Stoneybrookite

the best friends you’ll never have

Browsing in Mary Anne

If there’s one thing that the fandom seems to 100% agree on, it’s that Jessi’s handwriting is too damn hard to read. Many cheerfully admit that they skip the sections where she has handwritten something, or even say that they can’t read cursive at all. (I have actually had people my age–28–tell me to rewrite something in print so that they can read it.)

Now, cursive, and whether it’s worth teaching kids how to do it, with the ubiquity of computers and all, is a hot-button issue. Personally, I am glad that laptops in the classroom only really became a thing after I finished college, because the clackety-clack of 20 or so keyboards going simultaneously would have driven me crazy, plus it’s easier to think with a pen in your hand. Anyway, that is not what I’m writing about today. Back to Jessi and her poor, maligned handwriting.

My rereading of My Own Two Feet that I mentioned last week also resulted in several Wikipedia/Google k-holes about common handwriting systems in the United States. Beverly Cleary, having gone to school in the ’20s and ’30s, learned the Palmer Method. When you look up the Palmer Method, it looks a lot like Jessi’s writing.

(Source)

Apparently Oakley was just very behind the times in their writing program, because by the ’50s, the Palmer method was on the way out, to be replaced by Zaner-Bloser, which is what I learned, and which has more in common with Mary Anne’s writing than Jessi’s.

Now, of course, if kids do learn cursive today, they learn D’Nealian, which is stupid and ugly. But let’s stop insulting Jessi’s handwriting. It is a part of American cultural heritage! And I have never understood the whole “hard-to-read” thing, anyway. Jessi’s handwriting 4 lyfe!

My favorite part of playing Life was when you got to pick your house. I’ve always had a strange fascination with real estate, even as a small child. Anyway, so today I got to thinking about the different houses that the BSC lived in, and which one was my favorite.

Kristy’s mansion holds an obvious appeal, although I wouldn’t want a family big enough to use all that space. Maybe I could turn part of the house into my own three-story closet. It also just seems like a lot to take care of. You’d need to be way more than a millionaire nowadays to take care of a house like that.

For my personal tastes, I think the Schafers are the winners here. I love description of Dawn’s dad’s California house, with its skylights and courtyard. I think it sounds really cool, and I wish there would have been some scenes that took place in that courtyard so we could have gotten an idea of what it was like. Maybe something like this?

I also like the Schafers’ (and later Schafers/Spiers’) farmhouse in Stoneybrook. I love old houses in general. It does seem like it would be small and dark, though, and not all that convenient.

But it did have a barn. This is the part where the mega-purists of the fandom are going to get a little upset with me, because I think the best house in the series is the renovated barn. While Randy Zak from Girl Talk also lived in a renovated barn, hers seemed much less pleasant, like a barn that they just added insulation and electricty to. They didn’t have rooms, just screens dividing rooms.

The Schafer-Spier barn/house, on the other hand, is light and airy. They have actual bedrooms on the second floor, and the whole place just seemed so lovely and comfortable. I love the idea of a barn/house because it’s like a loft apartment, but you don’t have to live in an apartment building. In my head, there’s a ton of white and windows everywhere. Mary Anne’s books in FF basically double as house porn.

Here’s an idea of what it might look like:

(Source)

Now, with the conversion of the barn into a living space, the BSC lost one of their most important assets, which was a place to hold events. Perhaps this should have been a sign for Kristy that the end is near when Mary Anne didn’t freak out about the loss of the BSC’s event space.

What is your favorite house in BSC?

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.

Over at The Billfold, Nicole Dieker has started a series called “How the Baby-Sitters Club Does Money.” So it’s basically BSC fanfiction, only she’s probably getting paid for it. She is imagining what the BSC will be like as adults, and what their financial/work situations will be like.

Now, as you might imagine, and as you probably do too, since you’re reading this blog, I always get a little protective whenever I see things written about the BSC outside of the fandom. Most of the BSC articles on BuzzFeed or Jezebel are going to be written by people who, at one point, “grew out of” the BSC, and probably haven’t thought about it in fifteen years or so. These articles frequently spell “Mary Anne” with a hyphen and “Jessi” as “Jessie.”

So far, this series contains no such mistakes. I can see that the author at least has a lot of BSC info floating around in her brain, although perhaps she has devoted less real estate to this information than the average Stoneybrookite reader. After two parts of this series have been published, I can say that she is batting 500, in Krusher parlance.

Her Mallory is enjoyable. Mallory has gained some prominence as a writer, even if she is self-publishing. I like any vision of Mallory in the future where she is not a loser. I bet that most of us relate way more to Mallory than we would ever admit. Also, she has Mallory be a part of a poly triad, and while it had never crossed my mind before, I can see that happening.

