Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bates Motel in the rearview mirror

We all go a little mad sometimes.

~~ Norman Bates

After five seasons, the series finale of “Bates Motel” aired tonight. It’s been a wild ride and I feel the need to write a bit about it. (If you haven’t watched it and plan to, please note that there are major spoilers ahead.)

Some of you know that my favorite movie of all time is “Psycho.” Don’t read anything into that! There is just something about the movie that appeals to me on so many levels. The lighting, the way Hitchcock framed his shots, the perfect soundtrack, the masterful performance of Anthony Perkins, and of course, the classic shower scene.

In other words, those were some big shoes to fill.

What a pleasure to watch the show live up to its source material and see it develop into a genuinely interesting backstory of the movie and the characters. There were many twists and turns along the way, with the biggest coming at the very end of tonight’s episode. What I didn’t expect was that they would move past the ending of the movie and show the ultimate fate of Norman. I think it was a stroke of genius, because I watched thinking that I knew where everything ended up, and it was a genuine surprise to see where it went.

One of the best things about the Norman Bates character is that despite his murderous nature, Anthony Perkins played him as a sympathetic, even likable character. His boyish charm, his nervousness, his smile...you want him to be okay and it’s heartbreaking when you realize just how damaged he is. Freddie Highmore as Norman in the TV show understood that and played it perfectly. In tonight’s finale, Norman (with his poor bloodied face) drives Norma’s corpse home and relives the good times of the past. He is lost in his memories and has obviously had a very serious break with reality. It made me cry to see his battered face and his bewildered smile.

Vera Farmiga as Norma Bates was also incredible. Of course, Mrs. Bates never got a genuine word in the movie, but Farmiga created this amazing, destructive, enabling force of nature that was Norma Bates. She was funny, she was loving, she was messed up, she was irresistible. She was Mother.

A character who wasn’t in the movie was Sheriff Alex Romero, played by Nestor Carbonell (he of the dreamy eyes). He was a perfect addition who became a surprise love interest for Norma when Norman was off getting some much-needed mental health attention. It was a beautiful thing to see their love blossom and grow (Christ, that sounds sappy...but that scene at the Winter Carnival when they first realized that they had real chemistry was magical!) and when Norma died, Romero’s grief and fury was palpable. His vow of revenge upon Norman wasn’t consummated, and we had to say goodbye to Alex tonight. But damn, that final scene with him and Norman was intense!

Other characters not from the movie were Norman’s brother Dylan (Max Thieriot) and Norman’s friend Emma (Olivia Cooke). Dylan and Emma end up together and their story arc was rich and interesting. I feared for Dylan tonight but the ending to the brothers’ story was fitting. Dylan did his best to help Norman and I believe he truly loved him. His face when he walked into the dining room and saw Norma...what a perfect reaction of horror and sorrow and some major nausea! I think it broke Dylan’s heart to do what he had to do but there really was no other way, was there?

I don’t mean to rehash the entire episode but those were some salient moments for me. The entire series was inventive and intelligent, fleshing out the story of Norman and his mother, providing so many interesting subplots that all came together perfectly in tonight’s finale. I really wasn’t sure they could pull it off, but they did, and in a very satisfying way. Would I have liked to see at least a couple more seasons with these characters? Of course! But you can’t always get what you want, and in this case, I think it was the right decision. The story played out in a perfect way, giving us so much backstory in the previous seasons, and then things really coming to a crisis point in the last few episodes of this season. We were rushing to the inevitable end, and it was the right time to finish the series.

Obviously, they won’t read this, but I want to put this out there: thank you to the entire cast and crew for a job well done. I was skeptical of a show premised on my favorite movie, but you allayed my fears. It was brilliant.

Farewell, Norman. Forever in my heart.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Love’s all that matters

We equal m c squared
Einstein drank his wine in pairs
We equal m c squared
Beyond mathematics there is love in the air

~~ “Relativity” by Grafton Primary

We had a really fun weekend! Ken got a new lawnmower (that’s a big deal ‘round these parts!), we had brunch with Shane and Matt at Brew Werks and then saw the stage production of “Dirty Dancing” (fabulous!), but the highlight was the wedding of our friends Tom and Roger on Saturday.

It’s hard to explain why, but there was just so much joy in the air. The wedding was at a historic building in the area and everything was beautiful. We knew quite a few people there, I got to meet Tom’s godson in person (after doing Tom’s podcast with him), and we got to meet new people, including the guy who conducted the ceremony. The dinner was wonderful, we got to take some fun and goofy pictures, and we got to dance a little bit. Everyone was feeling great and everyone was so happy for Tom and Roger! There was just an air of festivity and celebration and it makes me smile just to think back on it!

