the best friends you’ll never have

Browsing in Claudia Kishi

In general, I like the Kishis as a family. They always seemed to eat delicious family dinners together, and there are some nice moments, like when Claudia and her dad are doing yardwork together in The Mystery at Claudia’s House. But there is one thing that really bugs me, and it’s their attitude toward Claudia and her schoolwork.

Not that they threaten to make her drop out of the Baby-Sitters Club. Frankly, I think they should have; it ate up an enormous amount of time. The whole being-held-back/going-back-to-eighth-grade thing was on SMS’s shoulders. But the fact that they let her struggle so long in school without doing anything except sometimes making her go to the Resource Room and having her family help her with her homework. They do finally get her a tutor in Claudia Kishi, Middle School Dropout, but it’s too little, too late. Stamford Alternative Academy was a great place for her academically, but I understand why they pulled her out when it made her miserable.

It is just so strange to me that the series emphasizes that Claudia doesn’t have a learning disorder, that she is of above-average intelligence, and that she is just lazy. Yes, Claudia doesn’t have dyslexia. But her problems at school could easily fall under Learning Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, if nothing else:

May have difficulty forming a plan for their writing
May read at a slower pace than peers
May rely entirely on auditory information from class
May have difficulty organizing or synthesizing information from text
May demonstrate poor comprehension of written materials
May be reluctant to participate or read out loud in class
May have difficulty picturing mechanical processes or concepts
May lose track of time easily
May be unable to do mental math
May have difficulty identifying the critical information for solving word problems
May have difficulty visualizing patterns
May have difficulty performing steps in proper order
May have difficulty understanding spatial concepts
May have difficulty drawing or understanding diagrams
May have difficulty understanding and applying math vocabulary

My brother has a learning disorder, and he underwent a lot of testing in the second grade and then we had a Occupational Therapist come to our house every week. He went to our school’s equivalent of the Resource Room in middle school. I don’t see how in the world the Kishis didn’t do more for Claudia and didn’t have her undergo testing to figure out what exactly is going on with her, and what can be done to give her the tools to make school easier for her. I would think that it would be their main priority, and that they would do all they could to help her.

The other thing I don’t understand is why the series was so insistent that Claudia didn’t have a learning disorder and that she was just an underachiever. I feel like the series missed a big chance to discuss this issue, which I am sure many of the BSC’s readers were going through at the time, in a way that is more substantial than Buddy Barrett or Shea Rodowsky having dyslexia. Then her Chapter 2 could invoke that instead of “LOL no one can read Claudia’s notebook entries.”

I think this may be the decision made in the series that I understand least of all. Anybody can see that the way Claudia was spelling in eighth grade was normal, and when they showed her thought process in school, I feel like it was even written like she has a learning disorder. Claudia isn’t even actually written as a lazy student; she is written as a student who is struggling and not getting the support she needs. If I could change something about the series, this would be it.

Inspired by this series.

KRISTY is a very successful entrepreneur. I see her being a serial entrepreneur, always with the next great big idea. Social media, innovative new ideas for charity start ups, whatever, she’s into it. Watson probably gave her some seed money for her first venture, but she made it back ten fold and now gets her funding like anyone else. I have never had a clear read on Kristy’s sexuality as an adult, but whoever she marries would probably end up being a stay-at-home parent, and Kristy has four kids and tries to make it to as many of their softball games as she can.

CLAUDIA is a high school art teacher. New York was too expensive, and the practical Kishis wouldn’t support her art career financially. So she came back to Stoneybrook, and teaches art while taking care of her superbly dressed son with Alan Gray.

STACEY is like Lauren Santo Domingo, only insanely good at math. Worked for LVMH before starting her own fashion-related company. Has one kid, a husband in finance, a nanny, a housekeeper, an apartment in New York, and a house in the Hamptons.

MARY ANNE is a high school guidance counselor. She lives in a small seaside town in Maine, not far from Reese, with her husband, who is a chef at a restaurant frequented by wealthy tourists. Basically, she’s Susan Branch without the cookbooks.

