Posts Tagged ‘new york city’

Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill, 1913

I remember Ruth Fielding as being bold, thoughtful, creative, brave, and somewhat of a no-nonsense personality, who works hard on achieving financial independence. She was an orphaned teenager who comes to a small town to live with her mean, crusty old uncle Jabez Potter who runs the local mill on the banks of the Lumano River. His arthritic, hunchbacked, ancient, warm-hearted housekeeper “Aunt Alviry” is not actually Ruth’s aunt but is a servant and for a long time is the only person who loves Ruth. Uncle Jabez doesn’t believe in educating girls. But Ruth manages to win him over somehow. Anyway, Ruth goes off to boarding school at Briarwood Hall with her rich, beautiful motor-car-driving friend Helen Cameron, makes friends with everyone, and ends a terrible schoolgirl rivalry by creating just one big sorority, the Sweetbriars. I seem to recall their moonlight and candlelight ceremony where they’re hanging out in togas by a graceful statue, with a harp. Ruth goes on to have a lot of adventures that center around her solving mysteries, helping poor girls get an education. Her companions include the jolly and popular plump girl, Jennie; and the slightly bitter lame girl, Mercy, as well as a rich friend with a cute brother and a motorcar. Nothing new there, right? But…

Ruth Fielding book cover

The cool thing about Ruth Fielding is that she’s a scriptwriter for moving pictures! She saves her school when a building burns down by writing a moving picture scenario for Mr. Hamilton from the Aelectron Corporation! And goes on to become a successful writer, even transitioning from silent film to the talkies.

Note the fashion in the cover picture. It reminds me of the book from the Betsy-Tacy series where Betsy and the other girls try to look like Gibson Girls, with their dresses gracefully draped instead of being tightly fitted, and a “droop” to their figure, slouching rather than standing up straight.

I believe this might be the series where all the girls make graduation dresses from simple white cheesecloth so that the poor girls won’t feel outshone by rich girl satin and lace. Or is that Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm? There was an amazingly cunning plan for their class valedictorian, Mercy the lame girl, to be able to graduate on stage by the clever and unprecedented use of a podium or a sort of Grecian drapery on a dais. Because it would be impossible for her to graduate on crutches despite her being the damn valedictorian on crutches! Mercy had a sharp temper because of her pain and illness and difference, and all the other girls take that into stride. She wasn’t cured magically like Katy and Pollyanna and she didn’t develop perfect patience; she stays crippled and a little bit bitchy. She’s my hero!

Alice B. Emerson was a pseudonym used by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. Known authors who wrote Ruth Fielding books include Mildred Wirt Benson, W. Bert Foster, and Elizabeth M. Duffield Ward. Thanks to Jennifer at Series Books for Girls blog, which I’ve only just now found while searching for anyone… anyone… on the net who is also obsessed with this stuff!

Click through for my re-read and chapter by chapter summary of Ruth Fielding of the Red Mill in all its glorious faily goodness. Or, you can read the full text here from Project Gutenberg. Summary: The miser has a heart of gold; the crippled girl walks again; Ruth wins the spelling bee and gets a new dress; there is a lone page where a Mammy and a young black girl make cameo appearances. The young black girl does not get to go to school or make any friends or get any dresses…


Day 3 in New York City

It was a mostly good day. I hung out working with Quilty, and then we went to Think Cafe and hung out working and writing some more, on the good side. On the bad side, my computer is dying and I have had to use one of her extra, old-ish laptops. And then the ceiling began to leak in the cafe almost right over us and other people kept taking our bagels and coffee before we would realize they were on the counter and the counter-people were kind of pissed off and they ran out of bagels. But we got some just in time…

Then I went to the apple store in soho and my computer refused to misbehave. They zapped the PMU. And it seemed just fine. So I walked to the Cuban restaurant my airplane-buddy recommended on Prince and Elizabeth, met a cool woman who crochets hats, had awesome cuban food, and walked through the Bowery to Bluestockings while happily composing blog entries in my head. And then realized my computer didn’t work again. Walked back to apple store. It still didn’t work. DAMMIT. New logic board $280 bucks plus I need to back up the computer.

Then to WWB reading whicih was interesting – I bought the book. But I was caught in the rain. And then had my 3rd and hugest asthma attack of the day. Was rescued in the bathroom of Labyrinth books by Sue, an angel with an inhaler, who brought me tea and unusual kindness. People do not like to see illness or disability, including asthma attacks. It bothers them. Dinner with karen and her friend, who was super nice… Then back, hurting, knee blowing out, limping by now, super sucky, will I last out the trip with the ability to walk? I hope so. I am in love with the subway, as an able person. As a not so able one I will not have fun in New York.

