Just to let you know I have read 163 BSC books so far. That means I have 66 books left to complete my goal.  No, I didn’t do it in the amount of time I wanted to, but you have to be somewhat impressed by the fact that I’ve read 163 books since May. And, to be fair, if it weren’t for the engagment, the job at Convergys, the college, and the migraines, I’d have been finished months ago. But the point of this was to finish with my life still intact, so I’m glad I’m still chipping away at it.

Obviously calender summer is over now, but I’m still doing my BSC “Summer” Adventure. I’ve got less than one hundred books left to read. If I EVER get a job, I’ll go ahead and buy the last couple that I need. I’m currently reading Claudia and the Terrible Truth – Book 117. It’s about child abuse. As a social work major, I spend all my time thinking and worrying about child abuse. I’m a little sad to have to read about it, too.

When I’m finished with this, I’m going to read SO MUCH STUFF that isn’t BSC. I can’t wait, y’all!

Kristy thought that breaking up the BSC was a great idea… but it ended up being her worst idea ever! This is what I think about the BSC break-up: Ok, if I had been a little kid and thought it was going to last and not known there were 30 more books to go on top of the Cali diaries, I probably would have cried all the way through this book. But, I knew it couldn’t really end and they’d find a way not to let it end, so I wasn’t too worried, just interested to see how it would turn out. Without the BSC, parents have to call sitters individually. If I needed a sitter, the BSC member I would call first would be Mary Anne because even though she’s a sensitive twit, I think she’s the most responsible of the group. I’d be most likely to leave her with my children. Abby and Stacey have serious illnesses, Kristy is too sports minded, Claud would let them eat junk and Mal and Jessi are too young. Easy deduction. I’m going to be a very protective mommy. Kristy’s Worst Idea is the hundredth book in the Baby-Sitters Club series. Of the hundred BSC books, I have read this many: 99 (I’m working on Mary Anne and Camp BSC, but its in pdf form… yawn.) (And I want to read approximately 100 more!) My favorite BSC book (so far) is Oh My God. Are you seriously asking me this?? I don’t want to have to remember everything I’ve read… probably one of the Super Specials. Maybe BSC Remembers or Aloha, Baby-sitters. Don’t make me choose! because I’ve read like 125 books!

Quincy says he finds it funny that I’ve gotten so far into this series that I am often concerned about the girls as if they are real. He also wants me to do a whole series of essays on the lack of positive female influences in young adult fiction. (Hermione is smart, but desparate for friends/boys; Bella is controlled by and obsessed with Edward; basically the only strong females in YAF are lesbians… :( )

I normally don’t post about just one book, and I never post this closely together, but after reading Stacey’s Broken Heart, I feel like I have to rant a bit more about how my girl Stace is in major danger of becoming a future-abused-woman. Stacey dated Robert from book 70 to book 99 which in BSC time line is just a few months, but in calender years based off the holidays and summer vacations is over a year… anyway, aside from the chronological issues… Stacey finds out Robert is lying to her in the book. He goes out with another girl, Andi, and even kisses her while Stacey is in New York visiting her father and baby-sitting some old charges. Ok, number one, what the hell kind of thirteen year-old cheats on his girlfriend!? But, number two, Stacey exhibits some hardcore future-abused-woman symptoms. Reading this I kept shaking my head because it reminded me so much of myself… she is headed down a bad path. Firstly, when she hears he might be cheating, rather than confronting him, she just withdraws into herself. When he asks what’s wrong, she says “Nothing.” I still do this. It drives my fiance crazy. When she begins to hear and see that he’s lying she does everything in her power to make excuses for him. She tries so hard to convince herself that she’s mistaken or confused. When she finally finds out the truth she breaks down. Breaking down is fair enough. This little rant isn’t:

“What was so special about Andi? Nothing that I could see. How could he like her better than me? Why had he stopped liking me? What had I done wrong? Maybe he needed somebody who didn’t baby-sit and who didn’t go away every other weekend, someone who was there all the time.

I thought of a million things that might be the matter with me. Every insecurity I’d ever felt came zooming back. Was something wrong with my personality? My looks? Was I too thin? Was it the diabetes? Did he want a girlfriend who could eat ice cream and junk food with him?

Did he want someone who was part of his old crowd? It could be. Maybe I took him away from his friends too much. He  might want a girlfriend who would fit in better.”

She automatically jumps into assuming that her looks, her personality, even her ILLNESS are to blame. That she has faults so great that its ok for her boyfriend to cheat on her. That, somehow, if she was better this wouldn’t have happened. If there is anything I’ve learned in my bad relationships, it’s this: Men don’t sleep with other women because of something you did. They sleep with other women because they want to. When he wasn’t constantly berating me, my ex would sometimes mercifully remind me of that. He did it for sex, no other reason. In the end, it doesn’t make you feel better, but it should.

