Musings

August 14,1983

August 14, 1983

CD, Nicky and I are all excited about the new baby sister in our house.
CD, Nicky and I are all excited about the new baby sister in our house.

My brilliant niece Carly wrote an essay in high school about how their family’s animal hierarchy suffered a seismic upheaval every time a new feline entered the household. When a new human being joins an existing family unit, the reverberations can be – and usually are – far more extreme.

Aunt Joyce and I looking on as others fuss about the new baby.
Aunt Joyce and I looking on as others fuss about the new baby.

In the case of S and CD, not so much, unless both of them have successfully hidden their trauma for years. In my mind, the seven-year gap in their ages was as responsible for the smooth transition as their respective temperaments. CD was more engaged with his peer group, less dependent on his parents, therefore less inclined to resent her intrusion.

The princess asleep on her royal pillow.
The princess asleep on her royal pillow.

However, just because sibling rivalry didn’t rear its ugly head doesn’t mean our home avoided an earthquake. I’d repressed all memory of 3 AM feedings and dirty diapers but total recall returned with a vengeance. We all rose and slept to the rhythm of a baby. Sometimes the sheer exhaustion was overwhelming.

CD does a closeup check as Grandma K. holds the baby.
CD does a closeup check as Grandma K. holds the baby.

What I wouldn’t give to live through those golden days again…

CD telling Grandpa K. All about his new sister.
CD telling Grandpa K. all about his new sister.

 

 

August 10, 1982

August 10, 1982

1982 was the year when Time Magazine honored the PC, rather than a human, and declared it Machine Of The Year.
1982 was the year when Time Magazine honored the PC, rather than a human, and declared it Machine of the Year.
Typical layout of a Computerland store allowing customers hands-on access to the computers
Typical layout of a Computerland store allowing customers hands-on access to the computers

Little did I know the degree to which the personal computer would come to dominate our lives – much less, how much cheaper they would become.  The machine we bought that day used a DOS program (which I insisted on pronouncing like the Spanish word for “two” which drove J crazy) and big floppy discs. It was possible to play word games on it, but graphics were far in the future. Even so, “The Adventures of Zork” was so enticing CD taught himself to read overnight to play.

Typing on my blue Selectric
Typing on my blue Selectric
The IBM Selectric Typewriter
The IBM Selectric Typewriter

Screen-writing software didn’t exist – nor did the mouse. If the internet was out there, I was not informed. The transition from my electric blue Selectric typewriter – a prized possession purchased over two years of monthly payments – was painful. The Selectric seemed so much easier and faster than the computer.  Ultimately, I had to give the Selectric away to force myself to learn this newfangled thing.

Learning Curve

Today, it’s hard to remember the days when adding or deleting a paragraph meant typing the entire document again. Making copies meant smudged carbon paper or a trip to a copy store. Changing a font meant buying another IBM bouncing ball – in those days, a pricey thirty dollars a pop. I loved to change fonts and accumulated several.

IBM Selectric bouncing ball fonts

You were required to check your own spelling.

August 7, 1977

August 7, 1977

Cindy and Jeffrey
Cindy and Jeffrey

 This is one of those days where hope and birth comingle with despair and death – although, fortunately, it didn’t end in literal death.  I didn’t know N personally – apparently, around the office she was regarded as a drama queen, not to be taken seriously. Forty-one years later, after the high-profile suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain as well as the suicides of two people I knew very casually – I don’t think it’s safe to ignore anyone’s threat of suicide, histrionic drama queen or not.

People - Talent & Tragedy

Although this isn’t the meaning the attorney quoted above intended, every suicide leaves a mess to clean up in the lives of those left behind. No one in my immediate orbit has taken their own life (yet) but several of my dearest friends have gone through this – if “getting through” it is even possible. To me, it seems like those left behind feel the pain of that loss every day of their lives.

