Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The "scrap" is key to an enduring scrapbook

David Cassidy has died and along with him, a tiny piece of my gristled heart. When I was a little girl, I purchased with my own money an 8x10 black and white glossy poster of DC that hung in my bedroom for longer than was probably cool.  Over my childhood, the childish bedroom art came down and the rock and roll record album posters went up.  David stood tall in the shadow of that 4x3 foot Frampton Comes Alive poster.  What I'm about to write feels true so I'll slip into memoir mode for just one second to say that my best friend Sherri (I'm smelling her armpit above because that's just solidly funny in a photo booth) made fun of David Cassidy still hanging on my wall. She had older brothers with scary blacklight posters of Ozzie and Alice Cooper and I want to say a panther, so I'm positive she would have shared her opinion about my little 8x10 dreamboat.  I cared what she thought about a lot of things, but I don't feel like she instigated his eventual removal.  A girl's bedroom is her sanctum at the end of the day, and while friends might tease you about your David Cassidy poster, those friends go home at night and....David stays.

I suspect that David actually finally came off the wall around 1977 when he married a Miss Kay Lenz.  First marriage for both.  They looked happy, she was a starlet television actress with gorgeous long chestnut hair and a lot of teeth.  We would have been friends.  I looked at her mermaid dress and her strappy shoes and then I took a good hard look in the mirror (#MeAt14 above) acknowledging that the ship of our romance had sunk. I released my crush on David, being a good girlfriend to Kay, and to be a really good sport about it I cut out the newspaper clipping and put it in my scrapbook.  I will BE the bigger person about this, David. 

I went looking for my scrapbook last night when I heard he died, because I was pretty sure he was in there, and he was.  My scrapbook is a chronological mishmash of stuff assembled on the whim of me as high school senior, maybe in summer with some time on my hands to create a portentous masterpiece of my life thus far.  Invitations to bar mitzvahs and sweet sixteens are included, and the scrapbook ends with senior year graduation cards and corsages.  Four critical years of basically, parties.

I never got into the scrapbooking craze of the early 2000s, which was an industry quickly decimated by the smart phone, thank you Jesus.  The execution of these scrapbooks was about precision and tools and themes and perfection.  It was about creating a utopic version of the current state of your family, omitting the fact or scarier yet including the fact pictorially that your toilet training kid pooped in the neighbor's front yard. So precious!  Family stories were told through beaming faces in national parks and words of inspiration and calligraphy and borders and thought bubbles.  To me, it was horrendous.  And worth saying, many moms who had the toughest time managing their hellions had the most perfect scrapbooks.  "Let me just insert you right here inside this bordered page with a smile on your face and GLUE YOU DOWN."

"Scrap" is the key element in scrapbooking.  Scrapbooks should be ragtag, right?  A collection of paper and pressable relics; torn ticket stubs obviously for the BEST concert you ever went to by a band you can't remember, invitations, clippings from the newspaper of cute athlete boys who are "just friends." My scrapbook of the late 1970s, ungainly and dorky like myself, is surprisingly holding up fine without lamination or moisture control. Again, like myself.  I can't recall the meaning of many of the handwritten references or even some of the events for which I had tickets.  However, two best friends from childhood who have died in the past five years are represented through their cards and letters by beautiful accident, just like David Cassidy's wedding announcement. A lot of junk surrounding a few really precious scraps.  As I flip the pages of my scrapbook I feel my thirtysomething parents, I feel the dread and excitement of school,  I feel the music I loved and I feel the friendships I knew.  I feel myself.  It's a dandy time capsule for emotions and sensations without specificity that would otherwise be lost to me.  RIP David, Sandra and Karen.  I would never forget you, but I am so happy to still feel you.

I hope Bobby Sherman is still kickin'.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Focus and light

When our laptop died a few years back, I switched over to my smart phone for pretty much everything.  I take pictures and troll Facebook and google everything and stay in constant touch with throngs of people and keep my calendar. Like you do.  But the underbelly of this decision for me was that communication and correspondence with everyone has grown abbreviated and truncated.  Efficient maybe, but lacking.  Indeed with the immediacy of texting, transactional communication is a breeze.  So helpful with quick questions, flight times and numbers, check ins, and don't even get me started on my love for Bitmoji.  But I'm actually terrible at this efficient style of communication even when the subject is transactional. I wander wildly off course and it becomes defeating for everyone when I send fifty texts to the other person's one:

Ally: What are the last four of Dad's SS#   Need for work form
Me: X-X-X-X.  How are you?  
Me: Today was a hard day, I really missed Nana for some reason, I wonder why? 
Me: How is your weather? How is Billy? 
Me: Have you seen Hidden Figures? So good!
Ally: Um im at work ttyl

I am pretty sure that the Do Not Disturb function on iPhones was invented by guys and gals to block chatty moms.

