Posts tagged ‘childhood’

Merry BetamaXmas!

BetamaXmas is a fantastic website. It’s possible that it is one of the greatest websites of all time. It appeals to me in every way, not just in concept but in execution.

In case you’re a lazy bastard and didn’t click the link, I will elaborate. Basically, it simulates sitting in a 70s/80s basement and watching Christmas specials on television. The details are fantastic– you can even “adjust” the “rabbit ears”. I’ve been in many a house with fake wood paneling and have sat on plenty of tacky plaid couches and have cuddled up with lots of crocheted afghans. And of course, I have had the experience of having to get the rabbit ears just right. Also, the “channel” seems to change of its own volition, which simulates the experience of watching the tube with dear old Dad, who is, to this very day, obsessed with changing the damn channel at least five times during every show, usually right when a show starts to get interesting.

Oh, here’s a quick tangent: I’d heard of the show Silver Spoons, but had never seen it until I discovered BetamaXmas. So I watched five or six episodes on Hulu. It’s a cute concept and I’m actually pretty impressed with the kid’s acting, but it pushes my schmaltz tolerance a bit so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it through the whole first season, haha. But it’s nowhere near as bad as Full House– so far.

Anyway, this site brings plenty of 80s Christmas Spirit to the holiday table. In fact, I was so filled with it after watching it that I got my husband’s presents out of hiding and wrapped them and stuck them under the tree.

I really don’t know what it is about 80s Christmas commercials that get me in the spirit. Maybe it’s because they’re fuzzy wuzzy and sentimental, and they bring back rosy memories of a time when the most complicated issue I faced was being afraid of the dark.

Nostalgiathon 2009 #2: I Was a Nintendo Kid

Today, I am going to blather on about the NES! How original.

Ah, that electronic fun machine. How I loved it. My first experience with the NES was when I was about five or six. The game? Mario Bros., what else? I couldn’t play worth a damn at the time, but I was fascinated by it.

Later on, my parents made friends with this couple that had two kids, Michael and Ashley, and we would go to their house out in the country a lot. They had an NES, and the kids and I would play video games together (we also had lots of adventures outside). That was the place where I got my Nintendo fix until I received an NES Power Pack for my 7th birthday in 1990.

I didn’t have a lot of friends in the second grade (or any other grade, for that matter), and I don’t think I helped that situation any by being a little girl who liked video games. When I’d try to join my classmates’ heated discussions about whether or not Sega was better than Nintendo, all the boys would usually just look at me funny and go on talking amongst themselves. (By the way, I would trash talk Sega at every opportunity even though I never touched one until sometime in 1999 or so.)

Also, when playing Mario Bros. with Michael or any other kid, we could never agree who got to be player 1 or player 2, so eventually video games became a pretty solitary activity for me.

Well, now that I’ve bored everybody to death, I’ll move on to actually talking about some NES games.

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There’s our little collection. And yes, we have a top-loading NES– a real one made by Nintendo. It’s great.

I didn’t own that many games when I was a kid; didn’t really need to because renting games was cheap and easy. Almost every week, we’d go to the mom-and-pop video store and I’d go look lovingly at the long wall of NES games.

One of the games I rented frequently was Mickey Mousecapade, which I recently bought a copy of. I rented it so much because hey, it was a Disney game, and because no matter how hard I tried, I could not get past the second level! Also, Minnie is retarded and always gets in the way, and that makes the game a lot more challenging. Eventually I got sick of it and started playing other games instead, but I always secretly liked it even when I was mad at it.

The first game I ever actually beat was the tie-in game for Disney’s The Little Mermaid. I was obsessed with that movie at the time, which is probably how I was able to beat the game– sheer obsession and determination. It certainly wasn’t because I was good at video games. Anyway, I’ll never forget how I felt when I finally made it all the way to Ursula and defeated her. I don’t think I ever beat another NES game, actually.

