Another Year Older and Deeper in Debt: A Shift in the Barbie Paradigm


No one growing up during the upbeat, Mattel-directed Sixties figures they’ll be worse off in middle age, forced to scrounge harder for work, buy less, live smaller.

Those Barbie songs my sister and I sang along to in our pink and green room constituted teenage visions of a supercalifragelistic future that we owned, co-starring Dick Van Dyke, four kids, a shiny Lincoln and full-service yacht.

“Here’s a cake, that you and I can make, I’ll share the recipe, if you say yes to me.”

But due to the recession and soaring costs of raising two girls in the city, I’m singing a different tune today on my birthday. Sure, I married Ken, but where are the other Camelot conquests I was guaranteed?

Gone is the wine country home, jaunts to spas on a whim, the black velvet boxes concealing gems he bought for me with cash from cases he settled.

Despite the unexpected Barbie plot twist, I can’t help but feel a deep sense of gratitude as I take inventory of what I do have.

For instance, I spotted a gold necklace on Fillmore Street with a round charm that that bore the words I am completely blessed. I didn’t dare buy the $600 trinket but I have kept the affirmation close to my heart.

So, I’ve decided to count my blessings today (my colleague Sarah Irani should know that quite a few of them came free!). Here are a whopping 50, plus one for good luck.

oscars 2009 050

I am completely blessed because…

1. I birthed two healthy, spectacular daughters who teach me something new each day.

2. I married a great father.

3.  I follow my bliss every day that I write.

4. My girls are strapping amazons because God gave me super human breast milk.

5. I’m surrounded by friends who are like family.

6.   My mother is still around and down to just one biting criticism of me a day.

7. I am never hungry when I don’t want to be.

8. We live without war in the  streets of San Francisco.

9. I have not been killed by a truck like my brother.

10. My religious faith has connected me to a community of fellow yentas to grow old with.

11. My older sister is an exceptional auntie.

12. My older brother is keeping the family business afloat during rocky times.

13. My pug and cat think I’m their mommy and I am.

14. I married father nature.

15. I’m healthy and strong from exercise and can climb the fence when I get locked out.

16. The builder’s daughter has always had a roof over her head.

17. I have commercial-free TV.

18. I have art on my walls from friends who made it.

19. I have memorized dozens of bedtime songs.

20. My daughters sing the songs I have sung to them.

21. My children are known for being creative and kind.

22. My beloved camera almost always works.

23. My children can read and write and like to do both.

24. My children make me exquisite birthday presents and set a regal table with a tiara at my place.

25. I can walk to the movie theater on Saturday nights.

26. No one at the theater asks me if I want the senior discount.

27. My city has excellent public transportation.

28. I can still see very well when I wear magnified lenses.

29. My mom, who unloads much, has kept her box at the iconic Hollywood Bowl.

30. My children get to use the box at the Hollywood Bowl and hear live music.

31. No menopause yet.

32. Menopause will come sooner or later.

33. I think I’ve seen god.

34. I think god is the miracle of birth.

35. I have learned how to kayak.

36. I have learned Italian.

37. Henna makes me higher than jewelry.

38. I married a great teacher.

39. My husband rarely spends money. When he does, it is on books and candy.

40. I have kept my commitments.

41. I’m in a bad girls book club.

42. My book club is all about the food.

43. Decent chick flicks are still being made, i.e. Julie and Julia.

44. I can grow vegetables in my yard to make soup.

45. I can pick flowers in my yard for table bouquets.

46. I can find stylish Sixties-inspired fashion on sale.

47. My Weight Watchers Guru is a Stanford Nutritionist.

48. I have gained the wisdom to see my own culpability.

49. I was born a healthy female in a rich land.

50. I’m a survivor because my Polish grandparents were survivors.

51. Today is my 51st birthday.

Main image: Sparkleneeley

Second image: Luanne Bradley

This is the fourth in Luanne’s new lifestyle column, Life in the Green Lane.

Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.