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Postcards from Travel Near and Far by Jia-Rui

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08055, Medford — Goodbye, Old Fads


Maybe I didn’t have a set of Multiples and I thought my parents were holding me back from being really in style. But a lot of the crap in my old room showed that I couldn’t really get away from some of the fads.

Fad 1: Cabbage Patch Kids and Popples

I’d say, except for the Cabbage Patch Kids and Popple, these stuffed animals could be in any grubby little kid’s room these days. I had three Cabbage Patch Kids that I adored: Adela, Lyda and Adam. I kept the adoption papers that came with them and the “one-year birthday” card the Cabbage Patch folks sent. You’ll notice there’s a poor man’s Cabbage Patch knock-off, too, on the upper right. And then there’s the green Popple, the Murphy bed of stuffed animals: the creature that folds into its own pouch. Remember how they even had their own TV show?


Fad 2: Trophies and Awards for Just Showing up

OK, I actually earned a few of these — I think I bowled a 135 in 5th grade to get a “High Score” trophy and the first year our high school had a girls’ volleyball team in 1994, we tied for first in our division. But then again, every year I did after-school bowling at elementary school, I got a trophy. Every year I played pee-wee soccer, I got a trophy. Every year I played in the band, I got a certificate of participation. And now what do I do with trophies? You can’t donate them because why would someone else want this awkwardly-shaped object with your name on it? They’re probably not even salvageable for the marble they’re screwed into. I was sad throwing these out, but I was actually even sadder when my dad threw away the trophies he won at company ping-pong and tennis tournaments and the plaques he got for a good job at work. It felt as if he was throwing away all the hard work he did at the office and on the courts. I joked with him, “Do you feel less important now?” He shrugged — there was no difference for him between the moment before and the moment after.

Prom dress IMG_2798

Fad 3: Velvet Party Dresses

That all-black dress is my senior prom dress. I even wore it in June because I loved velvet so much. The purple polka-dot dress is the first “party” dress I got as a 12-year-old. I think I wore it once, to a wedding. But man did I feel special matching it with a scrunchie and doing a Molly Ringwald-inspired dance.

Sigh. All of that is going now to Goodwill, where someone is going to find the right goods to make  a banging 1980s Halloween get-up.

Today’s random bonus is drawings from my tween years. Glamour apparently meant crazy eye make-up, fingerless gloves, jumpsuits and side ponytails. This is how I really wanted to dress if my parents let me.

Fashion! IMG_2819 IMG_2810  


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08055, Medford

Snow blanketing my parents' backyard

Dear ——–,

We went back to New Jersey for Christmas, leaving on a Christmas-night red eye since that was the cheapest thing to do.* We arrived in Philadelphia just before the snow started to fall, which turned out to be lucky since it made roads all over the northeast very treacherous. We napped during the thickest part of the storm, leisurely leafed through the newspaper when we got up and spent the rest of the evening watching football on TV. The snow didn’t seem so bad to us, but I guess it was that we had nowhere to go. We spent the next morning with the snowblower, which, let me tell you, has to be one of the most back-saving inventions ever made. After digging out the driveway, we went looking for deals at the Cherry Hill Mall. The place had been remodeled since I’d last been there and it spooked me a little not to know my way around. Whenever I go back to visit my parents, it feels a little like learning how to ride a bike all over again. I have to ask for a reminder of how to get to Route 70 and where the supermarket is. I have to relearn the house alarm code. It’s gotten to the point where going to visit my parents doesn’t feel like going home anymore.

*I know it’s been a while since I’ve written a postcard. I blame travel during the holidays and the backlog of work to do. I’ll be playing catch up in the next few posts.