Nostalgiathon #2: Grandmama

As promised, there will be another post later today. Be on the lookout.

I hate to hit a somber note so early in this here production, and it was my original intention to save this for later in the week, but…it may be easier to get it off my chest now, and then go back to the usual fare.

See, my Grandmama died last week, and her funeral was yesterday.

I didn’t meet her until I was almost three years old. My parents, my sister and I had been living in California since I was born, and when we moved to Oklahoma, her little white house was directly across the street from ours. Her husband had died a little over a year before, and she was living alone.

In the fall of ’86, Mom and Dad went to Six Flags Over Texas with our church group for a day or two. I was too little to go, so I stayed at her house. I had such a good time there with her that it wasn’t long before I was spending every weekend at her house. She took me in as if I were one of her great grandchildren. In spite of the fact that she was actually my mother’s aunt, I took to calling her Grandmama.

I have so many memories of her and her home that I’m not sure where to start.

One thing we often did was watch television. In the afternoons, she would let me watch shows like Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood without complaint, and in the evenings I would watch things like Lawrence Welk with her. I would also watch TGIF at her house every week. She would let me rot in front of her RCA console TV on Saturday mornings for as long as I wanted, and she would make me French toast.

However, I didn’t just sit around. I played outside quite a bit too. There was a huge apricot tree in her backyard that I loved. Dad put a swing in it for me, and I eventually started climbing it. I would spend lots of time back there, swinging, hanging out in that tree. It was a treat because my mother was extremely overprotective and didn’t let me go outside much. Grandmama’s house was a place where I could relax and be myself.

Another thing we did outside was sit on her white front porch swing, usually in the evenings when it was cool. Nobody else I knew had one, so it was another thing that was special to me. We would swing lightly and drink Diet Coke as the sun went down. Sometimes she would sing songs with me or tell me stories. We’d laugh and talk and have a great time. And she never got mad at me for swinging too high.

Then at night, she’d rock me in her brown recliner and read, and then we’d go to sleep.

On Sunday mornings, I’d ride to our church with her, and during the service I’d sit with her, rarely with my parents or anyone else. She always had a pen and some paper for me to doodle on. After church, she, my parents, and I would go out to eat, usually at either Kentucky Fried Chicken, Braum’s (a regional place), or Dairy Queen. We’d eat and then I’d go back to her house and play, sometimes with some of her great grandchildren, who were somewhat distantly related to me (third cousins or something like that), but we always had good times.

Sometime when I was about…oh, thirteen or so, she got deathly ill. Almost didn’t make it. Her children took the initiative to sell her house and she moved in with her son and his wife out in the country. (I doubt anyone remembers, but they’re the ones that had the big ugly satellite dish that I always wanted to check out.) Anyway, after that I didn’t get to visit her as much for a while, but sometimes I would go to stay with her while Uncle Sonny and Aunt Ruby were gone, so she wouldn’t have to be alone.

Eventually she started staying with her cousin in town on the weekends so she could go to church, and I would stay there too. So the tradition continued, just…different than before.

After some more years passed, she was getting too frail to come to town often, and my life changed, and I no longer saw her on a regular basis.

The last time I saw her safe and whole was only a few months ago. I said to myself, I need to go visit her while I still have time. And when I got there, I was amazed. This woman was 93 years old, blind in one eye, couldn’t hear so well, and had trouble walking around, but she was still as sharp as ever. We talked and ate and I told her I’d be sure to visit again soon.

I should have known that life would get in the way. That time would take its toll. That the next time I would visit her would be in the hospital. I knew she couldn’t have much time left.

But knowing doesn’t make it any easier. And that hospital visit was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

I didn’t stay long. I couldn’t take it. She didn’t recognize me or know what was going on; she talked like she was in a dream, and at first, didn’t talk at all. It was…horrifying to see her that way, helpless and suffering. I almost wish I hadn’t gone, so that my last memory of her could have been that happy time a few months before. But if I hadn’t gone, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. I had to go on the chance that she’d know it was me, that she’d know I hadn’t forgotten about her and that I loved her dearly.

