Nancy Drew Files of Ridiculous Awesome, Part 1

So I was at kids clothing and toy sale the other week, and I found, without a doubt, the most exciting thing to be purchased second hand since some guy found the Declaration of Independence in a desk at a garage sale- a four book set of the Nancy Drew Case Files.

Yes, that’s right. Six hundred pages of epic ’80s awesomeness that I now own and will hold for ever and ever amen.

Because I’m a responsible adult with two children and homeschooling and involved in my church and on a few committees and just generally very busy, I’ve decided to do read them all and then blog about them every two weeks for the next few months.

I know. RESPONSIBILITY. I HAS IT.

So today we have the first installment of our series, a recap of the literary masterpiece, Hit and Run Holiday.

(See what they did there?)

(In case you didn’t, they’ll ram it home like eight more times in the first chapter.)

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The first epic thing about this book happens even before the copyright page- this book apparently belonged to a Heather Billington and she completed it in February of 1989. Is the name Heather Billington not the most amazing 1989 name ever? Like seriously. This was a girl who feathered her hair and wouldn’t sit with me at lunch.

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(I was two in 1989. So I’m not saying she wouldn’t have sat with me in 1989, just in general.)

We open with the three chums in Fort Lauderdale ready for a weekend of fun, sun, and se…wait. This is still a pretty sanitized teen book. So as close to non-connubial bliss as they get is ogling the lifeguards and commenting (frequently) on their physiques. In a way that I have never heard actual women comment on actual men before in my life.

But hey, I wasn’t around for much of the ’80s.

The opening chapter assures us that Nancy is with Ned Nickerson and things are “actually going well for a change,”(Which is new from the kid books; in the originals, those two gave Mary and Joseph a run for their money in terms of chaste bliss.) so she will be keeping her swimsuit on this weekend thank you very much.

George Fayne is a lesbian  also in a relationship, so she’s basically…not ever mentioned again in the book. Tiny boobs and no lifeguard ogling? ’80s Nancy has no time for you.

Bess Marvin, the pleasingly plumb dumb blond, is, as usual, down to…well. Anyway. We also deviate from the originals in that we’ve apparently become more body conscious since the 1950s- Bess is no longer chubby and “constantly trying to lose five pounds,” but instead has “a pretty figure.” (And no respect for herself.)

The girls get ready while talking about how nice it will be to relax without a mystery and the reader chuckles to herself in her pink bedroom of 1989. Oh, Nancy. You won’t avoid trouble for long.

Indeed, Nancy has to go check on a random friend of hers named Kim because she decided to take a vacation? And her mom is worried? And I don’t know, I didn’t really get this part. But Nancy separates from the rest of the group, while Bess moans about how with Nancy there no one will look at her.

Nancy responds totally nicely, “Don’t worry. I won’t be there for half an hour.”

I can take off my sunglasses in all this shade.

It’s not even a competition. Nancy has already won, fools.

In fact, while she’s running this super important weird errand she “loses count of the number of discos” she is invited to, but maintains she’s “not really tempted” because of Ned. So we learn two things- discos still existed in 1989 and Nancy has a questionable understanding of monogamy.

Anyway, we finally finds Kim’s apartment and interrupts her arguing with some dude named Ricardo (of course) and then Kim doesn’t want to talk about it and Nancy is so frustrated because SHE’S NANCY DREW FOOL and if you’re having problems with ANYTHING my titian hair and perfect build will make it all better and at least I wanna know what’s going on come on Kim pleeeeaaasee????

Kim refuses to give in, and ends up getting run over by a car instead. She suffers no discernable injuries, but is in a dastardly dangerous coma anyways and Nancy has to figure this out all by herself BEFORE IT BECOMES MUUUUURRRRRDDDER.

Why can’t the police help? Illegals.

(I know. But it really said that.)

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So Nancy is left all by herself to ignore the beautiful beach, the gorgeous guys, and the multiple people offering to sexually assault her but that’s totally fine because its the ’80s.

She goes on a massive manhunt for whoever hurt Kim for…well, we’re not sure. And we’re not sure why. And we’re also not sure how hurt Kim is. We are sure that Nancy can break into a hotel room with her bra hook, natch.

Of course she can.

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Nancy must enlist the help of her friends though, or at least she has to brag about how busy she is and how she has to go help Kim and probably solve the immigration crisis as well, and so she runs into George (who is alone) and Bess (who has found a piece of manmeat that Nancy immediately claims as her own.)

