Saturday, July 21, 2007

Signed...sealed...delivered...

I began writing letters at a young age, and it would quickly become an important part of my identity.

I think my first fan letter was to Jim J. Bullock. (Remember him? Perhaps not. He was a regular on my favorite show, Hollywood Squares. And Too Close for Comfort, another one of my favorites, even though there was NO way that show was appropriate for children. My mom and dad didn't censor much in our home...it's a miracle I turned out as wholesome and old-fashioned as I did!

The letter is still in an old photo album. My parents never mailed it. I wrote him a short paragraph about how Hollywood Squares was my favorite show. I watched it every night, and he was very very funny in it.

(I guess my affinity for funny gay men began at a very young age.)

I wrote on the wrong side of the lined paper, too.

Years would pass...and I would write letters...lots and lots and lots of letters. To EVERYBODY. (And when I say "everybody", I am including the people who ran the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum in Missouri.)

There were several standouts...

-Harry Connick, Jr. I met him at a CD signing when I was in the 8th grade. I gave him a pillow for his new baby (that I made, with her name "Georgia" on it) and a nice card. Three weeks later, Mr. Harry Connick, Jr. CALLED ME ON THE PHONE to thank me, and his lovely and wonderful wife Jill sent me a card.

-Nick Clooney. "Who is Nick Clooney?" George's dad, among other things, and he used to host movies on AMC, which was my favorite channel when I was a child. (It's just not the same anymore!) He sent me a very nice note telling me that my address brought back fond memories of when he was a youngster vacationing by the Jersey Shore and met his first love, Lorraine.

-Paul Anka. He sent me a signed photo saying, "For Diana...the one and only!" (Since one of his biggest hits was "Diana."

-Tina Sinatra. (http://dianagolightly.blogspot.com/2007/06/there-is-surefire-way.html)

-Tom Brokaw. I sent him my school's literary magazine when I was in high school, because I wrote of the "Greatest Generation". Two weeks later, my sister got the mail and said, "Okay, I don't even want to KNOW why you're getting a package from NBC Studios." It was a signed copy of Tom's newest book, in which he inscribed "To Diana...who understands...Tom Brokaw." It is one of my most-prized possessions. It now sits in a protective vault, and Tom Brokaw remains number 1 on my "to meet" list, and if I ever DO meet him, I will most likely cry and beg him to adopt me.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a long overdue letter to Maria Shriver.

If you might remember, I met Maria Shriver two years ago.

And this all happened:

http://dianagolightly.blogspot.com/2007/06/when-maria-shriver-speaks.html

I decided..."I am going to WRITE a letter to Maria Shriver! I am going to remind her of our exchange at the Rockefeller Center Barnes and Noble and tell her that I am still rather frustrated with my life and hold her wise words close to my heart because I KNOW Maria Shriver would never lie to me."

She was going to LOVE this letter, I decided, and call me immediately and offer to help me in any way she could.

"Any way" would just might include introducing me to literary agents, letting me move into her New York City penthouse apartment which she and Arnold never even use (I'm not sure if they actually have one...but I bet they do), or even doing something as simple as hooking me up with one of her cute Kennedy cousins. There's about seventy-thousand of them...shouldn't be too hard.

Alas, I seemed to have lost my magic touch for letter-writing, because today, I got this letter in the mail:

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A form letter from Maria Shriver.

She didn't even read my letter!

She doesn't even know that I still think back to her telling me, "Everything is going to be okay!" in the bookstore that day and how I never, ever forgot it!

Instead, I just got the same old letter every other random person sent her that day.

Let this be a lesson, I tell myself. When I start receiving multitudes of fan mail, I will respond personally to every last letter and will fix people up with my hot single cousins when the situation sees fit!!!!!

Diana Rissetto

You know what I loved when I was a kid?

I loved the Baby-Sitters Club.

Loved them.

One of the (many good things) about having a big sister is that you get introduced to a lot of things a few years earlier than other girls your age. Books are among these things.

