Tag Archives: Judy Blume

Fabulous Fridays: #52Lists Project

Today’s list is all about the people you want to be like. I’ll refrain from judging you if you refrain from judging me about who made the cut for me! LOL OK, here we go:52lists

  • Ann Wilson
  • Gene Simmons (The man is a brilliant businessman)
  • Judy Blume (In my opinion one of the best authors ever!)
  • JK Rowling (I love the fact that she kept her common sense in the face of writing such an amazing story!)
  • Martha Stewart
  • My grandmother
  • My former religion teacher who has more faith than I will EVER have.

I know it seems like a short list, but in so many of these categories, I have never thought about this stuff before. The authors ask us to take action this week by finding the person you most want to emulate in your own life and try to be more like them.

Who do you admire? Feel free to comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Fabulous Fridays: #52lists Project

This week’s list: List your favorite characters from books, movies, television, etc…

  • Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With the Wind
  • Rose DuWitt Bukater from Titanic
  • Darcy Rhone of Something Borrowed/Something Blue
  • Margaret Simon from Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
  • Farley Drexel Hatcher (aka “Fudge”) from Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing, Superfudge, Fudge-a-mania, and Double Fudge.
  • Jo Polniaczek from The Facts of Life
  • Blair Warner from The Facts of Life
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder (Specifically Melissa Gilbert’s version) from Little House on the Prairie.

Take Action: Find a common personality trait between all of your favorite characters. What is one character trait you admire?

I’d never really thought about it before until now because they sort of seem like a diverse group in my head. Still, when it comes right down to it all of them (except for maybe Fudge) are more than what they appear to be. At first glance, they seem stereotypical, but when you really get to know the characters, they are a lot deeper, stronger, and opinionated when you first meet them. They may be debutantes, superficial or classic tomboys, but there is always more to them than meets the eye and there is a part of me that has something in common with each one of them.

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Buy It, Borrow It or Bag It: SPECIAL EDITION Revisiting Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself by Judy Blume

 Sally    Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself is one of only two books that I read by skipping the first chapter. (The other was Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, in case you were wondering.) As most of you know, I was a huge fan of Judy Blume as a child and I devoured every book of hers that I could get my hands on, but when I opened Sally…I was stumped. The thing had a prologue (something I only associated with grown up books) and was set in 1945. What the heck?

I put that book back on my bookshelf faster than I you can imagine but it bothered me. Why would Judy write a book that seemed like such a radical departure from everything else she penned? The blurbs on the cover suggested it was a wonderful story, but I didn’t connect to it. For months I would try to start it again and again but I couldn’t get through the first couple of pages. In addition to the title’s namesake there was this character named Ma Fanny and they were on this beach and a guy comes on the radio to announce that the war is over and two pages later we are in chapter one and trying to find out if Sally’s brother Douglas is going to live or die. Sound confusing? Then you are feeling my pain.

At some point, I had the book at school when a teacher told us to read quietly and in an effort to look busy, I pulled out Sally and opened it up to the middle of the book. It was the chapter in which Sally starts her new school in Miami Beach, Florida and it felt like a second beginning to the story. I read through the rest of the book but when I was finished I had more questions than I had answers for. Why was part of Sally’s family in Florida? Were her parents divorced? Why does she call her father Doey Bird and her grandmother Ma Fanny? I started backing up on chapter at a time and re-reading the text piecing together more and more of the story…finally, when I backed up to Chapter 1 and the Prologue the whole thing made sense and I realized it may very well be Judy’s masterpiece.

I was not surprised to discover in adulthood that Sally is the most autobiographical book Blume ever wrote. She grew up in the post war era and at one time, did spend the winter in Miami with her mother, brother and grandmother while her dentist father stayed up north to work. In Sally, Judy brilliantly captures that moment of childhood in which you are still naive, take everything literally, do not understand sarcasm and when no one wants to tell you what is going on. You are still young enough to let your imagination run away with you, such as when she thinks her old Jewish neighbor is actually Adolf Hitler in disguise and she truly believed that at any random moment, someone would come up to her and say “Hey kid, we’re going to make you into a star!” (Yes, I suffered from that delusion as well.)

