Archive for the ‘Memory Lane’ Category

OK, a kid of a different color. Or a shirt, really.

The day after Allie wore her “Go blue!” clothes, she got to wear her “Go green!” clothes. And so did Adam and I. More specifically, we got to go to a hockey game at my alma mater! (Which just happens to be another huge Big 10 university within easy driving distance – and oh, did I mention that it’s my employer’s archrival?)

Adam and Allie with Aunt Betsy, our benefactor for the evening.

Adam and Allie with Aunt Betsy, our benefactor for the evening.

How did that happen, you may ask? Well, it was another example of why I love Facebook so! I posted a picture of Allie in her maize and blue – and one of my college friends chided me (good naturedly), asking how I could let her wear those colors. I replied that we wear the colors of both schools, and that we’d even go to another (alma mater) hockey game if my sister Betsy could get us free tickets again. Two minutes later, I had a private message from Betsy saying that she had free tickets to the game that night, and would we like to go! Of course we would! So I got off work an hour early, raced to pick up the kids and run home to change (why oh why did I have to wear a maize and blue shirt for casual Friday?) and get to the hockey arena.

We had a blast, as expected. Our team lost (5-2, yikes) but it was fun. My friends and I had season hockey tickets all through college, and our dorm was directly across the field from the hockey arena (on top of which I had my first-and-only cigarette – just a puff, really) so it felt just like the old days.

I don't remember the band being this big when I was in college (it was usually about a third this size at hockey games).

I don’t remember the band being this big when I was in college (it was usually about a third this size at hockey games).

In fact, it really felt like the old days because of where we sat. Our ticketed seats were quite a ways from the band, and we couldn’t hear it very well. And what’s the point of going to a sporting event if you can’t do the silly chants/cheers, sing the fight song, etc.? We quickly noticed that the student section was only about a third full – because it was spring break. So after the first period, we moved to the student section, which surrounds the band. It was kind of surreal. On the one hand, I felt like I was back in college, because this is how I spent many a Friday night. On the other hand, watching Adam cheering and singing with gusto – I felt like I was getting a glimpse of my son in 7 years or so, a college kid rooting on his team. Weird. But cool.

I admit that I was a little disappointed that the student section no longer does a couple of the gags that we used to do. I mean seriously, if the other team has someone coming back in after a penalty, and you know the announcer is going to say “Western, full strength!” – why wouldn’t you shout “Hey Jerry (or whatever the announcer’s name is now), what’s that smell?” Or when the announcer is going to say “One minute left to play. One minute.” wouldn’t you shout “Hey Jerry, how much time?” Sheesh. Kids these days.

Mmmm, the traditional hockey game snack - Melting Moments ice cream cookie sandwich.

Mmmm, the traditional hockey game snack – Melting Moments ice cream cookie sandwich.

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Around the time I went to the Duran Duran concert back in October, I watched a few of their videos on YouTube. As anyone familiar with YouTube will know, whenever you watch a clip there is a list of related videos on the right side of the screen. And as anyone who has ever watched a video on YouTube will know, that can lead to a fun meandering through all sorts of fun clips.

Basically, I’ve been catching up on the past 30 years of Duran Duran interviews, features, and other videos. Back in the day (i.e. the 80s), you couldn’t just hop on the internet to find the latest interview with your favorite band. You just hoped you caught it when it was on TV. If you were lucky, you knew about it in advance and were able to watch it and maybe even videotape it for future viewing. But most of it, you just missed. If you were really lucky, you or a friend had the money to buy your favorite band’s concert tape, which you watched over and over until you literally wore it out.

I’ve watched their very first interview, done on the fly when an American film crew literally bumped into the band after an early photo shoot and figured they must be somebody. I’ve found other video clips from the concert I attended. I’ve come across an episode of a silly game show called Pop Quiz, pitting Duran Duran against rivals Spandau Ballet. A Japanese interview with John Taylor where he reluctantly samples Japanese food and explains why he declined the sake. Several multi-part documentaries from various times in their career (particularly good ones from 1984 and 1987).

Heh, just found a multi-part concert video from earlier this year. Must resist watching it tonight!

The moral of the story is … hop on over to YouTube and look up your favorite band or singer! What are you waiting for? (I’m looking at you, Gal – I bet you can find tons of new stuff from your Sir Paul there!)

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I Feel Like I’m 15

Why do I feel like I’m 15, you may ask?

Tomorrow night, I’m going to Windsor. For a concert.

A Duran Duran concert.

They’ve only been my favorite band since I was 14. (Which means, oh, say, 27 years.)

I’ve never seen them in concert before. Not exactly sure why – I guess by the time I was old enough and had the funds for concerts, they weren’t really touring. When they really started touring again as at least a foursome, I was a mom without lots of extra funds.

A few months ago, I decided that it was ridiculous that I’d never seen my all-time favorite band in concert, and vowed to go the next time then played in my area. Then – tragedy! Simon Le Bon lost his voice, and the entire European summer tour was canceled. Obviously I wasn’t planning to see them in Europe, but I was worried that they’d never be able to tour again. Imagine my delight when, on the way to a car seat check event in Detroit, I saw a billboard advertising a Duran Duran concert in Windsor.