DAWN lives in California and works for an environmental non-profit. Her husband was a lawyer, but they fought a lot, and now she’s divorced with two kids.

MALLORY lives in New York City and is a writer. I secretly think Mallory=Ann, even if Ann says Mary Anne was based on her. So just picture Ann’s life, and give her red hair.

JESSI went to Dance New York soon after the series ended. After a stint dancing professionally, she now teaches dance and is married to a fellow dancer with a daughter named Mary Rose.

ABBY decided she wanted to be on SNL. She didn’t make it, but turned her hilarious LA experiences into a successful blog, which landed her a position on the staff of a ladyblog. She is too independent for a partner of either sex, and prefers shorter affairs. She is thinking of adopting at a later date.

SHANNON used her facility with languages and general all-around brains to get a job with the State Department. She is still looking for Mr. Right, but her experiences with her family growing up have deep down soured her on the idea of marriage and family in general.

LOGAN stayed in Stoneybrook and married Dorianne Wallingford after she got pregnant at 19. He manages a sporting goods store. They have two boys and a girl. Dorianne writes an aspirational lifestyle/mommy blog, and she makes more money than Logan does with her sponsorships and whatnot.

This tumblr totally made me think of how Claudia was always described as EXOTIC!!!!1

P.S.: have not had a chance to back up/update the wiki, but I will get to it as soon as I can, I promise!

I’ve written about it before, but Janine’s impossibly high IQ continues to haunt me. Today, I happened upon an article on the man with the world’s highest IQ–and his is 198, making Janine’s 196 a sure bet in the competition for the world’s smartest woman.

Is it possible, theoretically? Sure. But in fiction, coincidences are less believable than they are in real life, and so are such extraordinary things as the smartest woman in the world being a sixteen-year-old girl in suburban Connecticut. If Ann and co. had really wanted to run with this plot, they could have centered a whole series around Janine and how she deals with her life as the world’s smartest teenager, rather than focusing on her semi-literate younger sister’s baby-sitting foibles. But as it stands, Janine’s ridiculously high IQ is something that is just tossed around casually, with no real importance given to its significance–only that Janine annoys Claudia sometimes and really loves school.

If we take Janine’s IQ at face value, however, and also regard it with more significance than Ann and the ghostwriters allowed–because whoa, smartest girl in the world is even more pressure than JUST being a genius–I suppose that Claudia’s poor school performance and crappy spelling almost make sense, despite the fact that she was never allowed to be diagnosed with a learning disability. I can sympathize, to a point. My brother is a talented musician; I never got very far with an instrument because I could never compete. Claudia would never be a rocket fission scientist or whatever; she’ll never do as well in school; fuck it, let’s paint.

(N.B.: The article on that guy is pretty weird. Apparently he is a former stripper who is addicted to online porn. Bodes well for Janine’s future, no?)

I don’t like many of Claudia’s outfits. If you have to preface an outfit with, “It sounds crazy, but on [person] it totally worked!” I believe that you are just filtering your view of that outfit through your love of your friend, and not the aesthetic reality of their sartorial choices.

I do, however, like the outfit Claudia puts on to go to Serena McKay’s class in Middle School Dropout. I believe it is just black jeans and a black sweater and her snake bracelet and converse sneakers, or something like that. I basically wear that every day. I also secretly want a snake bracelet. In my mind, the snake bracelet is a wooden and painted green. I would wear it with my imaginary I’M AWESOME necklace that I am also still searching for.

One of the problems I’m having with this Challenge is that for some of the questions, as a person who has blogged upon the BSC on and off for years and who has participated in online discussion communities for just as long, I feel like I’ve already answered them sufficiently enough. This happens to be one them.