The thing about Judy Blume books is that you always learn something, whether you are planning to or not and Sally is no exception. Not only did I learn about movies I would later make a point of seeing, but it spawned an early interest in the Greatest Generation. In addition, it helped me learn a lot about Judaism and some of the traditions her family adhered to and ultimately became one of my favorite books.

While I ordinarily do not suggest that people read a book out of order so that they  can eventually fall in love with it, sometimes it is worth it. Several years later when I opened up a book about a boy wizard my son was so crazy about, I nearly closed it inside of three pages, but he assured me I had to get past that first chapter in order to appreciate it. I let the book sit for six months and when I picked it up again, I thumbed to Chapter 2. Suddenly everything fell into place and I went back and revisited the pages I’d skipped. If you have never read Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself, I highly recommend it. Check it out of the library, find a $1 used copy…I don’t care, just do it. Within the story you will discover the young Judy Blume and how her upbringing and imagination would lead her to create characters like Peter, Fudge, Margaret and more. If I ever had the chance to discuss one of Judy’s books with her, it would be this one. (OK, maybe “Margaret” because it had such a profound impact on me, but Sally would be up there!)

As we celebrate the return of Judy this year with “In the Unlikely Event” (which I am currently reading) don’t let this golden gem pass you by!

READ IT!!!

Until next time, keep calm and rock on!

Julie

 

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Confessions of a Cynical Catholic: Are You there, God? Judy Blume CHANGED “Margaret”

AreYouThereGod_5x5    I have often told the story of the night I was at a friend’s house and was introduced to the book that would change my life forever. Oddly enough this was the same friend that caused me to experience ASMR for the first time…funny how everything ties together, isn’t it? It was a purple book with an art deco design on the cover and it was called “Are You There God, It’s me, Margaret.”

Margaret was the first literary character I identified with. Though she was older than I was at the time (Margaret was 11 while I was 7) I felt an odd kinship with her because her parents were of two different religions and she was supposed to choose her own way, if she wanted to, when she was older. Though I had become Catholic a year before discovering this book, I certainly understood Margaret’s confusion and the private way in which she spoke to God inside her head. Her prayers were honest, direct, and innocent, ranging from boys, to her impending development, wearing a bra for the first time and her confusion about what religion is right for her. I saved the $3.50 for my own copy and read he book so much that it fell asleep between chapters 13 and 14 (which, if you know anything about that book- are the BEST chapters.) I also read it so much that I have huge sections of it memorized. My kids say it’s creepy when I start in: Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret. We’re moving today. I’m so scared God. I’ve never lived anywhere but here. Suppose I hate my new school? Suppose everyone there hates me? Please help me, God. Please don’t let New Jersey be too horrible. Thank you. (Feel free to look it up, but I swear I typed it from memory!)

So the other day I happened to be in my local Books-A-Million when I saw a copy of Margaret on the shelf next to Judy Blume’s latest release, In the Unlikely Event. I was so excited to see my old friend even though she’d definitely gotten an upgrade since my early 1980’s Dell Yearling edition. My husband was sweet enough to buy me the book because he knew Margaret and I had some catching up to do but I was chagrined a few hours later when I discovered that Judy Blume CHANGED it.

Before you get your knickers in a twist, the plot is the same. Margaret is not suddenly Catholic or starring in a reality show and  is still obsessed with a certain punctuation mark that is code for a biological condition, but it’s been updated to reflect current products in this area of feminine hygiene and I can’t help feeling a little uneasy about this. I mean, when Forever was re-released (in its original form, mind you) there is a whole disclaimer at the beginning explaining that it was written prior to the AIDS epidemic and does not reflect the current practices encouraged today. But there was nothing to suggest that there was anything different about this version of Margaret so you can imagine my shock. I kept re-reading one section over and over again thinking I was missing something. When I finally realized (after remembering the original line in the book – yes, I really am that sad) that I was right, I shouted, “She changed it!!” and woke the whole house up in the process.

