memoir newspaperpeople day 11 nanowrimo 2021

Mr. Lincoln by Adrienne Wilson

Newspaperpeople

  1. Pavlova

The Pavlova is gorgeous, you’re bringing it to the Christmas Party in the MGA the two of you have, all decorated with flowers from your little garden in the tiny apartment you have behind the Craftsman on Pedregosa. You read the Los Angeles Times too, the Food Section and the Garden Section and suddenly you are pasting up color.

Sharon says, “What’s that?” as you place it on the waxing table, all covered with scratches from the years of Journeymen, and pages. It slid a bit on the floorboards, driving down, the flowers blurring into each other. You had no idea how to be a girlfriend, much less a wife. You buy magazines at the store that are going to explain how, one by one. It’s taken the place of the Winter Fruit Cocktail, you were known for. You will only stay in Grad School for one quarter. You drop when he takes over, the man that is going to be your husband.

“This is a kitchen, not a darkroom,” he says.

Suddenly you are working full time.

The paycheck doubles.

You don’t have any Seniority, though, and through her slitted eyes, she’s laughing, because she is about to move up a rung, with better hours. You are at the bottom. On that Floor. You have the full kit of Printer’s tools now. An Exacto, a Triangle, a Roller, and a Pica Pole. They engrave your initials on it.

Mr. Catamaran is too busy building a giant printing plant, to actually bother you. He’s rarely there, and it is a fun job, 2:30 to 10:00, at night. The level of camaraderie on the Floor, is best when Editorial comes down, with the blue pencils, the excitement growing, knowing that paper is coming out, the Printer’s hands fly all over the pages like birds, cutting in letters if they have to, in 6 point. The Street Final is what all of you are putting out, and Loveton jumps all over the room, wild, sweat flying off of him. The Sports Department is last. They are getting the scores right, no matter what. It’s the same on Political nights. The pages are covered in blue marks, Proof after Proof, until Editorial is satisfied. Bill, in Brooks Bros. Best dressed Newspaperman in the building. “Let’s put this paper to bed,” they smile, finally. Then the Press begins to roll, paper after paper, and we chase down any page, because anything can be fixed that late at night, in the rumble and roar, inking a million letters a day, all the words people in the City clip, for recipes, for obits, for favorite columnists, for everything actually.

They need you on Dayside for TV Week, and you have been taught to string the type. Chuck looks at you, towering over you, watching you make a mistake, and he says nothing. It’s miles and miles of type, miles that you use cotton string on to measure. If there is a mistake? Fixing it will take hours. He knows that. He’s just standing there laughing watching while you make it. The he watches while you tear it apart, and make it up all over again. Actually, that was part of the training. Becoming a Journeyman Printer was one of the hardest jobs I ever had. Ad Alley was going to be easier, somewhat.

Wenke is nicer than Bill had been. Ad Alley has Judy, and their own typists. New people are coming in, one by one. You will float, back and forth, with Joby to do whatever is needed. She had come from Offset, which they closed down.

You ask to learn Mark-Up, but it is too hard. Suddenly there will be the Camex Breeze.

Suddenly all of you will have to learn a new way of doing things.

There are electronic pens attached to huge tables, and a TV set is in front of you.

There are so many new women in the room, sitting at the sets. They’ve come in from outside, but mostly all locals, needing jobs. Many are educated, climbing ladders of their own, wanting to be in charge. Suddenly Wenke and Jed are the last two old timers. In Ad Alley.

You create the ads, and they come out intact.

The machines cost thousands of dollars.

The Printing Plant will also cost millions, it’s being built at the edge of the city. It’s going to be printing everything for miles around. Kim works in Systems, and Thad, and Sturtzenegger, all bearded and plaid, and they are raising the floor and laying in cables and everything is hurtling into the future, very fast. Sales reps come in to put you through trainings, State of the Art.

There are fonts, upon fonts, upon fonts, upon fonts. In the Art Department, they get the Macintosh that has even better fonts. None of the computers can talk to each other. All of them are different systems.

Suddenly it is the era of The Manifests. Hundreds of manifests, for every single thing, every ad. Nightly it prints out, green and white, and sprocketed edges. Everything is checked off against it.

It’s keeping track.

The Press is calling us DINKS, you see that headline “Dual Income No Kids” and it isn’t what you want. Under the floor the wires seethe like snakes, full of venom, we are becoming machines that have to work on software some guy planned.

I was a girl.

I was a female.

I wanted a baby and everything had become science in those years.

I hadn’t extracted my eggs.

It’s 1987.

The ring slips onto your finger.