Now v. upset about mailng list being jerks about transwomen, it is unbelievably disappointing and someone on there wrote me privately in a way that was just painful. there are many things disappointing about 70s feminism such as white feminst being racist and the whole lavender menace thing and then the sex wars, and so it is just nasty and upsetting to see this kind of thing rear its head in my home turf where i did not expect anyone would be like that at least not quite so meanly and thoughtlessly and in public. you come to expect people to be sane and to acknowledge their own shit, if they have it and can’t help it, like being brought up with prejudices they can’t get over. Unfortunately the dont’ see it that way. I don’t understand this at all.

myspace consultants for teenagers

No WAY….

…a New York city-based advertising consultant has found new market in helping young girls make their online pages worth the hype. She specializes in coodinating the best material for her clients pages.

“I’ll help a girl choose the best party photos, the best friend shots, and edit their blog to really make an impression,” says Gaub, “when an online page is shared with so many new friends and potential relationships, it has to be the best.

The part about tracking “what’s in” made me think of Esme Squalor…

Can this possibly be true?

*runs and vomits*

lunatics all

My relatives are lunatics…. The ones in Florida, well, Great-Uncle Bob expects my grandma to cook for him every day. Apparently his daughter flies down from RI occasionally to cook him massive amounts of dinners which she freezes in bags. Then he brings them over to my grandma’s so she can cook them for him. WTF? And a terrible story about how they went to a movie at 1pm, and my grandma was so “worried” that she would not have dinner (hot dogs and canned baked beans) on the table by 5 for uncle bob that she left the movie in the middle.

Meanwhile on the other side of the family, Grandma Hemulen decided that the electric bill (40 bucks a month) was too high and they must economize. So, she and my uncle sit in the dark a lot with candles, and hang the wash out to dry. She must be so decrepit she can barely move, but she goes up and down the stairs to the basement washer and hauls the wet clothes up and hangs them out. Now their electric bill is only $18 a month! This when she could sell her house for 700K and move somewhere halfway sensible. The house is actually rotting all around them and anyone who bought it would immediately tear it down and build a new one, but it is in the middle of beautiful non-built-up land on a river and they used to have their own dock (long since decayed and unused) so the land itself has become valuable. As it is, my dad sends her money and pays the property taxes every year. And she thinks that my other uncle might get a divorce and might need her again (a forty year old man… what for does he need to move in with her, to have her cook him hot dogs just like uncle bob? and hang up his laundry?) and so she refuses to move to live near my mom and dad. If I were her, I would not want my mom up in my business and to be beholden to her directly every day for groceries and company… Grandma H. should sell, and live in her own town somewhere reasonable. Or at least use lightbulbs and get maid service. “We stopped using the dishwasher to economize, but it’s broken anyway, and the vacuum cleaner is too.” She will be found dead of a broken hip, weeks later, eaten by her cats… Well, compared to decaying slowly in suburban Houston it may not be a bad way to go.

If I were her I would sell, move to New York City, and go to the opera and theater every night, taking taxis and dining on take-out food, until the money ran out. And THEN move to suburban houston if desperate and still not dead.

These stories from my mom always accompanied by declarations that she will never be so horrible and could I please just shoot her if she is ever such an asshole when she gets old.

low, but better

Nukie’s sister came to the door (sister? cousin? a new one… skinnier, age uncertain, tough and boyish) scuffing her shoes & looking all around but at me. “Um, you know, I was just about to put his shoes on and you know, dinner, but then where’d he go? That boy has fast feet. “

“Yeah, he’s very athletic and coordinated… They’ve been playing super nicely.”

“I was watching him, but he’s sure got fast feet. You know, he was there, and then… he’s fast.”

Really! I’m used to it! The funny part is that he was over here for hours before she noticed he was gone! Oh, poor Nukie… I like it when he mixes up the words for “paper” and “popsicle”. Today Moomin greeted him with joy & they played together with no fighting.

Except that after he left I realized that EVERY single toy in Moomin’s room was out. And while we were cleaning it up I lost it somehow… Moomin being particularly ineffectual… as all he wanted to do was finish reading all those books about pirates and dragons that Iris sent (Thanks Iris! He loves them! he calls you auntie Iris!) Then we could only find one shoe in his room – in a bin of stuffed animals – and I really was about to cry.