As I watched the ceremony (which included lyrics from Prince and “The Princess Bride”), as we all congratulated the happy couple, as friends and family toasted them, as we all broke bread, drank champagne, danced, and talked, one thought stayed prominent in my mind:

Who would ever take away this happiness?

Who, because of whatever religious tropes they are clinging to, or because of whatever personal issues they have, would deny this happiness to these two people who were so obviously in love?

Who would do that?

Apparently, there were one or two people who had some issues with this marriage. I won’t name any names. But we all know people like them, don’t we?  They just can’t accept anything outside their own narrow purview.

From my perspective, all I saw was a dear friend and his beau declaring their love for and commitment to each other.

I will fight for their right to do that forever.

I’ve seen the usual arguments about how marriage is about having children. Stupid argument. Millions of people get married and choose not to have children. [raising hand] That doesn’t make a marriage invalid. Besides, ADOPTION. Duh. Or there is “the Bible says” argument. It really doesn’t, but even if it did, who gives a flying fuck? Despite what some might say, we do not base our laws on the Bible. We base our laws on the Constitution of the Goddamn United States of America. In your face!

I suppose there are other arguments, but yeah, they’re all stupid. You know what isn’t stupid? Love. Love isn’t stupid.

And when people love each other, when two consenting adults want to enter into a committed, legal relationship, they have that right under the Constitution.

It was my great pleasure and honor to see the Constitution in action Saturday night and to see love win. Tom and Roger’s program included this paragraph from Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the majority opinion in the Obergefell v Hodges case, which guaranteed the right of marriage to all citizens, and it is worth quoting it here:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

It damn well does and if you try to take that away, you are going to have a fight on your hands. I guarantee.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Reckoning Day

And this is a call to arms
This is a call to hands
This is a call to the voices and the minds
Of the people in every land

~~ “Reckoning Day” by The Rainmakers

Today we attended a town hall meeting focused on health care with our District 2 Representative, Jackie Walorski.

Except Jackie didn’t show.

We knew she wouldn’t. She was invited numerous times and not only didn’t she have the balls to show, she didn’t even have the balls to RSVP.

But we carried on without her. It was a moderated town hall, with a panel of folks who deal with health care issues in their jobs, and I was delighted to see my own doctor there! (She had a great moment, too...more about that later.)

The most compelling part of the meeting was the testimonials from various citizens—all constituents of Rep. Walorski—that told about their experiences with health care and how the Affordable Care Act helped them. A woman whose daughter is disabled; a woman who, at a very young age, was diagnosed with breast cancer; a molecular biologist who spoke about the importance of federally-funded medical research; a woman who had premature triplets; and our friend Cassie, who despite her fear of public speaking and an anxiety attack, stood up and told her story about her own risky pregnancy and the premature birth of her son. I am so proud of Cassie for having the courage to speak about this!

Every question is being sent to Rep. Walorski and if she has a shred of decency, she will read them. I hope the organizers send her the video, too, because she needs to see it. She needs to realize that she works for us. The fact that she refuses to listen to her constituents is unacceptable. The crowd was well-behaved but there was a palpable sense of anger that we feel we are not being heard.

As for my doctor, as if I didn’t love her enough already! She has been a wonderful doctor, responsive to my questions and encouraging in my efforts to stay healthy. Seeing her there as part of the panel let me know that she is on the side of her patients and not happy with the efforts to repeal the ACA. She had one of the coolest responses of the entire meeting, when one of the mediators read a question from the audience. The gist of it was that the Hyde Amendment is already in place to ensure that federal funds are not used for
abortions; the Republican party continues to push for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, which means that thousands of Hoosiers from rural areas would have no access to basic medical care. Can anyone on the panel explain that thinking? The panel hemmed and hawed and looked at each other, and then my doctor pulled the microphone toward her and said…


The crowd erupted in applause and I elbowed Ken and said, “See why I love her??”

If I were Jackie Walorski, I’d be pretty darn scared about 2018. Ignore your constituents at your own risk.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Beth’s Books: Hillbilly Elegy

Beth’s Books: Hillbilly Elegy

With some notable exceptions, this is a book that I could have written.

