Sep 23, 2011

The Monkey Stays In The Picture. Pants Not So Much.


Ah, Facebook Timeline. If only the Thomas family could start their path this far back.

I pulled this fairly, oh... dull and brown and not-so-interesting group picture from my archive (I've decided to call it the archive now, because it sounds impressive). And at first I was like "ah, yes, just a typical picture of Kathleen as a tomboy tot with only half of an outfit on," next to some other kids hanging out with Donny that I don't even know.

Then I see there are so many levels going on here.

First, Donny and his toothy shark toy which has a better fake smile than his, standing awkwardly in the middle of this group of much more cavalier (and apparently sporty) random boys who were probably just one-week-only vacation bible school acquaintances (hence the t-shirts from the quaint and sweet small country church we went to as little kids).

Next, note Kathleen who decides she must also be in the picture... but wait! Not without her fur. Her monkey fur stole. Which looks almost exactly like the fur vest she wore for a coffee meet today. So the church ties might not have bound, but the how that monkey slung across her shoulders made her feel was a state of grace she never shrugged off.

Then I think about our mom taking this picture. And not really giving a second thought to Kathleen being in this picture like this. Which, justly so, she really shouldn't have. I mean, it wasn't like our mom was going to share the photo with two-hundred-plus of her closest friends and family on Facebook at the time, so really there was no reason to accessorize her little girl with a clever floppy hat and a giant sunflower, or a mini-pair of movie-star sunglasses, or stage it in a field in front of a bale of hay... or make her put on, say... pants. No one will see it but grandma, who she sent the 4 x 6 duplicate to.


Not until I post it two minutes after finishing this story, that is.

Happy weekend, this is my gift to you. And, seriously, didn't like at least half of you have this exact same monkey at some point in your lives? Or now? It's classic.

Sep 13, 2011

Meg, Jo, Beth or Amy? Oh "Little Women."


The March sisters do not quit their jobs and start branding businesses with each other. They sell their hair to pay for their mother's train ticket so she can go nurse their wounded Union soldier father. They get embarrassed for wearing rouge to the dance. They get scarlet fever from tending to poor babies in the woods somewhere. They fall through the ice when skating on frozen rivers and get rescued by dashing rich neighbor boys. They go to France to learn to draw and have good manners. They write novels and fall in love with much older men.

I could never figure out if I was polite and pretty (and kind of boring) older sister Meg, or exciting tomboy heroine (but a little bit obnoxious) and way braver than me, Jo. The younger two March sisters I had less in common with, but were my favorite characters. There was frail but sweet and talented Beth who was the most tragic character, and self-centered, blonde-ringletted, (but really cool) Amy. Hmm, I know which Thomas sister she was most like. I could just cry a bucket when Beth died. And I liked Amy more and more toward the end of the novel, because she could draw and ended up getting the rich neighbor boy, which I always thought was really neat twist at the end. Oh, sorry, Little Women spoiler alert, ha.

Amy's the one depicted on the cameo-style cover of my hunter green leather-bound Little Women book. It even has an attached green ribbon bookmark. It was given to me when I was eleven years old by one of my dad's best friends (who also gave me the nicest set of knives I've ever owned as a wedding gift, go figure).




I read this book about once a year between the ages of eleven and fourteen. It would sit on the shelf next to this doll I had that was given to me by my grandmother Verna. See her little braid (wink). This doll was really fragile, so I never played with it. But that doll was just another indicator that I had a serious Victorian era obsession, that's for sure.

Now, Kathleen (if you didn't guess from my hint above, she's the "Amy") if she even gets within one foot of a victorian-era-anything will fall asleep in about ten seconds flat. But Donny, he gets it. I mean, look at him. Plus I saw him sniffling during the intermission of Les Mis the first time we saw it on broadway.

I remember when the 90's movie version of Little Women came out. Now, I love me a Winona Ryder. She was the first goth girl I ever saw (thank you Beetlejuice). She was the blue-tights-clad Veronica with a smart mouth and poison pen (thank you Heathers). I even love her as bubble-gum popping child bride to Jerry Lee Lewis. "Don't thank Jesus, thank Jerry Lee" (thank you Dennis Quaid).

But Winona is no Jo March. No way. She's way too waifish, all dark eyes and tiny little elfish nose. Jo was tall and redhaired, boyish, blustering and brash. Now, Claire Danes cast as a weepy, frail Beth? Sure. That girl knows how to cry. And Kirsten Dunst as little blonde snooty Amy, who Kathleen gets mistaken for when she's in NYC's east village (Kirsten that is, not Amy) is perfect casting.

But Louisa May Alcott's Little Women is so part of the fabric of me, that the film version (as okay as it might be) is just one of those movies that won't erase the novel in my mind. Some films do, and I'm cool with that. And if we're talking Victorian era, I'd say for example (and don't hate me) but Pride and Predjudice as a story, is kind of a snooze for me, unless I'm watching the Emma Thompson or the Kiera Knightley versions.

Maybe it's just because I don't have the patience for the Victorian era anymore. Today my reading is more blood-lust, power-lust and just regular-lust. The lastest book in the Game Of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin is my current reading material. I alternate between Martin's violent epic and a really good small business help-book, Launch, by Michael Stelzner (this super-social-media-strategy-dude, sigh, aren't they all?)

So now my braided-head ball-gowned doll sits on a shelf in my home office. And I read my two books of the moment (one non-fiction, and one yes-fiction-please) on my Kindle. So I can easily toggle between how to focus my social media strategy and how to vanquish my enemies and put their heads on stakes (you're supposed to dip them in tar first).

No green satin bookmark attached with the Kindle, but at least it still has those really intricate pen-drawn illustrations that come on the screen when you power it off. So I can still lie there and stare at every inky detail before I finally turn off the bedside light, just like I used to do with that illustration of the little March women all sitting together under the tree... wondering which sister I would be.

Sep 1, 2011

Tara The Same. But Not The Same.


Things About Me That Are The Same As Always:

I drink a V8 from a can with a bendy straw every morning.
I read storybooks out loud.
I get irritated easily.
I have a husband with impressive hobbies.
I have kids who inherited mad video game skills.
I clean house to Mary Poppins songs.
I like to build Lego towers.
I like epic novels and commercials that make me cry.
I like scary movies, and show tunes.
I always remember the words.
I hang out with my parents every weekend.
I like to realize the things that have shaped me.

Things That Are Different About Me:

I started drinking coffee (a lot).
I started running (sometimes).
I started eating an apple a day.
I think perhaps I'm less cynical (but no less irritable).
I left the dream job that I had for fourteen years.
I started my own business with my sister (today).
I realize that I have yet to be completely shaped.
I think it's all those apples.
I just bit into something.
And now I just know.
Like when Donny hammered the first nail in his nose.
If he can do that, then I can do this.
And that's how I'm different.
But the same.
And glad that I'm not doing it alone.
Because my sister eats lots of apples, too.


Shelf of me.


Looking out at the here-to-come.


That's my Braid Creative & Consulting business card. (See the business card in stripedy pottery?) Kathleen talks more about our new adventure here. We're having an exciting day to say the least.