Russian Nesting Dolls

Babe in Toyland: Freelance Friday

I spent way too much time second-guessing the “Babe” part of “Babe in Toyland,” because I felt like that implied I was CALLING myself a babe, but let me tell you what happens when you think too much, guys. You miss a whole week. And we have WASTED ENOUGH TIME AS IT IS.

First, though, let’s waste a little bit more on a quick follow-up from two weeks ago. I made it through the 14-day-post-shot blues, and am fully vaccinated and liberated. This means I still wear a mask in public, but feel like I can breathe better than ever nonetheless.

Now, on with the show.

The past month has actually been busy as all hell, which was a fun and completely foreign feeling from the 13 months prior. I’ve had three jobs, and learned a whole lot in the meantime (sometimes against my will).

One of the three jobs, though, has taught me more in four weeks than any other job has taught me in idk, like four months probably. The gig, writing for a company that specializes in sweet, sweet merch, coveted and purchased by fans who occupy a whole separate realm of the world than I’ve ever experienced, has provided great lessons, mainly in how much I don’t know about collectibles. While I have spent a lot of the time feeling not worthy of the position, I’ve also become more comfortable with who I really am.

To be fair, this was stuff I was already thinking about after the year of my parents’ downsizing, when I realized that I was far more attached to my childhood things than I thought. These childhood things came back into my life when we were reunited last summer, and I’ve been a babe in toyland ever since, a truth that became uncomfortably clear when Josh was playing poker with his friends a few weeks ago and I stayed home alone and watched four movies with Holly Hobbie next to me like we were best friends having a slumber party, because we were.

(I maintain that I had more fun that night than he did, no matter what he thinks.)

When I was transforming our laundry room/pantry into my office/gym/laundry room/pantry a few months ago, and could fill and decorate the space with anything I chose, the central focuses became pieces that had brought me decades of comfort, jauntily displayed on white walls and shelves as pops of both color and culture: my American Gladiator mug. A musical jewelry box with a lid that opens to reveal a ballerina who still spins, decades later. My Fisher Price record player, a picture of me receiving it on Christmas 1981 attached under the cover (because my parents, bless them, kept everything). My Russian nesting dolls and miniature wind-up robot boi.

What is this? I’m intrigued regardless.

The thing is, as a friend of mine recently Tweeted, we spend our adult lives trying to buy back the freedom of our childhoods. (He said it way better, but that was the sentiment.) There’s something instantly comforting about the sight or memory of something that takes us to a simpler time. It’s why those unexpected finds elicit such joy, whether those are photo albums or worn blankets.

And it’s why a company that specializes in new variants of collectibles from decades past is beloved by so many. As James Earl Jones’ Terrence Mann points out in Field of Dreams:

They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past…[they’ll] pass over the money without even thinking about it.

For it is money they have and peace they lack.

Terrence Mann, “People will Come,” Field of Dreams

So, while I don’t feel that this Babe in Toyland is prepared to write adequate copy for super fans of all things 80s culture, I also get where they’re coming from with their fervor.

Comfort, after all, is worth a hell of a lot.


I start every day vowing to become healthier and end every day by zeroing out my fridge.
That's the kind of self-sabotage that forms the core of my being.
You know what I'm good at, though? Spinning words into a magical skein that envelopes you in success. Let's talk about that first, and if snacks end up happening, so be it.

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