Sanity & Grace

I’ve read a lot about suicide but I don’t understand it. Sanity and Grace, a memoir by singer Judy Collins about the suicide of her only son Clark, was memorable for its insights into the legacy a suicide leaves to the living. My heart goes out to anyone who’s lived through this and I applaud those brave enough to talk about it.  A great resource for all information pertaining to suicide and suicide prevention can be found at The Suicide Resource Center and can be reached at this link – https://www.sprc.org/.

August 3, 2013

August 3, 2013

Toasting at the HB - 8-3-13

Diana Ross Setlist
Joyce & Kathleen - HB - 8-3-13

What could be better than a Saturday night Diana Ross concert at the Hollywood Bowl, a venue that holds a special place in my heart? Those of you who don’t live in LA might not know that during the off season or when no performances are scheduled, the Hollywood Bowl is open to the public. There are no guards, no gates, no admission fees. Anybody can slip inside, stand on the stage and gaze upon 17,500 empty seats.

The 4 of us at the Diana Ross concert

If you’re interested in Hollywood Bowl history (I am), there’s a museum on site. The iconic look of its shell hasn’t changed much over the decades. From 1953 until 1972, those heady days when the Beatles and the Doors headlined, a six-feet deep decorative reflecting pool fronted the stage.

HB Reflection Pool

My sisters and I are long-time Diana Ross fans – witness our super-8 homage to the Supremes (see photo below and my September 23, 1972 blog about our record act).  To perfect an intricate act such as ours, we listened to their records a thousand times – a pleasure, with Miss Ross on vocals.

Ain't No Mountain High Enough

And Halle Berry? I’ve never seen a woman more staggeringly effortlessly gorgeous.

Halle Berry

Given how much fun this outing was, why haven’t we gotten together to do something similar since then? How did we all get so busy? A question for another day.

 

 

May 29, 2014


May 29, 2014

You didn't seriously think I'd post the ugliest pictures of myself I could find, did you? Not in this lifetime!
You didn’t seriously think I’d post the ugliest pictures of myself I could find, did you? Not in this lifetime!

I pity people my age who don’t have a teen-age or adult child close at hand – how do they manage to muddle through this brave new world? I transitioned from my trusty IBM Selectric to a PC early in the eighties and I spend a lot of time typing; you might reasonably conclude I’ve developed an aptitude for the cyberworld, an intuitive understanding.

KKR Pink

Not so much. I can be successfully challenged by something as mundane as programming a VCR or switching from cable to Roku. Fortunately, my children grew up with computers. When J and I are stumped, S comes to our rescue. It’s embarrassing how often she points out my mistake was failure to plug the cord in an outlet. To his credit, J does not make that particular bonehead error. But there are plenty of others.

KKR - Green

One thing I will never understand is why I look so much worse in photographs than I do in the mirror. The difference is drastic and even more extreme between my image on a device or monitor compared to my reflection.  Why the disparity? Does my brain soft focus my face whenever I venture near a mirror? Why can’t I see the lines and imperfections in the mirror when they are so obvious in photos? I know where to look for them.

KKR - Black

Maybe it’s actually a kindness, similar to amputees who don’t immediately feel the loss of a limb. They’re protected, numbed, by a layer of shock. Perhaps my brain refuses to traumatize me with the reality of my real image. The same weird affect occurs when I see pictures of J versus when I look at him in person. J looks older on glossy or matte paper than he does in real life. For all these reasons, I consider facial identification on any electronic device a cruel and unusual punishment for me and many of my peers. Resist!

You didn't seriously think I'd illustrate this with the worst pictures I could find, did you? I'm far too vain.
You didn’t seriously think I’d illustrate this with the worst pictures I could find, did you? I’m far too vain.

May 26, 1966

May 26, 1966

I have no independent recall of being the tour guide for incoming students to Wilcox High. I’m not surprised I was easily thrown by a group of sarcastic kids, even those a full year younger than I was. In high school as in junior high I was painfully thin-skinned when it came to taking a joke, let alone criticism.

