Anticipation

Thin Mints. Once a year.

Are Girl Scout cookies really better than anything else out there, or do we savor them more because of the short window of time in which they’re available? I have friends who buy cases of them and put the extras in the freezer. Wouldn’t do me much good. No matter how many I buy, they’d be gone within a month.

bigstock-red-retro-tv-set-7338444 [Converted]Used to be you could only watch certain movies once a year, perhaps at the holidays. Mary Poppins or The Sound of Music, for example. Certainly The Wizard of Oz. Annually, that wicked witch had me running to hide underneath the bathroom sink. But it was only once a year, and as scared as I might get, it was an event.

I don’t know how often I’ve seen that the Harry Potter movies are playing on cable television. I’ve never watched any of them, and perhaps part of that reason is I know I easily can watch next week, next month or, worst case scenario, three months from now.

Of course there’s always the DVR to record those movies you think you might want to watch at some point, or the DVD player if you choose to buy them (or in my case, check them out at the library).

There’s something to be said for the specialness of specials. I miss those annual events, like the made-for-TV movie of Cinderella. Not the Disney film, but the one starring a very young Lesley Ann Warren. They remade it several years ago, and it was a decent remake, but not as special as the one you had to wait for annually.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the fact that if I have a favorite movie on DVD I can watch it when I want, or if there’s nothing on TV I want to see I can pull out The Mary Tyler Moore Show. 

Television has changed, and many, if not most, of those changes are good. Still, I remember when “Hallmark made-for-TV movie” meant an Emmy-worthy program. Those Hallmark Hall of Fame films were good, really good. There was a sense of anticipation when you saw them advertised, because you knew it would be a quality show. You don’t see that anymore, at least not on Hallmark.

When we usher in the new, we end up tossing out both the good and bad about the old. Something to consider when we jump on the latest technology simply because it’s the latest technology.

Thank goodness the Girl Scouts are smart enough to build up a demand for their products.


Image Credits: Retro TV Set © Bigstockphoto.com; Calendar and Clock © Stillfx–stock.adobe.com

 

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Finding Peace

At times I feel as though I’m spinning a bit too fast.

Not out of control, per se. Haven’t gotten there lately. But I need to step back and slow down, stop spinning. It’s not a new problem. The decades change how we spend our time, but not the impact of overload.

I need balance. While I couldn’t find statistics on how adults spent their time decades back, there was plenty about teens. So I’m taking my cue from the younger generation, then and now, to help me find peace of mind in my time today.

Listening to Records
Be Real. Only in Peggy Sue’s dreams was she playing records with the hunk from algebra class.

Back in 1960, the average teenage girl spent 2-1/2 hours a day listening to the radio, and another two hours playing records. She spent less than an hour a day watching TV, a statistic that is a little misleading, since not all American homes, or homes anywhere in the world, had television sets. And remember, for the vast majority of homes that did have TV, there was one set for the whole family. No computers, no smart phones, just the one screen for all to share.

I’m betting the average teenage girl spent a fair amount of time on the phone, as well, until her parents told her she had to hang up because Aunt Patty might be calling about Sylvia’s baby. One phone in most homes, and no voice mail.

Today’s teenager averages more than nine hours a day in screen time, and he or she is beat out in that statistic by the adults. Of course, that includes school, homework or work time on the computer, as well as productive time spent in creative pursuits (like writing a blog). There are few statistics on the breakdown of that screen time, in other words, what can be considered productive and what is not.

Lady Playing Tennis
Never one for sports, not I…

Interestingly, a study done in 2004 showed that teens in 1981 spent less time in school, studying, helping around the house and socializing (structured events) than their peers at the start of the 21st century. They did spend far more time out of doors and playing sports. They also had more down time (how that was spent is not well accounted for in this study).

Friends of mine have two bright, active teenage girls, and those young ladies are going at top speed from dawn to dusk and many hours beyond. Their dad told me once that statistically, girls who are involved in sports are less likely to get pregnant (well, yeah, their periods tend to stop, but I didn’t say that to him). So they never stop running, and I darn near mean that literally.

