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 – 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.
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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TBT – Are You Living in the Suburbs?

Suburban life in the 80sIn 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.

The suburbs are great for raising kids, and boring for raising adults.  Even in the midst of small children, I both longed for the culture and stimulation of city life, yet loved the convenient Safeway parking lot.  This conflict never really resolved itself.  I loved every city I traveled to (okay, maybe not Cairo so much, but I loved Luxor).  But I did not have to carry my groceries up five flights of stairs to my adorable apartment with interesting views and indifferent electricity.  I loved the noise and action of the city at night, but I didn’t need to get up for an early meeting the next day.

One of those suburban children lives in a small town in the Sierra Foothills and longs for acres of land for his multitude of animals.  The other lives in Kirkland, two blocks from a Starbucks.

My husband and I spilt the  difference and bought a house in a small, but lively town that has most of the culture, bars and restaurants of the big city without the stress.

Almost perfect. Isn’t that what we long for, really?

My friend “Frank” still lives in San Francisco.  And I still visit because I have season tickets to the ballet.  I don’t know why I called him Frank.  His name is Lester.

 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.
Subscribe to this blog
Or just follow me on Newbie Writers Group on Facebook
And Instagram #catharineBramkampWriter
And Pinterest Catharine Bramkamp
And @CBramkamp
The theme is, Catharine Bramkamp, thank god there is only one of me

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