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Passover

A week ago or so a friend of mine who knew me when I was still married mentioned that he saw my ex-husband and found something disturbing about him. Yesterday I ran into another friend on Easter Sunday who also expressed similar concerns about my ex-husband after seeing him and his second wife at a local cafe.

I’m not going to elaborate on what their concerns are other than to say that I’m not surprised that they are shocked at what has happened to my ex-husband. Since he left me he has gone through a complete personality change that I can’t explain. (I’ve read plenty about personality disorder, psychopathy, narcissism, and sociopathy but I lack the credentials to diagnose my ex-husband or anyone else.) After all, my husband never told me he was unhappy in our marriage until he abruptly left me just three days after Christmas in 2011. (He left me three months after I underwent hip surgery.) He abruptly went from being a loving, caring husband to someone who became cold and distant. He refused to talk to me or to meet with me in person other than to bark out orders over email and text demanding that I adhere to a schedule where we would separate our finances and if I raised any kind of resistance, he would threaten to sue me. I found out from friends that he had left me for a woman whom I thought was a friend of mine but I now know better. She had been open about her mental health issues that became so severe that she had an experimental pacemaker implanted in her brain. She qualified for SSI disability just weeks before my husband left me for her.

If all that weren’t enough, my husband sent divorce papers in a .pdf format that was attached to an email message that was dated December 24, 2012. (Yes, he did this on Christmas Eve.) I later found out that he and the other woman got engaged just eight months after he left me. He married her two months after our divorce was final.

Sure I’m sad over what my friends have told me about him but here’s one thing I learned through both attending meetings of a divorce recovery group and seeing a therapist—the only person I can control is myself. I can’t control anyone else. Sure, I can give advice to someone but it’s up to the person to decide whether he or she will follow my advice or not.

I made the decision to have no contact with my ex-husband because of his cyberbullying threats of taking me to court if I didn’t do what he told me to do. My ex has never said that he was sorry for the pain he had put me through or even acknowledge his role in what happened between us. He once told me that it was my fault that he had to leave me so he could date that mentally ill friend of ours. (For the record, I never once told him that he should hook up with that woman. I would never recommend dating a seriously mentally ill person to anyone.) And the reason why he felt he had to leave: The day before my hip surgery I had gone to the American Girl Place in Tysons Corner, Virginia and I purchased this doll named Julie, who is part of the American Girl dolls’ historical line and she’s supposed to represent the 1970’s, mainly because her default outfit is similar to an outfit I once wore when I was growing up in the 1970’s. My ex wrote in a letter that he left behind that my purchase of this doll added to the clutter of our home and he had to leave because of it.

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That’s right, my purchase of this doll is the main reason my husband cited for leaving home, hooking up with a woman whom he knew has serious mental health issues, getting engaged to her while still being legally married to me, divorcing me, and marrying her just two months after the divorce was final.

Unless my ex makes a sincere effort to make amends to me for the hurt he has caused me, there is no way I’m going to contact him to see if he’s okay or if there is anything I can do to help him.

I’ll admit that I haven’t forgiven him at all. I learned through my divorce recovery group that forgiveness is a process that can’t be rushed and that there are some situations where it’s impossible to forgive a person. I can’t say I’ll never forgive him but I am just honestly not emotionally ready to do that right now.

Even if I was still in contact with him as a friend, there are limits as to what I can do. Any advice I give would work only if he wants to take it. If he decides against taking my advice, there’s nothing I can do about it because it’s his life and he’s the only one who has a direct say in over how he’ll live it.

If my friends raise their concerns about my ex with me again, I’m going to have to tell them “Sorry but I can’t do anything about it.” Because it is the truth.

I’m only writing a post about this because I know that there are people dealing with loved ones who have their own level of dysfunction—whether it’s due to drugs or alcohol or they are in a dysfunctional romantic relationship or they have mental health problems that they refuse to do anything about or they tend to gamble excessively or they have some other problem that have seriously impacted their lives. Many of us were raised in religious traditions where you’re taught that you’re supposed to be your brother’s (or sister’s) keeper and you have to be the hero to save that person from self-destruction. What I’m telling you—which flies in the face of most religious traditions—is this: you have no control over that person or anyone else other than yourself. If that person wants your help, then fine. You should help that person. But if that person refuses your offer of help, you have no other choice but to just let that person continue on his/her self-destructive path.

This was a lesson I learned through my divorce recovery group and it’s a similar message that other self-help groups, such as Al-Anon, also convey. The bottom line is that you can’t help anyone else unless that person wants your help.

However you can educate yourself so you can learn how to respond to someone else’s drama without getting consumed by it. I’m going to end this post with a short list of books I read that helped me learn how to deal with and respond to my ex-husband’s actions without losing my own mind.

Runaway Husbands by Vikki Stark. This was the first book I ordered from Amazon.com in the days after my husband left and I did a Google search on “my husband ran away from home.” That book helped me prepare for what would happen next since my husband had followed the same path to our divorce that the other husbands Stark profiled in her book went.

Psychopath Free by Jackson MacKenzie. This is a book that was invaluable in helping me to decide not to have any further contact with my ex-husband until he makes a sincere effort to make amends with me for what he has done to me.

The Language of Letting Go and More Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie. Both books are daily meditations that are designed to help the person with breaking away from a codependent relationship into living a well-integrated and independent life that’s free from codependency.

As everybody knows, today is Inauguration Day where Donald Trump gets officially sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Rather than focus on that event, I’d rather talk about dolls instead.

First of all, I want to announce that I no longer own the Talking Donald Trump Action Figure.

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I sold it last month on eBay. When I first purchased it years ago (which was sometime during either the first or second season of The Apprentice), I bought it as a gag gift for my then-husband. We both became hooked on that show because it was so hilarious and campy to watch. (This was a guy who was giving business advice on that show despite the fact that he had gone through multiple bankruptcies.) I figured that it was no big deal to buy a doll/action figure based on someone who was basically a buffoon but was essentially harmless as far as I was concerned. (Granted he wasn’t harmless to anyone who actually did business with him but to everyone else who had nothing to do with that guy, he was harmless.)

When my husband left me, he left the doll behind. It was no big deal because he was only 12 inches tall so I kept him among the other small dolls I own (such as Barbie, Volks Dollie Plus, Monster High and, Ever After High).

But then there was the initial flirtation of running for president back in 2011 and he did so by catering to the birthers who were questioning President Obama’s U.S. citizenship and contending that he was really born in Kenya. I felt that what he did was so reprehensible that I no longer could stand to watch his reality show after he decided against running and just continue with his reality TV career. I also began to ignore the doll. I would press the button in his back to hear him speak every now and then but I basically didn’t bother with it much.