My maternal grandparents hailed from Eastern Kentucky (in fact, the author’s grandparents came from a town only 15 or so miles away from the town where my grandparents lived) and migrated north to Ohio, then west to Indiana. The author writes that there were two distinct migration waves from Appalachia: one after WWI and the Depression, the other in the ‘50s, after WWII. My family was part of the first wave.

All of the problems that Vance writes about concerning his family—alcoholism, drug abuse, poverty, hunger, volatile tempers—were present to various degrees in mine. Not all of my aunts and uncles experienced those things, but several of them did. I was fortunate in that my parents were very stable and seemed to break the cycle. I would chalk this up to my mother finding religion, although in some ways, that created its own problems. (That’s a story for another day.) Although if it kept my folks from succumbing to the worst aspects of the “hillbilly culture,” I’ll take it.

I won’t go into all the sordid details over the years. It’s not really my story to tell. I will tell you briefly that there was alcoholism; there was family drama with one cousin accusing her mother and stepfather (my uncle) of abuse and wanting to live with another aunt and uncle; there was the murder of a different cousin, who was shot in the head by a cop over a dispute about a girl they both liked at a local house of ill-repute; I vaguely remember two of my aunts fighting in our front yard—not just a verbal fight, but an all-out hair-pulling catfight; there was an uncle who was shot at the bar he owned. I could go on, but you get the idea.

Some relatives had legendary tempers. The kind where if you make them mad, they kind of go batshit on you. In my younger days, I had a streak of that in me. I have fortunately learned to control it. (But I still recommend that you not make me mad. I know it is still lurking there.) Vance describes it as the ability to “go from zero to murderous in a fucking heartbeat.”

The author writes:

“...for those of us lucky enough to live the American Dream, the demons of the life we left behind continue to chase us.”

It’s true. I have been to Eastern Kentucky once and don’t have much desire to go back. I am grateful to my parents for wanting a better life for me and stressing the importance of an education. I don’t mean to make it sound like I had a nightmare family. Quite the opposite. There was a lot of love there and I never felt threatened or abused. But as I read this book and looked back at things I remember from childhood, I realize how much of that culture was part of that side of our family. I feel no sense of connection to that part of the culture (other than enjoying some good bluegrass music once in a while, and I can make a mean cornbread), especially the attitude of distrust of education and the “elite.” I have heard more than once the statement that “Washington would be a lot better if they’d get some of these old farmers in their bibbed overalls up there and kick the rest of them out.” No. I really don’t think so. Common sense matters a lot, but so does education, and I wouldn’t trust some of those “old farmers” to govern in a way that helps everyone.

You see, there is still a concept of “otherness” in the hillbilly culture, which relates to the distrust of education and the “elites.” (I keep putting that in quotation marks because it’s just silly the way they refer to people “from away” that way...but they do.) For some, there is a deep-seated racism. For others, there is a distrust of anyone who isn’t a Protestant. For yet others, there is an attitude that women should keep their place and if they don’t, a good smack upside the head will get ‘em to shut up. Let me state clearly that NOT ALL people from that culture behave that way...but you cannot ignore the fact that such attitudes are more prevalent in that culture than in others. I’ve seen it firsthand. I STILL hear it on occasion. It’s there.

Mr. Vance admits to all that. He saw it in his own family and he definitely had a worse upbringing than I did. The problem I have with him is that he seems to give the white working poor a pass even as he condemns them for their behavior. He admits that they have a tendency to buy into bullshit conspiracy theories, and then lets them off the hook by saying that it’s because they simply don’t believe any media outlet that refutes them. How is that an answer? As far as I’m concerned, there is no excuse for ignorance. You don’t get to decide what is fact and what is fiction. Just because you decide that you don’t buy into what all those elitist eggheads at those elitist universities are peddling doesn’t mean that you are right.

Christ, how many stupid chain emails did I get from a couple of my relatives during the 2008 election about how Obama was a Muslim, Michelle Obama racked up a $30,000 room service bill at some fancy New York hotel, and so many other bullshit stories. I finally had to say, “Look, that is just not true. Please do not send me these anymore.”

And that is the problem that I have with that part of my heritage. I got a degree in science. I want verifiable facts. I reject anecdotal evidence. I simply cannot stand to hear these lies perpetuated by people who think that they know what is real and the rest of us are dupes for not seeing it. (Of course, they’d probably say the same thing about me!)

