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From the time we enter our elementary school years until we enter our senior citizen years, we are always trying to fit in. Where do we belong? With what group of people do we share interests? Where should I live? And if you’re a pre-teen or teen, how do I get into the “popular” group?

My 12-year-old daughter is dealing with that last struggle right now. She attends a wonderful high-tech middle school in Boca Raton, Fla., a wealthy community. Most of the students who attend that school, however, have parents who give them anything they want. Every day my daughter deals with the fact that she doesn’t own an iPhone or some type of smart phone and she doesn’t wear Abercrombie clothes. She also doesn’t look like the “popular” girls. She doesn’t have straight-straight hair, she has acne, and she has started getting a little figure. All of that, she says, makes her different — puts her outside of the “popular” girls group. Oh, the tragedy of being different!

Boston -- Where I fit in (c) FreeFoto.com

Boston -- Where I fit in (Photo supplied by FreeFoto.com)

I know exactly how she feels. I tell her that things will get better — that middle school is, and has always been, difficult for girls. I tell her to not try to be friends with everyone but find close friends and stick with them. They’re the ones who matter most, not the bitchy Boca snobs who look down at you because you have curly hair. I tell her to do activities that she loves and that she’ll make friends with kids in the same clubs and groups.

What I don’t tell her is that the struggle to fit in will continue.

I can think of just a couple times in my life where it wasn’t so hard. Ironically, one of them was during middle school. Somehow, I was in the “popular” group. I don’t know how it happened because we were not wealthy, I wore mostly second-hand clothes, I was not considered pretty, my family situation was different than “normal” (my mother was divorced and had recently announced that she was gay), and I was the new kid. We had moved to a small city in Vermont from Springfield, Mass. By middle school girl standards, I should have been an outcast. But they accepted me.

The real struggle to fit in started in eighth grade when my mother moved us to a tiny nearby town — Roxbury, Vt. I had to leave my “girls” behind and start all over again — new house, new school, new people to try to befriend. On top of that, now I was living in the country! That’s no place for a city mouse like me. Read the rest of this entry »

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I admit it. I have a crush on Keith Urban, the country-singing hottie from New Zealand who is married to Nicole Kidman. I also have crushes on Rick Springfield, John Rzeznik (of the Goo Goo Dolls), George Clooney, Johnny Depp, and Brad Pitt. And I have an on-again/off-again flirtation with Prince. But right now Keith is my man. I’m a member of his fan club so that I can buy tickets to his concerts before they go on sale to the public. I bought tickets to one of this summer’s shows during the first five minutes tickets were available. And I purchased his new album the day it was released.

Keith Urban

Keith Urban

My celebrity crushes started young. When I was in elementary school I fell in love with Donny Osmond and his purple socks. Every Friday night I’d plop myself in front of the TV for The Donny and Marie Show. I then moved to Shaun Cassidy, former Hardy Boy and pop singer. “Da Do Run Run” and “Hey Deanie” constantly played on my record player, and every other Sunday I tuned in to watch the Hardy Boys solve mysteries (they alternated with Nancy Drew). I, of course, also had posters of Shaun all over my bedroom walls.

In 1981 the object of my desire became Rick Springfield aka Dr. Noah Drake from General Hospital. Every weekday afternoon I could watch Rick save lives and romance nurse Bobbie Spencer and in the mean time listen to him sing “Jesse’s Girl” and “I’ve Done Everything For You” over and over again.

While I dreamed of seeing Rick in concert when I was a tween and teen, I didn’t get the chance until I was 38. Once at the concert, I suddenly felt like I was a teenager all over again. The lights went down, Rick came out, and I (and hundreds of other women) ran for the front of the stage. I got a spot front and center. New to the Rick Springfield concert experience, I didn’t know what to expect. But I was quickly schooled by the women around me who had been to many shows — how he takes the bouquets of flowers women throw on stage and thrashes his guitar with them, how he comes out into the audience so that women can touch him, and how he allows one woman to jump the barricade and be on stage with him for a song — with his arms around her while he plays guitar. Rick knows his fans and how to work them.

I was not the one who jumped the barricade to get on stage, because I thought I would be escorted out and would miss the rest of the concert. (I’d be damned if I was going to miss “Jessie’s Girl”!) The woman next to me did that, and I helped her. She asked me to give her a boost, and I thought she was crazy. But next thing I knew she was up on stage, Rick’s arms around her with his guitar in front. Doh! Read the rest of this entry »

Not long ago a Facebook Friend tagged me to write a note that was going around called “One Word.” It’s a questionnaire to help your Friends get to know you better, and all your responses need to be one word. One question asked, “When was the last time you cried?” My answer was Saturday, or two days before I wrote the note. That response is a little surprising, not because I cried that day but because I hadn’t cried the following two days.

(Photo by Christina Snyder)

(Photo by Christina Snyder)

The thing is, I cry nearly every day. I am, as my daughter likes to call me, a crybaby. While what’s going on in my life is surely cause for such emotion, the fact is that I have always been emotional. My mother likes to tell a story about how when I was 3 years old, she found me crying while watching Lassie on TV. She was in the kitchen when she heard little sniffs coming from me in the living room, and there I was with tears running down my face. I don’t remember that, but Lassie must have been in some kind of danger. However, I do remember as a child watching Born Free and sobbing at the end when Elsa is returned to the wild. Hell, I’m tearing up now just thinking about it!

As an adult, I get teary-eyed about many things — when I hear an emotional song, when I read a moving phrase in a book, when my daughter performs in her piano recital, when someone tells a heart-felt story about themselves, when a momentous event occurs, when I say goodbye to someone I will not see for a while. And yes, I still cry while watching movies and TV shows. Two movies that actually had me sobbing were Finding Neverland with Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet and Brokeback Mountain with Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Both deal with loss of a loved one. I’m sure if I watched them again today I would still cry.

Relieving stress
The stress of dealing with a traumatic event can also trigger tears for me. I remember one event when my daughter was 3 years old. I was shopping with her at a farmer’s market where they had samples of apple. I gave her a piece, and the next thing I knew she was choking. She looked up at me, eyes wide, not breathing. Acting on instinct, I calmly and matter-of-factly put my finger in her throat and pulled out the piece of fruit. That fixed it. She went back to her happy self, not crying a bit, while I melted into a pool of tears. Women in the store who saw what had happened came over to console me and told me I did a good job. Read the rest of this entry »

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