The one thing that is really impossible to do from a smart phone is write a paragraph. And sometimes I have a paragraph I really need to get out.  The smart world is good for a tweet, a text, a meme, a petition, a list, and anonymity around true motive and being drawn in to a deeper conversation.  It is so easy to disappear into the ether if the conversation gets complicated, yes I'm talking to you. I guess I'm also tired of the uncertainty of being understood in 140 characters, of being pushed around by a PUSH notification existence and a growing unsocial media. Now I'm not a FB quitter, no sir.  I will never be the person who is left behind on the most current American cultural reference and if you suggest something like that, well you can..."Cassshh me ousside, how 'bout dat?"  But in a somewhat regressive move,  I bought another laptop.  I am moving my own conversation back to a more appropriate platform for getting out all my feelings and probing for deeper understanding and communion with my fellow person. I think the occasional blog comment is more life affirming than a hundred likes on Facebook and imagine all the space in everyone's text feeds with me gone! You're welcome, Ally and Liv. 

As for my photography, the iPhone camera technology has sadly kicked my camera's ass to the curb.  Filters and editing compliment my slacker ways.  I have a bit of artistry in me when it comes to seeing the shot, but meh, not so interested in learning how to technically make the shot.  Let's leave that to the geniuses at Apple shall we?  My real camera sits in a bag and I'm not even sure where.  I had my problems with focus and light with my traditional camera, never made better because of my resistance to RTFMD*.  The word manual implies labor which immediately makes me sleepy.  It is a marital issue as much as anything and Chip finally agreed that I bring several other strengths to the marriage so we just let this one go.  

I will try to find my new muse in the Inland Northwest and to find the funny.  The Midwest was so dang easy for material that I'm not sure I can top it but I'll try. 
*read the fucking manual, darling

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

May 2016

I turned 53 this month.  Time to start eating my vegetables.

I turned 53. Too late to start eating my vegetables? Trying some vegetarian recipes in advance of Ally's return.  Vegetarian crab cakes, sweet pea hummus

Thursday, September 3, 2015

So long summer

My explanation for moving has crystallized into an oratory about family priorities and freedom from restrictive vacation policy. I'm boring myself to death and probably everyone else.  Although as I tell women of a certain age my story of freedom, they look at me like Debra Winger in An Officer and a Gentleman, being carried off the factory floor by an officer dressed in white.  I don't think too many people leave my health system willingly before retirement.  And even those nurses that retire seem apologetic about it. Like they are letting down the team.  Organizational culture is strong where I work, and it used to be an organization where people worked for their whole careers.  I'm not sure now that the unions are gone that employees will still feel that same security or allegiance in the future.

Summer is done, fall is a welcome change as always.  The garden is brown, the mums are for sale, the geese are flying, and the local produce, apples.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The technology is all different

Firing up a blog after four years is like getting R2D2 up and running.  Chip has started his drive westward HO with his mini covered wagon, and coincidentally I saw the friend this week who inspired this blog.  Time to go looking for Obi Wan.  So much has happened in five years that I'm unsure of this rickety e journal's relevance in 2015. But I know enough that it's less lonely on a journey if I can bring a few people along. Travel, transition, redefinition, relevance and now post-fifty melodrama.  I have some stuff to say, if only to decrease the amount of spam this site receives when it's dormant.  And that brings me to a thousand stories since 2011.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Love letters

I guess I feel a burning need to discuss my Anglophilia, post a very fun trip to London this past week.  Sure, I don't know any other languages so maybe it's just laziness on my part.  Or could it be heritage?  My grandfather's family immigrated from England (by way of Ireland of course, but that used to be a family secret) at the turn of the twentieth century and when I was a kid my relatives still embraced an awful lot of Irish and English culture within the family.  Although 70 years later it was mostly expressed in the form of insanity but also in our family food preparation, dress, commonly used words and phrases and grudges held.  
bikes and phone boxes still around in 2011
Andrew Sullivan, slightly more popular blogger than I, posted this weekend about what he misses most about England.  It got me thinking about what is special for me.  It's certainly not the people, or the weather, or even the food that keeps me coming back.  One doesn't always feel the love when it comes to these dimensions of English life.  But I relish crazy little things, like the idea of a shadow government functioning in fantasy alongside the real government.  I love that in an otherwise expensive economy for consumers, candy and tabloids are and have always been an incredible bargain.  I love all British comedy and most British TV, music and newspapers.  I love that department stores are alive and well.  I love that pubs are full in the afternoons of people drinking beer and that people smoke cigarettes (granted outside now) without looking furtive or ashamed.  I love that the whole country has shared identity through the BBC and the monarchy and the Church of England.  I love that women's fashion is always slightly slutty and that breast cleavage is freely shown and rarely mentioned.