Stacey gets over it. She cries a lot (which is totally acceptable) but she moves on. Why? Because she meets another guy. I’ve been there, too. She meets a (older) boy, Ethan, in New York and he is crazy about her. After Robert leaves her, she feels “free” to spend time with Ethan. The book ends with Stacey saying:

“I was going to be okay, though. No matter what happened, I’d always have myself to rely on. As long as I liked me, I’d be fine. And that was something I hadn’t been sure of before Robert broke my heart. Now I was sure.”

A)Sometimes I forget these girls are only 13 and with melodrama like this in their lives I expect them to all end up pregnant or addicted to heroin.
B)Even when she finds out she loves herself, it’s because of something Robert did. *sigh*

The worst part of the whole situation is the letter at the end from Ann M Martin. She generally uses the letter to talk about the high points of the book (drunk driving, death of a friend, divorce, holidays, disappointment, etc.) but in this book, she mentioned that Stacey and Robert broke up and then went on to talk about how much she loves writing about New York. Why not mention how girls can be strong on their own? Why not mention how what Robert did was damaging and wrong? Why not give a nod to the fact that there are certain things girls should NOT put up with… anyway, sorry for the rant, but this book got me going.

Now for the survey at the end.

When Stacey finds out that Robert has been seeing another girl, her heart is broken. One person Several people who has have broken my heart is are every boy I ever had a crush on who didn’t like me back, every guy I’ve ever dated in some way or another. Our hearts are so fragile. Thats why we should be doubly careful who we give them to. Once I broke someone else’s heart by telling him he cussed too much and breaking up with him before P.E. He cried all the way through it. I was a sucker and took him back. (This was maybe… 4th grade?) Accoding to Stacey’s father, thirteen is a little young to have a serious relationship. I think a person should be Sixteen, or older before she/he has a serious boyfriend/girlfriend. The most “serious” boyfriend/girlfriend I’ve had so far is Quincy, since I’m marrying him, though our relationship is far less serious than my last one… in the best way possible. If I could ask anyone to be my boyfriend/girlfriend, I would ask Alan Rickman because he is SMOKING HOT.

I hate that I’m sharing my reading time with text books now, and also with Pokemon blue for the gameboy color if anyone was wondering, but it must be done. I got many books read this weekend so I’m hoping that is indicative of how things will go this semester. I’m into the books where they all have letters from Ann at the end and scrapbook pages… I’m in the 90s of the main series. I’m officially reading all the books I never read as a kid and its great because I honestly have no idea what to expect.  Reading the earlier parts of the series was mostly re-reading, so I knew little bits and pieces of what was going on usually. But now I’m in uncharted territory. She’s been hitting on some super serious stuff in the books recently. A girl gets killed by a drunk driver and the students of SMS are left to deal with their own mortality in Mary Anne and the Memory Garden. I appreciate how often in the series Ann (or the ghostwriter working for Ann) recommends that the kids go to a therapist. A lot of stigma is placed on being in therapy now and it wasn’t any better in the late 80′s early 90′s, so its a big deal to me that she’s willing to put that recommendation out there. Mary Anne visited a therapist in Mary Anne and the Memory Garden to learn how to adjust to her feelings. There was also a book called Kristy + Bart = ?? about defining relationships. It was a serious topic for a series geared at tweens and early teens. Plus, it further cemented my feelings that Kristy is a lesbian. Claudia and the First Thanksgiving tackles the idea of censorship, and Abby’s Lucky Thirteen is about Abby and Anna’s Bat Mitzvah and what it means to be an adult in the Jewish community.

I learned so much from these books growing up, but I feel like I’m learning a lot now, too, as I’m reading the newer ones… It really pushes it home for me that this is a great series for 11-14 year olds to learn some life lessons in some other way than from tv or the movies.

Anyway, as promised, here is a survey style notebook page taken from #97 – Claudia and the World’s Cutest Baby:

Claudia thinks her cousin Lynn is the world’s cutest baby. The cutest baby I’ve ever seen is my cousin Sara Grace when she was born. She is the only baby that I can look back on baby pictures and still think she’s cute. Every newborn is cute after you’ve been waiting for them for 9 months and you fall in love at first sight. But, more often than not, when you look back in 4 or 5 years you think “Ew! Alien baby!” Sara Grace was just plain gorgeous, though. Russ and Peaches choose Lynn as the baby’s name because it is Claudia’s middle name. My two favorite names for a baby girl are Gracie and Yael. (These change every few days.) My two favorite names for a baby boy are Josiah and Ranier (Again, every day with the changing.) Claudia’s cousin Lynn is a very sweet baby. When I was a baby, I was very fat. The first word I ever said was probably something like dada or mama, but my parents remember me saying bear pretty early. The second word I ever said was again, probably something like dada or mama, but apparently I said light after I said bear. If I had been born a boy instead of a girl (or a girl instead of a boy), I would have been named Denny Luther or Adam Stanley. I’m so glad I’m a girl. If I could pick any name for myself right now, it would be Emily Ellison Rhoads, & I’ll be getting that wish soon enough!

