Tag Archive: Habitat for Humanity ReStore


Barbie postBarbie
Barbie is the new B word, says one of my Sunday School kids
Stupid doll
She gives us the wrong impression, another girl says.
Barbie is the new B word
Even the boys were getting into it
Because she’s not real, one boy says
Nobody likes Barbie

I raised my hand, even though I’m the teacher
I love Barbie, I declare
They all stop what they’re doing
And eight pairs of 2nd and 3rd grade eyes stare at me
I didn’t back down

My teachermate, Miss Jennifer, tried to pull me aside,
Saying something about social injustice,
but I was about to defend my childhood,
and nothing could stop me now.
I put down the 10 commandments I’d been working on, stood up, and I said:

My sister and I had tons of Barbies. The older Barbies were in a gang and they were always trying to corrupt the good, new Barbies. I’ll give you Skipper, though. She was useless. Her arms didn’t even bend.

One year, I got a Barbie play house for Christmas and my Dad didn’t want to put it together right away after all the presents, so I got the tools and I put it together. It was in three sections, two stories, and I built it myself. It was glorious!

The French doors never worked right, but the elevator did.

My sister had a cowgirl Barbie who would wink at you if you pressed a button on her back, so we called her Winker Barbie and she was the leader of the rabble gang. Winker had really nasty hair because my sister tried to use the curling iron on it. The rest of the gang was made up of Barbies who had experimental haircuts and whose heads we sometimes switched.

Winker and her gang were notorious for launching attacks on the Barbie Mansion, where the new and pretty sorority Barbies lived in harmony, ‘cause they hadn’t lost any limbs yet. The usual attack would come when the Mansion Barbies were throwing a party and security got lax. And sometimes, Winker would team up with the Transformers and it would be Winker and the airplanes against Optimus Prime and the Mansion Barbies, good vs. evil-style over the Barbie Mansion, the last ally stronghold.

Sometimes Winker won, and Ken would drive the Barbie Mobile into the Mansion and the pretty Barbies would be thrown out of the house. (Ken always changed sides, depending on who had the better chance of winning the Mansion.)

Winker and the gang would redecorate with alphabet blocks and tacky popsicle stick furniture instead of the posh couches and appliances the Mansion Barbies had.

After most battles, though, good would prevail and the Mansion Barbies would triumph with a tea party and the Bambi creatures from the McDonald’s Happy Meal would come over.

Over time, many, many battles were waged, there were arms and legs piled high in the Mansion yard, which was the orange carpet of my bedroom, and heads would have to be switched.

But one day, the My Little Ponies attacked, and Winker and her band of merry thugs formed an alliance with the Mansion Barbies, and it was only through Winker’s fast moves in the Daisy Duke jeep, luring the Ponies into firing range of GI Joe’s missiles, that the Mansion Barbies ever had a chance. Winker’s quick thinking was the only thing that saved the Mansion Barbies. That and her friendship with GI Joe.

The alliance held. After that epic battle, which was the final battle, Winker and the thugs got to live in the house together with the Mansion Barbies.

The Mansion Barbies fixed Winker’s rat nest hair, and Winker taught them all self-defense.

Launch yourself into better imaginings, I told the kids.

The problem is not Barbie’s waist-to-boob ratio. It never was.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing


Hunting the Proper Word

photo-3I’m currently working on some sonnets for a reading I’ve been invited to do on Tuesday. Some of you already know this because I’ve hit you up for some words. Thank you for your indulgence. And to the person who sent in “ooze,” a very special thanks. That’s a good one.

Sonnet-writing is a great exercise in finding the exact right word for the job. I’m constantly seeking out differing syllables and stresses in addition to latching onto a word for its meaning. In daily thought or tuning in to the news or even in overhearing a conversation in a restaurant, I find myself listening to language with a specific intent: to find words that work well in iambic pentameter because of their rhythm and rhyme.

And it amazes me that for every sonnet, I get about a half page of “salvage” language. I personally don’t believe in throwing language away, though I’ve heard some writers do. So, what I have now is all these snippets of iambic pentameter hanging out in a document together, waiting for something to be done with them. Here’s a favorite: They never wanted entry to the fray, and another: The time inside the bundles of your mind.

Salvage is salvage. Years ago, when doing major remodeling on my little house, I spent a lot of time at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Winona. (I love that place—an entire store filled with fixtures and furniture salvaged from old houses, and offered at affordable prices if you do some cleanup work.) When walking through that store every weekend, I found myself picking things up and saying, “Where would I put this?” because it was never a matter of if I needed that blue toilet, 12-bulb chandelier, 14-foot arch-topped French doors (they had three sets, bigger than my house!), but for me, it was only a matter of where I needed these things.

In sonnet-writing, I find myself thinking of words and saying, “Oh, that’s a good one. Where will I put it?” Because it’s never a matter of if I need the word, it’s a matter of where I need it.

Listen to language. You might have to move around a bit to find something worth listening to, but it’s out there. And it’s our job to do something great with it. Happy hunting, friends.

My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’ll sign it for you.

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