Browsing Archives for October 2008

I have been reading and collecting Nancy Drew books since I was a kid.
She is my hero.
As a result, I have spent almost my whole life failing to live up to her standards.  I still can’t pilot a plane, ride a bucking bronco, decipher ancient Sanskrit, thread a loom, play the bagpipes, dance a Russian jig, stand in for a famous actress, sail a yacht, survive a cave-in, whittle, speak Russian, tap dance morse code, horse whisper, or parasail a bus load of orphans away from a landslide.  
I can however shop and have lunch with my girlfriends.  
So in someways, Nancy taught me well.

 The book pictured above is one of my all time favorites. When I was a kid, I thought it was soooooo creepy.

I wonder if I spent a little too much time staring at this cover when I was a kid.

Because at some point, I felt it necessary to use a magic marker and give Nancy just a tiny dash of extremely tasteful blue eyeshadow… to make her eyes pop… you know because… she needed a little more oomph.
When it comes to Nancy Drew, and oomph… and pop… and giving that girl a make-over… I am not alone.  

In the above 1949 cover, Nancy, Bess and George sport prim dresses, and bobbed hair.   Nancy herself wears a dramatic long flared skirt, ruffled blouse, and a bow on her collar.  A perfect ensemble for climbing trees. 

In this 1967 version of the same book, Nancy dresses down… way down.  
So far down, she looks like she belongs to a religious cult.   I mean, where are the accessories?…the belt, the purse, the bow?  And her hair!  Where is the sparkle… the shine…. the strawberry blond highlights???  I am not even sure that girl on the cover is Nancy!  

Strangely, other than Nancy joining a cult, the covers are very similar.

This is the oldest Nancy Drew book that I own.  It is dated to 1931.

Clearly these girls were not in a cult.  

Look at those slim figures, heels, jackets and hats.  
Is that outstretched hand flicking a cigarette?  

From 1931 to 1935 Nancy underwent a few minor procedures.  

Sadly, she got rid of the hat, the heels, the scarf… and the cigarette.

This copy is dated from the 1960′s.  

She’s got her scarf back!

I made a Nancy Drew timeline!   

The first book is 1931, followed by 1935, 1960,1961, and 1969.

In these two 1970 covers, Nancy’s hair is much more mussed.

Her expression is more quizzical and knowing.
It is as if she has lost her wide-eyed innocence.  Too many crooks… too many kidnappers… and too many fudge-nut sundaes at the lunch counter with George and Bess.

The old Nancy would never have believed it!

Today, I am giving away a few Nancy Drew mysteries.  For a chance to win simply leave a comment telling me your favorite Nancy.  Or you can just say hi.  
Winners will be chosen at random.  Contest ends 8:00 PM CST Tuesday.    

I was raised by Abraham Lincoln

October 19th, 2008

Here is a photo of Abraham Lincoln, my mom and me on a family vacation at Disney World.  

As you can see in the above photo, my dad, Abraham Lincoln always longed to be a pro tennis player and also a photojournalist.
Fortunately, as an un-schooler, he was allowed to explore these interests at his own pace and use the knowledge he gained to eventually run for President of the United States of America.  
Which he won!  
I know he won, not only because he is my dad, but also because I went to a public school where I was forced to learn what everyone else was learning and also whatever the teacher picked for me to learn.  
Trust me … I was not doing the picking.   If I had been doing the picking, my education would have consisted of round-the-clock making up of cheerleading routines with frequent breaks for back-to-back episodes of Knots Landing followed by heavy-duty fragrance sampling in Seventeen Magazine.
However my dad, Abe, had a radically different education experience.  He was allowed to choose whatever activity or subject of interest stimulated his curiosity as long as it was either chopping down trees to clear land so that crops could be planted and the family could eat for another year … or death by starvation.  Abraham usually chose chopping because his mind had not been enslaved by the horrid chains of public education and also because his free wheelin’ parents encouraged his passion by handing him an ax.  
Occasionally, after a long day of back-breaking, curiosity-filling, field clearing, Abraham would stretch out a massive hand to open one of the five or six raggedy books that his step-mom Sarah Bush Johnson treasured.   Even though his parents were cutting-edge un-schoolers for their day, Sarah and Thomas Lincoln were not able to provide Abe with hours and hours of unfettered television watching, nor could they afford a computer, which severely inhibited the amount of time Abe had to surf the world wide web and discover new things to be curious about.  It was because of this failing on his parents’ behalf that Abraham Lincoln eventually put his own daughters in the local public schools. 