My period was so heavy in those years I had to call in sick, sometimes, because of the cramps. They told me a baby would fix that, at 20. Now I was thirty, and I was chained to my job. Don’t make my mistake.

Tarrer comes down, and comes up behind me at the light table.

His hands plant themselves on both sides of me. At the table. I wriggle to escape it.

Do these machines emit radiation? I think to myself.

They might.

Planned Parenthood has given me a book on Fertility awareness. I’m going to have to use the thermometer. I want this for the two of us. We need a baby. We are four years together when we decide. But we aren’t on the same schedule anymore, and we are both exhausted most of the time. It’s hard for us to even be together.

I move from the hill down to his place, and because I am now a wife, I take on what I think wives are supposed to do. Magazines are going to be teaching me. At Von’s there are rows and rows of them that I study.

Fashion is leaving me.

I’m being drained dry.

We remodel a place, get our first pups out at Santa Barbara Humane.

We are a family at last.

The four of us and Alladin, and more cats I rescue.

We make a kitchen, and host our first Thanksgiving. We put in skylights.

I’m his third marriage, and Margaux and Carol call all the time wanting to talk to him, and I don’t know what to say.

He’s my third love.

I mean it when I take the vows, at last. “Till Death Do Us Part.”

I’m not going to live my mother’s life.

He’s not going to live his father’s life.

I won’t know this for years.

Cathy sitting on the Camex, she’s the oldest of all of us, always calling in sick, having operations. We have to get the ads out, this team of girls. Lori steps up, taking over. Joan and Lisa and Kirsten. Sheena, the wildest of all of us.

“I throw darts at a map,” she says. “I only work because I want to travel.”

She’s back from Paris, sprawled, making all of us laugh at her freedoms.

Sheena, with a name like that how could you ever go wrong?

Joan’s just graduated from Art Studio, painting massive Abstract Expressionism from her studio, on Ortega. I tell her, “don’t give it up.”
She’ll head north, like Lisa and Joan and Judy and Thad. They’re going to Portland, heading to the green places in Oregon soon. The Oregonian. So will Rhonda. She’s on the floor now, cracking jokes, and all of us love her. Her father in law had once run accounting.

“I’m looking for a Yellow Violet man,” she says. Before moving.

“That’s what his aura is going to be.”

Finally we buy ourselves a little nest.

It’s a Craftsman, from the 1930’s.

It’s the place we are going to be able to start our family.

Our bedroom has all the purity in the world. White eyelet curtains, the kind of windows that barely open, because you have to push them up and down. We become Westsiders. It’s all we can afford. We love the house. It’s formidable, and we are close to downtown. Minutes from our jobs.

The guy who does our taxes is an old High School friend of his.

Suddenly, I understand that marriage is going to mean all kinds of new things I hadn’t thought about. Things men knew about, and I did not.

“We want to start a family,” I say. My voice is little and tiny then.

“Children should be seen and not heard” was the rule in my family, growing up.

You will earn that every family has rules.

He’s doing our taxes, and I say this in a friendly way.

“I want to stay home and make pottery, and sell it at the Beach show.”

“You can’t do that,” the accountant says. “It’s going to ruin your retirement.”

I’m the third wife.

I don’t count.
The accountant was divorced, too.

From his first wife.

He ran the biggest accountancy firm in town.

Suddenly we have a garden.

Paperwhites for the 1930’s return.

The thermometer is cold.

The bed is warm.

The Jazz thunders through the house.

It’s only at work, or on the street, men will say things like “Nice day for something,” or “When is the baby coming?”

I still plant pansies, the first flower I loved best at 13.

I carry the Roses, from Red Rose Way to the house. In they go.

There is a red rose at our house.

The house of the truest love.

The house that we call home.

My mother loved him so much. She felt he was the perfect man for me. That first Christmas in our new house she sat before the fireplace in what was our formal living room. Sheena and some of the girls from work came over. I baked tons of Christmas cookies that year. In the living room, we had a Batchelder tile and the best fireplace on earth.

“Why don’t you just stay home and work on this place? Sheena perks up.

Little does she understand there are now two mortgages. Two.

Other people will be raising their children, in our old house. We will be having to pay for that. With our souls.

Strapped to a machine, that is possibly emitting radiation at me, I start to get scared.

How am I ever going to get to be a stay at home mom, like I want to be?

Is it even going to be possible?

I was only 30.

He was 45.

The girls around me are all leaving work, heading into marriages, where they are going to get to be mothers.

I’m going to be a girl who has to pay for mortgages.

How come had to be that girl, I ask myself later.

Carol calls all the time, drunk out of her mind, for my husband. She is still in love with him and I keep waiting for him to say something to her, like “These calls might not be a good idea.”

All the men are having vasectomies that year.