Stacey is my favorite character to read about… I feel very worried for her in many ways. Not her health. She takes great care of her diabetes. Not her baby-sitting. She’s impressively put together for a 13 year old when it comes to caring for other children. All the girls are. What I worry about is this “boy craziness” we all write off as just typical Stacey.

Stacey may be more mature and more sophisticated than the other girls just because she’s from New York,  but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s a 13 year old girl plain and simple. Her near constant crushes worry me. Our society forces young women to think they NEED a man to be sexually, emotionally, and personally gratified. I was so naive growing up. I had crushes on men I had no business having crushes on just like Stacey. (See Boy Crazy Stacey where she gets obsessed with a much older life guard; see also Stacey’s Big Crush where she gets obsessed with her student teacher from the local college.) I let boyfriends become TOO much a part of my life. (See Stacey’s Lie, Stacey Vs the BSC and continuing books where she lets her relationship with Robert ruin the BSC’s trust in her.) Eventually I ended up meeting a guy who abused me emotionally, sexually, and occasionally physically. I put up with this, even thought I deserved it because OMG he loved me SO MUCH and none of my friends could possibly understand how much I NEEDED him. Maybe I’m reading way too much into the BSC, but I worry about all little girls who get so obsessed with having a boyfriend, and with having to keep that boyfriend. It scares me. I want to save every little girl from going through what I went through, from being made to feel so worthless and unloved by the person that in our mind loves us most. The numbers of women who are beaten and raped every year are astounding. I worry about Stacey becoming one of those statistics. Her obsession with her looks and with being with someone are very typical signs of her folding to the pressures of our patriarchal society. (Pardon my feminist ranting. Also, Claudia is a little obsessed with her looks and boys, too, but she has other healthy interests in art and reading.)

One thing I must give mad props to Ann M. Martin about – STACEY LOVES MATH! We’re living in a culture where people think “girls can’t do math.” I’m not sure where this attitude came from. I’ll get back to you about it after that chapter in this semesters Psychology of Women class. I really can’t do math but that has less to do with my gender and more to do with my reading numbers backwards. Stacey not only does math really well, she loves doing it. And science! She doesn’t dumb herself down to find a guy either which is very encouraging.

What I HOPE for Stacey McGill’s future: I hope she gets the boy craziness out of her system soon and very soon. I hope she goes to college and majors in molecular biology. I hope she is a respected woman of science and joins the FMLA at her school. I hope she learns to stand on her own two feet and that relationships with men should be beautiful and healthy and make her feel good, not bad. Those male relationships should fit like a glove with the rest of her friendly relationships because they are part of her life instead of the whole thing. I hope she helps discover the cure for diabetes and she stays friends with Claudia forever, though if she doesn’t she’ll be ok since she survived losing Laine. I hope that even when she goes to a college known for the sciences and Claudia goes for the arts, Stacey will still ask Claudia to be her Maid of Honor when she has her perfect wedding to the perfect man who treats like the intelligent, beautiful woman she is.

And that’s my take on Anastasia McGill, who’s handwriting is cute as a button.

The next portrait book I read was Kristy’s. I expected it to be quite as sad as Mary Anne’s but I was mistaken. And I don’t think she mentioned Bart once.

Here’s my thing with Kristy. I think she’s a closet case. I’m not saying ALL tomboy’s are lesbians. (Look at Abby. She plays soccer like a pro and I’m not at all inclined to think she’s swinging for the other team…) Nor am I saying there is anything WRONG with being a lesbian. I love homosexuality. But that’s another blog post entirely. What I am saying is that maybe Kristy wouldn’t have been such a raging bitch if she’d been out of the closet. If she’d been able to be her true self and not have to pretend with Bart, (who, by the way, was always called her “sort-of” boyfriend and who she went to dances with and talked shop about softball but nothing more… Ann was practically TELLING us Kristy was gay) she would have been much happier for it.

Kristy’s books get on my nerves. This one was no different. Her life is interesting, no doubt. She’s got a lot of drama for one character in the series, but OH MY GAH, she’s bossy and loud-mouth and just plain ignorant sometimes. Her character always puts her foot in her mouth and makes me want to facepalm on a regular basis. Seriously, Crass-ty. Did you SERIOUSLY just say that to one of your BEST FRIENDS?? We all have our off days, but you, Kristin Amanda Thomas, you were having an off SERIES. Also, stop relating things to sports. Urgh.