my favorite department store

delicious meal at The Ivy after the theater,
where the star of our play came in minutes after us and sat just two tables away

I love that you can say "fuck" on television but never "bloody".  I love, and I will loosely quote Andrew Sullivan who said it most aptly, "[the lack] of religious extremism in public discourse."  I love the year round greenness of grass and the care of a garden rather than a lawn.  I love the tradition of arranging small Christmas parties at restaurants with friends and colleagues and the very dear aspect of those parties which is hand delivering Christmas cards to one another given out at the table like valentines.   I love the progressive nature of art appreciation in London within the same society that has a great misunderstanding still of what causes illness and what cures it.  This fact was never so clear to me as when Olivia's foot was runover at school by a car and while waiting for the ambulance, the school secretary made her a cup of tea.

a perfect view of parliament
So there's my love letter about my homeland.  As for my love letter about my husband, I simply state in the most British way possible, "Well done you."  I feel lucky and always slightly suspicious of being undeserving of all the love and good stuff in life that feels heaped upon me, like Mardi Gras beads on a baby.  But I'm mixing my geographic metaphors.
I am terrible at selfies

Monday, October 31, 2011


Homemade soup, butternut squash, Halloween, caramel apples, crunchy leaves, golden sunlight.  It's fall and it's lovely.  And tonight, a first!   I broke my streak of 20 plus years of having way too much candy on Halloween.  I actually ran out of every single last piece of candy in the joint with over 200 pieces walking away with Packers and Yankees and ghouls and witches and princesses and ninjas.  Tiny tigers and pumpkins, round and clueless as they were cute, plunging pudgy hands into the candy bowl for candy I'm sure they would never eat.   I'm not even sure they knew it was candy, it was just colorful.  There's nothing more triumphant than running out of a reputable amount of candy.  It kind of puffs you up.  Ran out of candy, what can you do?  I'm awesome.   Really what I forget is that we don't have any candy coming in anymore on Halloween, just going out.  No bags to raid for those last few kids that show up to the party late.  I rooted through the pantry shelves and came up with single serving potato chips and Cliff bars.  But in the end it was too tragic, so after about three kids I turned out the lights.

The Chicken and Mrs. Bachmann
Our street has evolved as the new drive-in street for kids across the way.  It's an easy access street, close by, wide and car-friendly. Parents can hover at or crawl along the curb while the kids do a few houses at a time before hitting a curmudgeon's house.  Then they get a whoop or a whistle from the car and all go hopping back in the car in search of more lighted houses. When I was young, it was mere feet between neighbors, but the little legs here have to go quite a bit further between houses for a hard won snack size candy bar.  The kids come in big groups, all ages and sizes, some with costumes and some without, it really doesn't matter because most are wearing coats.  There might be several moms or dads or just older siblings leading the way.  Some families collect candy for the baby in the stroller, a favorite tradition of ours from our days in West Philly.  The kids are fearful of stepping into the foyer presumably because they've been told never to go into stranger's houses (good rule), so I have to step outside to give the candy and get a look at their costumes.  They say Trick or Treat and thank you without prompting. Some of them go off script and tell me how nice my house is which I find touching.  They feel like neighbors but I don't know where they live and I wish I knew them better.  Ally told me to stop giving two and three pieces at a time, admonishing me that I would run out.  "I heard you out there sneaking them extra pieces, Mom.  No wonder you ran out."  I know, I can't help myself.  

ironically the mime is stuck outside the glass door
Halloween is a special night for me, from growing up in the trick or treating capital of the world, Narberth, PA to starting a Halloween tradition in West Philly that continues today and now to Madison where I'm mostly the nice older lady who is a soft touch.   Ah, whatever.  It's one night and no need for limits.  As my neighbor posted on Facebook tonight, and I paraphrase, "if I ever get tired of cute little princesses and pumpkins ringing my doorbell, commence with the beatings."