They don’t want any kids.

They tell us, in the print magazines, that we need to freeze our eggs, in case we want to have children later, but I don’t want to.

The doctor tells us, we might have to try artificial insemination.

It becomes a science project in those years.

Lying on the table, you realize the world you live in is controlled by men.

“The Old Boy’s Club,” is what we called it then.

Joby lives with Andy.
“I don’t think I could have a child, “ she says. “If anything ever happened to my child, I don’t think I could take it.”

She’s a DINK too.

“Why did they do this to us?”

I was a girl.

Not a man.

I was a girl.

I thought men were going to care about me.

Do you know what they wanted?

They wanted to get laid.

They wanted a worker.

They wanted a machine.

So they could have one.

It would take until 2021 when they built the female robots.

They had managed to wipe us from the face of the earth.

Now they really didn’t have to be fathers did they?

They planned on heading up to Mars and Venus. They were no longer even on planet Earth with us. Were they?

I ask myself to keep on pressing these keys, the ones that they designed, for these keyboards. Suddenly I see I am at 19,875. I’m so close now to 20,000 that I might as well go for it. The girl who was taught to never learn to type, the girl whose keyboard is now on fire, because this girl became a writer.

Not only that?

This girl became a writer who knew all about how to write LOVE.

I was the girl who lived on Red Rose Way once.

I was the girl who once believed in Cinderella, just like you.

We take to the mountains, when we can. Into the high snows of Yosemite, and he drives, he knows how to gather the wood, he knows how to catch the trout, he knows how to pitch the tents, he knows the best routes to travel. He’s the man and you are the woman.

He’s the man you married.

Memoir Newspaperpeople by Adrienne Wilson copyright November 11, 2021 all rights reserved

NEWSPAPERPEOPLE MEMOIR NANOWRIMO2021 Day 7

Self Portrait 1982, myself – UCSB student in my first studio apartment on the tiny balcony it had, first garden

Newspaperpeople

  1. Places

Places the heart goes. I wish I could stop you, from getting hurt, like I did, so I will just repeat, don’t be a dumb girl. When you get to college.

The first thing that happened was that TA, who was in charge of all my grades, and he was married too. His wife had just had a baby, and guess who he was following trying to carry her books across the campus? Me.

I was there to study Art History.

After the mess of that first quarter full of D’s and F’s because 1981 was the worst year of my life, I knew it would take years to get my GPA back up. So you never want to let your GPA fall. Just don’t.

Alan helped me find my first little apartment and it was on Figueroa Street, right across from the Police Station. It was behind an old Victorian house from the turn of the century, and it was one in a row of three studio apartments over garages. Like most things in Santa Barbara, every square inch was rented out, to somebody. But I was 22 and I had my own studio apartment at last! I had a tiny little balcony off my kitchen, and I planted my very first garden out there, in pots. I went down to Home Improvement, because that was my first job after High School, that was serious. My mom had gotten me my first job. I was a model for Trunk Shows at Robinson’s. Alan’s girlfriend Cathy had a sister that lived in the front house, and I could walk to work, if I wanted to.
Suddenly I had three rooms all to myself, and they were from the 1930’s. I had a Murphy bed, that folded down from the wall, so when it was folded up? I had a living room! Futons didn’t exist yet, at least in America. I had my own kitchen! I had a parking spot! I was becoming grown up at last. I had utility bills to pay.

I was learning how to cook.

There was only one problem.

He followed me.

The post cards kept on coming, and they came to work, too.

I started seeing a therapist, who I met because he was the boyfriend of the man who ran the Arts Library out at UCSB. When I think of all the actual angels who have crossed with me in life? I am probably the luckiest girl on the face of the earth.

The panic attacks had stopped and now I had a plan. A safety plan.

At work, because I was in the Composing Room, I didn’t have to take his calls anymore. If the phone rang at my place at night, I didn’t have to answer it.

My therapist Dennis was like the biggest angel I ever met.

He said one sentence to me.

“You have to get away from this man.”

He was right.

So when that married TA tried with me, I was secretly laughing. No way, not ever, not ever, I thought to myself about him. All he ever talked about was something called “The Snuggery.”

Except that night I threw my first party. I invited everybody.

I began the process of splitting up with him by deciding to date others.

By my second quarter, my grades were going back up.
It was so different than working in the cage had been, it really was.

I wasn’t trapped anymore, and the whole Composing Room buzzed and hummed and I guess I looked pretty fashionable because, well, that was all I knew. We didn’t wear much make-up in the years when I was 22, but we wore mascara, blush and lipstick. I guess you could have called us pretty natural that way.

I loved Perfume the most. Lipstick, too.