Grandmama, this is my own way of paying tribute to you– sharing beautiful memories of how wonderful you were with the whole world. You were strong, and wise, and even though you didn’t approve of some of the things I’ve done, you never judged me. If I could be like you someday, I’d be doing well. You may not realize just how much you meant to me, how great and deep an impression you left on my life, how you often gave me safe, loving arms to come to when the world was a harsh and unhappy place. For that, I will be grateful to you forever. I only wish I could have made all of this clear to you before you left.

I know I’ll see you again one day, but until then, I’ll just have to get by with a few photographs, trinkets, and those memories.

Dedicated With Love to My Grandmama,
Jewell M. Cardinal
July 13, 1914 – July 10, 2008

Under the Stairs

Okay! Finally! Something more normal to write about! Because I want people to, y’know, keep reading this shit.

I really am sorry if that last post didn’t float anybody’s boat. I guess I mostly did that one for myself, and honestly I wasn’t all that inspired when I wrote it, so…yeah. Excuses, excuses. I’m a freaky weirdo and we all know it. Moving on.

I was trying to come up with something to write about next, so I started thinking of old stuff. Considered doing a couple of things, and then a memory popped into my head. And of course, it’s one of those that’s positively loaded with nostalgia, so it’s perfect material for a post. A peaceful Saturday morning is a great time to write about such things, so here we go.

When I was a little girl, I desperately wanted a playhouse. But, as you probably guessed, they were and are really expensive. Like, the Power Wheels kind of expensive, which to a four-year-old is like a thousand hundred million dollars. I used to ask my dad to build one for me, but he’s never been much of a builder and my four-year-old brain didn’t understand that all the materials needed to build a decent one would also cost a big lump of cash. So this is one of those childhood dreams that almost went unfulfilled.

No, I never got a playhouse, but I did have the next best thing, and I loved it to death. To an adult, it was just a hole under the stairs that needed to be closed up. To me, it was a second home within my home– within my own room, even.

The house we lived in back then was old (built in the 20s or 30s I think) and had a weird floor plan. My room was sort of like the center of the house. You had to pass through it to get to my parents’ room and the bathroom. And around the corner was the staircase. The house didn’t originally have a staircase– my grandfather put it in when I was very young. The wall that covered it wasn’t completely finished at the time, so there was an opening underneath the stairs.

Since I’d been wanting my own secret place, I took to it right away. The “room” was big enough for me to stand up in, but any adults would have had to stoop down. It would have been dark too, but there was either a light put under there or a lamp. It was also just big enough to fit my kid-sized wooden table and chairs and– get this –my Rainbow Brite toy fridge and stove.

Lots of time was spent playing make-believe in that hole under the stairs. One of my favorite games back then was playing house. (I still like “playing house” today.) I would sit at my table and pretend to eat the fake food from my fake fridge.

Now, since that damn fridge meant a lot to me, I’m going to go on about it at length. Here, I even managed to find pictures of it by searching the web! They’re not real clear, but they’re better than nothing and I’m very grateful to this person for posting them.

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There’s the front of the fridge. That text there in the cloud says “Rite Hite”. Indeed it was. I love how the Sprite on the top door is giving Rainbow a scoop of ice cream.

The “freezer” and “fridge” doors both opened so you could store stuff in there. I mostly put books and crayons and stuff in it, which is pretty hilarious.

Now, let’s look inside…

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Okay, well, the photo’s too blurry and JPEG’d to really see what’s in there. But that’s why you have me here to describe it for you! (Aren’t you glad.) I swear I must have had nothing to do as a child, because I can remember sitting and staring at all kinds of pictures for long (or, at least, they felt long) periods of time. One of those things I used to do this to is the painted-on food inside this refrigerator. I remember some of the details even though I haven’t seen the thing in like 17 years or something. The picture definitely helps though.