When Trump decided to really run in the 2016 elections while saying horrible things that were racist, sexist, and anti-Islamic, I began to rue the day I actually bought that action figure as a gag gift. I finally decided to sell the doll on eBay because I just didn’t want it around my house anymore. I like dolls that make me feel happy and put me in a good mood and that Donald Trump action figure made me feel the opposite. I didn’t get a lot of money for the doll (I only had one bidder who was willing to pay the $20 minimum bid and I didn’t get that bid until the third and final week that I ran the auction) but I felt relieved to finally get it out of my house.

At least I’ll have these two videos to remember the doll by. The first is my “Trump” poem that I wrote for a local poetry reading event in 2011 and I later made a video featuring the Donald Trump doll. The other is my demonstration video of the Donald Trump doll that I made when I was preparing to sell it on eBay.

Now I’m going to switch gears a bit and talk some more about some other dolls that I have.

I recently came across this campaign on Instagram, known as #westandwithalldolls, where American Girl doll owners were urged to post pictures of their dolls (especially dolls of color) in solidarity with all women and minorities who are currently being maligned and even attacked by Donald Trump and his supporters. I chipped in with the cause by uploading pictures of my three American Girl dolls.

First, here’s Addy Walker holding a sign this quote from Martin Luther King.

“Again we have deluded ourselves into believing the myth that capitalism grew and prospered out of the Protestant ethic of hard work and sacrifice. The fact is that capitalism was built on the exploitation and suffering of black slaves and continues to thrive on the exploitation of the poor, both black and white, both here and abroad.”

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Here’s Ivy Ling holding a sign with this quote from Confucius.

“To put the world right in order, we must put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”

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Even though the #westandwithalldolls campaign specifically requested that everyone post pictures of dolls of color, I decided to use my one white American Girl doll, Julie Albright, because I found this one quote from the late Frank Zappa that pretty much says it all about race relations, especially among whites who aren’t bigoted towards people of color or anyone else who’s different from them.

“Hey, you know something people? I’m not black. But there’s a whole lots of times I wish I could say I’m not white.”

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I got that quote from the lyrics to the song “Trouble Every Day,” whose video you can watch below.

Here’s one group photo of all three of my dolls with their signs.

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If you want to contribute to that Instagram campaign, or see all the photos that have been uploaded so far, check out the hashtag #westandwithalldolls.

Santa Claus

 

 

 

 

For the past five years I’ve undergone some extreme drama. It all started in 2011 when I fell twice in a week and I ended up knocking my hip replacement (which I originally received back in 2008) out of alignment. I was told that I had to undergo hip revision surgery in order to put my hip replacement back in alignment if I wanted a chance of walking normally again.

The day before my scheduled surgery I decided to go on a fun shopping trip. I went to Tysons Corner, where I shot these photos as I walked around the mall in my walker. I decided to treat myself to something nice. I ended up going to the American Girl place where I purchased this historical 1970s doll, named Julie Albright, because she was wearing the same kind of outfit that I wore back in the 1970’s.

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I didn’t tell my husband about the purchase at the time because it was the day before my surgery and we both had been stressed out over my upcoming surgery. I just didn’t want to provoke a fight or anything. I decided to just hide the doll while I eventually planned on telling him about the purchase once my hip started to heal. (It wasn’t like we couldn’t afford the purchase because he was—and still is—a programmer at NASA.)

I went through with the surgery followed by physical therapy. My husband took wonderful care of me while I was in recovery. He never indicated that he was unhappy or anything. There were times when I took the doll out of her temporary hiding place while I admired her and read the books that I purchased at the same time as the doll. I was looking forward to getting my life totally back on track with the man I loved. We shared a lovely Christmas Day together and I sensed that we were going to make out okay.

But then, just three days later, he walked out on me. It was so abrupt and shocking. In addition, he left behind a note where he essentially blamed my purchase of American Girl’s 1970s historical doll Julie Albright as the main reason why he left because this doll “added to the clutter of our home.” I was dumbfounded by all this. I thought he had merely flipped out after all the stress he had gone through. (Not only did he had to deal with my hip operation but there were job-released stress plus he was battling bronchitis during the holidays.) I wrote a blog post that night stating that I hoped we would get back together.

I had seriously thought about selling the doll on eBay because I really didn’t want a doll to destroy what had basically been a decent marriage. I also felt horrible that my purchase of that doll was what made him feel that he had to leave home after he spent a serious amount of time to make all of the necessary arrangements before my surgery then taking leave from his NASA job to take care of me after my surgery. I never intended to drive my own husband away from home. I thought that if I would sell the doll on eBay, I would tell my husband about the sale, and he would return home.

I was so glad that I never did this because a month later I had friends tell me that they had saw him with one of the barmaids at a local cafe who had been struggling with severe depression (she only worked two nights a week because of it and she had recently qualified for SSI disability payments) and he had been taking her on dates to the same cafe where she worked. So, yeah, he blamed a doll that I purchased the day before my hip surgery for making him leave me for a seriously mentally ill friend.

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Over the next several months he would engage in cyberbullying where he would demand that we separate our finances via email and text (he refused to call me or meet with me in person to talk like normal human beings) according to his own schedule and if I balked in any way, he would threaten to sue me. (I still have those original hateful emails printed out and filed away.) I’m sure he probably blamed my purchase of that doll the day before my hip surgery for what he did as well.

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I later found out that eight months after he walked out on me and hooked up with that mentally ill friend, he asked her to marry him and she agreed even though he was still legally married at the time. I’m sure he probably blames my purchase of that doll the day before my hip surgery for making him do that. (LOL!)

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In 2012, just four days before the first anniversary of our separation, he sent an email that was dated December 24 (Christmas Eve) that contained a divorce petition in a .pdf format that was attached to the email. Between the cyberbullying demanding that we adhere to this separation of finances schedule or else he would sue me and emailing a divorce petition on Christmas Eve, I am now convinced that he basically lied to me all those years when he said he “loved” me. How else can I explain the fact that one day he acted like he loved me and still wanted to stay with me and the next day he not only leaves me but he acts like he has detested me all those years? He probably blames my purchase of the doll the day before my hip surgery for that one as well.

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Three months after our divorce was final he married the other woman despite her mental health issues. He probably blames my purchase of the doll the day before my hip surgery for that one as well.

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It’s so lame and cowardly for a man to blame a doll for leaving his wife without ever telling her that he was unhappy (while pretending to love her all those years), refuse to speak with her while demanding that she followed a certain schedule that he set, start dating a seriously mentally ill woman (and, yes, he knew about her mental health before he hooked up with her), quickly get engaged to her while still being legally married, send divorce papers in an email on Christmas Eve, then marry the other woman just three months after the divorce is final.