With my sisters in '66
With my sisters in ’66

Which brings me to the question raised in the second part of this entry – how much honesty is too much? When – if ever – is a white lie not a lie? Vania was a truth-teller, unafraid to say things like “Ugh, I hate your shoes. They’re so ugly!” Objectively, I can accept she acted in good faith in her mind, she saved me the mortification of being seen in such an unsightly pair of shoes. I took Vania’s fashion pronouncements very seriously.  By sundown, the offensive shoes would be halfway to the bargain bin at Goodwill, assuming Goodwill accepted hideous but otherwise functional shoes.

As this unfortunate photo makes clear, Vania did not have to look far to find fashion faux pas to criticize.
As this unfortunate photo makes clear, Vania did not have to look far to find fashion faux pas to criticize.

Subjectively, every time Vania blasted me, it hurt. She didn’t sugarcoat her message and I didn’t challenge her opinions.  I usually agreed with her despite the fact I failed to spot these flaws myself until she pointed them out. I’m not the most observant of people.

Vania Brown
Vania Brown

I’ve never been so truthful or blunt, depending on your point of view. It would take something far out of the ordinary for me to volunteer a scathing critique of anyone’s clothing or hairstyle. Even when asked for my “honest opinion”, I usually dissemble and say something nice or innocuous. Is this the kindest course in the long run? Would I be a better friend if I braved a friend’s reaction and shared my unvarnished brutal truth?

Vania Brown again
Vania Brown again

Maybe. To this day, I’m not sure.

 

May 24, 1980

May 24, 1980 These notes on a Hollywood party were accurate for a newcomer/outsider in 1980 and I suspect they hold true today. It was thrilling to scan the room and recognize famous people even though I understood the unspoken rule to act as if I didn’t.

J and I circa 1980 - at a wedding.
J and I circa 1980 – at a wedding.

Even now, I’m not sure I understand the rationale for why, particularly if you’re a fan as was the case for me with Claudia Weill’s movie. I can’t imagine there are very many people – even celebrities – who don’t enjoy hearing that someone loves their work, thinks they’re a genius. I know I wouldn’t mind being interrupted by someone who wanted to rave about my writing. It’s never happened and probably never will but I’m reasonably confident I’d enjoy the hell out of it.

J and I dancing at a wedding_edited-1

Our aging green Plymouth Satellite car – unmistakable in a sea of Mercedes, BMWs, and Porsches -– outed us to the parking valets if no one else – as people who didn’t really belong in this rarefied atmosphere. That’s never a comfortable feeling, but I’d endure it any time for the fun of watching a party like this unfold.

Cheers

May 21, 1970

 

May 21, 1970

I’m not a big believer in the value of psychoanalysis especially when it comes to interpreting dreams; I don’t think dreams are deep messages from my subconscious. Mine tend to be a brew of whatever I watched on TV that evening, glimpsed on the cover of a book or magazine, or worried about. A couple times, when I’ve awakened, I’ve thought to myself, “That would make a great plot for a book or movie!”

Luke in art studio (Dickson Hall)
Luke in art studio (Dickson Hall)

Uh, no. On closer examination, what appeared to be intricate clever plots are as lucid as other gibberish dreams. For sure, I’ve never dreamt anything that came close to foretelling the future. I’m not saying other people aren’t blessed with profound, deep, life-changing dreams. I’m just saying, I’m not.

The 2nd of a three movie day
The 2nd of a three movie day

My dream about Luke was an exception. Over time, I’d appreciate the wisdom of what Luke’s professor (I didn’t know any of his professors in real life) told me in the dream even though I was not consciously aware of it. He might disagree with me about this. If so, any attempt to convince him otherwise would be futile.  Useful information in any relationship, so thank you, subconscious.

Over time, I’d appreciate the wisdom of what Luke’s professor told me in the dream.
Over time, I’d appreciate the wisdom of what Luke’s professor told me in the dream.