I am, as long-time readers of this blog probably know, an unabashed Ethan Carroll fangirl. Now, we all know that my girl Stacey, as my teacher of (language of country I currently reside in) said today, “changes men like gloves.” Ethan, however, is undoubted the coolest. He is an ARTIST. He has an EARRING. For a while, he had BLEACHED HAIR. He has a PSYCHO STALKER EX (oh wait, that part wasn’t so cool). Unlike all of the other guys the BSC dated, with the exception of MAYBE Trevor Sandbourne, but I probably wouldn’t want to date a poet because then you’d have to listen to their poetry and who wants that, I would totally date Ethan if he weren’t fictional and ten years younger than me.

I find it interesting, now that I’m thinking about it, that Stacey seems to like to surround herself with artistic people. Both her best friend and her boyfriend are artists. Perhaps Stacey herself has a hidden artistic soul she hides with her talent for numbers, and lives vicariously through Claudia and Ethan. Although she did mention that she was good at interior decorating, and she obviously has a keen eye for fashion, so perhaps Stacey should try picking up a sketchpad one of these days.

Over at the BSC Boards, user bookwormv1 has come up with a 30 Day BSC Challenge. Play along there, in the comments here, on tumblr, wherever! If you want to play along somewhere other than here in the comments or in the original post, put a link in the comments!

So the first day asks the classic question of which Sitter is your favorite. I think that everyone who has read this blog for a while or interacted with me in the fandom knows my answer to this question. I’m a dyed-in-the-wool Stacey McGill girl. I will defend her through all sorts of criticism: being a crappy friend/bitch (have you interacted with a middle school girl lately? Stacey’s pretty darn nice, comparatively!), sluttiness (girl can’t help it if she has game), whatever.

Stacey is super smart, and not afraid to show off her brains. She is stylish. She is independent. I can relate to her more than any of the other sitters.

It is interesting, though, how my favorite sitter has changed over the years. When I first started reading the series, I liked Kristy, because I fancied myself quite the tomboy and very much wished to be athletic, and admired her leadership qualities/bossiness. There was a Dawn stage, where I, too, was interested in the environment and wanted very very long hair. Claudia appeals to my artistic side, although frankly, her spelling is just too bad for me to justify removing Stacey from the top spot.

Interestingly, despite a lifelong affinity for writing and reading, Mallory has never even cracked the top five.

I have been busy studying for the biggest exam of my life, moving twice, writing my dissertation, etc. Now that I have returned from my 18-hour round-trip sojourn to acquire One (1) document, I am hoping that I should be able to return to semi-regular posting. Even though I still have to write my dissertation.

Anyway, I would like to show you this:

It is a website with pictures of food and oddly-spelled captions, and to me, it captures the SPIRIT of Claudia Kishi and her Disposable Comestibles.!

Coming up when I get around to it: my all-time, top 5 best/worst BSC boys.

I feel like it’s high time that I wrote something here on the rereleases, but I’ve had a hard time deciding how I feel about them. I am kind of bummed that 2010 is shaping up to be the biggest year in BSCland since ten years ago, when the series ended, and I’m not living in a country where I can really fully participate in what’s going on. The only way I’ll be able to access any of the new books until July is if Amazon decides to put them on the Kindle (go to the pages for the books on and let them know you want them on the Kindle! Do it for me, and, I guess, fans who want to read the books on the subway without anyone else knowing and other BSC fans living abroad who have an ipod touch and the Kindle app), or if someone types up an ebook of them and I can find it somewhere, although I feel that the attitude of the fandom will be similar to the attitude that is taken toward the graphic novels and Main Street. They’re in print, so let’s vote with our dollars and let Scholastic know that these should continue to be published.

Anyway, now that the personal stuff is out of the way, one of the biggest controversies is how the series will be updated. We know that the clothes and hairstyles will be changed to reflect current trends–although, frankly, are trends today (leggings! oversize!) all that different, except now we’ve combined acid-wash jeans and leggings to make JEGGINGS? I’m wearing jeans with zippers on the bottom right now, a style I first was made aware of by the Club. Fresh! Also, the new outfits I’ve heard of so far (featured in the prequel) sound way more hideous. From the USA Today blog post:

Claudia was wearing willowy black pants, cinched at the waist with a drawstring, and a boldly patterned summer shirt with ties that she was adjusting around her midriff. Her
midriff would have been bare, but Claud had slithered into a lacy black tank top before she’d put on the shirt. On her feet were delicate silvery sandals, and her hair, which was looooooong and thick, was held away from her face with two silver combs.