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I’m trying my best to move on. I’m at the point where I no longer want to have anything to do with him mainly because I’m convinced that he lied to me all those years when he said that he loved me. I go out with friends but I’m not in a relationship or anything like that. Right now I’m busy with trying to survive in a harsh economy while dealing with the arrival of President Donald Trump next month.

I’m mostly over my ex-husband but there are times when I still remember what he did to me whenever I see or hear something that dredges up the past. One reminder came just a couple of months ago when old recordings surfaced where Donald Trump told Howard Stern that he thinks that Lindsey Lohan would be great in bed because she was troubled at the time. Thanks to Trump’s confession, I now realize that this may possibly be one of the reasons why my husband has chosen to replace me with a mentally ill woman. I guess I should publicly thank Donald Trump for that insight. (LOL!)

All I can say is that I’m glad I never sold this doll on eBay in an effort to get my husband back because it would’ve been an exercise in futility.

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It’s that time of the year where people are crowding the shopping malls in an effort to buy gifts for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa. Instead of fighting surly drivers for a parking space, how about staying home and buying some unique things from me? Here is what I’m highlighting for sale this holiday season.

Do you like adult coloring books? Looking for something different from the usual ones that are currently on the market? For some NSFW fun, try my adult coloring book, Burlesque Beauties, which definitely puts the “adult” in adult coloring book.

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Purchase Burlesque Beauties right here.

When I originally created my first (and, so far, only) item for my new RedBubble shop, President Trump, I honestly thought that it would be something that was going to be hot for a limited time until Election Day then it would be obsolete. Thanks to the outcome of those elections, it looks like my President Trump line will be hip and relevant for at least the next four years (unless he somehow gets impeached or killed).

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You can buy this design on a variety of products ranging from leggings to bedcovers to cases and skins for your favorite electronic device. Check it all out right here.

I also currently have the following items available for auction on eBay through December 29 or until someone makes the highest bid (whichever comes first). There are no hidden reserve prices or anything like that and I have set relatively low minimum bids on these products.

Doll Couch Made From Recycled Dance Dance Revolution Pad

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This is the same couch that I displayed at the 2014 Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire and the 2014 DC Mini-Maker Faire. While this couch came from a pattern that was made for American Girl dolls, I found that it can also fit Mini Super Dollies and Ellowyne Wilde dolls as well. Bid on this couch right here.

Barbie Doll Customized as an Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Action Figure

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I recently made a series of DIY videos on how to customize a Barbie doll (especially the Made to Move Barbie) into Marvel Comics’ off-beat superhero known as the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. I decided to sell the doll that was featured in that video series. I figured that anyone who is looking for a Squirrel Girl doll/action figure to give to someone else (especially a child) but doesn’t have the time to customize a doll would want to buy her. I’m basically taking advantage of the fact that, as of this writing, there are no officially licensed dolls or action figures based on this character by making my own customized version available for sale. You can bid on my customized creation right here.

Knitted Fur Coat Made Especially For Barbie, Blythe, Pullip, and Other 1/6 Scale Dolls

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I wrote about the making of this one a few days ago. I decided to put it up for sale. Keep in mind that this piece is hand-knitted (by me) using fur yarn so it’s definitely not some cheaply made Third World sweatshop crap. I sewed hooks in the front so you can close it and keep it closed. It’s perfect for people who are itching to dress their doll in something appropriate for this time of the year. Bid on this doll coat right here.

Knitted Outfit for American Girl Dolls and Other 18-Inch Dolls

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Like the smaller knitted coat, I also wrote about this outfit in this blog recently. I decided to sell this one as well. This is a one of a kind outfit that was hand-knitted by me. I sewed snaps in the back instead of using velcro, which is convenient because you won’t have to deal with the hassle of getting your doll’s hair stuck every time you change into this outfit. (Even though most of the official American Girl outfits cost around $30, they still use velcro just like the manufacturers of cheaper doll outfits. If I was going to spend that much for doll clothes, I would expect something nicer than velcro.) Bid on this outfit right here.

In addition to my handcrafted stuff, I will also have a couple of other items available on eBay. I didn’t make either one but I decided to list them here along with everything else.

Talking Donald Trump Action Figure

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This is the same action figure which I gave as a gag gift for my then-husband sometime during the first or second season of The Apprentice, long before Donald Trump’s foray into politics. I used this one in the video for my “Trump” poem back in 2011. Now that he’s the president-elect, I’m going to see how much of a collector’s item this doll really is. (If some hardcore Donald Trump fan wants to offer me a huge amount of money for it, I’m willing to accept the offer.) So if you’re shopping for gift to give to someone who voted for Trump and is a true believer, here’s your chance to surprise that person with an action figure that not only has realistic articulated joints but can also say phrases using The Donald’s own voice. I made a video demonstrating the action figure’s talking and posing capabilities.

Bid on the Talking Donald Trump Action Figure right here.

Card Set Featuring Reproductions of Vintage Betty Page Pinup Photos

The cards in this set are about the size of baseball trading cards. They all feature vintage photographs of 1950’s pinup model Betty Page, who inexplicably underwent a popular revival in the 1980’s (while many of her other 1950’s female pinup contemporaries still remain in obscurity to this day) and she still remains a cult figure today with plenty of male admirers. I purchased this card set from a catalogue as a Christmas gift for my then-husband because I figured he would like it since he used to purchase the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue each year. It turned out that I was wrong. He told me that Betty Page didn’t really excite him all that much compared to Cindy Crawford or Paulina Porizkova. I think he only went through that card pack once or twice then left it alone. Of course he left it behind when he walked out on me five years ago this month. I tried donating it to the yard sale that was run by my support group for people who are separated or divorced by the organizers told me that I would be better off selling it on eBay because it might be a collector’s item. So I’m selling it for very low minimum bid mainly because I just want to get rid of it. You can view a few sample pictures from this set and make your bids right here.

That’s it for the auctions. I’ve set each one up so it’ll be relisted two more times if I don’t get any bids the first week. But the entire auction will end on December 29 regardless of whether I sell anything or not so don’t delay and bid today!

This year I got into knitting because it’s one activity that tends to calm me down, especially whenever I go through extreme stress (such as finding money to pay the bills or dealing with my mother’s latest health issues). One day I would really love to knit (and maybe even sew) my own clothes. I decided to start small with making doll clothes just so I can train myself for the day when I will finally try knitting a human-sized sweater or some other type of clothing. I came across this book written by Nicky Epstein called Knits for Dolls, which focuses on knitting clothes for American Girl and other 18-inch dolls.