The Kristy one, though, I was not so fond of. Kristy is a mommyblogger after having a bunch of kids and a bunch of failed businesses. I don’t see Kristy as the mommyblogging type. Starting something like Babble and then somehow convincing Disney to buy it? Sure. But blogging, and just sitting there and not bossing anyone around, just typing her thoughts and dealing with photographs and design? Take a look at her first journal entry from Friends Forever:

First day with this new journal. Am inspired by Mary Anne and all she’s been through. Can’t imagine losing nearly everything I own in a fire. Can’t imagine losing nearly everything I own no matter how it happened. MA is being very brave. She managed to rescue her current diary (the little leather one with the lined, dated pages and the lock and key), which is about her only source of memories these days. Am going to start keeping journals and saving them somewhat fireproof. Think I’ll ask Watson if I can put them in his safe.

Kristy never writes her journal entires in complete sentences. She doesn’t want to spend the time. And working part time in a bank? No way. I also can’t see her ever accepting handouts from Watson. Kristy has always been a hardworker and very ambitious.

Now, I can see Dawn becoming a mommyblogger in the healthy living niche easily. She could use her blog as a platform to make herself feel better than everyone else, and her Vista diaries have been good practice for blogging. Mary Anne could get in with the Mormon mommybloggers with perfect houses and children, since she is so domestically inclined. But Kristy? Not enough power in just having a mommyblog.

Well, anyone who has been reading this blog or discussing the BSC with me on the Boards/LJ communities knows that my BSC OTP is Mary Anne and Cary. I am actually working on a C/M longform story for Baby-Sitters 100.

Why? I love their interactions in the series, especially in Friends Forever where he helps her out in Mary Anne’s Revenge and when they go mini-golfing in Claudia and the Disaster Date. I am decidedly NOT a Kristy/Cary shipper. I felt like their relationship was based on mutual annoyance with an undercurrent of grudging respect, not that they butted heads due to unresolved sexual tension. (I mean, as much sexual tension as you can have with a fellow thirteen-year-old.)

With Mary Anne and Cary, I feel like Mary Anne brings out Cary’s sensitive side and Cary makes her braver. They complement each other well. Cary is actually a very creative and artistic soul, and Mary Anne would totally understand him. Aww.

Second day of the Challenge! Remember, if you’d like to play along, you can do it in the comments, at the original thread, or on your own blog, like Donica at SMS Cafeteria.

And now, without further adieu: Least Favorite Sitter!

Much like with the “Favorite Sitter” question, anyone who reads this blog or is vaguely acquainted with me probably already knows the answer. Logan. Bruno. Shall I count the ways?

Logan is basically the opposite of my ideal guy. Jock, pushy, makes lame MAN JOKES. Logan is the kind of person who finds Two and a Half Men to be an example of a truly great sitcom.

Then there is the whole Mary Anne-and-Logan relationship, which was at its best in FF#3, when she finally got rid of his ass once and for all. Why does their relationship bug me so much? MA&L represent some kind of bizarre, unpopular quiet girl wish fulfillment. It was always believable for Stacey to have tons of boyfriends. Kristy and Bart were more like friends who played baseball and then sometimes also went to the movies and dances together, and when Bart wanted more, Kristy freaked out. Ben Hobart and Mallory had a cute, clandestine, redheaded relationship. Ok, maybe Quint was a creeper. But this isn’t “creepiest eleven-year-old horndog;” this is “least favorite sitter.”

MA&L had a very serious, adult relationship, in eighth grade. And it was just never believable to me that this popular jock also baby-sat and was into Mary Anne because she was shy and sensitive. What. Girl was barely out of braids when they got together. I also could never see strict Richard sanctioning something like that for Mary Anne. My parents would have been freaked out by the intensity, and they were nowhere near as strict as Richard.

I feel like that whole relationship gave the girls who read the series the idea that when they were in eighth grade, some hunky guy with a cute accent would transfer into their school and love them for their true selves. Let’s face it, those of us who obsessively read the BSC, no matter how awesome we are now, probably were not the most desired girls in our middle schools. We were not the Staceys. Most of us, myself included, probably see more of our middle school selves in Mallory’s “Spaz Girl” experience than Stacey being too pretty to be a part of the cheerleading squad. And that, besides his controlling jerkhead personality, is why I dislike that whole storyline/Logan Bruno so much.

Ages ago, I took the Myers-Briggs test (you know, INFJ, ESTP, etc.) for Kristy. I got stuck on Claudia, so I never did anyone else because I kind of feel like my “picture” of Claudia isn’t that clear.

Mary Anne, however, is a character I feel slightly more sure of. So I took it for her, and this is what I got:


ISFJ – “Conservator”. Desires to be of service and to minister to individual needs – very loyal. 13.8% of total population.

