Tag Archives: nostalgia

The Baby-Sitters Club: Push-down socks and Sea City

Facebook is really good for some things! How awesome it was to find out this piece of interesting news: Scholastic books/Ann M. Martin is reissuing several volumes of The Babysitters Club books with updated editions as well as a prequel about the events before the formation of the club. Insert loud squeals and EEEE! noises here.

Growing up I was a bit of a bookworm. Allegedly, I began reading at the age of 2 1/2-3 yrs (I’ll believe it!) and since then have been devouring books left and right. As a little girl I loved The Little House on the Prairie series (my favorite parts of the books was when they woudl describe what they ate for Christmas dinner and the gifts they got), The Westing Game (still one of my favorite books), the American Girl series (cos the books were all we could afford!), Boxcar Children, Sleepover Friends and of course- The Babysitters Club.

I tend to love my books to death, so any of the surviving volumes of the BSC books I have are pretty tattered. I don’t recall how exactly I began to read them- our school might have had only a few books, but that section of BDalton at Willowbrook Mall was my favorite place to camp out and see what books I could buy (or get my mom to buy). I would take out any I could find at our town’s public library. And they would be read, at least twice before being returned or tucked into my bookcase until the next time I decided to pluck it out to peruse.

My friends were kind of into the BSC but not as much as me- I collected the Super Specials and the trading cards, the board games, anything BSC related. I remember trying to act like a baby-sitter though my mom would never have left me alone in the house with my baby brother at the tender age of 9. I made a Kid Kit like the babysitters did for their charges, but they were really just activities for me and my brother to do when we did hang out with each other.

Each babysitter was unique- which one was I? the eternal question that burned my skull probably every time I finished a book. I thought myself as a little of each. I could be a Claudia- Asian, artsy, bad at math, in love with junk food and clothes (though my fashions were no where near as wild or crazy as hers; then again I coudl be Mary Ann, quiet, reserved, good at taking notes. Stacey never really fit me though since I thought she was the prettiest (in my head, of course), and she was diabetic and I couldn’t picture my life without sugar or chocolate. I felt really bad for her. Mallory was a bit too nerdy, Jessi was a dancer (hey, I did ballet from the ages of 3-4…), Kristy was bossy and likes sports (not my forte then and now- I will watch them, but I’m very terrified of playing any sport with bases), Dawn was too crunchy. So yeah. I would emulate Stacey’s handwriting, attempting to dot my i’s with hearts like she did.

These twins were kind of fug. sorries.

I learned a lot about fashion from the BSC- and who didn’t? Seriously, Claudia Kishi was the shit and girlfriend knew how to put together an outfit. Her fabulous fashion sense has inspired this hil-effing-arious blog by a really witty, cute, and fashionable writer- Kim-What Claudia Wore. I can’t picture my life before knowing of this post, and her analysis of the BSC and their fashion and the covers- so spot on!!! My favorite fashion/trend that Claudia would pull off (and maybe Stacey too) was when she would layer three colors of socks-and describe them as three different scoops of ice cream on a cone. I wish I had a sick block quote to insert here, but do you know how beautiful that imagery is to a 9 year old girl? Ah-maze-ing. I was all about push-down socks and went on a bit of a hunt for them, and kind of found them (in pink)- pretty much slouchy socks? Anyway, with my Express floral leggings and oversized Express sweatshit, I was pretty much the shit. I totally supported Mallory’s desicions to load up on the push-down socks in Mallory and the Trouble with Twins (#21)- as she talks about how much she admires Claudia’s earlier in the book before she goes shopping spree at Merry-Go-Round. The shopping trip is spurred by her realization that she should be a bit more daring or cute (she gets her ears pierced and I never understood tha how important it was as my ears were pierced at the tender age of 2 days old or something) because the twins she baby-sits for want to have their own identity, etc etc. Whatever, Mallory was always kind of boring but did they have some essential accessory shopping descriptions in this book!

Was it just me , or were all the guys they crushed on look like 25 yr olds who were on Melrose Place?