I found one pattern that was intriguing called “Alice’s Tea Party.” It’s obviously based on the Tea Party scene in Alice in Wonderland but this doll looks like she’s dressed like a 1920’s flapper who’s ready to go to a party featuring a live jazz band.

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I changed the colors from the original pattern. I ended up using pink and black, which made the out seem much bolder.

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Most modern 18-inch doll clothes tend to use velcro, including even the expensive American Girl doll clothes. I decided to use snaps instead because I know what it’s like to get a doll’s hair tangled in velcro and it’s such a pain.

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Here are the various American Girl dolls modeling the same outfit, which gives you an idea of how the outfit would look against various hair and skin colors.

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I even made a short promo video for this outfit.

For the past few days I’ve been trying to get my life in gear. I’m working on a new series of DIY videos on how to customize one of those new Made to Move Barbie dolls, the first of which I’ll write about tomorrow. I’m also currently looking for a new day job to pay the bills since my last one ended so badly that I had to write a retraction post about that startup because the startup’s founder had previously talked me into writing a glowing post about the startup in this very blog instead of getting a separate blog account that would be devoted to promoting that startup. (As a result, I had to institute a new policy that I would no longer use this blog to write about work that I’m doing for other people until after there was some kind of closure to that work.)

But then I read something about one of the candidates in this year’s election that literally triggered me into remembering my divorce. Here’s some background information: Lindsay Lohan was a child star who appeared in many Disney movies while she was growing up. She was one of those child stars whose appearances as a teenager in the films Freaky Friday and Mean Girls showed that she had the potential to be one of those rare type of child stars—someone who could successfully make the transition as an adult actress taking on mature roles that could potentially gain her an Academy Award nomination (and maybe even an Oscar) a la Jodie Foster or Judy Garland. That promising potential was sadly squandered when she got into drugs and alcohol and one could easily spend an entire afternoon perusing the gossip sites for a litany of the troubles she has gotten herself into since she turned 18.

A new recorded audio from Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s past has recently surfaced where Trump was engaged in a conversation with radio shock jock Howard Stern over how hot the then-18-year-old Lindsay Lohan was while mentioning that her father, Michael, was a train wreck that would affect Lindsay needing a father figure in her life. Stern asked Trump “Can you imagine the sex with this troubled teen?” Here is Trump’s answer:

“She’s probably deeply troubled and therefore great in bed. How come the deeply troubled women, you know, deeply, deeply troubled, they’re always the best in bed?”

Of course that audio provoked all kinds of protests ranging from Lohan’s Freaky Friday costar, Jamie Lee Curtis, to Lohan herself. But this story has triggered me on a personal level for this reason: For many years I was in a stable marriage to a man whom I thought was very loving and devoted and who was also full of integrity. In September, 2011 I underwent hip surgery. During the next three months I received very loving care from my husband while he kept on telling me that he loved me. We celebrated a lovely Christmas holiday together. Just three days after Christmas he came home, told me that he was moving out, left me with two notes (one was a schedule that he wanted me to follow even though it would ultimately lead to our divorce while the other was a “reason” letter where he essentially blamed my purchase of the 1970’s historical American Girl doll on the day before my hip surgery because that doll “added to the clutter” of our home), then ran out the door.

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For the next few weeks I reached out to him numerous time by phone, email, and texts but he refused to answer them and he refused to speak with me. I wondered if he had found someone else and I suspected that if he did she would’ve been someone whom he met through his NASA job. It wasn’t until a month later when a few of my friends let me know that, yes, they had seen him with another woman but she wasn’t a NASA co-worker.

That woman was someone whom I knew and I thought was a friend. She has also been open about how she had spent much of her adult life battling severe depression. In fact she said that her depression is so severe that she has an experimental pacemaker in her brain. Despite that she was only able to work only a couple of days a week and she ended up getting SSI disability. About 11 months before my husband left me in 2011 she ended up spending a few days at Sheppard Pratt Hospital in Baltimore because her body had grown accustomed to the current course of treatment and she became really depressed. My husband and I had planned to visit her in the hospital one night when it turned out that she was released the afternoon before our planned trip to Baltimore. I was completely dumbfounded to learn that my husband had chosen this person—with all of her personal baggage—to be his mistress instead of one of his female NASA co-workers. My husband married this woman two months after our divorce became final.

When I read Donald Trump’s words on how deeply troubled women are the best in bed, I started to imagine my ex-husband having that same attitude. For the last few years I kept on thinking that my husband would have stayed with me if only I had developed a severe mental illness, which is totally fucked up thinking. My husband could have left me for any one of his female NASA co-workers who are all very intelligent, very independent, and share his fascination with air and space travel but, instead, he picked the one person whose life and career have been adversely affected by mental illness. I feel horrified that there are men out there like Donald Trump and my ex-husband who are getting attracted to deeply troubled women when these unfortunate women should really be left alone to quietly deal with their own issues in their own way without interference from anyone else (unless the women themselves ask for help).

My ex-husband has actually acted on his impulses and I have totally lost all the respect I ever had for him. (There are other longtime friends who had confided in me that they now avoid him as well because they have become so alienated by his behavior in recent years.) I don’t know whether Donald Trump has ever knowingly had sex with someone with mental illness or who’s deeply troubled in other ways but he has been accused of rape and sexual molestation of women and girls as young as 13.

I wish I could say that I’m shocked but this is the man whose inappropriate remarks about his daughter Ivanka have served as the basis for The Daily Show‘s two-part series Don’t Forget: Donald Trump Wants to Bang His Daughter and Again, Don’t Forget: Donald Trump Wants to Bang His Daughter and he has bragged about how you have to grab women by the pussy.

Those latest Donald Trump/Howard Stern remarks reopening old mental wounds about how my marriage fell apart is bad enough but a couple of days ago I got word that my mother is once again back in the hospital in Glen Burnie for sepsis. Friday I had to cut short my job hunting attempts so I could travel from the DC area to Glen Burnie to visit her. Yesterday I went to the hospital for the second day in a row.

I had planned on going today but there is this strange smell emanating from the kitchen that has been going on for the past couple of days and I really need to do a thorough cleaning to get to the source of that. (I suspect that there’s a dead mouse trapped somewhere in some crack or crevice.) I’m going to have other family members fill in for me today then tomorrow do this schedule where I stop by the Maryland Workforce Exchange for professional help on how to improve my job hunting efforts in the morning then drive on to Glen Burnie to visit my mom in the hospital in the afternoon.