“I need your help Moomin. You HAVE to keep track of your SHOES. LOOK for them. Oh, my god. Did you HIDE it or something? How could it be lost? How will you go to school, you lost one of your other shoes and I’ve been looking for it all week, and now your only other pair is lost too!” (I can’t believe these things came out of my mouth, in that tone of voice!) “I’m sorry Mommy! I can’t find it! I don’t know!” But he doesn’t even try to look… I sent him to take a bath and had a quick silent cry in my bedroom… super quick.. I just couldn’t hold it together for another second! Asthma whammed into me full force, scarily, i guess from the stress of the moment… or all the dust of cleaning up 18 million tiny little pieces of plastic and all the stuffed animals in the known universe… For a few minutes I thought about going next door to the Pilot & Acrobat and begging one of them to put Moomin to bed.

& then snapped out of it and told him I was sorry that I was stressed and mad. We had a peaceful bathtime. When he grows up, he wants to move to New York City and become a comedian, and tell jokes. ( What??!!) I promised him I’d keep looking for the shoe and would find it. “I’m sorry.. I just get very tired of housework and I need your help to clean up the toys and keep your backpack, shoes, coats, and that stuff, in the right place.” “Okay mommy. Because everyone hates housework, but it’s more fun if you do it together.” Thank you Carol Channing and Marlo Thomas.

Later I found the other shoe under the living room couch.

Not my best moment as a parent! (And speaking of horrible parenting… I must add i was completely appalled by that discussion on… what was that guy’s daddyblog… basically a clusterfuck of parents who all said that they hit their kids and proud. at least i only occasionally say an ill-tempered thing. and then i acknowledge it. People are morons about violence towards children. Morons! Morons! especially morons the ones who are all like, well I couldn’t hit my DAUGHTER because one shouldn’t hit girls, but my 3 year old SON needs a spanking. WTF? hello – they’re tiny children. and – don’t hit people, oKAY?)

I finished flower poet Z. Well, it was fluffy. and sort of an annoying barrel of subtexts. But I enjoyed its mean snarkiness and the description of what it’s like to work as someone’s “personal assistant” in their house in the middle of their scary family. (What it’s like? SUCKY.)

Moomin and I read some more books in bed (sweet as pie, and talked about symbiotic animals. He fell asleep reading with the light on! As I track his reading (for school and for the summer library program) I notice he reads at least an hour, sometimes way more, per day (depending on how late I let him stay up, how much I read to him myself, and how much I ignore him vs. play ont he floor with him.) I make him write one book title on the “read read read” sheet from school and then I write the rest for him.

and his name is “super red”, and he likes chocolate ice cream best…

Oh Moomin. You have your dad’s perfectionism and my tendency to digress. The teacher pulled me aside this afternoon to say that she can’t figure out why Moomin has a problem doing his work very slowly. “He seems very bright. It should have taken him 10 minutes to do these math worksheets, but it took him hours and hours over two whole days. We can try some different strategies… if he is easily distracted he can sit next to me… He seems to be very slow while writing letters, and wants them to be perfect. This is true of certain children….It’s only been 4 days, so it’s too early to tell…” Aaaaaaa!

At home I looked at the worksheets. “Draw 4 red cars. Draw 3 green cars. Draw 2 blue cars. Draw 2 bears. How many cars are there?” I said his picture was nice (it had only the 4 red cars, drawn with his laborious care & precision.) And he got excited and happy! “These are my 4 red cars. They’re all friends, and they live in New York City. This one is the good one, and his name is Super Red Car, and this one is biting him, because this is the bad guy, and he used to always wait for the other ones and then jump out suddenly, and I think the bears, I don’t know how to draw a bear, but their names will be Brownie and Brownish, and one of them is SECRETLY the king of the bears, but nobody knows it. And he is going to always ride the green train, do you know why?”

Oh my god!

“Moomin, did you tell this to your teacher when she was helping you with the worksheet?”

“No. It was a secret.”

Can I repeat… AAAAAAA!

“Moomin I have a fun idea. Let’s play “fast rectangles.” We will draw rectangles as FAST as we can and they will not be perfect ones but we will know that they MEAN rectangles. ”

Then we played “Fast Ms” and “Fast circles” and “fast writing your name”. He got into the spirit of it.