I kind of feel like this isn’t much different from the outfits featured in the series in the late 90s, rather than something a modern 13-year-old would concoct out of thrift store finds and Forever 21. I think Modern Claud would dress like Tavi.

Another issue the reissues bring up is what they’re planning on updating besides the fashions. One thing that has never really sat right with most people in the fandom is the “We don’t care if Jessi is black! We’d like a girl if she were PURPLE and a good sitter!” Even other series of the same time, such as the Saddle Club, didn’t make such a big deal about having a character of a different race, if they reissue the series up until the point where Jessi comes into the picture. See also: Claudia being “exotic.”

Also, I’m sure they’d have to update medical stuff in regard to Stacey. Perhaps she’ll have an insulin pump decorated with glitter or something for her by Claud!

As far as Kristy and Mary Anne go… I don’t know what they’ll update for Mary Anne, because Mary Anne’s early wardrobe seemed very fifties even in the 80s and 90s. I’m having a hard time with modern readers buying the excuse that Watson and Elizabeth need to get married right away so they don’t end up living in sin.

What do you think they’ll update? What would you be sad to see go? What would make you glad?

Sometimes I feel like I go against the majority of BSC fans in regard to my personal feelings about BSC pairings. I don’t like Kristy/Cary… I prefer Mary Anne/Cary. I also don’t like Kristy/Alan… I prefer Claudia/Alan. Now, this is not because I buy into the “Kristy is a Lesbian” theory. I am quite fond of Kristy/Michel, actually.

The main reasoning between Alan and Kristy, as I’ve gathered, is that Kristy and Alan have the classic love/hate, teasing-because-I-like-you relationship. As with Kristy and Cary, sometimes I feel like hate/dislike is just that–no romantic overtones at all. Many people were quite blindsided by the Claudia/Alan storyline in Friends Forever, but once I thought about it a little more, it made a lot more sense than it seemed to at first.

Kristy and Alan seem to share of love of playing jokes on each other, but Alan has one thing that Kristy decidedly lacks: an artistic soul. It’s hidden, but it’s definitely there.

First, in Claudia and the Genius of Elm Street, Alan has an infamous scene where he shows up to Claudia’s “gallery” opening and draws disgusting pictures:

I thought she saw a painting of some candy she didn’t like. But when I turned around, I saw she was staring at a crude drawing of a dead cat next to a candy wrapper.

“What is that?” I said.

I walked toward it, and saw another wrinkled sheet of paper tacked up nearby. That one showed a terrible drawing of a grungy-looking toothless man eating a candy bar. He was smiling happily and saying “Mmm!” while the candy was flaking down his chin.

I quickly tore down the disgusting drawings. Who could have –

Then I saw Alan Gray squatting in a corner with a pad of paper and a pencil. “Hey! Cut that out!” I yelled.

Alan sprang to his feet, giving me his dumbest grin. “Go home, Alan, okay?” I said. “Don’t ruin my show.”

“Sure, Claudia,” he said. “No problem. See you.”

Alan also participates in the portrait drawing contest in Claudia Makes Up Her Mind–losing, of course. And when he is trying to romantically seduce Claudia, he makes her a pin out of sculpey and dyes a flower several different colors using the stem-splitting method. He also has an artistically-minded appreciation of anime.

Alan Gray has an artistic, sensitive soul; one that he covers up with jokes and pranks and being obnoxious. In the quote from Elm Street above, it seems like he just wants Claudia’s attention. And he’s not a jerk when she asks him to go home; he just leaves.

Kristy is not sensitive to understand Alan Gray. Once Claudia looks beyond his reputation, she gets The Real Alan.

Do you agree, or do you still like Kristy/Alan?

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