Even Mr. Vance, while admitting all this, falls prey to the “welfare queen” myth invented and propagated by Reagan. While working at a grocery store, he says that he saw a ton of abuse of welfare benefits. Of course, there are people who abuse the system. There always will be. But the vast majority of those who use such benefits need a little help at the time and do their best to get off of it as soon as possible. The biggest users? The working white poor. So instead of just condemning these folks for the abuse, he denigrates the “welfare state” and says that it encourages abuse, despite the fact that he and his family benefited from various government assistance programs. (G.I. Bill, anyone?) I should have known when he said his political hero was Mitch Daniels! (We don’t miss him a whole lot in Indiana government, believe me.)

It also seems to me that government programs addressing addiction issues would go a long way towards breaking some people out of the cycle of abuse. I understand that there are no easy answers, but I don’t think blaming the “welfare state” is any type of a solution. At the heart of the problems of the culture, there seems to be a toxic combination of lack of aspiration and feelings of inadequacy. “Everyone is better than me so why should I even try?”

My question is how do you change that culture? How do you break people out of that mentality? For me, it is a matter of education, but they distrust even that. “I didn’t get some fancy education and I did okay at the plant. I don’t know why you think YOU need one.” I find that absolutely abhorrent. It is wallowing in ignorance rather than saying, “Hey, I need to learn. I WANT to learn.” Meanwhile, all those great manufacturing jobs with great benefits and wages (thanks to Unions) continue to be replaced with automation. Change is hard, I get that. But if you don’t at least make an effort to keep up, you’re going to get left behind.

This is why I’m not real sure that the Democrats should worry about getting these voters back. That is also a story for another day and this has gotten long enough. But when you vote against your own best interests and choose not to inform yourself, I’m not real sure why we should keep making the effort. We’ll keep working on policies that help you and others like you get ahead...do with it what you will. At some point, you have to say, “I don’t want to live this life. I want to do better.” Or not. That is a choice.

I’m very glad that my parents made the right choice and instilled a love of learning in me and my sisters. I didn’t and don’t agree with all of their politics, but I am certainly grateful for that gift. It is an ongoing process, one that includes this book.

This might be the longest entry I’ve ever made here lately, and if you stuck around for the entire thing, thank you. It is obvious that the book affected me deeply and was quite thought-provoking for me. I found it a disturbing read on some levels. As I said, I have no easy answers. Any such thorny issue has no easy answers. Anyone who claims otherwise is wrong.

That’s a fact.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

No surprise to me

What's that I hear, you wanna go for a ride?
Oh, don't be afraid boy, to come inside
I got the thing that you want, the fix that you need
Chase this with a little lust and greed

I'll be the devil on your shoulder saying "Hey boy, come over"
My black heart beats crimson and clovers
So operator, operator, patch my boy in
This is Nightlife and I'll get under your skin

~~ “Nightlife” by Green Day

I guess there is a story out there about Mike Pence’s dining habits:

As part of his faith, Pence won’t eat alone with other women or attend events that serve alcohol without his wife. Within the faith, the practice of not being alone with a woman has been called “the Billy Graham rule,” after the famed evangelist preacher who encouraged it to avoid even the appearance of infidelity. (from Motto dot Time dot com)

I never knew it had a name, but I have experienced this firsthand. I chalked it up to a generational difference. I see now that there was more to it than that.

I’ve had conversations in the past with an older relative that gave me an idea of this whole weird concept of Pence’s. I happened to mention that Ken was in New York City and was planning on getting together with a good friend of ours, and I mentioned her name. This relative said, “Is she married?” I said, “No, why?” My relative said, “Oh. Well, I’m not sure it’s right for an unmarried woman to get together with a married man.” (Or words to that effect.) Never mind the fact that I have been friends with this person for something like twenty years. Or that she sent flowers to my father’s funeral. Or that I trust her implicitly and know that she would never do that to me. Or that Ken is a good man who would never do that to me. Or even that people actually can control their libidos and make a conscious decision not to act upon things.

But the real disapproval was saved for me. I mentioned that I had lunch with my friend Jim. This relative said, “Did Ken go along?” I said, “No, he was at work.” They said, “Oh. Well, I would never think of going to a lunch alone with a man other than my husband.” I swear, I could have cut the disapproval and judgment with a knife! Again, never mind that I worked with Jim at the lab for ten years and helped train him when he started out, and that we have also been friends for going on twenty years. Or that he told me all about how proud he was of his infant son, or when his second son came along a few years later. Or that he was a steadfast friend who helped me through some rough times and was so happy for me when I got together with Ken. Or that I met his wife, tried to be a friend to him when they hit hard times, and tried to offer as much support as I could when they split up and then when he found a new love, I was as happy for him as he was for me and Ken.