But right now I’m going to have to get in a position where I force myself to work on the kitchen because I’m feeling kind of sad and depressed over everything. 😦

Nearly two years ago I did a series of Throwback Thursday posts dedicated to reviewing a series of historical books released by American Girl (yes, that’s the doll company) about a young girl growing up in the 1970’s named Julie Albright. Since I grew up in the 1970’s myself, I thought it would be fun to compare and contrast how the books depicted the era with my own childhood memories of that same era.

I haven’t done any book reviews since that time mainly because no new books have been released in this series since 2014 (when the book A Brighter Tomorrow: My Journey With Julie came out).

Back in November American Girl came out with a short movie based on the Julie books called And the Tiara Goes to… I haven’t seen it until late last month mainly because I was diverted by a bunch of other things (mainly Artomatic). It is a second in a series of short movies American Girl have released on YouTube based on the BeForever historical characters, with only two movies having been released as of this writing. (The first one, Maryellen and the Brightest Star, is based on the 1950’s character Maryellen.) Here is the movie for you to view. I’ll write my own thoughts underneath the video.

I’ll try to refrain from posting any spoilers in case you want to read my review before watching the movie. Julie Albright is depicted in the books as being a bit of a tomboy who’s into sports so much that she willingly goes through great lengths (such as launching a petition drive) in order to be allowed to play on the school’s basketball team, even though the coach feels that only boys should be allowed to play basketball. Her favorite books are the Little House series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder based on Wilder’s real-life childhood as the daughter of pioneers in the American West. She is also depicted as being into making crafts, showing great concern about the environment, and being willing to stand up for the underdog (such as her deaf classmate, Joy). She even makes a successful run for school president because she wants to reform the school’s detention system because, based on her own personal experiences, she feels that it’s not an effective way of discipline. She has never indicated that she was into anything even remotely fashionable or girly. (In fact, it’s her older sister, Tracy, who’s portrayed as being a trendy teenager who is concerned about her looks.)

So I found the movie’s premise of Julie being interested in entering a school beauty pageant to be a bit jarring in the least. It sounds more like an activity that her older sister would get involved with, not Julie.

Come to think of it, I found the idea of an elementary school holding a girls-only beauty pageant to be pretty jarring because I don’t recall any of the elementary schools in my area (Anne Arundel County [Maryland] Public Schools) ever holding beauty pageants in the 1970’s. I think there were beauty pageants that used to be held at the Harundale Mall a few times but they were done by outside groups, not the public school system.

There were a few moments in that film. The Water Fountain Girls were initially depicted as being just as nasty and snarky as they were in the books. It was cool seeing the friendship of Julie and Ivy being depicted on screen that was pretty close to the books. It was nice that Julie’s divorced parents were portrayed as being willing to act civil and friendly around each other for their children’s sake, which can show children whose parents are going through a divorce that it’s still possible to maintain a relationship with both parents even if they don’t live together under the same roof. The scene where Julie expresses her wish to Ivy that her parents still lived together is a common wish that many children of divorce have but Julie is also shown as being reconciled to her current family situation, which can show children of divorce as how it’s possible to adjust to growing up in a broken home.

Julie’s friend and basketball teammate, T.J., doesn’t have much of a role in that movie beyond the opening scene, which is too bad since he is such a pivotal and supportive character in the books.

Even though Julie is supposed to grow up in the 1970’s, the only thing that really depicted that era was the scene where Julie is talking to Ivy on a rotary phone and both Tracy and Julie’s mom tell her to hang up the phone because Tracy has to make a phone call. (This harkens back to the days before cell phones were so prevalent when most homes had only one phone line because the cost of having two or more lines installed was very expensive. So everyone living in that household had to share the same line. Even if each room had its own telephone, all the phones shared the same line. This meant that only one person could use the phone at a time.) There were a few scenes where Julie’s mom wore hippy-style dresses that could’ve come from the 1970’s. Otherwise there wasn’t much else that let viewers know that this story was taking place in the 1970’s.

Basically I felt that the story of Julie entering a beauty pageant was a bit off compared to how she was originally depicted in the books. It’s too bad that the film didn’t do a story that’s actually based on the books, such as the big basketball game in the second Central Series book, Julie Tells Her Story (which is now only available as part of The Big Break: A Julie Classic Volume 1 BeForever book), where she frequently encounters sexism from the players on the opposing team and she gets injured enough during the game that she is escorted off the court before the game ends and is sent to the hospital. That scene, complete with Tracy having a difficult time getting a hold of both of her parents (her mother was stuck running her Gladrags store while her father was late due to his plane flight), would’ve made a far more compelling short than the storyline in And the Tiara Goes to…

Having seen And the Tiara Goes to… and the previous one featuring the 1950’s character Maryellen, I have to say that the Maryellen movie was the better of the two mainly because the story was better done. (I’ll admit that I haven’t read any of the Maryellen books so, unlike Julie’s movie, I have nothing to compare it to.) That movie made more of an effort to show that the story took place in the 1950’s than the Julie movie did in depicting the 1970’s.

So that’s it for my review. I have a feeling that American Girl will eventually make at least one movie short based on all of the BeForever characters (except for the ones that have been archived, such as Caroline Abbott from the War of 1812). If a sequel is ever made to And the Tiara Goes to… I really hope the filmmakers will make a better effort to provide more of a 1970’s atmosphere with references to current events, music, TV shows, fashion, and celebrities so today’s children will know what it was really like to live in that era. And, please, no more beauty pageant stories. That one was definitely out of character for Julie and the results seemed totally awkward on screen.

The American Girl Julie Albright Books List

The Original Central Series

Meet Julie
Julie Tells Her Story
Happy New Year, Julie
Julie and the Eagles
Julie’s Journey
Changes for Julie

The Best Friend Book

Good Luck, Ivy

The Julie Mysteries

The Tangled Web
The Puzzle of the Paper Daughter
The Silver Guitar
Lost in the City

The BeForever Books

The Big Break: A Julie Classic Volume 1—A compilation of the first three Julie Albright Central Series books (Meet JulieJulie Tells Her Story, and Happy New Year, Julie).

Soaring High: A Julie Classic Volume 2—A compilation of the last three Julie Albright Central Series books (Julie and the EaglesJulie’s Journey, and Changes for Julie).

A Brighter Tomorrow: My Journey with Julie

Other Media Featuring Julie

And the Tiara Goes to…—A film short based on the Julie books.

Dancing Skeleton

Last Halloween I made a video where I burned a lock of my ex-husband’s baby hair right on October 31, 2014. I had come across his baby hair in an envelope while I was doing some decluttering and things were so strained and hurtful between us that I just didn’t feel like delivering that small envelope to his new home that he now shares with the woman he left me for and subsequently married soon after our divorce was final. (On top of it, she was a friend of mine who had also been open and honest about her struggles with mental illness.)