Because she’s allowed to do that. She’s Nancy Drew, bitches.

Bess is mildly upset, but let’s be honest, she wasn’t going to keep a guy named Dirk with her figure anyways.

Turns out Dirk (Yeah. Dirk.) may have some information about the mystery! Information that he insists he can only tell Nancy while he’s actually having sex with her. She declines (probably because of her awesome relationship with Ned) but suggests they go surfing instead and also wear very few clothes and bring their best double entendres, so basically the same thing tbh.

Nancy stops at the hospital long enough to be annoyed at her friend’s mother for crying (not helping, lady- why don’t you whip off your bra and try breaking into something!) and assures herself that she’s still alive. Then it’s on to romance and crime fighting with Dirk.

Except it turns out Dirk is just a creep. Dirk has exactly no information, and what’s worse is that HE MAY BE IN ON IT?

No. I can’t believe you almost trusted him with your heart, Nancy.

Nancy returns to her hotel room, dejected that she wasted her time with a “phony lead.” Yes, Nancy. That’s why the unsolved rate is so high in coastal cities. The actual police detectives get confused by their sexual feelings for suspects and end up on party boats with them all the time as well.

Finally, like twenty pages of ridiculousness later, Nancy finally meets an illegal herself- Rosita! Rosita actually does know something about Kim’s “accident” and furthermore, Nancy doesn’t swing that way so she’s not distracted. They have a lovely little talk in Spanish (because of course Nancy speaks fluent Spanish) and Nancy discovers that Kim had gotten involved in trying to shut down a human trafficking scheme somewhere in Fort Lauderdale.

(Maybe at one of those discos.)

Armed with this information, Nancy is ready to crack this case WIDE OPEN YOU GUYS. Without any authority or warrants or anything. BUT STILL. Unfortunately she ends up being tied to the bottom of a pier instead and left for dead.

(I don’t know.)

Using only her superhuman ability to cheat death at every turn, Nancy escapes and runs back to the hotel to tell Bess (who has hooked up with Dirk, of course) that Dirk is probably the guy who is smuggling illegals and I don’t even know, this has something to do with a party boat. Beats me with a stick what. But there we are. Bess is dejected and probably pregnant because she’s a moron, and Nancy is triumphant because, well, she’s Nancy.

They decide that the best way to catch this dastardly person is to sneak on to the boat for a party (?) and disguise themselves (??) and then free all the human cargo hidden in the ship (??? I’ve got nothing guys.)

But first, Nancy has to hide her hair, because it’s as big a tell of her identity as Bess’s ass.

BUT WAIT. DIRK IS ON BOARD.

AND HE STOPS THEM.

EXCEPT WAIT.

DIRK IS GOOD.

(Nancy immediately jumps him.)

(Bess cries. And probably eats everything in sight.)

Turns out, Dirk is a super sexy detective who has been trailing the real criminal (who is basically not even important in this book) for like years and was just waiting for a twenty-two-year-old chick from River Heights to pop in and put the smackdown on this crazy lady.

Guys. I don’t even know. This is ridiculous.

But it all ends up okay, because this is Fort Lauderdale in the ’80s. Rosita the Illegal is all of a sudden not illegal and wants to be an engineer, the bad guys go away, Kim magically comes out of her coma, and Nancy makes out with Dirk one more time.

And then they go back to jetting home to River Heights to take a REAL vacation…or do they????

Stay tuned next week when Nancy goes on a winter vacation…but will she take a vacation from intrigue?

(No. No she won’t.)

(Spoiler.)

 

 

Keeping the Crazy Under Control

So the last year or so I’ve been on a quest to get my anxiety disorder under control. After Buddy was born, I started taking antidepressants because of the crushing depression brought on by the fact that I had a new baby and I’d never be happy again, just like all new mothers feel.

(No? Just me? All right then.)

They  worked fantastically, but by last year I had pretty much plateaued and was reaching a point where I was expecting the pills to do all the work and how dare I still be upset sometimes, Prozac. HOW DARE YOU.

And that’s just not reasonable. I know that. I’m not trying to go off of them at all. Trust me. If I could figure out a way to make a lorazepam milkshake, I totes would. But they’re just pills. I needed to get myself to a place where I could still be okay with moderate stress and not just lose it when, like, my kids were acting like kids.