Another thing learned from the BSC was boys. Boys, boys, boys. Up to the time I was reading BSC, I believe my first crush was Kermit the Frog (cuuuuute) and maybe Thomas Luke (because he looked like Kermit the Frog? Mannerism-wise too), and so my first official crush was Roberto Flores in like fifth grade. then he had to piss me off because he saw D2 the Mighty Ducks (also another obsession at that time) before I did. Lame.

Anyway, the boys. They all seem to have some sort of boyfriend-Logan was Mary Ann’s Southern Gentleman, Dawn, Stacey, and Claudia went through a couple of boys and always had a crush on someone (older boys too, tsk tsk jailbait), Jessi had her dancer Quint, and even Mallory and Kristy had Ben Hobbart the Australian and Bart Winslow (who I never liked simply because his name was Bart and it rhymed with fart). Anyway, Boy Crazy Stacey (#8) when Stacey is sweatin’ on the lifeguards at NJ’s own Sea City (I equated it with Point Pleasant back in the day or Seaside Heights since that’s where we went when we were younger, but it’s probably more based on Sea Isle City or LBI) and having her summer crushes as mother’s helpers (how glam of a job was that? it sounded like the Best.Summer.Ever). Anyway, Stacey was the prettiest and always seem to have luck with guys- including Kristy’s older brother Sam- remember that? And they kissed and danced during Super Special #8-The Baby-sitters at Shadow Lake when there was the dance after the big boat parade (who lets 13 year olds drive motorboats btw?)? Well, I remembered it, and unfortunately, my idea of crushes and boys took on a very unrealistic approach since I thought that whatever happened to Stacey McGill would happen to me. Sigh.

But the memories! Several years ago, my friend Katie gifted me two Super Specials I was missing because I probably destroyed them. They were so much fun to read them. I’m pretty sure there is a picture of me floating around surrounded by my BSC books. The Super Specials were my favorite, since you got to hear it from all the BSC. I even got into the mystery series and the weirdo-emo California Diaries series for a hot second (was Ducky gay? Can someone answer this for me?). I learned about Hannukah (I met my first Jewish friend like in high school) from the Little Sisters series starring Karen, Kristy’s little step-sister. The most I ever knew about divorce (until high school when I had friends whose parents got divorced) was from the BSC books.

Looking back I guess you can throw some sort of subversion onto the books- the dyfunctional mothers that the BSC had as clients (Mrs. Barett with the three kids- oneo f which named Marnie? really? she was a hot hot mess. Cougar-worthy probs),  Kristy’s possible lesbianism, etc. But like the NYT article states, there’s a resurgence, since mothers don’t need to worry about what is in the books. It’s not like Claudia and Stacey are going to take a bunch of diet pills and go apeshit at the mall and buy like 25 pairs of push-down socks and sparkly barettes. And they are probably quite tame compared to whatever else is out there in pre-teen/Tween lit (at least there are no vampires in the BSC. or like weird prep-school threeways or something). So yeah, next time I’m at my parents, I’ll be sure to hunt them down and maybe sit down with a chapter or two and rediscover my youth.

Where are they now? I like to think….

-Kristy: The know-it-all with the business plan that started the club. The eternal tomboy, she continues to play softball and other sports through high school, letters in Varsity, gets pretty for prom (where everyone ooh’s and ahh’s) and bring Bart Winslow as her date. Post HS she attends UConn on a softball scholarship, learned to drink like a guy, and is oddly super-feely with her teammates. A little obnoxious (like the one person who keeps on asking questions during like a large lecture hall kidn of class- like that kind of annoying) and a child psych major, she graduates, works at a children’s non profit for years and marries an accountant. The both like the New York Giants and they met a sports bar. Mary Ann is her maid of honor.

-Claudia: Everyone’s favorite clothes-horse. Continues to be excellent at dressing and art, so decides to go to FIT much to her parents dismay. Moves to the big city and is a bit discouraged by everyone wearing black at orientation. Befriends a small army of gays and armed with her fake ID hits up the East village and Lower East Side. Makes out with lots of musicians and hipsters, discovers Brooklyn, single-handedly reintroduces the stirrup pant to Willamsburg, interns with Betsey Johnson, and screen prints thrift store tees and owns a clothing boutqieu in Red Hook. Lives with her domestic partner Luke who plays keyboards in a Band You Might Know Of and they live in a super cute loft that is featured in Nylon magazine. Goes to visit her parents and her older sister Janie, husband, and her niece and nephew who she paints with at least once a month. Her and Stacey still talk but you know, it’s kind of weird.