Up on the very top, there are some of those canned frozen juices– from concentrate of course. Apparently, those were big in the 80s for some reason because I remember my mom and Grandmama having them around a lot. I never liked drinking them, but whatever.

On the shelf under that is a bunch of frozen-y sweets. I remember that one of them is a bag of frozen strawberries, and at least one of them is ice cream, and there’s some Cool Whip-looking stuff too. Those were always my favorite things to pretend to eat.

In the “fridge”, there are some eggs. Right next to them, for some reason, is a flower. I distinctly remember wondering why that flower was there. As far as I know, flowers pretty much never get stored in the fridge.

The rest of the stuff I don’t really remember in detail; from the looks of it, it seems like a collection of various condiments and drinks. I have just realized that the “food” in this thing isn’t even really food. But then again, I guess actual food isn’t kept in the doors of real-life fridges either.

Anyway. Another game I liked to play while hiding out in there was to pretend to watch TV. I had a Fisher-Price music box toy that looked like a little TV set. Had dials on the front and everything. When you wound it up, there was a scrolling picture as well as music. And I would make believe it was a real television. I even made up my own jingles for the pretend channels.

Now, why in the hell did I do this when I could just go watch something for real? Well, my best guess is that this was probably what I did when somebody else was using the TV, maybe when my mom was watching Young and the Restless or some lame crap like that. Or it could just be that I liked to pretend I could pick up stations from other states. Yes, even at four I understood this concept.

Before we had cable, every once in a while, a station from Fort Worth, Texas– channel 11 –would come in on our TV by some fluke of nature. Fort Worth is a couple hundred miles or more from where we lived at the time, so that’s pretty amazing.

The first time this happened, it blew my fricking mind. I thought TV only came from Oklahoma City, so when that channel showed up all fuzzy on the screen, I was fascinated. And from that point on, I always wondered what TV was like in other places. (The answer, of course, is…pretty much the same. But I didn’t find that out until years later.) This is probably the obsession that my love of station IDs was born from.

I do sort of feel like this post is all over the place, but the playhouse under the stairs is one of my favorite childhood memories, and I wanted to immortalize it somehow. Hopefully somebody out there enjoyed reading it. So, until the next post– which won’t be very long, so stay tuned –be excellent to each other. And…party on, dudes!

Meme Thingy (AKA Big Fat Cop-Out)

Before I get started, I got the most views ever in one day on the 27th: 68! That’s a lot for my little secluded corner of teh internets. I literally got up and did a dance when I saw that. So thank you, readers, for visiting. Even if you think I suck at this, thanks for dropping in anyway.

Okay, so I actually did this a month ago on my Livejournal, but since I don’t think many of you read that, I thought I’d repost it here, especially since I talk about my childhood quite a bit in it. I also don’t have a lot of time to write a “real” post right now. So take it or leave it. XD

Oh, and I’m not going to post the rules and whatnot because I’m pretty sure everyone’s already done it anyway.

1. Since I was 14 years old, I’ve been trying to write a story.

I was given an old Packard Bell computer that ran Windows 95, had no CD-ROM drive and a broken floppy drive. It certainly couldn’t get online. Since there was essentially nothing else to do on the damn thing except play Solitaire, screw around in Paint, and write stuff in WordPad, I ended up writing on that thing quite a bit.

The plot was nonexistent and the writing in and of itself was pretty lame. My favorite part about writing was (and still is) playing around with characters. I still remember my first two characters’ names: Ian Sheridan and Cameron Chase. After I gave up on that “story”, I ended up unconsciously re-using Cameron’s personality for a character named Adrian, and consciously re-used the last name “Sheridan” because I liked it so much. XD

Also, I was heavily inspired by Star Wars, and thus wanted to write a big space opera, but I gave up on the idea a long time ago.