Your personal style sets in when you are in your early 20’s. You will probably keep that all your life.

I threw my very first party, in that apartment. I had taught myself to cook by getting a few cookbooks. I made a huge vat of Italian Cioppino for everyone. It was “Bring Your Own Bottle” so everyone had stuff they wanted to drink, and some of that was quite fancy, because my generation loved cocktails, but there was also wine and beer. My mom loaned me some huge serving platters and I made canapes, and all kinds of things from my little books. I invited Dennis and Felipe and there were so many bodies packing my little apartment, it looked like that movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

The only weird thing was the next morning, when I had kind of a hangover and I woke up with Alladin curled against me, and padding me. I was off that day, and I planned to start the day with the biggest best bubble bath ever, only, when I pulled back the shower curtain, there was a tiny bag slipped over the spout in the tub. Like a muslin bag.

I was wondering what the hell it was, frankly.

I looked inside and saw something really dark red. Red Rose petal red, actually. Ewwww, I thought. Maybe somebody had their period and like, left this here.

I shook it out, and it was a pair of panties, from Dior.

There was a typed note, that said, “You are Very Beautiful, Adrienne.”

I was totally creeped out, because I had like 75 people, that had come and gone all night at that party. So? Who had done that.

The whole thing totally bothered me.

It was the creepiest thing that had ever happened.

Guess what?

It was that TA, who carried my books.

He had been there, too.

All the arty types I knew had been.

“Did you do that?”

I asked him the next time he tried to carry my books.

He was blushing.

Well, he wasn’t my type, anyway. Also he was married with a new baby. Just like that photography teacher, the fact I was a student at college, he thought he could. That’s what it was like in 1982. Just like that Photography teacher, he thought he could. Because they controlled our grades. I don’t even remember his name, but I remember how scared I was that he would give me an F grade, that whole quarter.

He didn’t, and nothing ever happened beyond that because he was never a TA I saw again. Do they still even have TA’s? That was a Teaching Assistant job, because Ph.d’s got a job out at UCSB and they could have Married Student Housing, too. He lived in one of those.

Can you even imagine not being able to call my Dad with a thing like that?

I was only 22, and he was making movies guys like that TA were watching.

How creepy is that?

Walking to all my Art History classes meant, I had to walk by Art Studio classes. And that is where my heart longed to be. It really did. Every time I passed those classes I wished I was in there, instead. Mostly it was guys who were.

Well?

They told me I wasn’t going to be able to get a job unless I took Art History.
When you are just a young kid, you take advice from just about anyone. Including school counselors. I was around the coolest bunch of teachers, ever, out in the Art History Department, but I was jealous of the people in Studio. So, I started taking art classes in my spare time, just for fun, because in my town almost everyone is an artist. In one form or another. If I had gone to UCSB straight out of High School right after all the art teachers I had, had in town? My whole life would have gone differently.

But the places you will go, the things you will do?

Nobody knows what those are at 22.

You can think you know, but probably not.

The paths we take in life are ever evolving.

That’s how I met Hacker.

Those sculptures of his were the most monumental things I had ever seen. He was older than me, too, and he was living where the Alhecama Theatre was, in some kind of tiny little room where he was sleeping on a foam pad. His face was craggy like a boxer’s, like he had been through everything on earth. He’s the one who was washing dishes at the Paradise. All of us were working our way through college, except Jim. All of us had taken so many paths in life.

I was a girl who was studying Art History with her own studio apartment.

He must have thought it was Paradise.

In those days I cooked for my friends who dropped by, and they were always hungry. Like Jim and Stevie B. My first big pans were speckled enamel, and I got them at the market where they had displays of pans you could get. Mine were black with white speckles.

Spend $30 and you could get a pan for $1.

Something like that.

Suddenly I had my first pans, my first tiny kitchen, and my first herbs, growing on my balcony. Suddenly I planted my first roses. I had four of them in pots out there. I think my place must have been Paradise for the men I let sleep there, in those days.

I was in the process of growing up.

It’s not the easiest thing in the world to do, let me tell you.

During that time, I met a man who couldn’t. It was a first for me, as I thought men were all the same. They aren’t.

They are just as different as women are.

The first time that happened I didn’t know what to do.

I was lying under him, and he apologized.

I remember I put my arms around him and hugged him, and whispered, “It’s okay.”

Then I got up, put on my kimono, and said, “Let’s have dinner.”

I guess for me, feeding people that need it?

Well, that was going to become something I would get to be good at.

Sometimes your life might not have anything to do with what you declare as a major in college.

Maybe your life will be “Cioppino for all.”

Copyight 2021, November 7th by Adrienne Wilson – all rights reserved