No, the main thing is that it didn’t “look good” for me to be out having lunch with a man who wasn’t my husband. Because someone “might get the wrong idea.”

Hmm, I guess I should never have lunch with Cousin Shane again, or heavens to Betsy, Shane AND Matt! That is downright scandalous!

I can’t really be super angry about it. I just think it’s silly and it still is very much a generational thing. It is predicated on the idea that men and women can’t be friends without losing their damn minds, and I completely reject that premise. I have had many male friends over the years and they were platonic relationships. Is there occasionally an awkward moment or some sort of tension? Well, sure. But civilized people understand that you can make a choice on whether or not to act on something.

And as far as “people getting the wrong idea,” fuck that noise. People can think what they want to think. It’s none of their damn business. Sitting across a table from someone having a beer and eating lunch does not mean that there are shenanigans going on. Jeez.

So it was a little weird for me today to see this revelation about Pence and learn that it has its roots in the evangelical faith. Although as I said, it should come as no surprise. There are some weird ideas there about temptations like alcohol, rock music, and dancing. I’m guessing you won’t see Mike and Karen Pence clubbing anytime soon!

Friday, March 24, 2017

A Necessary Vent

People are strange when you're a stranger
Faces look ugly when you're alone

~~ “People Are Strange” by The Doors

I need to write or my head is going to explode.

And guess what? It’s not even about politics! There is plenty to write about there, that’s for sure, and you know I will have plenty to say about it. But this is all me. Thank goodness for the steady things in my life, because they are keeping me on an even keel. Like I told Ken tonight, every day that goes by brings me one step closer to becoming a total hermit.

Exhibit A:

A long-time friend has apparently absquatulated (I got to use one of my vocabulary words! Yay!) completely from our friendship and almost completely from social media. This happened once before and I pursued it and tried to find out what was going on. I thought everything was cool and then it happened again. No word whatsoever about taking a break, just a promise to “write soon.” That was over two months ago. I’m not pursuing it again. To quote Merle Dixon, “I ain’t gonna beg!” Be my friend or don’t. But you don’t just get to vamoose without an explanation and expect to still have a place in my heart.

Exhibit B:

I discovered yesterday that another friend defriended me on Facebook, although they stayed friends with Ken and a couple of my friends. I finally got an answer to that tonight...I “put them on mute” months ago. Yeah, that’s right, I did. You know why? Because I couldn’t stand the constant bashing of Obama and Hillary. The same crap that I was hearing from my conservative relatives for the past eight-plus fucking years. I didn’t want to see that in my feed every damn day because I can’t stand that kind of constant negativity, but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to be friends anymore. I unfollowed a few people on Facebook last year for the same reason, but I still value them as friends. I don’t doubt that several people unfollowed ME last year so they didn’t have to see my numerous political posts and I even told them to do it! I said that I get that not everyone is into politics as much as I am and that not everyone wants to read what I have to say about it, so I said, “If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to unfollow me. I understand, and I won’t be offended!”

But nope, this person somehow realized that I unfollowed them and instead of ASKING ME ABOUT IT, decided to unfriend me.

I repeat: be my friend or don’t.

At least this brought about a funny moment. When I had lunch with Shane and Matt the other day, I said, “I have to ask you guys something. Have I turned into an asshole?” With a totally straight face, Shane said, “Well, we’ve been meaning to talk to you about that,” and Matt said, “That’s why we called this meeting today. It’s an intervention.” We all cracked up!

Then I told Ken that I guess I’m too opinionated for some people. He said, “What? Why didn’t you tell me this?” I said, “I know, I know...I should have warned you about it before we got married.” So we had a laugh, too.

For the icing on the cake, I give you Exhibit C:

I was talking to my Mom today and she asked me if I could look up an address on the computer. I said sure, if it’s listed. She said, “Okay, it’s in So-and-so, Indiana.” I said, okay. She said, “I want you to look up So-and-so.” It was my ex-husband. MY EX-HUSBAND.

