Goal #3: Wonderland

Goal #3: Go to an East-coast liberal arts womens’ (sic) college. FIRST CHOICE: **Smith**

STATUS: Complete

DATE (S) COMPLETED: 1997, 2007

In 1989 I was obsessed with THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB, and by extension its creator Ann M. Martin. I read Ann M.’s bio at the end of every book, even though I already knew it by heart: She did a lot of baby-sitting when she was growing up in Princeton, New Jersey. She had two cats. She graduated from Smith College.

P.S many notable writers went to Smith, not limited to Madeline L’Engle, Julia Child, and Piper Kerman, author of the memoir ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK (which turned into the TV show that became my new obsession to replace the BSC. I responsibly binge-watched until Netflix decided they’d add a new season whenever they dang well pleased. So here we are). (Adding to this P.S side note, a bunch of politician’s wives went to Smith, and Google lists them before Ann M., which I think is an outrage because, hello, which do children of the 80’s remember more fondly, Ann M.’s books or Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No campaign??)

Anyway, I wanted to be just like Ann M. (still do!). As it was too late to grow up in Princeton, New Jersey, and I was allergic to cats, I instead focused on going to Smith College.

Smith College was the school of my elitist dreams. I could only imagine it was full of ivy-covered red brick buildings and intelligent, studious women and old libraries filled with floor-to-ceiling books. Where professors nurtured their students and no one had to take P.E.

Where I could become a writer. Because always, I’ve wanted to be a writer.

Enter, Hollins University, with a creative writing program called “the most productive writing program in America” by Creative Writing in America. I was sixteen when I read about Hollins, and I’d never stopped dreaming of an East-coast (Roanoke, VA: check) liberal arts (check) women’s college (check).  I found out about a summer writing program for high school students and begged to go. And life was never worse but never better.

(I am the one in the gigantic polo, because I obviously still had a thing or two to learn about style).

Even then part of me knew I’d never be able to afford the East-coast liberal arts women’s college I craved. I resigned myself to this fact, and attended a large, highly ranked, co-ed university an hour’s drive from my home.

That university is where I first heard about a program in Vermont offering a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Writing for Children and Adolescents. At Vermont College of Fine Arts, students lived in the small, East-coast town of Montpelier for two weeks in the summer and two weeks in the winter, where they had an intensive schedule of lectures and workshops. Then they returned home, to work one-on-one and be nurtured by faculty members. Who were all notable authors for young people! And while none of them were Ann M., some of them were authors whose work I’d loved since childhood. The campus was comprised of aristocratic red brick buildings. There were books everywhere. I was hooked.

And while it wasn’t QUITE a women’s college, it was close enough for me.

Goal #2: Style

Goal #2: Wear cool clothes STATUS: Complete-ish/Always in progress

DATE (S) COMPLETED: 2009 (after creating the Hot List) to present.

If it is not yet obvious it soon will be that I was a tad bit of an elitist in 1989. I was into literature and jet-setting, after all. The other kids (“the bourgeoisie” as I called them) (j/k, even I was not this elitist) were into kid stuff. So again, 1989, not a good year for me.

I knew I needed an outer personal style to match my inner personal style. Only my budget didn’t allow for the appliqued polo shirts and natural-fiber sweaters (tied around the shoulders, natch) that one generally associates with 1980s preppies. Besides, that wasn’t my fashion inspiration. This was:

Fashion 1989

(This article, clipped and added to my scrapbox before Pinterest was even a gleam in her mother's eye, is a page from Consumer Reports for Kids, which was an actual magazine, which I read faithfully).

My coolest outfit was this:

Emily 1989
Emily 1989

I have my doubts that this was ever cool. Except, of course, for my pride and joy: L.A Gear hi-tops with hot pink laces. Vogue.

Wearing cool clothes is an on-going project for me, one I attribute to my complete weirdness about spending money and my accompanying negative feelings toward shopping. Shopping and spending money, it turns out, are paramount to buying cool clothes. But bit by bit I'm accomplishing this goal, thanks in no small part to my friends.


This is my favorite dress, a gift from the uber-cool Sara Zarr, who deserves major kudos for helping me discover MAD STYLE. (I am the one on the left. On the right, my sister-in-law Annie, who is also wearing a dress and who also has mad style).

Another favorite, picked out with fashiony friend Kelly:


Geometric-print shirt with leggings-like skinny jeans? The only thing left to complete this look is a pair of neon L.A Gear hi-tops. Excuse me, I'm off for a Google search...

Goal #1: I Know Places

Goal #1: Earn Traveler Badge and Visit Washington, D.C STATUS: Complete

DATE (S) COMPLETED: 1990; 2014

When I began the Girl Scout program in 1989, I started work straightaway on two badges: Books (kind of obvious) and Traveler (also kind of obvious if you know me, and especially if you knew me in 1989, at which time I would have traveled to Kuwait itself if it meant getting away from where I was).  I completed them straightaway, too, because a quick scan of my Junior Girl Scout Sash shows that these badges were sewn on, as opposed to later badges that were stuck on with hot glue.

What I remember about this badge:

* “Helping” my parents plan a trip to Southern California and keeping a detailed travel log.  This must have been when I started scrapboxing, because my log includes postcards, business cards, restaurant menus, a feather from the beach, an early -generation hotel key card, a napkin from someplace called “The Rusty Pelican” and the pink-and-brown wrapper around my ice cream cone at 31 Flavors/Baskin-Robbins.

*SOOO many references to travel agents

*Planning several different trips to Washington D.C:  One for a sixth grade class, one for a couple who didn’t want to harm the environment in their travels, and one for a group of college students. I got a bunch of dimes out of my bank and went to the library, where I made copies of city maps and suggested itineraries.  All those imaginary people had an efficient, fun-filled trip carefully customized to their needs. I, however much I wanted to, did not get to go along with them.

Flash forward twenty-four years to last month, when I made this dream a reality with my friends Amy and Melissa.  In true Em-Dawg form, I kept a detailed travelogue of the day-by-day and saved museum maps and menus and used-up Metro cards (however, places don’t put wrappers around ice cream cones much anymore, so my trip to the Georgetown Ben & Jerry’s goes woefully underdocumented).

The only remaining evidence of  my trip to the Georgetown Ben & Jerry's:

I saw other stuff, too, though.  First stop Library of Congress, just as I'd planned way back when:


The monuments!

And the next two photos selected by my husband Great Guy Dan, when I was having trouble inserting any more photos into the post.  An angry red exclamation point kept telling me ERROR!  But from his computer at his office down the street, Dan was getting no such message.  So I asked him to choose two more pictures to insert and he chose well-- one  from the Air and Space Museum (his favorite) and one from the Supreme Court (everybody's favorite, because justice, yo).

Isn't this satisfying, seeing these goals fulfilled?  And we're just getting started!