As soon as I got home that day, I emailed a new friend (Allie’s favorite friend’s mom) who I know loves Duran Duran, asking if she’d like to go. She enthusiastically said yes, and here we are, all set for tomorrow’s concert.

Oh, and did I mention that we have THIRD-ROW seats?! Guess that’s what happens when you’re a grown-up and can spend a little more on a ticket. I think it will be worth the 27-year wait.

(For those who are Duran Duran fans, check out their new album, All You Need is Now. It’s available for download from Amazon for just $5. I like the album a lot – it’s very reminiscent of their early albums.)

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I said goodbye to an old friend last night. We’ve had a long and sometimes rocky relationship and even broke it off a couple of years ago, but I’ve remained loyal to the end. Sadly, this dear friend is meeting its demise, and the kids and I said our goodbyes last night.

I’m referring to Borders, of course. After about five years of struggling sales, etc. the company has gone bankrupt and will be closing all stores within weeks. Liquidation sales – complete with garish signs – started at all stores this moring.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while (I know at least a couple of you have), you know that I worked for Borders for a long time. More than 11 years, in fact – one year at a store and more than 10 years at the home office in Ann Arbor. (And in the years between Borders store and home office, I worked at a Borders “customer store” – Schuler Books – for four years, just for good measure.)

You may also remember that I was laid off from Borders two years ago. So why the loyalty, you may ask? Simple: the people. Oh sure, you always hear, “It’s the people that make working at X company so special.”

But Borders was the real deal. From my very first day as a 23-year-old bookseller to my very last day as a seasoned corporate communicator, I was surrounded by smart, witty, often sarcastic (in a good way), dedicated people who made it easy to go to work every day. From the lowest-paid booksellers and customer service staff at the home office all the way up to the execs, we worked hard and had fun. In fact, Borders employees feel such a connection to each other that more than 4,000 have joined a Facebook that was created TWO DAYS ago for former and soon-to-be former employees. (And there are 2,225 posts already.)

And then there are the actual stores. Adam and I used to go on “dates” to Borders. We’d share a slice of lemon pound cake and a triple-chocolate hot chocolate in the cafe, then we’d browse to our heart’s content. I usually ended up buying him more books than I had planned, but it’s hard to say no when your kid’s begging you for the latest in a favorite book series or some unexpected book that he just has to have. Allie joined us once she got a little bigger (and easier to corral while in the store). I’ve read her many a story while sitting on the chairs in the children’s section. Jenny has been too, but she won’t remember.

If you’ve ever had “your” Borders store, you know how special they were. There’s a reason that whenever I told someone that I worked at Borders, I always heard replies like, “Oh, I just LOVE Borders!” or “My mom has me take her there every time she’s in town.” etc. It was just that kind of a place.

The big kids and I went to our favorite Borders for one last shopping trip last night. (The stores will be open for at least a few weeks more, but I can’t bear to be in them once the “going out of business” signs are posted everywhere.) We had a snack in the cafe – had to make do with a snickerdoodle and juice – stayed longer than we meant to, browsed to our hearts’ content, bought more than we intended, and had a nice but bittersweet time. Adam even found books three and four of a series that he’s been searching for. I found myself reluctant to leave, and was a weepy mess before we got back out to the car, but it was a perfect last visit.

We’ll move on. I’ve got another job (working for my Borders boss, I’m happy to say), we’ll find somewhere else to buy books. But Borders will always have a special place in our hearts.

One last snack (they were out of lemon pound cake, sadly).

Please can I get this one, Mom?

Allie admiring the American girl books. She’ll take one of each, please.

Ah, there’s our Book Boy in true form.

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There’s a YouTube video circulating called Dear 16-year-old Me. Its a melanoma-awareness campaign, but it’s had me thinking. If I could go back to 1986, what would I tell 16-year-old BookMama?

Here are a few things (I decided to limit myself to three):

  • Learn how to make and follow a budget so you don’t go into debt. Yeah, there will be some lean years, but you’ll survive without going to the poor house.
  • Don’t sell yourself short. You have a lot to offer.
  • Don’t get fat.* It’s not easy to stay in shape, especially after you have three kids, but it’s a lot easier to avoid getting fat in the first place than it is to get un-fat.

*If I could give 16-year-old BookMama only one piece of advice, this would be it. Everything else has turned out OK.

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It Still Stings

Tomorrow marks two full years since I was laid off from my job at the Borders corporate office. I loved that job, loved my co-workers, and was absolutely devastated when I was let go. Looking back, of course, things couldn’t have turned out better – Tim and I had a new baby and I was able to stay home until she was more than a year old; the big kids got nearly two years of a stay-at-home mom, including two fun summers; we never hit a financial crisis; and I ended up with an excellent new job working for my excellent former boss, with better pay and better benefits.