-Stacey: sugar free this and that. Decides to try her hand out at the business world and goes to NYU. Visits with Claudia at Pomme Frites but their relationship is strained when Stacey starts making out with some guy Claudia kind of liked/Claudia leaves her unattended at a party when Stacey (almost) has this major diabetic melt down something like that.  Majors in accounting with a minor in fashion marketing, and ends up at Kate Spade then to Ralph Lauren. Her fashion sense kin dof has calmed down, but is still cut, very stylish and chic. Gets engaged to a really cute guy from old money and she moves to a really sweet-ass apartment on the Upper East Side. At her wedding , her father brings his young girlfriend which totally pisses off her mom, etc etc. She has a daughter who she loves to dress up.

-Mary Ann: quiet and shy, Mary Ann graduates high school with honors and goes to Wellesley. There she is a English Lit major, hoping to go into teaching. has one lesbian experience, but then meets boy of her dreams (Logan who? oh ps- they totally keep in touch still), who she loses her virginity to. Etc, etc. Graduates and becomes a teacher, has three kids, moves back to Stonybrook with her husband to raise their brood. Calls Kristy on the weekend for brunch dates and visits Dawn once a year with the kids in California.

-Dawn: of course, the EAst Coast totally sucks, so she moves back to Cali-Cali, goes to UC Berkeley where she majors in Environmental Sciences, becomes a vegan, and practices yoga daily (she toys with getting a certification). She ends up working for some sort of government agency that collects soil samples or something. Totally quits that job when she meets her now-husband, Tom who is an ex professional surfer. They live in San Diego or whereve in a nice beach house with their four dogs, wher they also own a surf /pro shop that Dawn manages. She’s also really involved in slow food and like organic farming and farm worker’s rights.

-Jessi: So the token dancer, was totally dedicated to ballet right until some asshole at Julliard (where Quint went to!) tells her that she’s too fat and she’ll never make it as a serious ballet dancer, so she decides to pursue every other dancing genre there is- and she’s pretty much kicks ass at all of them. After graduating from state schoool, she travels the nation with several popular Broadway tours. She settles in Chicago and gets her masters in dance and teaches at University of Chicago as well as helping find a non-profit that allows inner city kids to discover dancing and shit. She meets another dreamboat in form of a lawyer/activist who tells her that she needs to rediscover her African roots, and they travel to help out needy children in Kenya.

-Mallory: the brainy redheaded junior member of the club really lets her writing flourish at Brown, where she goes for creative writing. She quickly learned to break out of her shell and becomes editor of the college newspaper, sleeps with many boys, and publishes her first volume of short stories at 21. She grows into her beauty and still fits into her ‘Mallory’ jumpsuit which becomes the center piece of a risque photoshoot by her talented friend cum lover, Jasper from RISD that she meets on Thayer Street, after bumping into him while getting crepes. they have a beautiful love affair and she picks up lots of drinking and chain smoking and continues to write dark stories about her alcoholism and murder in common suburbia. She is slightly estranged from half of her siblings, except for Vanessa, Byron, and Margo, who she travels with to Sea City once a year with their families. After becoming a popular mystery writer, she gains notoriety for her relationship with her much older publishing agent. She writes her autobiography in a week after breaking up with her mentor, while locking herself in her suite at the Boston Park Hotel with a case of wine. She dedicates chaper 10 to Jessi, Nicky (please forgive me), and her nieces and nephews.

Please also visit this lovely list by McSweeneys- The Babysitter’s Club: The College Years. hilarious.