My predictions for Kristy’s future – She finally comes out of the closet to a few close friends around tenth or eleventh grade. She makes a pass at Claudia who freaks out and doesn’t talk to Kristy anymore, but spreads the story of the almost-hook up to the whole school who now calls Kristy awful names. Some girls on the softball team are excited by the news, but most refuse to share a room with her at away tournaments. Poor Kristy. In college she is free to come into her own and focuses a lot of her good ideas and loud-mouth bad attitude on getting involved in intermural sports and the Gay-Straight Alliance on campus. (She’s at college for a full ride softball scholarship, duh.) She meets a lovely girl and they fight for their right to adopt a gaggle of children together.

And that’s my take on Kristin Amanda Thomas, who’s books I muddle through.

I just got done reading The BSC Portrait Collection: Mary Anne’s Book. I figured this was as good an opportunity as any to blog about each girl as I read their portrait book…
Mary Anne, along with Kristy, is my least favorite member of the BSC. It seems silly as I probably have more in common with Mary Anne than any other member of the BSC. I am sensitive like her. I’ll be honest, I cried reading her portrait book. To be fair, I’m on my period, it’s been a trying day and her life is sad as hell. She generally gets on my nerves for the most part, though. She’s TOO sensitive. And, on top of that, she chooses odd times to stand up for herself or to stop being sensitive. Like, how can you go a whole year (Technically, if we are working with the time discrepancy Ann M Martin seems to have created, she was in 8th grade and with Logan for several years, 2-3 at the very least.) of dating a guy and acting one way and then suddenly decide he’s suffocating you. I understand falling out of love with someone. But, she still loved Logan, she just suddenly didn’t want him making plans. WTF, Mary Anne? You never had a problem with him making plans before. Dang, girl, make up ya mind!

By the way, when I say Love, I mean luv. You don’t LOVE someone in 8th grade, Mary Anne Spier. You just don’t. Even if you have dated them for the 2-3 years you’ve been in 8th grade.

Her portrait book was touching, though. I remember reading as a child and feeling really terrible that she didn’t have a mother. And she doesn’t try, to her merit, to rub that fact in people’s faces. I appreciate that about her. I know people who have lost parents and wear it like a badge to make people feel bad when the say the occasional “your mom” joke or to gain sympathy when they need attention. Mary Anne was never like that. She didn’t want to bring it up. This could have been due to the fact that she never had a mother, so she never understood the concept or what she was missing. Which brings me to what made me cry in her portrait book – The Mother’s Day tea. When she didn’t know who to invite so she invited her dad and Mimi. Omg, boo hoo city. Luckily I was in the bath so I just dunked my head under the water and no one had to know about my secret sob fest with a BSC BOOK. I mean, DANG, I’m 22 years old!

My predictions for Mary Anne’s future – Obviously she isn’t with Logan. They broke up in the Friends Forever series so I don’t even have to wonder about that one. I didn’t see it lasting anyway. The only reason she liked him was because he looked like Cam Geary and had a Kentucky accent. Shallow bitch. I think the older she gets, the more she’ll give into her anal-retentive nature. She’ll become a total OCD case. Not like my dad, more like Monk. She’ll organize her notes in school in ways that will make no one else want to hang out with her. She spent the first thirteen years of her life surrounded by people the opposite of her (Kristy with her loud mouth and Dawn with her drive and convictions; Mary Anne has neither of those qualities.) and eventually she probably gets tired of Kristy bossing her around and she starts spending most of her time with Tigger. Of course, Tigger will die eventually. Mary Anne might kill herself then.

And that’s my take on Mary Anne Spier, who surprisingly, didn’t have the neatest handwriting in the club.

…has come to an end.

Now to attempt to finish all the books by the end of the calender summer.

How will I ever keep reading now that classes are in full swing? Oh, I will prevail. After all, the girls were able to carry on meetings and babysitting jobs despite having school and art and dance and the Krushers. Maybe I’ll set aside a specific reading time. (Besides the obvious reading times between classes and in line at the book store!) Maybe I’ll make my reading time from 5:30-6 every MWF! In honor of the girls I’ll eat Ring Ding’s and only answer my cell “Babysitter’s Club!”

I’ve also decided I want to start doing some of the fill in pages at the end of the book. When I find one that strikes me, I’ll do it on here survey style.

I read book #76, Stacey’s Lie… It took place at the “end of the school year”…. how did 8th grade end, yet it continues on for another 100 or so books before they finally graduate in Friends Forever Super Special Graduation Day… I really hope she explains this.

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