My sister was never as big a reader as I was (still isn't...although she DID think the Sparknotes for Wuthering Heights were pretty good) but I did inherit many childhood classics from her...Judy Blume (I have no idea how I possibly could have gotten through childhood and adolescence without my Judy Blume! I have also have reread Judy's adult novel, Summer Sisters every single summer since I was 16. I was recently stretched out in the sun with it, and my sister commented, "Haven't you already read that book?" "Ah, yes," I responded. "I reread it EVERY summer." My sister gave the typical response..."DORK." )

Then there was the Ramona Quimby series...and Charlotte's Web...which inspired me to give up meat at a very young age...The First Four Years, which hooked me on the Little House books, and, of course, The Babysitters Club.

I was hooked.

I believe I began reading them in the second grade, and continued until I was in the 6th...when I was far beyond the reading level (fourth grade, I think) but just couldn't bear saying goodbye to the girls of Stonybrook.

They felt like old friends by then. Ann M. Martin pumped out a new book every month...sometimes more than that...there were Super Specials and Mystery editions, and then there were even books told from Logan's point of view! (Logan was Mary Anne's boyfriend...he was a boy babysitter, and a bit of a social pariah because of it. However, Logan learned not to care about being made fun of by the other boys in the neighborhood, because Logan, like MOST 13-year-old boys, was extremely mature and secure. Yup.)

In the first of the series, Kristy's Great Idea, the girls are in the 7th grade. When you are 7, 12-years-old sounds infinitely old and mature. They would eventually go on to the 8th grade, where they would remain for the next fifty-seven years.

These books made me extremely excited to one day turn 12 or 13. I was sure that I would be able to run the world by then. Kristy, Mary Anne and the gang lead extremely exciting, romantic lives. They got to go on trips to New York City all by themselves (I was a child LIVING in New York City at the time and I wasn't even allowed to walk around my neighborhood by myself), they would go on sailing trips (in one edition where Claudia, Dawn and a bunch of their babysitting charges got stranded on an island), and babysit infants. (I watch infants NOW. And I can tell 'ya...it really isn't easy! I doubt I could have handled watching three kids under 5, AND a newborn, at the age of 13!)

They also had boyfriends...ALL of them had boyfriends...even tomboy Kristy and painfully shy Mary Anne. (Who would date Logan for 54 of those 55 years of the 8th grade. They actually broke up once, but found their way back to each other. 8th grade romances really ARE that strong.) Now, when I was 12 or 13, I really had no interest in boys in my class. If I could have chosen a boyfriend back then, I would have chosen Chris O'Donnell...or Harry Connick, Jr.

Even Jessi Ramsey and Mallory Pike had boyfriends, and, as any fan of the series would know, they were "junior" members of the club and they were only ELEVEN!

Heck, when I was eleven, I was still dressing up my American Girl dolls.

The Baby-Sitters Club were jetsetters. I was convinced that junior high was going to be the most exciting time in my life. I would have officially ARRIVED, and life would be grand.

But then it wasn't!

And looking back, I can honestly say that the Baby-Sitters Club had much much MUCH more of lives at 11-13 than I do at 25.

I am not kidding, as I spend my evening watching Lifetime movies, trying out new face masks and conditioners, and knitting sweaters for dogs.

(Yup, still not kidding.)

I recently read a quote from Miss Natalie Portman that I found amusing:


I loved reading the Baby-sitters Club series. They had all types of girls -- the really smart one, the really girly girl, the earthy crunchy girl -- but it confused me. I was like, "Oh, my God, I'm no one. I'm not a type. I don't know who I am." One of the major shifts I felt coming into adulthood was the understanding that there's no such thing as types.


Right on, Natalie. Right on!

I still don't know what type I am...and I'm pretty sure my life never WILL be as thrilling as Stacey McGill's.

However, those books gave me some fabulous memories and hours of entertainment, and I am sure many girls my age feel the same way.

I remember six years ago, I was working in Barnes and Noble, and a college-aged girl came in and said, "Do you have the very last Baby-Sitters Club book? I need to have it! I just NEED TO KNOW HOW IT ALL TURNS OUT FOR THEM!"

Don't we all, young lady. Don't we ALL.

Diana Rissetto