I guess I am just a creature of habit, but Margaret is like the Bible to me. It’s sacred and even it is a little out of date (heck, some of its language was out of date when I first read it) I hate being blindsided by the change. I wouldn’t want Adam and Eve to suddenly be named Tyler and Karen or for Mary and Joseph to make a long trip to NYC to have their baby so I don’t want Margaret to be different. I understand it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but that book is tradition to me…same as the Mass, the sacraments, and everything I love about my faith and when traditions change, it’s hard to adjust to. Though the world will still keep turning, I don’t think I will feel the same until I find an original copy where the words read like they used to and everything is as it used to be.

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Glo Column September: A whole new “period” in my life

red-gift     There is a video making the rounds on social media concerning a young lady so eager to grow up that she actually fakes a certain female experience. When her mother discovers that she is lying, she throws her a humiliating party to celebrate the supposed occasion. It’s funny, but also a little disturbing. A.) Who fakes something like that? and B.) Nice parenting skills, Lady! Your daughter will be in therapy for life!

I guess I was weird. I didn’t have the same fascination with the whole thing other girls my age did. In fact, I was perfectly OK with that parade passing me by completely. The whole operation seemed like a huge inconvenience, not to mention a bit of a mess and I wanted no part of it. I hoped that I might be a medical anomaly, the grand exception to the rule, or at the very least, would follow in my mother’s footsteps and avoid it until I was 16. No such luck. Two weeks after my 12th birthday, IT happened. The event I had been dreading ever since I read Judy Blume’s Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.

I became a woman…five minutes before entering the seventh grade.

There is something disconcerting about a routine trip to the restroom on the First Day of school turning into a life-altering right of passage; especially one that prompts mothers to become weepy and make ridiculous comments about this unwarranted and unwanted transformation like, “I guess you’re not my little girl anymore! Congratulations!”

This was not an accomplishment. I didn’t do anything, my ovaries did. And if I am no longer a little girl, then what the heck was I? Seriously, an hour before, I was a normal 12-year-old who still slept with a Cabbage Patch doll and played Barbies on a regular basis. Now after one little bathroom break, my reproductive system was fully developed and I was capable of bringing new life into the world.

I was so not ready for that level of responsibility.

Other womanly endeavors such as wearing pantyhose and training bras had proven to be big let downs and I suspected this would disappoint me as well. Not only would I have to deal with this hoopla on a monthly basis for the next four decades, but I would also have to endure possible stomach pains, migraines and avoid the color white until my mid 50’s. Thanks so much for the gift Mother Nature…what’s your return policy?

To her credit, my mother didn’t throw a party in honor of the occasion and was understated about the whole thing, but I still felt like there was a big neon sign above me announcing my condition. When the initial festivities were over, I stared at myself in the mirror to confirm that I didn’t look any different, (I would only do that one other time in my life.) However, I remained convinced that everyone would know. How I would make it through the school day? What if I ran out of supplies? How was I supposed to walk normally with what felt like a king-sized pillow shoved into my underwear? There were so many hypothetical questions running through my head, all punctuated with an unmistakable period and like it or not, I was going to have to get used to it. One down…only 509 to go.

Though it would happen time and time again, and on occasions far more embarrassing than the first day of school including field trips, graduation my wedding day and even family vacations. In that moment, I could not think of anything more mortifying than having to explain to my brand new (and male) teacher exactly why I needed to go to the girls’ room yet again.

Unless of course, it was telling my father.

 

 

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Glo Column for August: Little Pitchers

Me and Mom     It was the scariest sentence ever uttered by the woman who brought me into this world. Five simple words that gave me a complex and caused me to scrutinize my facial features out of fear that history would repeat itself:

“I look like my mother.”

It all began on a Sunday morning in which my mother stood before the full-length mirror in the hall closet teasing her hair into the shape of a brown football helmet just prior to making the pronouncement that caused me to fear my genetic future. It wasn’t what she said, but how she said it. A look of horror crossed her face and her tone became so terrifying it convinced me that this was not only a fate worse than death, but that I should spend the next hour in Mass praying for a biological intervention. Are you there, God? It’s me, Julie. Please let my father’s DNA dominate my chromosomes. Thank you.

Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of beautiful women on my mother’s side of the family, but apparently my grandmother wasn’t one of them. I have an aunt who boasts a petite frame and platinum blond hair, cousins who could pass as super models and extended relatives who had classic 1940’s pin up features before age and gravity got the best of them. However, my grandmother who died when I was seven was small, sickly and sported shocks of snow white hair. It’s the kind of thing that can freak a kid out, and not the kind of family tradition one wants to carry on.

In the brief time that I was around my maternal grandmother, I never saw her in real clothes. She always had on a housecoat and pajamas. Her hair was never styled. Her posture was hunched. Her fingers were stained with nicotine and once, while playing on the floor near where the grown-ups were sitting, I got a peek at her toes poking out from her slippers. Not only was the second toe significantly longer than the first, but also they were purple for crying out loud. Purple! Every four-year-old on the planet knows that’s just gross!

Though my mother still had her brown hair and only faint wrinkles at the time of her statement, I understood why she was so panicked. If she was already seeing the similarities then I knew we were both doomed! She was the daughter of the crypt keeper headed for a life of bad circulation and chronic illness while I was an innocent victim drowning in the gene pool. From that day forward, if anyone commented on my resemblance to my mother, I was quick to point out that I looked more like my dad. I seriously hoped that if I said it enough, it would turn out to be true.

In actuality, I am a pretty good mix of both of my parents, something I later learned that I have in common with my mother (who knew?) After my mom died in 2008, I discovered a bunch of old pictures of my grandmother I had never seen before. Prior to the orange fingers and purple toe era, my grandmother was quite average looking and possessed features consistent with a blue-collar woman living in a rural farming community. She may not have been a beauty queen, but her looks were nothing to be ashamed of either.

I never told my mother how her comment affected me as a child, not even after she apologized to Boy Wonder when he inherited her hairline and bone structure after his birth. Maybe I should have. After all, people are sensitive about the way they look. Words can hurt, off-the-cuff comments can make a big impact and little pitchers have big ears.

Chances are they inherited them from you.

 

 

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Fabulous Fridays- My favorite banned books

In honor of Banned Books Week…here are some of my favorites that have been banned at one time or another.

mockingbird   To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee-Hands down, one of the best books to have ever been written and one that I could read over and over again. I am always astonished by the fact that it has been banned in schools due to the racial content and profanity. Ironically, it was required reading in my high school days. I love the book. I love the movie. Truly an American Classic.

 

huck finn     The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain– Similar to TKAM in terms of why it was banned, this is the satirist’s best work as far as I am concerned. Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to sail down the Mississippi on a raft, to find myself in the middle of two feuding families, to have adventures with two con men known as the Duke and the Dauphin and eventually find myself reunited with my best friend Tom Sawyer.

deenie     Deenie by Judy Blume-What would I have done without Judy Blume in my life as a young girl? Little did I know what a hot bed of problems befell this story when it was first published. I read it under the belief that it was the story of a young girl with a spinal condition…little did I know that there were enlightening details under the surface about the kinds of thing Deenie was doing in the privacy of her bedroom and in the bathroom that caused her concern and made her wonder if she could go blind from it.

 

AreYouThereGod_5x5     Are You There God It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume-I did not know that this book had been banned and to be honest, I don’t see why. This was the book that changed EVERYTHING for me. I fell in love with the written word over this book. I felt like I knew this character of Margaret whose parents were of two different religions and who worried that she wouldn’t develop the right way. Blows my mind that something so beautiful could have been banned.

mice and men     Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck– This book is so sad, but so beautiful and had it not been required reading in school, I probably never would have picked it up. I always love to see a kid looking all despondent about the story of the unlikely friendship between Lenny and George and telling them that they will love it in the end. “It’s only six chapters,” I tell them. “Stick with it and I promise you, you will thank me in the end.”

So that’s my list of favorite banned books…what is on your list?

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