One of these daughters ended up a harried, isolated, stressed out, overworked homeschooling mother of four.  

The other daughter prefers staring into space.

Here’s a photo of Abraham now … almost 150 years after he was POTUS. 
He seems to be holding up pretty well.  
You still rock, Dad.

But not quite as much as you did in your red Adidas short-set back when you took me to Disney World.

It has been a while since I was strong enough to speak of the Oracle Known as Steve and the many, many things he has taught me over the years. Things like how to stand back and watch him as he takes over my kitchen and demands a whisk… no a better whisk… do you have a better whisk? Things like being on the Oracle’s team during huge family Thanksgiving Trivial Pursuit games when he will insist he knows the answer and I will insist he is wrong and he will insist he is right and even though I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is wrong, he will convince our entire team that he is right and then when his answer is wrong, it will be my fault for not being forceful enough in my argument.

I started learning things from the Oracle back when the Country Doctor and I were dating. In fact, the Country Doctor and I had our second date at the Oracle Known as Steve’s house. The Oracle was out of town and the Country Doctor invited me over to make dinner for him. Well.. he was actually going to make dinner for me, but I just kind of took over and then I demanded a whisk… no a better whisk… do you have a better whisk? At that point the Country Doctor realized that he was not dating his mother, he was dating his brother, and things kind of got weird, but then I forgot to put the ricotta cheese in the lasagna, and he was greatly relieved that he was not dating his brother, but just a spacey freak girl who worked in a health food co-op and had dreams of opening a theater in a barn that was surrounded by acres of wild flowers and the actors made honey during the day when they weren’t spinning wool into fantastic organic sweaters and caring for orphans and homeless people and writing books that made them all famous so that they could each build sweet little stone bungalows around the barn theater where they wrote and produced extremely compelling plays that made them even more famous and then they made quilts and fine linens and and sold eggs and had babies and loved nature and did a lot of modern dance steps and there was much frolicking and joy.

