s not even the point.

I hope there are hundreds of little girls insisting that like Elsa, their Barbie can make ice castles.  Seems fair.   Seems real enough.

To learn more.
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TBT – Princess Diana and Me

Princess Di

In the 80s I wrote a weekly column for the local paper.  I know, that whole sentence that reeks of nostalgic and ancient terms:  1980, newspaper, column. Think of it as an early blog. Only with more readers.   For Throwback Thursday I thought you’d enjoy a taste of the past.  I don’t know how much I enjoy reading over my old material, but  it’s interesting to learn how little things really change.  Comment if you agree or disagree, then dig out your scrunchie  and try on the 80s for a minute.

My sister-in-law called me minutes after the news broke.  We just returned from a Labor Day family picnic, I had just seen her, so the only reason for a call was for an emergency.  I held the cordless phone and eyed the bags of wet bathing suits and extra food that was still piled on the kitchen counter. The boys had already run upstairs to avoid showering.  Did you hear the news?  Oh my God, did you hear what happened?

If I were to ask  any of my sorority sisters where they were when they heard  Princess Diana died, they would be able to tell me. She had belonged to us.  She was our generation and like many good, anti- monarchist Americans, we slavishly followed the British Royal Family.  We loved Diana, we followed her fashion choices, her parenting style, her  her triumphs.  We admired how she lived after the divorce, how she  manipulated the media before it was a thing. Her whole like was a work of art.  We wanted to be her, to live like her.

Until she didn’t. Until we realized in a terrible crash, that her fairy tale hadn’t been re-purposed like Disney, it was a Grimm original:   the mermaid dies for love, the princess doesn’t wake.

I know the sisters of Delta Delta chapter watched William marry Kate.  I was interested in their courtship but did follow the details as closely.  Reading the occasional breathless article in People Magazine was enough.  But I watched the wedding.  I cared when George was born. I cared that William wanted a different marriage that that of his parents.  I understand William vowed to posthumously elevate his mother to HRH status when he ascends the throne.  I know I’m not the only fan who  would love to see that.

To learn more.
Visit us on iTunes – Newbie Writers Podcast – new episodes start again in January 2017
Check out our upcoming book Don’t Write Like We Talk that will be published eventually. All you need to do is wait . . . Like us.
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