I read online that burning hair in a Pagan/Wiccan ceremony is supposed to negatively affect the original owner of that hair. For added effect I decided to do that ritual on Halloween while I made a video of myself burning his hair.

Well nothing has happened to my ex-husband. I see him every now and then so I guess he’s okay but I can’t say for sure. (We are no longer on speaking terms and I’m still adhering to my therapist’s advice of not contacting him at all.)

I didn’t get around to uploading that video on YouTube until New Year’s Eve while I wrote a post on New Year’s Day about it. But I think it was the wrong time of the year to publicize it because I didn’t get too many YouTube views.

So here is the original video for you to view at the right time of the year. It also includes a cameo appearance from my American Girl doll, Julie Albright. My video explains why that doll is even relevant to my marital breakup and my ex-husband.

Last Wednesday I posted a couple of photos I took while I was in Bethesda. I was there for business reasons and I had to arrive there at the crack of dawn. I was a bit frazzled when everything was over by 11 a.m. for the day. (I can’t really go into details here about the reason why I was frazzled or how I got so frazzled in the first place.) Once everything was over I realized that the area of Bethesda I was at was near the borders with both Washington, DC and Northern Virginia. I remembered that, for a while, I had been wanting to make a return trip to the American Girl Place in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia in order to check out that new historical 1950’s BeForever doll, Maryellen, in person. I was within close driving distance of that mall plus it was a Tuesday afternoon, which meant that the kids would be in school so I could just look at dolls in peace without encountering hordes of running, screaming kids (like on the weekends).

So I drove to the mall (which was about a 15-20 minute commute from where I was). When I arrived the first thing I did was to eat lunch at Wasabi. (That’s the sushi place where everything is delivered on a conveyor belt. The food is very excellent so the delivery gimmick is icing on the cake.) Then I did a leisurely walking around the mall. I went to the outside area of the mall where I would’ve entered had I opted to use the Metro instead of the car to get there. I saw that there were a few nice touches that weren’t there the last time I was there back in April. There was the table tennis table where I saw a couple of guys play a furious game of ping pong.

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They also had giant checkerboards where one can play giant sized versions of either checkers or chess.

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One of those large chess pieces is almost as big as my foot.

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I was browsing some of the stores inside the mall. It seemed like this trip became a nostalgia trip for me because of what I saw that evoked past memories for me. I found this stuffed Gizmo from the 1980’s movie Gremlins. I can remember when I saw that movie when it was first released in the theaters a long time ago. I was surprised to see a new toy based on that movie.

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Here’s an overhead shot of an olive oil and vinegar bar where one can purchase olive oil and vinegar in a variety of different flavors. They also tend to be more expensive than the olive oil and vinegar that one finds in a regular supermarket. I’ve seen these types of stores in various upscale shopping areas around the Washington, DC area so I wasn’t really that surprised to see one at Tyson’s Corner. To be honest, I’m happy with buying vinegar and olive oil from the supermarket instead of one of these specialty stores.

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Everywhere I walked around the mall, I saw all kinds of Star Wars stuff on sale ranging from kids toys to sexy bustiers for adults. It’s like the stores are gearing for that new Star Wars movie that’s coming out by the end of this year. (It’s going to be the first Star Wars movie since Disney bought the rights to it from George Lucas a few years ago.) The next few photos show just a few of the many Star Wars stuff I saw on sale at that mall.

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I eventually made it to the American Girl Place. Sure enough, the signs all over the store remind shoppers that, yes, there is a historical 1950’s BeForever doll named Maryellen and, yes, she now exists in real life.

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And here she is, Maryellen Larkin, in her default 1950’s style outfit.

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And here is the smaller mini doll version of Maryellen, which costs $25 (versus $115 for the 18-inch version).

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Even though I previously wrote about my trepidations regarding American Girl coming out with a 1950’s doll (mainly because I was inundated with all kinds of 1950’s nostalgia when I was growing up in the 1970’s), I have to admit that I like her strawberry blonde hair and her default outfit is cute as well. The color scheme reminds me of Spoonflower.com’s Coral, Mint, Black, and White contest that I entered in earlier this year. Overall I think she’s pretty cute and she definitely looks striking in person.

Maryellen represents the 1950’s era that both my mother and my late father grew up in. In fact, before I made this recent trek to the American Girl Place, I received the latest American Girl catalogue in the mail that features Maryellen prominently. I’m currently saving it for the next time I visit my mother in person because I think she’d get a kick out of seeing all of the 1950’s clothes and other items from her era rendered in doll form. I’m not sure if she would want the doll herself but I think she’d still get a kick out of seeing the catalogue nonetheless.

There are also other 1950’s outfits available for Maryellen and they are all adorable (even if the cheapest outfit I found costs $32).

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There are also outfits for young girls that are modern takes on Maryellen’s wardrobe (so as to avoid the historical costume look that’s more appropriate for Halloween or cosplaying at a geek convention). The next photo is based on Maryellen’s default outfit and I think it’s a very cute and chic update on Maryellen’s 1950’s aesthetic.

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This black outfit with the pink poodle appliqué (based on Maryellen’s poodle skirt ensemble that’s sold separately) is less successful in my mind. It looks more like a costume than something that a modern girl would wear to school or to a friend’s house on the weekend. In fact, it reminds me more of the kinderwhore look that the 1990’s riot grrls used to wear onstage, such as Babes in Toyland and Courtney Love (back when she was the lead singer of Hole before her personal problems overwhelmed her performing career).

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In recent years it seems like American Girl has gotten into launching big ticket items for certain dolls that cost a lot of money. There was Samantha’s Ice Cream Parlor and Gazebo. There was the current 2015 Girl of the Year Grace’s French Bakery, which costs a whopping $500. Now there’s Maryellen’s Seaside Diner.

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The store had one of the Seaside Diners out in the middle of the floor where one can look at it in detail. The diner is slightly smaller than Grace’s French Bakery (although it would still take up a tremendous amount of space in a small home) and, at a retail price of $275, it’s cheaper than that bakery as well. (Although frugal parents would have a very hard time justifying paying $275 for a child’s doll no matter how cute and realistic looking it is.) I have to admit that American Girl did a pretty credible job with designing a realistic circa-1950’s diner with the impeccable attention to detail (such as the formica countertop). I’ve heard that Maryellen’s story takes place in Florida (I haven’t read any of her books as of this writing), which would make sense given the name of the diner. In addition, I went to a couple of cafes and restaurants when I last went to Melbourne (located in Florida’s Space Coast region) back in 2011 and Maryellen’s diner looked way similar to my memories of eating in those real-life places. (Many of them even played 1950’s oldies music. It was probably because many of the retirees now living in Florida came of age in the 1950’s and these businesses were catering to them by playing the music from their youth.)