Three serious, heavy movies in a day was a lot, especially when two of them were in Swedish (the language I studied at UCLA). As strongly as I doubt psychological insights revealed in my dreams, I love Ingmar Bergman’s brilliant use of dream imagery. As a film-maker, he was in a class of his own.

3rd of three movies
3rd of three movies

In a surfeit of riches, this was the first time I saw Citizen Kane, which completely blew me away (as we used to say in the sixties). I’m curious about how it impacts today’s more sophisticated young film students.  Does it wield the same power? Discuss among yourselves.

It blew me away

May 17, 1968

May 17, 1968

We went to see Elvira Madigan, my first foreign film
We went to see Elvira Madigan, my first foreign film

JS was the only boy I ever dated who actually went to Vietnam. In retrospect, I was an academic snob, attracted almost exclusively to college-bound guys. Because of this – and because JS was shipping out soon – I didn’t take JS that seriously. He wrote me letters after he deployed and I wrote back at first, but not as often as he wrote me. Gradually, I tapered off.  To my mind, his letters took on an angry slightly threatening tone – ranting about me and my “hippie friends” – so I stopped writing to him entirely.

The Draft

In retrospect, I wish I’d continued to write back to him. It wouldn’t have required that much effort and from all I’ve learned about what life was like for enlisted men in Vietnam, it probably would’ve comforted him to have a friend back home even if I wasn’t his girlfriend.  In all of his interactions with me, he was nothing but kind and he deserved kindness back.

Me a few months before then
Me a few months before then

Both J and I have casual acquaintances who served but in our immediate social circle, there’s exactly one Vietnam vet. In the thirty plus years we’ve known him, he’s only talked about it – to me, anyway – once. Nonetheless, it’s obvious the experience had a profound effect on him and not for the better. Recently, he’s fallen on hard times and faced homelessness so for the past eight months he’s been sleeping on a fold-out sofa in my husband’s home office.

Feelings of guilt?

The situation is less than optimum for all concerned and I’m hoping a better option will present itself. I know I’m not responsible for his well-being but I feel a certain amount of responsibility nonetheless. He did something my husband and everyone else we know got out of.  Maybe that’s on him, since on some level it was his choice. When he made that choice, however, he didn’t have the advantages that I – and most of the people I know – take for granted. Maybe I’m still feeling guilty about my lack of compassion for JS. Vietnam is far in our national past but I can’t be the only one struggling with the fallout – and I didn’t even have to worry about getting drafted.

Probably the same sweater, sure around the same time.
Probably the same sweater, sure around the same time. I was 17.  I thought I knew what was going on, but – Did you?

 

May 13, 1964

May 13, 1964

 

My family back during those darn times
My family back during those darn times

There was nothing remotely amusing about this entry on May 13, 1964. I was so beside myself with rage I wrote the word “darn” four times, However, reading it – and similar entries– today makes me smile. Why? Because the fears, feuds, worries and daily mortifications that tortured me when I was twelve and thirteen – traumas I believed I’d never recover from – are so awesomely trivial today.

With our grandparents during one of their visits. Notice my enthusiasm.
With our grandparents during one of their visits. Notice my enthusiasm.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think I stayed incensed for very long. I never reference my rage about the injustice of those dance and piano lessons again. Perhaps that’s not surprising, considering who I really am – a klutz with no interest in or aptitude for piano or dance. Obviously, when I wrote this entry, I confused myself with someone else.

At least trying to look happy. Getting all 3 of us to look at the camera at the same time was like herding cats.
At least trying to look happy. Getting all 3 of us to look at the camera at the same time was like herding cats.

My sisters claim that as the oldest I was actually the spoiled, indulged child. As evidence, they cite roughly five thousand more photos of me than the two of them. (Baby pictures only – the photo ops dried up once adolescence arrived). However, facts are facts. My mother’s cold smack-down – “your father and I will decide, not you” – says it all. I rest my case.
3K Sisters

 

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