A few months after that dinner where I explained all my complex barn/theater/honey/quilts/famous/babies/dream, the Country Doctor (who was not yet a doctor but just a guy trying to decide whether or not to even go to medical school, but I will call him the Country Doctor just to make it easier) called me to tell me about an upcoming party.  The Oracle Known as Steve was throwing a huge post Missouri/KU football bash at his house and the CD wanted me to come.  I was kind of nervous about this gathering, because it would be the first time I would meet most of his family and also because it was a big party which was never really my kind of thing.  I went to a few massive parties my freshman year in college and quickly decided that it was not really something I was interested in.  I even crashed a party at the Lawrence Holidome with a bunch of girlfriends because we heard that Andrew McCarthy and Matt Dillon were going to be there and guess what!  They were there!  I even have a picture… somewhere… in some box of crap to prove it.  Still the whole red punch with vodka scene never appealed to me and I quickly found my niche with a small group of friends who preferred movies or just hanging out and being stupid to going to huge beer parties.  
Yes I know, I was a dork. 
The Oracle Known as Steve was renting a tiny house from an old lady named Pearl.  Normally I would say “elderly lady” or “grandmotherly type” but Pearl was an “old lady” in the truest sense.  She pestered the Oracle constantly.  She did not allow parties and kept a careful eye out for any unapproved overnight guests.  She drove the Oracle up the wall with her intrusive manner, but the house was cheap and the Oracle was not around much to be bothered by her so they managed to get along.
But the KU/Mizzou game was another matter.  The KU/Mizzou rivalry is even more ferocious than the KU/K-State rivalry for the Kansas Jayhawks.  It goes way back before the Civil War when Missouri was a slave state and Kansas was determined to enter the union as a free state. In order to prevent Kansas from becoming a free state, Missouri  put together a militia that came to Lawrence and ransacked a few buildings and set them on fire.  Shortly thereafter a free state lawmaker got beat up by a pro-slavery lawmaker in the capitol building followed by John Brown hacking a bunch of pro-slavery men to death with broad swords in a field, then there was more fighting and more death on both sides which is why Kansas is one of the reasons for the start of the Civil war and why it is often referred to as “Bleeding Kansas” in the history books.  Kansas hates Missouri, and Missouri hates Kansas and now this is all worked out each year on the football field and that game is celebrated a little more thirstily than others.
All of my clothes were weird back then.  (Not during the Civil War, during the early 1990′s).  I was going through my thrift store fashion period.  I preferred to think of it as “vintage” but it was really more “flea market”.  I was working in a health food co-op and at the Lawrence Arts Center and I did not need to look “normal” or “standard” in my work clothes.  In fact everyone I knew tended towards the bizarre in their apparel, or at the very least to granola-ish.  After much debate and the flinging of every item in my closet to the ground of my bedroom, I finally decided on a black pleated short skirt, a pair of dark opaque tights, and a pin striped men’s suit coat over a t-shirt.  I knew intuitively that this get-up was all wrong, but there was something in me that insisted that I had to be “me” with these people, and “me” was not a KU sweatshirt and a pair of jeans with a cute pair of Jayhawk earrings.  In fact, it still isn’t.  I still don’t own a single KU shirt.  But I have plenty of pairs of opaque tights!
I drove myself to the party and met the Country Doctor there.  The party was pretty uncomfortable for me.  The Country Doctor was glad I was there, but he was also determined to talk to every single person at the party, in a behavior I am now used to and refer to as “running for office”  He did not seem very worried if I was enjoying myself or had someone to talk to.  He just kind of left me and went off to “run for office” while I tried desperately to fade into the old lathe and plaster walls of Pearl’s house.  I talked to the Oracle a little and eventually met the rest of his family, none of whom were wearing opaque tights or men’s suit coats.  As the evening progressed and the kegs were drained, the party got rowdier and rowdier.  At one point a very nice-looking red headed guy who was wearing jeans and a cowboy shirt, which was at least somewhat unique garb for that crowd, grabbed me by the waist and spun me around the Oracle’s tiny dining room in an excellent swing dance to some traditional country tune.  The guy could really dance well and I had a great time with him but then he muttered something about his recent break-up with his fiancee and he left the party.  
A few minutes later I started hearing rumors that the Country Doctor was fighting someone on the lawn outside.  I went out and saw him wrestling some hulking dark mass to the ground.  I decided right then that it was time for me to go.  I furtively walked to my car wanting to quietly disappear without being noticed, but the Oracle saw me
leaving and begged me to take the Country Doctor home.  I didn’t know what to do, but figured it was better if I took him home than him driving himself home.  Seconds later the Oracle hauled his brother into my car and I drove him towards his house.  A few blocks down the road the Country Doctor looked up abruptly, shouted “Stop” threw open the car door and hurled all over the street and all over my car.  
After I dropped him off, I quickly determined that there was not much of a future for the Country Doctor and myself and I wondered how I could track down that cute swing dancing red head.
The next morning, the Country Doctor showed up at the health food co-op where I worked.  He looked pretty awful and was extremely apologetic.  He walked into the grocery store with a bucket of soapy water and a scrubbing brush.  In front of all the customers and employees he told me he was there to clean out my car.  And he did.  And I decided  I would give him one more chance.  One more.  Then I was going to find the red headed swing dancer.
The end.