I said, “Aww man, no. Why do you want to contact him??” Jeez, we’ve been divorced for over 25 years. She said she came across some sort of medals or pins that my ex got when he was in the military, and he had given them to my Dad. I said, “I’m not really sure he’ll appreciate being reminded of me.” She said, “Well, sending these to him won’t be reminding him of YOU.” Right. Because having my Mom contact him won’t remind him of me. ::sigh::

But she was adamant about sending these things to him (She said, “I know it’s what your Dad would have wanted.” Well-played, Mom. Well-played.), and I could understand her reasoning, so I looked it up and found the address. She asked, “Is there a phone number there?” I lied and said no. I feel absolutely zero guilt for lying about that. It’s one thing to send those things to him and write him a note. It’s quite another to call him up after over 25 years. “Hey, how ya doing? Remember how my daughter divorced you?” I have to laugh. But really, he has his life and his family and I have mine and I have no desire for them to ever come in contact again. Knowing him, he’d probably ask her if I was still possessed by a demon. (Yes, he really told me once that he thought I was possessed by a demon.)

It’s been a frustrating and rather maddening day. My patience level has flatlined. I do feel a little better after writing it out, though.

And tomorrow is another day. A big weekend coming up, with our Green Day concert in Detroit! We’ll be hitting the road with Shane and Matt and we’ll have a kicky blast! Green Day, take me awaaaaaaay!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fingernails that shine like justice

I want a girl with a mind like a diamond
I want a girl who knows what's best
I want a girl with shoes that cut
And eyes that burn like cigarettes

I want a girl with the right allocations
Who's fast and thorough
And sharp as a tack
She's playing with her jewelry
She's putting up her hair
She's touring the facility
And picking up slack

I want a girl with a short skirt and a lonnnng jacket......

I want a girl who gets up early
I want a girl who stays up late
I want a girl with uninterrupted prosperity
Who uses a machete to cut through red tape
With fingernails that shine like justice
And a voice that is dark like tinted glass

~~ “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake

Like so many women of my age, when I was in grade school and junior high school, I was consumed with Nancy Drew. That was my go-to present for people to get me for birthday or Christmas presents—if there was a new Nancy Drew book out, they knew I would love it! I had the whole set at one point but gave it away. I’m kicking myself for that now.

I don’t know what made me think of it, or if I ran across a passing reference in my daily readings, but I thought I’d check out eBay and see what kind of Nancy Drew books were out there. A couple of people were offering the entire set but I figured upwards of $200 wasn’t really justifiable. (But if Ken sees this, hint hint! It’s the ones that are the vintage matte books, not the Flashlight series.)

I saw a listing for the very first Nancy Drew book, The Secret of the Old Clock. It was a reasonable price and the seller said that it was in good condition, so I decided to order it. It came today and I can’t begin to describe the joy I felt when I opened the box and unwound the bubble wrap and there was that book that I knew so well and that brought back so many memories.

It is in wonderful condition, with the cover that I remember. The copyright is listed as 1959, and if that’s the case, it’s in great condition. I do know that these vintage matte editions were published in the mid-century. My set of books was like this and that was probably from the mid-’60’s to the mid-’70s. (I also had a couple of the original plain blue covers from the ‘30s, and what I wouldn’t give to have those back!) The illustrations on the inside covers. The list of the full catalog of books on the back cover. It was a tidal wave of memories of all the happy hours I spent reading about Nancy, George, Bess, and their adventures.

As I think back on it, Nancy was very much a role model for me. I liked scary movies anyway, so her poking around in mysterious and spooky places was right up my alley. She was smart, persistent, and willing to fight for justice. She didn’t let anyone tell her she couldn’t do something because she was a girl. Even back then, I was drawn to old, abandoned places and remember sneaking into empty houses. (I never broke in or anything! They were missing doors and windows...long abandoned and unoccupied.) I still have that fascination and I may or may not have ventured into a place here and there—still unlocked—but with No Trespassing signs up. I can neither confirm nor deny that. Ahem.

I never got to solve any mysteries like Nancy did, but not for lack of trying. How did she manage to stumble upon so many mysteries? Lucky girl. I would have been happy with one. In my tiny little town, it was more like The Mystery of the Forgotten Locker Combination or The Clue in the Lunchroom Pizza. We were decidedly lacking in shady characters and every effort to flush them out was all for naught.

But Nancy gave me a sense of adventure that I’ve never lost. I know there are a lot of good Young Adult books out there now and I’m sure some of the heroines are on par with Nancy. We see a lot of young warrior women, like Katniss Everdeen, in YA books now. I applaud them all! For me, Nancy Drew was the epitome of coolness. She had a sharp eye for clues and the intellectual capacity to put them all together. The girl in the Cake song makes me think of Nancy. Sharp as a tack, indeed!

**Update** In the time I wrote this, I ordered a lot of 18 vintage Nancy Drew books from eBay. That should scratch my itch.