I suggested he draw plain rectangles and PRETEND they’re cars, and draw fast ovals and pretend they’re bears, and then answer the question, and it took him about 30 seconds.

Certain life skills must be learned in this house… pronto…

“Telling stories and making cool drawings is so creative and smart… but this worksheet, it’s ‘math’ and they only really care that you get the right number in the blank, and then when you do Art or Drawing then you do groovy pictures and make up stories.” (AAaaaaa! )

“Oh. *I* see.” but he didn’t quite, I know.

I told some stories. “When I was little I would play a game to see how quickly I could finish the whole worksheet. And I’d get the workshett and ZIP i’d be done, and i’d look around and everyone would be dawdling, and doodling, and they’d be sooooo bored. But I was done already. So I could read, and draw, and make up stories, until it was time for Math. And then in math I’d finish the worksheet ZZZZIP! and then I could read and draw spaceships! It was SO COOL.” Moomin’s face lit up and he seemed super excited.

I can’t believe the teacher was heading to learning-disabled-needs-special-help territory. What will happen?

random encounters

Ah… suburban girlie’s Day Out in the Big City. I felt like Cherry Am3s in New York City — all the modern conveniences of taquerias, used bookstores, cafes, and genderqueer eye candy as I frisked about happily on V@lencia and 16th! Take that, coiffed, pantsuited preschool moms – I can fake it for a whole afternoon! I love my people! There is somewhere I belong – yes. But I don’t live there, because I feel that my personal utopia includes a parking space, a grocery store, and a back yard without shooting up or people pissing all over everything.

In Muddy W@aters – relaxing – translating L. V.’s poem “Yo So Un Br@ssiere” and wondering what “covachitas” means. I noticed a cute butchy late 80s s/m dykey sort of person come in. But why was she smiling? And waaaaaait a minute. That is not at all a san francisco s/m dyke even if this is NOT 1990. that is a nerd wearing her best black t-shirt with some sort of Buffy ironon from a convention and a leather bracelet from hot topic. Scribbling in a moleskine-ish notebook and shyly grinning at me. Totally staring at my hot-pink spandex-coated, braless, reasonably perky boobs. I felt like a total imposter AND just like some jaded Parisian guy from Balzac who notices a pretty young seamstress from the provinces who has just got off the train and is bewildered by the big city – whose clothes cleverly mimic the “latest fashions” which are actually quite out of date. Awwww – why don’t I sit with her? It turned out she was reading a sort of Baedekker to SF and was incredibly pleased to sit with me and had in fact just gotten off the airplane. “I’m getting my BA in cre@tive writing at U. of Ut@h.” Can I call it? Oh yeah. And was in a punk band. I love this girl instantly. She quotes K@thy Acker and R1lke’s letters to a young p0et at me. I believe she was upset that it was not in her backpack – she left it in the youth hostel. I don’t know if anyone reading this blog would understand how absolutely charming that is to me.

If it were 15 years ago, or perhaps 15 years into the future, I would have been screwing her silly in the bathroom of Muddy W@ters in about half an hour. Because I was — and who knows, potentially could be again given the stimulus of menopause — just that kind of total sleazebag. As it is, I asked her to come along with me and Quilty to dinner and this talk at V@lencia St. Books on science fiction and literariness or something. Benevolent tour guide R us.

SF talk made me nearly scream. I believe the proper way to describe it would lbe to say that at one point, a strangled cry escaped my throat, and then I swooned.. something about “But that’s just NOT TRUE. Gothic romances! Mrs. Radcliffe! Mary Shelley? aaaaaagh!” and then I stuffed myself into a bag and sat on myself — the disorderly, squeaking guinea pig was suppressed.

Oh! pompous windbags! misogyny! ignorance! inability to say the words feminism and capitalism! irritating conflation of naturalism and literaryness and both with “quality” and total inabilty to see “naturalism” or “the novel” as a Genre — and in fact as the Genre of imperialist capitalism or capitalist imperialism or however you want to put it – my horror at the setup of the 3 mr. award winning authority white guys with not a postmodern bone and no awareness of The World In General or anything not establishment – as if they represented some sort of broad spectrum when in fact, they seemed like the same species of fighting cocks from slightly different barnyards – teaming them up with the 20 years younger non-caucasian girl with no particular credentials and who is an mfa student – Well, thank god she was smart, articulate, and had her head on straight and was at least able to throw in a non-us-centric sentence or 2 about “magical realism”. (Quilty felt she was a little overacademic, but I don’t mind the word “reify” now and then – a perfectly good word.) For god’s sake. I actually got VERY AGITATED and felt that I was desperate to flee the room and began having asthma.