Personality Test by SimilarMinds.com

ISFJs are, accordingly:

follows the rules, polite, fears drawing attention to self, dislikes competition, somewhat easily frightened, easily offended, timid, dutiful, private, lower energy, finisher, organized, socially uncomfortable, modest, not confrontational, easily hurt, observer, prone to crying, not spontaneous, does not appreciate strangeness – intolerant to differences, apprehensive, clean, planner, prone to confusion, afraid of many things, responsible, guarded, avoidant, anxious, cautious, suspicious, more interested in relationships and family than intellectual pursuits, not adventurous, fears doing the wrong thing, dislikes change

Make a great:

homemaker, stay at home parent, office worker, health care worker, personal assistant, school teacher, administrative assistant, child care worker, clerical employee, receptionist, library assistant, dietitian, health educator, librarian

And would be terrible at being a:

rock star, philosophy professor, filmmaker, performer, writer, bar owner, comedian, dj, entertainer, ceo, psychotherapist, bartender, entrepreneur, lecturer, astronomer

Do you think this sounds like Mary Anne? I think it’s pretty accurate–it even mentions her crybaby tendences–but misses out on her inner strength/bitchiness. I think it’s hard for that come out with the questions that are asked on a short-ish personality test. It might be more accurate for early-series Mary Anne rather than the Mary Anne we see in Friends Forever. It is interesting to note that one of the careers that are ISFJs are unsuited for is “psychotherapist,” which I recall as being one of Mary Anne’s top career choices.

I think it’d be fun if other people want to try the same test for Kristy and Mary Anne and see if they get the same results I got. Here is the exact test I used. Post your results in the comments!

Now, let me preface this by saying that I am an avowed Logan hater. Logan is the antithesis of everything I’ve ever wanted in a man. Now, Ethan Carroll? There’s a dude who would make my heart go pitter-patter. If he weren’t fifteen and all.

But that doesn’t really have much bearing on what I want to say here. Right now, I would like to address one of the most psychologically-damaging aspects of the Baby-Sitters Club series, ones that gave legions of nerdy girls in pigtails hopes that, once they got to puberty, just didn’t pan out and probably didn’t until they got to college or even after college. I’m talking here, of course, about the relationship between Mary Anne Spier and Logan Bruno.

Let’s recap. When they meet, Mary Anne has just convinced her father to let her wear her hair in something other than pigtails. She has just purchased her first training bra, being surpassed only by Kristy in flatchestedness. She cannot talk to BOYS without her tongue turning to sawdust.

Logan is the New Boy. He has blondish curly hair, which was so cool in the 80s. He plays lots of sports and he plays them well. He has a Southern accent, and we all know how accents are supposedl irrestible to women. For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that he looks like a young James Spader:
js10.jpg

Think back to eighth grade. Who were the girls who had boyfriends back then, especially the cute new Southern jock guy? Was it the girl whose idea of a really stellar Saturday was sitting at home, rereading Little Women, a box of tissues at her side? No, it was the girls like Stacey and Cokie, both of whom were also interested in Logan. Mary Anne’s relationship with Logan, I think, represents some sort of subconscious wish fulfillment for Ann and other bookworm girls everywhere. In middle/high school, Cute Boys will look past the blonde perms and bras and toothpaste-ad smiles of the confident girls, and see your true self. They will say, “Oh, that girl is so sweet and sensitive. She would make a swell girlfriend and my mother will adore her.”

Has this ever happened in real life? No. Maybe Nerd Girls can date Nerd Boys. But the hot jock guy? Never.

In addition, let’s remember who Mary Anne’s dad was. Richard, the strictest dad in the BSC, the one who, until he hooked up with Sharon, controlled every aspect of Mary Anne’s life. My parents weren’t 1/10th as strict as Richard, and I don’t think my mom would have been pleased about me dating at thirteen. Richard letting Mary Anne date Logan is just completely illogical.

So besides the fact that I Hate Logan, the other reason the whole idea of Mary Anne’s and Logan’s relationship bothers me is that it presents a false ideal. It says, hey, if you can’t even talk to boys and dress like a six-year-old, the boy of your dreams will still want to date you because you have a great personality. If you ever get over the whole unable-to-talk-to-him thing, which he will totally patiently wait to happen. How many of us got to eighth grade, expecting to be swept off our feet by a Southern gentleman, and this didn’t happen because we were a total outcast loser who the jock guys only saw as a target for teasing, not a gal who they’d like to take on a clandestine date to Renwick’s? Yeah. Thought so.

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 Amazon.com 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?