(And oh! I have a daughter that feeds off of my anxiety and that gives HER anxiety and then she behaves worse and then I get madder and…shit, it’s just a bad cycle.)

But ugh, that required doing things. AND I HATE DOING THINGS. I like sitting at home with a glass of wine and a good book and blogging kind of. Not much more than that. Maybe opining on Vatican II or the Jews.

But none of that was helping me to cut down on the number of bad days. (Not even Vatican II. I KNOW.) So I had to figure other stuff out.

I went to a lot of therapy, a psychologist, and obstetric psychiatrist (not pregnant, just wanted to find out how many drugs I could take before any hypothetical child developed flippers), and started practicing mindfulness almost daily.

I even considered cutting out coffee. Ha. Hahhaha. Nope. I know, I know, that’s probably like the best thing I could. But it literally gives my life meaning and I don’t drink that much of it so please don’t even bother telling me about how amazing you feel now after giving it up.

The best thing I’ve done though, and the thing that has had the biggest impact has been changing my morning routine.

I’ve always been a morning person, so that’s a huge part of it. But I never really consciously set up a morning routine that actually benefited me.

(Well, here I joked about setting up one.)

Buzz leaves at approximately crack thirty in the morning, so I’ve started forcing myself to get up with him. I always mean to, but over the last year more and more mornings I’d just give him a kiss, assure myself he wasn’t mad at me, and figure I’d see him in the evening.

Which is fine, but honestly, for me? Spending just that extra forty-five minutes or so with my husband in the morning makes a huge difference. Sometimes I think when you’re at this stage in life, when at least one of you is working long hours, and one of you is taking care of little kids all freaking day and then when your husband gets home and night you eat and bathe the kids and shove them into bed and finally flop down on the couch with the laundry to fold and think geez, it’s a good thing we both like Frasier reruns because what the hell else would we talk about- the most exciting thing that happened to me today was when I found a coupon on the ground beef at Target.

But when I see him in the morning, it’s like we’re living the same life. Yes, we’re separated during the day doing different jobs, but we are definitely still living the same life.

After Buzz leaves, I pour myself a cup of coffee (again, not giving it up, don’t even try) and sit in the living room. I love my living room. It’s my happy place. Even two and a half years after moving in, I still can’t believe I get to live here and I definitely feel that most in the living room. Probably because it’s the room that gets least destroyed by kids.

(Still destroyed. Just a little less.)

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I saw a rosary by myself. Sometimes we’ll do another one later as a family or for school or something, but there is seriously something amazing about starting your day with the rosary. I feel like I’m a better mother and I can handle things better and it’s just a much better day when I do that.

Prayer, you guys! It works!

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I stole my son’s rosary because it was blessed at the Vatican and that’s super cool. He’s three. He doesn’t use it yet.

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After the rosary, I do my spiritual reading. I realized this summer that I’m the kind of person who really needs direction. And I’m the kind of person who really needs like a daily thing to read that centers me and makes me consider being a better person. I have yet to find a daily devotional book I love, so this year (and probably next because I keep missing days) I’m following the Coming Home Network’s plan for reading the Bible and the Catechism in a year.

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It’s organized almost like a daily Mass- you read some Old Testament, a Psalm, and New Testament reading ever day, as well as a selection from the Catechism. It takes about twenty minutes total, and it’s just awesome. I have a nice Catholic study Bible, but any  would do. This is a Catholic program, so if you’re going to follow it then make sure you have a Bible with all the Catholic books as well. Catechisms are super cheap as well and a lovely thing to have around.

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We have multiple Catechisms on various shelves and stuff. (What happens when church geeks marry other church geeks.) I grabbed the one I saw first, and it happened to be my Grandpa’s.

So yeah if you can find a book inscribed by a dead beloved relative that’d be awesome too. Really enhances the experience.

I finish up by spending ten minutes reading from one of the “good for me” books I have accumulated and then ignored because there’s always a mystery that’s more exciting to me. I know, it’s bad. But this way I get to read my stupid novels and also keep up with some good heartwarming parenting/spiritual/ADHD advice.

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Currently I’m reading Hallowed Be This House by Thomas Howard for my prayer group, and The Heart of Motherhood: Finding Holiness in the Catholic Home by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle for my everyday reading. I’m not loving the Howard so much, but it is making me be more deliberate about how I view my home- it is a sacred place where the miracles of life take place, and not just  a random collection of rooms I have to wander constantly picking up socks like Sisyphus with little kids.