parenthetical aside, I ran into A. from Chicago, now apparently Mr. A. or shall we say M. A— of intederminate beardedness and identity location, who picked me up and swung me around with wild, reckless disregard of the state of my bladder and the effect of motherhood on my musculature Down There. Ran for bathroom. Apparently A. “works” at the store, which appeared to be on its last legs as a bookstore – very sad. I can tell these things. A. funny, nerdy, wild-eyed, just the same as ever.

My soul was saved by:
a) the charming enthusiasm of the darling butch girl from Utah who will certainly be a Writer someday and probably already Is
b) the thought of Rook’s certain outrage if he heard the vile discussion of genre, “marketing” and the ass-licking of the east coast “literary establishment” vs. the equally vile and out of date patriarchal SF establishment
c) the knowledge that Quilty, next to me, was also grinding her teeth and rolling her eyes
d) the extremely fizzy Ch@rlie who introduced the whole event. you know the thing where roald dahl says that he expected c.s.forester’s head to be whizzing with green sparks but it wasn’t and he just seemed like a normal, shy, quiet little man in glasses and an overcoat? I didn’t know this person but their head was definitely whizzing with green sparks. Wildly hysterical genius-like ranting extended meta-metaphor about supermarket checkout of swooping reality across the scanner thingie until the thingie bleeps and it becomes a metaphor. But it was all meta. get it? I nearly died at the extended and apparently spontaneous riff on Astr0phil and Stella’s sf comic book sequels and the resulting slash with Britomart. That was fucking funny. I knew reading the F@erie Queene would come in handy some day.

Somehow, I did not explode in my truck on the way home down 280 as I imaginarily argued with the Catastrophe Wheel guy and the Made of Meat guy. I didn’t bother arguing with the McSwiney’s guy, as he would be the first up against the wall when MY revolution comes. Marketing. Ugh! Vile mouthing of “border” and “pleasure of reading” watered-down fake theory scumminess!


I’m back in the suburbs now, fat and sassy. Maybe I had a little too much coffee.

Settle down… focus… CATCH UP. Think of my Wittig database project, and translating Delmira, and making Moomin’s lunch in the morning, and taking a nice hot bath right now and reading more of You Know What, volume 5.

One more thing re: the quality of the writing read rather than the discussion.
Made of meat guy: story familiar, funny, classic, v. 1955.
Twilight zone catastrophe guy: best actual writing, subtle, enjoyable. not earthshattering.
mfa girl: perfectly competent amusing irony laden mary-sue-ish slashy fic. not earthshattering.
mcswiney guy: overwritten horridness. indescribable. “Twee”. fake steampunk. my teeth were grinding. workshoppy and self-conscious. the epitome of why i can’t stand to read new writing.

granted i’m hard on everything. what would make me happy? Delaney? Piserchia? Pullman? Well, yes.

Danger, books!”In a letter to

Danger, books!

“In a letter to an inquiring senator, Assistant Attorney General Daniel Bryant said Americans who borrow or buy books surrender their right of privacy. “

Am wondering which books send up the red flag to the FBI.

Supposedly it doesn’t work that way: when the govt. decides you’re a terrorist, they track your reading to look for clues as to what your nefarious plans might be.

“Cropdusting in Florida Made Easy” or maybe “Aerial Views of New York City’s Historic Buildings”? “A Traveler’s Guide to Vegas Strip Clubs”? Or what? “How to Launder Money for Fun and Profit” ? The latest John le Carre? Lemony Snicket?

Back in 1988 or so when I worked in a library at the University of Texas, the FBI actually did come sniffing around to ask for records. The head of the library refused.

I am unclear what our actual constitutional rights are.

Spent an idyllic afternoon with M, e., s., and J. in the sandbox and wading pool. We also painted and made sand-and-flower ice cream cones and sold them for shell “money” to each other. Otter pops were eaten. Underwear was shown off by the newly almost-potty-trained.

I taught e. how to single crochet a piece of yarn with her fingers… she then sewed it into a basket. She learned at lightning speed. I like passing down my few girly skills; two kinds of finger-crochet, how to sing “Miss Susie”, and how to do the “missing thumb” trick.