I wonder, sometimes, if that kind of busyness has a dark side. I know I desperately need my alone time, and as I recall, it was crucial to my adolescent development that I find time to process whatever was going on in my life and my mind.

Down time is different these days.  I get nostalgic for some things. There’s something about playing records, with the discs steadily going ’round and ’round, the music that speaks to you playing as many times as you need it, that seems comforting to me. I know, there are a multitude of ways to wallow in music these days. But the record player had a soothing quality to it, and actively having to change records seems somehow a fair exchange of labor and reward.

I’m not criticizing computers, smart phones, televisions and the like. I depend on them. But reflecting on how teens spent their time in decades past gives me some insight into what might help me relax and regroup today. There are moments when I have to close the computer; I cannot look at one more message, perform one more search, post one more anything. What do I do then?

How do I regain my sanity, my ability to face what’s coming at me next?

Lady readingI didn’t find my answer in all those statistics, but the search led me to what I needed to know in a different way. I started to think of things I could do that were timeless, that sort of activity my parents, grandparents and ancestors decades back perhaps took part in.

I need to step out of the present. I need to return to what brings me peace.

Pondering the eternal, reflecting on the past.

Escaping to what never was and never will be.

Finding the strength to go forward with the present.

Reading.


Image Credits: © RetroClipArt — Fotolia, except Magic Book City — © Bigstock

Too Cool for School

 
It’s hard to find something that comes pre-printed with the name “Belinda.” But when I was 14, a t-shirt shop in Eastridge Mall would add your name to just about anything it sold — and that was quite a selection.

me-june-1974This shirt had five little chickies on it, tumbling, standing, waving (but not waving the finger, that was a different t-shirt). I loved it. The hat, I believe, belonged to my brother, and on the night after my junior high graduation, either he or my sister snapped this uncharacteristic shot of me.

Look at those shorts. Good grief. I believe the poster in the background had the poem “Desiderata” printed on it — or something similar. I’m not certain, but it’s quite likely “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was airing on the TV as the picture was taken.

But the best part of this picture? The shag carpeting, in various shades of orange and red. I remember raking that carpet.

Names

In My Little Town

I spent most of my growing-up years in the Bay Area of California, in a suburb of San Jose I won’t name for reasons you’ll note shortly. During the time I lived there, it was an eclectic little tourist town. It was also a place where respect was taught — in my high school — and practiced.

When I was a sophomore in high school, the girl who sat next me and the boy who sat behind her in my geometry class worked at a local Mexican restaurant, well-renowned in the area. One night, this 16-year-old girl found herself waiting on a man who looked vaguely familiar. Not vaguely. He looked like — he was — Robert Redford.

This was 1976, and this was what Bob looked like around that time, in case you’re too young to remember.

28971010355_a7655971dd_b
Robert Redford in “The Great Gatsby” (1974)

Damn. Both of my classmates got his autograph, she as his waitress and he as the bus boy, and they were smart enough to let their manager know, too. They were also gracious enough not to say anything to anyone else. Mr. Redford was eating with his family, and they respected his privacy.

Today, I doubt it would happen that way. That quaint little town has turned into a new money hell hole, and people are very status-driven. Someone sees a celebrity, they likely scream it out.

lake-vasonaMy freshman English teacher had noted that unlike most of the towns and cities in the area, generations of families grew up and stayed in my little town. He’d taught the children and now grandchildren of his early students, in significant numbers. It was a pretty place, with a town square and tranquil parks. The high school had the only nighttime football field in our league, which made home games very popular.

I’m speaking in very nostalgic terms here. It wasn’t all glory growing up there. Numerous girls in my high school class, including some I was very close to, were sexually assaulted on or near the school grounds. More than one notorious serial killer had lived in the area during the time my family was there.

But if we can’t have sweet memories of our growing up years, and for me it has sometimes been hard to find them, it is harder to find the good in our world today. So I am thankful for the town I grew up in, as it was then, as it remains in my heart and mind.