Yesterday, Borders filed for bankruptcy. It’s been a long time coming, and no one was surprised by the move. And as I said, I’ve been gone for two years. Heck, I really don’t even shop at Borders anymore – after I was laid off, I had neither an employee discount nor any money to spend on books. I was a little surprised at how much the news stung. Yes, I was a devoted employee for more than 10 years (Tim used to tease me and call me a “company girl,” which I suppose I was, in a way) but really, it’s been two years. I’ve moved on, most of my friends from Borders have moved on – some of their own accord, some not.

Based on my friends’ comments on Facebook, it seems they have had similar reactions.

I wonder if it will always be that way? (And I wonder if I will ever stop having frequent dreams that I work in the bookstore again. I only worked in an actual Borders store for a year, then in a similar independent store for four years. I often have dreams that I work at both stores. Must be because I really loved both jobs.)

Anyone else have similar feelings about a former employer? Tim likened it to an amicable divorce – it hurts at the time, but you still want them to do well. (“Though it certainly helps that your new spouse is a nymphomaniac that likes to cook.” ;))

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Today is  Book Boy’s birthday. As impossibly hard as it is to believe, he turned NINE years old today! He had a fun day, complete with cupcakes at school (and even though they didn’t have Batman or Transformers rings, he admitted that they were a big hit with the kids), pizza for dinner, cake and ice cream, and of course presents. He was thrilled with every present he received and was very vocal about it. (He received Lego Rock Band, two Percy Jackson books, two Foxtrot books, and some cash from my folks and my sister [cash to be used to purchase Lego Harry Potter when it comes out in June]).

Just for fun, Tim put a collection of pics from BB’s first five years on his Facebook page today. I thought I’d share some of them here.

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Once again, One Gal has inspired me to do the August Happiness Challenge. Good timing, too, as I’ve been trying to get back on the blogging wagon but haven’t gotten very far.

August 1 is an easy one: Tim, the kids and I drove to Indiana for a family reunion (my mom’s side of the family). The last time we were mostly together was my grandmother’s funeral – in 1996. The only people really missing today were my brother, a second cousin, and a few in-laws. We had about 30 people there, including EIGHT kids, all age 8 and under (1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8). This was the first time that my kids had met any of my cousins’ kids, and they all had a blast together – no fighting, even! And of course, the grown-ups had fun chatting all afternoon – the women, at least. One thing about us Lacy women, we know how to talk.

It was great to get reconnected with my cousins, and I really think (hope?) we’ll be able to stay in better touch now. Might help that we’re all fairly active on Facebook, too.

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It seems impossible to believe, but Book Boy turned eight years old today! It seems like just yesterday that we held our little 8 lb 4 oz, 21″ bundle of joy in our arms for the first time.

We didn’t do anything tremendously exciting in celebration, but Book Boy seemed happy enough. Last Thursday we met my cousin’s wife and kids at a place called Jungle Java – the kids spent the afternoon playing hard in the huge play area. Today, Book Boy took cupcakes to school and Little Sister and I made him a cake for this evening. We enjoyed his dinner of choice (pizza rolls) followed by singing and cake. We also let the kids have a rare school night movie. (Because pizza rolls are best eaten in front of the TV, of course.) It was a nice evening and BB seemed happy. Oh, and he enjoyed his presents from us – a Nintendo DS game, a Hangman game, and a little cash. (He has quite a stash of cash now!)

In honor of this momentous day, here are some pics of Book Boy’s first year or so:

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I grew up around newspapers. We always got a paper at home, and I always read it.

What’s more, my grandparents ran a small town newspaper throughout my childhood. Lacy was editor, photographer, writer while Mimi did the ads and layout. (I’m sure there was more to it than that, which my mom will fill us in on when she reads this.) Lacy was never without his camera and a reporter’s notebook in his pocket, and when we arrived for our annual visit, we always stopped at the paper first to let Lacy know we were there.  There was a print shop in the back of the building, and I’m still taken back to those days whenever I catch a whiff of printer’s ink.

My aunt was also a newspaper woman, first (?) for a weekly paper outside Chicago, then for many years at the Cedar Rapids Gazette, where I also spent a summer working. I majored in jouralism in college, and worked on the award-winning university newspaper.

So you might not be surprised to learn how much it pains me to read about all the long-time newspapers that are folding.

The Rocky Mountain News

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

The Cincinnati Post

Locally, the Ann Arbor News has just announced that it’s closing in July, after 174 years of publication. There goes my back-up plan for when the Detroit Free Press switches to three-day-a-week home delivery. An abbreviated version will be available at newsstands every day, and an electronic version of the paper will be published daily, but it won’t be the same. We can’t sit at the table and read the paper on the laptop while we’re eating (not enough laptops to go around, whereas we can always trade sections). How am I going to get Book Boy in the habit of reading the news if he can’t plop on the couch and read the comics every day?

(On the other hand, I applaud the Free Press for finding a creative alternative to closing … and I’m sure we’ll all get used to it.)

Perhaps more importantly, who will do the in-depth local reporting that newspapers do? The TV stations don’t do it, national papers/TV channels don’t do it. (As an example, the scandal involving former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick – who cost the city a NINE MILLION DOLLAR settlement because of his perjury – would never have been uncovered if it weren’t for the investigative reporting of the Detroit Free Press.)

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