Friday, August 27, 2010

Letter to the Editor

I will never forget the first time I was published.

In 1979 I was 8 years old and had a mad crush on Shaun Cassidy. I don’t remember how this crush began, (I am thinking it had to do with my steady reading of Tiger Beat Magazine), but the next thing I knew I was listening to his LP’s (Da Doo Ron Ron), wearing his tshirts, and hanging up his posters.

But like most crushes at 8 years old, it was fleeting. Eventually I found out that many of Shaun Cassidy’s musical “hits” were nothing more than covers of other artists. Now a typical 8 year old probably wouldn’t care about this sort of thing, but I grew up in a house filled with my father’s record collection of mostly “Oldies But Goodies” and it didn’t take long until I put two and two together. I was ashamed I had settled for a cheaper version of a song. Shame shame on Shaun Cassidy and the Tiger Beat machine! In disgust, I stopped reading the magazine all together. I quit cold turkey.

When I turned 10 years old, I was having my usual supermarket ritual with my mom one day. As always, we separated, while she roamed the aisles for food and I checked out the magazine section. Like a moth to a flame, I was drawn in to my old stomping grounds and picked up the latest issue of Tiger Beat magazine. Old habits die hard, but this time there was a new crush in town, and I developed a new addiction. I wrote a letter to the editor. A few issues later, I walked back into that same supermarket with my mom, picked up the July 1981 issue and found my letter published:
Wild For Him

When I was 8 years old, I was in love with Shaun Cassidy, but the time finally came when I had enough of him. What happened? I guess I changed a bit. Then I stopped buying TiGER beat. When I turned 10, I saw TiGER beat on the newsstand so I picked it up and flipped through the pages. Guess what happened? I went wild for Matt Dillon! Comparing Matt with Shaun, Shaun was nothing.

Theresa Donahoe
Martinez, CA

I squealed with joy! (Never mind the insensitivity of calling Shaun Cassidy “nothing”)

“Mom! Mom! They printed my letter!” I found her quickly and we bought the magazine. I was so proud. And then in true 10 year old fashion, I quickly got over it and I was over Matt Dillon.

I must have thrown out that magazine when I discovered boys in real time, boys who were not part of a fantasy life. I stopped buying pre-teen magazines all together and focused on boys that were in front of me.

It wasn’t until January 2003, at the age of 32, where I started to wonder what ever happened to that particular issue of Tiger Beat Magazine. The internet had been around for a little while, so I started snooping on Ebay for back issues of teen periodicals. My investigative skills were out and I was on a mission.

I dug threw many listings of magazine nostalgia sellers. I couldn’t remember what specific issue carried my letter, so I started emailing sellers who had copies of Tiger Beat in 1981, because I remembered I had written the phrase, “When I turned 10” and I remembered that it had been many months after my November birthday, when I discovered my published letter.

After some heavy research, a woman named Linda from Connecticut, responded to my inquiry and emailed me back. “I found it!” she wrote. She found my letter to the editor in the magazine and sold me her copy. When I received it in the mail, it was in mint condition. Reunited and it felt so good.

Never, ever, will I throw you out again, Tiger Beat Magazine.


Theresa Donahoe, 39 years old.
Oakland, CA

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hey, That Was My Idea!

In doing some late bloomer research, I was a little overwhelmed how many creative projects have used the words "Late Bloomer".

"Hey!" I thought at first, "that was MY idea.."

Well, SORT OF my idea....

The Late Bloomer's Revolution

Movie based on book:

and then there was...

(Hmmmm, not really my idea)

and of course the....

and then the proverbial.....


At lastly I stumbled upon....

(Men can bloom late also)

Movie based on book:

Oh, this is going to be fun. I am not worried though. My story is unique.

And that's all I will say about that.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Back To School?

Thornton Melon: Boy, what a great-looking place. When I used to dream about going to college, this is the way I always pictured it.

Jason Melon: Wait a minute. When did you dream about going to college?

Thornton Melon: When I used to fall asleep in high school.

- Rodney Dangerfield as the middle aged college freshman, Thornton Melon, in the 1986 movie "Back To School".

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

In 1988, during my senior year at Alhambra High school in Martinez, California, I sat in the front row of my Government/History class with my head down while my big permed 80's locks of hair dangled over the desk.

Mr. Jameison, the long haired, ex- hippie, Grateful Dead Fan and extremely patient history teacher kneeled in front of me and came down to my level and looked at this blasé, blue and gold dressed cheerleader while I attempted to take a nap during his class.

"Please listen. Someday you will actually want to know this stuff when you get older."

I didn't believe him.

"Don't bother me," I thought, "I'm sleeping."

You see, I already had big plans for the future. I had a pep rally to go to. And then I had a football game to attend. And then I had the dance to think about after. What did I need a lesson in Government or History for? Why did something that happened a billion years ago matter to my life now?

And I rarely studied.

Diane: Don't you ever read?

Thornton Melon: Read. Who has time? I see the movie. I'm in and out in two hours.

Fast forward to 2001. My pom poms were long gone and it was the year the World Trade Center was bombed by two airplanes. I was cat-sitting in an apartment that was located a half hour West from my hometown in the Oakland/Berkeley area. History was being made. Big words and deep thought were being tossed around. People spoke differently on the other side of the Caldecott tunnel. This tunnel separated my native suburbia from intellectual and politically correct urbia. I can't say I knew what the heck people were talking about half the time, but I wanted to.

Toto, we are no longer in Kansas.

I decided I wanted to become part of the dialogue. The dialogue of what was happening in the world, and, well, ... life. Like the late Mr. Jameison, may he rest in peace, said to me all those years ago, I did finally want to "know this stuff."

I had never finished college, for many reasons, and here I was now, in 2010, perhaps having my first "mid life crisis" as I contemplated all the decisions to be made if I chose to go back to school.

What would I major in? I have many interests.

"I say you should throw history in the hat," my friend Peggy told me one night after coming out of a movie theatre. As someone who has permission to view my Netflix queue, she has seen the growing list of documentaries on the aftermath of WWII and "The Rise and Fall of Communism."

"I don't know," I said, "it's really just a hobby."

Another friend suggested theatre arts, which is, by default, an obvious choice in some ways.

"But I really want to develop on my writing," I tell him, "not that I don't love acting...."

And how would I pay for it? I didn't want to be up to my neck in student loans if I couldn't ever pay them back with an artsy fartsy degree which qualified me for nothing but bragging rights.

"You can check the 'over forty' box when applying," my friend Cynthia informed me.

"I don't turn forty till November! What are you doing to me? Pushing me over to the other side of the hill already?" I spouted.

Is it true? Do they give more money to more "mature" returning students?

I was feeling overwhelmed.

My parents didn't finish college either. In fact, no one in my immediate family has, so does this mean I can check the "first member of the family to go to college" box? Can that also be part of my sob story? Don't Universities love a good sob story?

"In those days," my mother told me, "women did not have choices. We were not encouraged to pursue a career. We were supposed to get married and have children because that's what you did."

And when my father's grades were not the best in high school, he was told by a counselor to "not waste his parents' money by going to college."

So where does that leave me?

I emailed the head of the English Department at Berkeley City College and inquired, "how does one pursue creative non-fiction writing without having to read 18th century literature?"

She replied back notifying me of her office hours.

To be continued....