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don’t worry I’ll catch you

Tomorow is Halloween, and yes, I’m doing the whole song and dance of dressing up. The Grandma Coat is coming out and probably some obnoxious amount of pearls and cocktail rings. Meghan and I will be heading into the City for Halloween festivities. Normally, I would avoid New York on Halloween but there is a very special event that neither of us could deny: The Get Up Kids Reunion Tour. I never stopped listening to them (ok, maybe The Guilt Show, not so much) and when I didn’t get a chance to see them on their farewell tour, I wrote it off as having to say good-bye to one of my favorite bands. But as another indicator of old age (late 20s is old age), they are reuniting. This is the band that defined so much for me and set as the soundtrack to so many things- simpler times if you must. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane:

getupkids

2000ish: I’m pretty sure I had a license and I was driving towards Watsessing back in Bloomfield to drop off some friends. One of these friends was Tishon. Tishon is one of the coolest cats I have had the pleasure of knowing in me life. I don’t exactly remember how we met, obviously it was in high school, but anyway, we were in my car with another friend and he takes out of his backpage this album.

T: “Yo, have you heard of the Get Up Kids?”

Me: “Nah, who are they?”

T: “This awesome band. This album is so good. You need to listen to it. ”

Me: “Allright.”

So, this kids was before the time of fancy cd-burners and  Something To Write Home About came to me via a mixed tape. My car (God bless you Dexter, may you RIP) only had a tape deck anyway so it was cool. And let me tell you- I listened to that sucker everytime I was in the car. Then I finally got around to burning it. Then a year or so later I got around to actually buying it. My music life was so oddly varied: I was really into Sugar Ray (I’m sorry, RPM and Mean Machine? those were awesome songs. Cmon.) but I did enjoy the Smashing Pumpkins and Weezer. So GUK was just one step further into the depths of Indie, Emo, etc.

PS: You can visit Tishon here. Learn of his awesomeness.

2001ish: Late bloomer here, I fell into my first relationship at the culmination of senior year. Jason. He was into me because:

  1. My lack of smiling (really.)
  2. My sharp wit.
  3. My ‘cool’ taste in music.

OK, so my music taste wasn’t established but #3 rested on the simple fact that I listened to a band like the Get Up Kids. After high school, I wanted to get out NJ for a while, so I decided to go school in Providence, RI. It became a Long Distance Relationship and as most high school couples take the leap to college couple, we needed to mark our territories and celebrate every single tradition.

A quick thing that got established by Jay was a song. This song was Mass Pike. You know, because I lived in Rhode Island…and that was the gateway to New England. You do not take the Massachusetts Turnpike to Providence from New Jersey, but because he associated it with us it was The Best Song Ever. The dinky, almost child-like intro would always bring a smile to my face. Jay would listen to it and then tell me about it when we had a scheduled camera chat (web cams were kind of a big deal back then) or on the phone (I ran up a stupid phone bill the first month in Providence. let’s not discuss it). He was so psyched when he downloaded it illegally from somewhere. he would play it over the phone too. It became a staple in mixed CD’s he would make for me.

We broke up at the end of Freshman year. (We’re totally cool now).

album-on-a-wire

2002ish: Ok, actually in between the awesome phone convos and blowing kisses over a Logitech web cam, there was some other business going on to. Looking back at it, it was almost natural to happen- being miles away from your first ‘love’ and meeting new people, that crushes develop on boys who are not your boyfriend! My relationship with Jay was somewhat deteriorating around March of 02, obviously this is more evident to us now- I had kind of established a newer identity in Providence- punk, emo, or hardcore shows, track jacket wearing, scenester night at Club Hell. I had met friends who exposed me to these cool new things, that I could dig because of my pedigree of Get Up Kids and Vagrant records show and Battle of the Bands at Birchwood Nightclub back at home.

But anyway, around that time I was hanging with my usual posse in Providence; mainly Nisha and Corianne. Then all of sudden, I started hanging out with this other dude. I don’t remember when, how he came around. Patrick. He just appeared out of nowhere, hanging out with Nisha then all of sudden hanging out with me. I remember many a night sitting in the camp chairs in his room, one floor up watching the late show by ourselves and him being with us when we were trying to find a bats+mice/Bradford Ave show deep into the Eastside.

Patrick was a NJ native, chubby in the hot kind of way, didn’t talk too much, lived on the sixth floor of McNulty Hall but we were friends. My 19th birthday was marred though when Nisha got mad that I was hanging out with Patrick and he said he wouldn’t go to Club Hell and that kind of bummed me out. I totally had a crush on him.