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Even though the jukebox was shown with the Seaside Diner, it’s really sold separately. It costs $90 and it can not only play a selection of six tunes that evoke the 1950’s but one can also use it as an external speaker for a computer laptop, tablet, iPod, or any other kind of modern electronic mobile device. I grew up with these types of jukeboxes in the 1970’s (many of the local cheap restaurants, cafes, and diners had them) and I still encounter them from time to time (although there aren’t as many of them as when I was growing up). I have to admit that the American Girl jukebox looks pretty realistic.

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There’s even an apron for Maryellen to wear whenever she decides to work behind the counter. (Although, in reality, she would not have been legally allowed to even get a job at her age since the child labor laws were passed decades earlier.)

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There was also a living room set for Maryellen with furniture that is supposed to evoke the 1950’s era that she grew up in.

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Her sofa is actually a sofa bed which opens into a place where Maryellen and one other 18-inch doll can sleep. It’s pretty cute even if it costs $150.

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Then there’s Maryellen’s $85 television console. American Girl did a pretty decent job with that one because I still saw similar setups like this in various people’s homes way into the 1970’s. (I grew up in a more working class area where people held on to their stuff a while longer than people with more disposable incomes. The attitude among most of the adults in my neighborhood was that it didn’t matter if something came from the 1950’s as long as it was still working.)

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Seeing that tiny set of encyclopedias also brought back memories for me even though I wasn’t around in the 1950’s. Basically many families in the 1950’s and 1960’s thought that buying a set of encyclopedias for their children would help them succeed in school. My parents felt that way also because they bought a set soon after I was born. The only problem was that by the time I reached middle school, much of the information in them was out of date so that set became pretty useless for doing research with. For my schoolwork I ended up using the encyclopedias in the school library and the local public library because they were more current and up-to-date. My parents ultimately got rid of the encyclopedias while I was still in high school since I rarely touched them.

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While this next shot shows a still screen featuring Maryellen in black and white (since color television wasn’t available to the masses back in the 1950’s), there is an area in the back of the console where one can place an iPad. The idea is to download an app that’s related to this console online and the person can use that app to create TV shows with. Then the person would slide the app behind the console and the screen would look like the TV is playing that TV show that was created with an app. This option is only available for iPads. (Have an iPod, an iPhone, or a Droid tablet or smartphone? Too bad for you!)

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Then there’s the $58 living room set, which features this funky table and lamp. Even though I grew up in the 1970’s, I visited a lot of homes that still had tables and lamps similar to this set. (Like I wrote earlier, I grew up in a mostly working class area where people were slower to upgrade to the latest and greatest furniture and other types of home decor.)

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This set includes a miniature TV Guide, which brings back a lot of memories for me. My mother used to bring home the latest issue of TV Guide along with the weekly groceries. There were a few articles in the front and back (focusing mainly on the stars of the shows currently on the air) but the middle section was a bunch of TV listings that were organized by day and time so one would know when a particular favorite program was going to air on what day and at what time. In addition, there would be short descriptions of what a certain show is about and what actors or actresses would be involved. That helped a person decide on whether to watch a certain show or pass on it. That miniature TV Guide is an accurate replica of what I would’ve read from the 1970’s until about 10 or 15 years ago when that publication underwent a serious format change. TV Guide started having problems with keeping up with TV listings because of an increase in the number of cable channels while keeping to its small publication size. So it decided to increase the size of its publication, which wasn’t so bad. But, along with that larger publication format, it decided to add more feature articles about current TV stars and devote fewer pages to TV listings, which resulted in a confusing grid listing all the shows for the week that was printed on one or two pages and the rest were feature articles. TV Guide went downhill for me after that. Until I quite my newspaper subscription last year, I used its TV listings instead of buying TV Guide. These days I rely on the Internet for TV listings. Yet I still see TV Guide still on sale at the supermarket checkout line so someone must like that format enough to buy it.

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That ad for Uncle Walt also brought back memories because one of the local TV stations in Baltimore had a similar weekday kid-friendly host who would introduce the cartoons and other kid-friendly programming. Except the name of the host in my area was known as Captain Chesapeake.

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When I first learned about Maryellen representing the 1950’s, I read the synopsis of the books and I immediately thought of Leave It To Beaver if Beaver had been a girl. But I later learned that Maryellen’s life isn’t some perfect utopia. From what I’ve read online (I haven’t read the books yet), she supposedly had polio when she was much younger, which resulted in one of her legs being weaker than the other. I never had to deal with polio, measles, or certain other childhood illnesses because I was vaccinated on a regular basis as a child. In recent years there have been these anti-vaxxers who are currently going around the country urging people not to vaccinate their children because vaccines cause autism. Even though there have been numerous scientific studies refuting that claim, people are still not vaccinating their kids so there have been a return of diseases in recent years that were previously rare, such as whooping cough.

That living room set also includes a tiny newspaper that includes headlines that would make the anti-vaxxers have a screaming fit if they ever saw them.

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I have to commend American Girl for standing up to the anti-vaxxers in a very subtle way like this. Especially since, about a year or two ago, I read an article somewhere that made me cringe. Basically there were some parents who, instead of vaccinating their children, decided to group together and have “pox parties” where they would expose their children to someone who currently had chicken pox so they would get the chicken pox at an early age. Yes, I admit that it’s true that children who get the chicken pox at an earlier age tend to have fewer health consequences than getting it as a teen or adult. Yes, it’s true that once you have the chicken pox, you have a lifetime immunity from ever getting again. But, as someone who survived chicken pox in the second grade, I would urge parents to get their kids vaccinated instead. The only reason why I wasn’t vaccinated against chicken pox was because that vaccine wasn’t around when I was young. If such a vaccine had been invented, the pediatrician would’ve given it to me with my parents’ blessing. I still have memories of the chicken pox covering my entire body. I remembered that it went into every single fold of my body plus there was the constant insane itching everywhere. I remember smearing calming lotion everywhere several times a day and I still itched. I would wake up in the middle of the night scratching myself. It was a week of pure hell. Parents, take it from a chicken pox survivor: For the love of God, get that damned chicken pox vaccine and skip the pox parties!!!

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Well, anyway, back to my visit to the American Girl Place. There’s also Maryellen’s Classroom Set along with a very cute school outfit, which are both sold separately.