There are several character-memes in the BSC fandom, and one of them is “Stacey is a ho.” I.e., you will find Stacey underneath the bleachers sucking off the basketball team LOL. I have always found these meme to be unfair and distasteful. Yes, as we saw in Stacey and the Boyfriend Trap, Stacey sure has had a lot of boyfriends for an eighth grader. But to be fair, Stace was in eighth grade for a very long time. (Oooh, another fandom meme!) Really, is it so hard to believe that someone who is smart, attractive, and pretty damn nice would be attractive to the opposite sex? And wouldn’t have a hard time finding a boyfriend (or seven)?

SOmeone on the BSC boards, however, pointed out that they didn’t really like the message that it sent that Stacey moved right on from one serious relationship (Robert Brewster) to another (Ethan Carroll). This criticism kind of threw me for a loop, because I’ve done the same thing. I am what a women’s magazine would call a serial monogamist. I don’t have one night stands. I date people for about two years, and enter into a relationship state known as being Brooklyn-married. The longest time since I’ve been seriously dating that I’ve gone without some sort of romantic attachment: two weeks. Shortest: twelve hours. So as you can see, for me Stacey’s serial monogamy that occurs later in the series doesn’t strike me as odd at all, and I never even thought to fret about the messages that Stacey’s boy-attachment sends to young, impressionable readers.

Then, like in Beavis and Butt-head when their very small and ineffectual brains begin working, a dim, small lightbulb appeared above my head. Out of all the BSC members, Stacey is the one whose family situation most resembles my own. My dad has always worked a lot, my parents got divorced, and he found his own Samantha Young while my mother is still single. I can say, easily, that things that are easy for my friends with parents in loving stable relationships (getting over things, breaking up with someone), are very difficult or near impossible for me. I then began to think about some of the other members of the BSC, and their attitudes toward men and relationship.

Mary Anne, Jessi, and Claudia are probably the healthiest. Jessi’s parents seem to have a really great relationship, and Squirt is still a toddler so you know their marriage is still Hot. Jessi is usually pretty level-headed, and she tells Quint where to go when he wants to take their relationship further and more serious than she is comfortable with at age eleven.

As far as Mary Anne goes, well, my hatred for Logan is still strong. Despite her meekness, Mary Anne is able to stand up for herself and dump the dead weight and bossiness to rival Kristy Thomas that is Logan Bruno. Yeah, she takes him back a few books later, after he promises to smother her less, but she finally realizes that Logan is not the guy for her in Mary Anne’s Big Breakup. She knows that she needs to be her own person, and having Logan Bruno around will hinder that. It is easy to criticize Richard Spier for being nerdy and over-protective, but I think that Richard, especially later Richard, is one of the BSC parents who is actually the most tuned-in and active in their kid’s life. It was Richard’s help, after all, that Mary Anne recognized that she needed to dump Logan–for good this time. Even her friends in the BSC blew her off, but Richard recognized that the relationship wasn’t really working for Mary Anne anymore.

Claudia is someone who should be on the same boy-attractiveness plain as Stacey, but she doesn’t even have a boyfriend who’s not a Vacation Boyfriend until Mark Jaffe. Janine dumps her Hottie Boyfriend Jerry and have her pine after her for the rest of the series. Go Janine! The Kishis, like the Ramseys, have a really strong marriage.

On the divorce side, we also have Kristy and Dawn. While many pin Kristy as a lesbian, I don’t think that not caring about clothes and a love for sports automatically defines someone as a lesbian. Kristy manages to keep Bart as her sort-of boyfriend until Kristy + Bart = ?. Bart gets fresh (Peter Lerangis’s memorable makeout scene!), Kristy freaks out. Kristy realizes that she is not ready for that kind of action yet. Some people read this as Kristy will NEVER be ready for this kind of action if a penis is attached, but I think that might not be necessarily true. I think it has far more to do with the fact that her father abandoned her. Kristy: probably should go to therapy now that she has a millionaire stepdad who can afford it.

Finally, we have Dawn. Dawn is one of the more contradictory characters in the BSC, and perhaps in children’s literature as a whole. We are told over and over that Dawn is such an individual, but yet she often changes her California Casual self to satisfy what she perceives as what other people would like. The two most glaring examples of this involve boys: Travis and Lewis. Dawn did everything Travis told her, because she thought that Travis liked her and if she cut her hair and pierced her ears again that he would like her even more. And then she made that kind of psychotic-sounding phone call–”I was already a beauty!” And for Lewis, Dawn did that weird makeover/personality transplant, and then immediately went back to Old Dawn when he revealed that he liked Old Dawn more. Insecurity stemming from the fact that her parents, who for most of her life seemed to be happy and loving, very suddenly got divorced and her family was ripped in half? It’s the only explanation I can come up with that makes sense.

I am sure that there are people with divorced parents who are OK with relationships, and people with happily-married parents who are messed up about them, for various life factors. But it sure does seem to be an explanation for a lot of what goes in BSC lovelife land.

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