I’m loving the O’Boyle, but honestly, it’s not really about whether I love a particular book or not. It’s more that I get to be a grown up for ten minutes and focus on bettering myself.

By this point it’s like 7 am, and at least one kid is up and it’s time to start the day for reals. Sometimes Eva will come downstairs and sit with me and play on her tablet while I’m finishing up my reading. I love that she sees me taking care of my spiritual development and my sanity. And cuddling with her is pretty awesome.

So I don’t succeed at this every morning. A lot of mornings I just stay in bed and roll over and whine, “You won’t hate me if I sleep will you?” to my husband as he dutifully tries to pry me out of bed like I specifically asked him to the night before. And he smiles and kisses me and says no because he’s a nice guy and if he’s nice to me he knows I won’t get mad at him for NOT getting me up like I told him to later when I actually do join the realms of the living.

Marriage. It’s a beautiful complicated thing. Mostly complicated.

One Hundred

Sorry guys, this is another post about my grandpa. I write about him an inordinate amount I think. This blog is basically eyeliner, breakdowns, Grandpa, and some homeschooling. That’s it. Sorry.

Someday maybe I’ll get my stuff together and stop compulsively taking pregnancy tests and figure out a good curriculum and master tightlining, but I’ll probably never stop writing about Grandpa.

(Ha. That other stuff isn’t going to happen either. I’m a freaking mess.)

But it’s just that he’s so important to us. And we miss him so much. And he’s still such a big part of our lives. And literally everything I do I try to run through two filters a.) would I be okay confessing this to someone I know? and b.) would Grandpa be okay with it?

(As often as not, I fail at both of these. Because I am nowhere near as perfect as my Grandpa.)

(Which is why I priest hop for confession because I despise being like, “Okay, still blah blah and yep did blah twice and yeah I know I’m working on it okay????”)

(ANYWAY. This is not about my confessional habits.)

On Sunday he would have been one hundred years old. This is amazing to me, as I am still seventeen, correct?

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(To be fair, our family does basically lose a generation because everyone except me and my sister took their sweet time having babies. Irish Catholic FAIL.)

We celebrated in a way he would have liked I think- we were together. We went to Mass at his parish together. We took pictures of the kids in “his” pew. We got to go on a pilgrimage and see a dear old friend who remembered him- that’s rare now, eight years after his death. Everyone moves on and our social circles are totally different than when we had him. But this man knew him and knew how special he was and that was amazing to hear on his birthday. Finally we gathered at his house, our house, for dinner, and just spent time together.

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That’s how we would have celebrated if he were alive I think. Because faith and family and togetherness were the most important things for him. (And Pabst. He was a company man.)

We talked a lot about him. I talked to my kids a lot about him. We told stories, and it made me think about how my children are going to remember this and him and what they’re going to take away from it all.

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My sister, who actually makes her living writing gorgeously about things other than what kind of primer she uses and which one of her kids is misbehaving now, wrote a novena for him.

(Yeah, I know. I’m shamed too.)

It was gorgeous. She based it on all of his traits- duty and sacrifice; love and faith; other virtues which he has left us. It was absolutely beautiful and made me realize once again what a good man he was.

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That is what I want my kids to know about him- that he was a good man. We’ve been hearing a lot about really really evil and disgusting men and women lately. I’m sick of it. I am sick of being disgusted and feeling like LITERALLY NO ONE is willing to stand up for anything that is right anymore. I’m disgusted that in a few weeks my children are going to have a horrifying person as their President (just a toss-up of which kind of horrifying person it will be.) I’m sick that the defense for all this is “everyone does it.”

No. They don’t. My grandpa didn’t. He did not lie or cheat or steal. He felt strongly that every single soul should be taken care of- whether it was housed in a two-celled zygote, an elderly woman with dementia, or a criminal on death row. He showed people respect because they were human beings made in the image and likeness of God. He saw Christ in everyone and was capable of acting like it. He loved and supported his wife and daughters and granddaughters and grandsons as human beings worthy of love and respect.

He did not act like we are so accustomed to people acting now.

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That’s what I want my kids to know. The stories are great. They’re wonderful and they make him real and will continue to carry on down through the generations. But I want them to know the meaning behind the stories- that they come from a family where our strength comes from our faith, respect is given to everyone, and life is honored above all else.

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