Anyway, the GUK connection here is that he burned me On the Wire because I loved The Get Up Kids, and couldn’t figure out how to illegally download music onto my computer. We both agreed it was ‘Ok’ but I kind of secretly cherished it because he had given it to me (along with Second Stage Turbine Blade by Coheed and Cambria)- it absolutely rules when crushes give you gifts.At the end of the year I hated JWU and was moving back to go to Rutgers/NJ and we kept in touch on and off and I saw him once when I visited Nisha and Corianne.

2006ish: I was on the verge of graduating college, and I was a frightful mess most of my senior year. I probably didn’t acknowledge it and either hung out with my then boyfriend (no GUK connections there- I think I tried getting him to listen to it and he wasn’t having it), worked, studied, or drank. I had a good life in New Brunswick with my friends.

Proceed to my 23rd birthday. Rutgersfest, crazy debaucherous festival of music and booze was taking place the Friday before my birthday. Unfortunately, I was burdened with finishing my entire college education in the time span of 2 days- 2 twenty page papers and 2 exams and lets throw in a presentation for good measure. I didn’t have the nice pad of finals study time like most other people, so I spent most of Rutgersfest in the computer lab, until I had enough and needed to drink.

I got a surprising text from Patrick. Let me explain- he had moved back to NJ after college and would try to hang out in New Brunswick with  me, but I always had something going on. Anyway, this night it happened to be the right timing  and we ended meeting up and hanging out with other friends here and there that crazy night.

He kissed me that night. I had a boyfriend. He said he was in love with me. I said he drank too much beer.Etc, etc.  I broke up with my boyfriend, started hanging out with him a lot, graduated college, went on dates with him (like actual dates) and had amazing fun the entire month of May.

Did things work out between us? No. I went to the Philippines for a month and came back to flakiness, so that was that. I still though, can’t help but think of him when I listen to this album. Overdue pretty much sums it up. I went out on a limb for him, but instead I was 23. But if anything, it got me out of a stale relationship with my ex boyfriend, boosted my confidence, and after all the crying and being bummed out- I got my groove back and a series of events led me to my current SO, who I can safely say, is the love of my life.

get_up_kids-four_minute_mile

2004ish: I was back at home, enrolled at Rutgers,  super depressed for a lot of reasons. This GUK exerpt of life will be short and sweet. Four-Minute Mile is probably the GUK album I associate with some really rad friends.

It’s funny, but it’s not explicit because I don’t remember the connect as clearly as the others. I just remember listening to this album with a variety of people. I remember asking Megha’s super cute neighbor who was into super awesome music if he wanted to go to Eighteen Visions (yeah, bitches I was so hardcore. yeah right, I was going because my RI friends were in town for it) and he totally had this album. Some guy that Megha made out with in her dorm gave her his copy of it, and I ‘m pretty sure this is how it came into my ownership. Emily listened to a lot of awesome music and our friendship was based on mutual intimidation (it’s related to the Eighteen Visions concert) and I remember other than the Smiths, I was totally freaking out because she had this album.

God, I love the Get Up Kids and I am sooo psyched for tomorrow’s show. The last thing I will mention is the amazing music video idea I’ve had for Action & Action since forever. I’m pretty sure I drew out storyboards. It came after I saw Empire Records and That Thing You Do! and somehow the idea formed.

Basically, The Get Up Kids are this awesome early 60ish rock and roll garage band that gets signed (insert the Tom Hank figure from TTYD here) to play like the number 1 tv show in the country. They blow up and take the country by storm: there are a lot of montages of girls screaming, they are wearing matching suits, vintage microphones- it’s like the Beatles but it’s the Get Up Kids.  BUT THEN! Matt Pryor is getting too much attention and this is causing mad internal conflict and they break up. Flash to cover of Life magazine with the news.

Now, if you’re familiar with the song, the break up happens about 2:40 minutes into the song. You flash to the news etc, then at 2:50ish you see a solo drumstick beating out that riff or whatever you call it- then slowly the rest of the band comes into focus and omg…they are back together again. The rest of the video is the Get Up Kids playing their come back tour and it’s awesome because it’s in color- a big deal in the 60s, right?

The Get Up Kids, Meghan, and I (and probably some people we might not want to see because of our past muahaha) will be at the Fillmore at Irving Plaza, on Halloween, with sassy cat masks. Get at us!

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