I’m a much better writer nowadays, but I still haven’t finished a project. >_>;

2. When I was three years old, I fell through the ceiling.

True story. My grandpa was building a second story into our house, and I was up there playing while he was working. I remember tromping around wearing my mom’s red pumps, and then I hit a weak spot in the unfinished floor. I don’t remember anything after that, but apparently I was somehow hanging on to one of the rafters and screaming bloody murder. So it’s not like I fell all the way through to the floor. If I had, I probably would’ve been hurt pretty bad, because it was like an eight- or nine-foot ceiling.

3. I’ve landed smack on my head before.

One time when I was about eight or nine (can’t remember exactly), we were at the lake for July 4th. I was swinging in the playground with my friends, and of course we used to do dumb shit like go as high as possible and then jump out. Well, I was swinging really high, and decided to try to jump out, because that would make me cool, right? Well, I messed up somehow. I remember seeing the ground fly up and over me and then I landed on my head. Apparently, I did a flip in midair. I cried for like an hour afterward. That shit HURT.

4. I don’t think I could live without ice cream.

Seriously, I buy a carton every week. There is almost always ice cream in my house. I manage to eat it and not gain a ton of weight. Maybe it’s because I don’t really eat cheese and I drink fat free milk. XD

5. I was born out of wedlock.

=_= Nobody bothered to explain this to me, either. I found out when I was about 16 and had to have my birth certificate to get my driver’s permit. “Mom, why is your last name on here as ‘Cooper’?” She explained it to me, and I got REALLY mad. Nowadays it doesn’t bother me, but I do wonder if that’s why my grandmother didn’t like my dad and wasn’t very close to me.

6. I’ve never met any of my dad’s family.

Most of them lived in California, and nowadays half of them are dead. My grandparents died when I was just a baby. My dad is going to be 60 on the 12th, and he’s the baby of the family, so. I haven’t seen my other sister since I was two years old, but I’ve talked to her on the phone a couple of times. She has three kids which I’ve never met or even talked to. Someday, I’d like to go out to California and meet them, but that’s a long ways off.

Anyway, there you have it. Hopefully within the next week or so, I’ll have another post up. But I make no guarantees. XD

Snapshots: 1983, Part One

I’ve mostly used this blog as an outlet for geekery about stuff like station IDs and old movies. That stuff isn’t going to stop (is that good or bad? you be the judge), but I do want to get a little more personal every now and then.

Well, what better inspiration than old photos? I have recently acquired a shiny new scanner/printer/copier machine doohickey. This makes it much easier to make such posts.

So, let’s go on a little trip back to 1983, shall we? We’ll start on February 9, the day I came into the world.

On that day, I looked like this:

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In case you’re a moron, I’m the little purplish-red…thing. It’s a wonder my parents even decided to take me home. I’ve watched enough episodes of that “A Baby Story” show on TLC to know that most babies aren’t exactly pretty when they first come out, but I never saw one as hideous as I was.

And sadly, my mom doesn’t look much better. But she has a good reason for that. She was 38 years old and had just finished pushing out a 10-pound-3-ounce hunk of baby. If you did that, you’d probably look like death too.

My grandpa has told me that he didn’t want to hold me because I was so ugly. Hey, Grandpa, I’m the only one that’s allowed to say that I’m gross. Back off. He got over it though, because there are pictures of him holding me a few months down the road.

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There’s Dad and me. Thankfully, I’m looking much better there.

Here’s a similar picture, but Dad is missing something:

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The lip ferret is nowhere to be found. Unfortunately, it would not be the last time he did that. He did it again when I was about three years old and I flipped the hell out. Apparently, I cried, “You’re not my daddy!” To my knowledge, he’s never done it again since. Now, in general, I don’t like facial hair, but Dad is an exception. Even though it’s all salt-and-pepper these days, I still think he looks far better with the mustache than without.

Anyway, I plan on doing more of these in the future. I’m really partial to my old photos and I think it’ll be a lot of fun to write about them. Hopefully you guys can enjoy them too, and if not, well…you know what you can do.