There is a cursive writing poster that’s way similar to what I saw in school. I’ll admit that I never enjoyed cursive writing and I used to get bad marks for my handwriting. I was forced to write in cursive as late as high school. It wasn’t just English classes who required cursive writing. Even classes like social studies required papers to be turned in written in cursive. When I got to college and I found that the professors there weren’t quite as fanatical about cursive writing, I switched to print instead. These days I only do cursive writing when I have to sign something. I have one of my Facebook friends who lately has made it her mission to advocate that schools emphasize cursive writing more. (Apparently cursive writing isn’t taught quite as intensively since computers have made their way into the curriculums.) She talks about how wonderful it is to learn cursive. Personally I disagree with her because I struggled with it in school. I think just enough cursive writing should be taught so the kid will learn how to sign his or her name when he/she reaches adulthood.

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This Classroom Set includes flashcards, which I definitely remember (even though I wasn’t born in the 1950’s). While the teachers sometimes used them in school, I tended to use them at home in the evenings and weekends to practice things like certain words or multiplication tables. I’m currently involved with my church’s program to teach English to recent immigrants and we use a curriculum that includes flashcards.

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The Classroom Set also includes a map of the United States, which is fascinating to look at because this particular map shows Alaska and Hawaii as U.S. territories. That’s because Maryellen’s story starts in 1954 and Alaska and Hawaii wouldn’t become states for another five years. My parents were both taught in school that the U.S. had 48 states. By the time I started school, I was taught that the U.S. currently has 50 states. So it’s a bit of a generation gap. (LOL!)

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The Bottom Line: I think Maryellen is cute and some of her accessories remind me of my own childhood because they were still around in the 1970’s. Plus there were my own memories of watching 1950’s nostalgia TV shows like Happy Days and that variety series featuring the band Sha Na Na. Maryellen represents the era that my parents grew up in. But I’m still not going to rush out and buy her because she costs $115 and her accessories are pricey as well. I also have to keep in mind the limited space in my home so I’m not going to buy a larger doll unless I fall head over heels in love with it. Julie still speaks more to me than Maryellen does because she represents my own era of the 1970’s. If my mother falls head over heels in love with the doll after I show her the catalogue, I may buy it for her as a surprise Christmas present. (Or I may just buy the cheaper mini doll version for her instead.) Otherwise, I’ll pass on ever buying that doll.

So the store’s main emphasis was on Maryellen because she’s new. The current Girl of the Year, Grace, had mostly been shunted off to the side—including her $500 bakery. She only has a few more months to go before her reign as Girl of the Year ends and she is permanently retired along with that $500 bakery.

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There are a few new items that were released as part of Grace’s line. There were travel accessories for kids and even a travel-themed stationery set, which all have the Eiffel Tower motif. I thought they were cute.

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There’s also Grace’s Charm Bracelet and Jewelry Keeper for humans, the latter of which looks like the Eiffel Tower. The bracelet is cute but I wouldn’t pay the $60 retail price for it since I can find similar charm bracelets at Target or Claire’s for way less. (Especially since that bracelet—like everything else that American Girl sells—is made in China very cheaply and the prices are just overinflated because it has that coveted American Girl name attached to it.)

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I came close to buying a special rubber spatula for humans that’s part of Grace’s line (and released as a joint project of American Girl and Williams-Sonoma) because part of the proceeds from the sales were going to the anti-poverty group No Kid Hungry. But then I saw the $12 price tag per spatula and I balked because I can buy two or three rubber spatulas at Target for the price of one. I ended up just taking pictures of the spatula instead.

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I focused the bulk of my attention on Maryellen on this trip because she is new. There were furniture and other accessories released as part of the other BeForever doll lines but the only one I took photos of was this vanity set for Julie. I used to see similar funky colorful furniture in other people’s homes when I was growing up.

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This vanity set comes with this funky owl clock. While I never had an owl clock as a child, I had a round funky yellow clock that was a wind-up and it was made in West Germany. (Yes, that was back when the Cold War still raged on and Germany was divided into two countries.)

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I generally tend to ignore the modern girl line (which originally started as My American Girl, then the name was changed to Just Like You, and it has now been just relaunched again under a new name: Truly Me) because each doll costs $115 and the modern accessories and clothes are expensive as well. My attitude is that if I was going to buy a modern 18-inch doll with clothes and accessories, I would rather buy them from Target, Walmart, or Michaels Arts & Crafts for a fraction of what American Girl charges. (Besides all of these companies manufacture these dolls in China.) But I have to admit that the Halloween costumes are pretty cute even if they cost about as much as a Halloween costume for a real child.

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There is a modern living room set that’s similar to what’s in the 1950’s Maryellen line except this set evokes the latest technology that would’ve been unheard of in Maryellen’s era.

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This modern doll and her dog are all settled in on the pink couch as they are about to watch a 3D movie. (Note the 3D glasses.)

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The entertainment console set includes a pretend flatscreen TV set, a pretend DVD player, a few pretend DVDs, and a pretend remote control. The closeup shows the kind of movies that a doll can watch on this entertainment console set.

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Even though the popcorn machine was displayed with the entertainment console, that one is really sold separately. It is cute looking and the popcorn looks realistic. But that popcorn machine looks pretty big for an average home and it looks like it would be more appropriate for a pretend movie theater than a pretend living room.

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I eventually left the mall around 2:30 p.m. because I wasn’t in the mood to endure the Capital Beltway’s notoriously horrendous evening rush hour traffic. I purchased a couple of items from the American Girl Place.  One was call Doll Photo Shoot and it included two books (one on still photography and the other on making videos). It also included two large backdrops that are folded up neatly (so they can be stored easily) that one can use in photography. Those backdrops are worth the purchase alone because I can always use them in future photography projects (and they don’t have to involve dolls either).

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I also got this book, which is a mystery featuring the former Civil War-era slave Addy as she solves a strange riddle that evokes her slave past. I’ve since read it and I found it much better than any of the Julie mysteries (which I reviewed as part of a series of reviews I did regarding the 1970’s Julie character last summer). Unlike most of the Julie mysteries, where I figured out what the real deal was just two or three chapters into the book, I was kept in suspense all the way until the very end. And the ending evoked the less-than-savory aspects of America’s slave past and lingering racism that still remains unresolved to this very day.

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I made another video where I had My Friend Cayla swap clothes with two other 18-inch dolls. One is the American Girl Julie Albright doll and the other is the vintage early 1970’s Beautiful Crissy doll. It’s interesting that even though all three dolls are the same height, there is a huge variation in the fit of their clothes.

I’ve also set up a playlist of all of the videos in this series so you can watch the ones you’ve missed or even watch your favorites all over again.

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