Friday, January 27, 2017

Kaley's Story (unidentified tanned blond Barbie)

What's up blogosphere? I'm Kaley. That's what Treesa calls me anyway. Treesa's my second owner. My first owner didn't call me anything, but she was a way more ambitious doll hair stylist than Treesa. My first owner wasn't afraid to try out different hairdos on me. I had my share of hair don'ts when I lived with her, but if she didn't like the way something looked she'd just take it out and start over. I guess that's why my hair's so fried. But if my first owner hadn't been so hair crazy, I wouldn't have ended up with Treesa.

Treesa said she noticed me at that thrift store because of my hairstyle. Let's face it, blond Barbies are a dime a dozen. But when Treesa first saw me, my hair was still in the fancy braid my first owner left it in. She had started out by braiding the front on one side, then she'd sort of worked the hair around into a large braid at the back. Treesa liked it, so she bought me. But when she got me home she realized just how frizzy my hair was. And I had a bad case of split ends. Treesa wanted to save my braid. But there were just too many stray ends sticking out so she ended up having to undo it and didn't know how to put it back in again. Maybe if she'd taken a picture of what my hair looked like before it would've helped, but Treesa didn't think of that.

Treesa named me Kaley because I reminded her of actress Kaley Cuoco. I'm not sure why I reminded her of Kaley Cuoco. I asked Treesa about it, but she's not sure why I reminded her of Kaley Cuoco either. Treesa was going to name me Penny, after Kaley Cuoco's character from The Big Bang Theory. Treesa's mom likes that show. Then Treesa remembered she already has a Penny Brite doll named Penny.

I'm ok with Kaley though. At least it's a real name and not something Treesa made up. A lot of Treesa's dolls have names that don't really sound like names. At least Dandelion has an excuse. Her name came from the factory, not Treesa.

It's alright here. It's crowded, and a little messy. Treesa has a little trouble keeping things organized because let's face it, she just has too much stuff. But it's still better than that thrift store. Actually, crowded and messy makes it sound a lot like that thrift store. But at least there's enough doll clothes here to go around. A lot of the dolls at that thrift store were nude. Awkward!

So, I guess that's it. Sorry, my life's kind of boring right now. But if I get into any crazy adventures I'll let you know.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Raven's Story: Third Installment (Silken Flame Barbie reproduction, brunette)

(I apologize for the delay in posting this. I will be continuing my story from the point where I left off. Thank you for your patience.)

I was still walking at this point, my eyes cast down, too lost in my thoughts to really pay attention to where I was going. Considering the size of Treesa's collection, I suppose it was inevitable that I collided with another doll. "I'm so sorry," I apologized out of common courtesy before I'd even looked up to see who I'd collided with. When I did look up I saw that the doll in question had long black hair, an 'Asian' style head mold, and an outfit that had obviously been pieced together. 'A common playline doll,' I thought out of habit.

But the doll's voice was soft and pleasant as she spoke to me. First she pardoned me for my role in the collision. Then she looked at me for a moment and said, "I don't think we've met before. Do you have a name?"

"Raven," I told her.

"My name is Nokia," she said.


Despite my long held opinions regarding 'common' playline dolls, even I had to admit that Nokia seemed polite and composed as well as friendly. When Dandelion had initially arrived in her first and my second owner's collection she had been, in my opinion, a little too eager in her attempts to make friends. I understood that she was a young doll, just out of her box, experiencing the larger world for the first time. But still, there was such a thing as decorum. Dandelion's idea of 'personal space' also hadn't been quite the same as mine.

Just then, Nokia and I both heard a male doll's voice calling Nokia's name from across the room. Nokia smiled as she turned her head towards the voice. I followed her gaze and saw a dark haired male doll dressed in casual clothes. He crossed the room to where we stood and spoke to Nokia.

"Sorry," he said with a smile. "I guess I still have trouble keeping up with you sometimes." Nokia laughed. Her laughter wasn't like the tittering giggles I've heard come from some female dolls, the sound of which has always irritated me. Nor was it like the loud, snorting laughter that I've always thought was so unladylike coming from a female doll. Nokia's laugh had a delightful, musical sound to it, a sound that I knew I'd never be able to replicate. They say that practice makes perfect, and I've never been one to laugh often.

The male doll's eyes seemed to sparkle when he heard Nokia laugh. Then Nokia turned back to me. "Raven, I'd like you to meet Jimmy," she said.


The male doll, Jimmy, extended his hand and said, "Nice to meet you, Raven." I shook his hand once, politely, then let go. This must've seemed odd to Jimmy because he looked slightly puzzled afterwards. Perhaps he wasn't used to such a formal handshake. I've known many dolls who are much more vigorous when it comes to shaking hands. Then Jimmy shrugged and turned his attention back to Nokia.

"Did you find the book you wanted?" he asked. Nokia shook her head. "No, I didn't see it in the bookcase," she said. "But it might be on Treesa's bed. It is one of her favorites."

Jimmy smiled and said, "Do you want me to climb up there and check?" Then I saw a hint of mischief in his eyes before he added, "Or maybe we should both climb up. If the book's not there we could borrow one of Treesa's blankets and just sit for a while, maybe catch up with some of the 18 inchers." 
Nokia laughed again. "It's too warm inside to be cuddling under blankets," she said. Then after glancing in my direction she added, "And I was already talking to someone."

Jimmy looked embarrassed, as if he'd forgotten I was there. Then he quickly apologized. "Sorry for butting in," he said. Jimmy then turned back to Nokia and added, "I'll go look for the book. That'll give you and Raven time to talk."

"You could join us," Nokia suggested. She turned and asked me, "Do you mind if Jimmy stays?"

The fact that Nokia was considerate enough to let me make the final decision bolstered my positive opinion of her. I felt it was only right to try and be gracious in return, despite the fact that Jimmy hadn't made quite as good of a first impression as Nokia had. Jimmy wasn't the type of doll I typically would have chosen to be friends with. There seemed to be a 'laid back' aspect to Jimmy's personality that I normally would have associated with carelessness. However it was obvious to me that Jimmy and Nokia were very close, and I didn't want to upset Nokia by slighting her friend. So I answered Nokia's question with a shake of my head.
Jimmy looked bemused and asked, "Is that 'no, I can't stay' or 'no, you don't mind'?"
"I don't mind if you stay," I said. I had to admit I was rather curious about Jimmy's and Nokia's relationship, in spite of myself. I wondered how long they had been together to build up the kind of rapport that they obviously had. I also wondered why they would attempt to befriend me when they knew absolutely nothing about me.

Nokia first asked if I had been there long. I explained that Treesa had had me stored in a box for quite a long time. Both Nokia and Jimmy were very sympathetic to my situation. They talked about their time confined in a storage crate, and how it had led to their close relationship. Despite some sappy moments, Nokia and Jimmy were mostly able to stick to the facts when sharing their story with me. They didn't constantly interrupt each other either. Nokia agreed to let Jimmy tell the story, and when he had finished he asked, "Did I miss anything?" Only then did Nokia add a few details that she felt were important.

It puzzled me at first that Nokia would agree to Jimmy's offer to tell their story, in a way deferring to him when earlier on it had seemed to me that Jimmy was the one deferring to Nokia's wishes. That's when I realized that Jimmy and Nokia shared something truly special, an equal balance of power in their relationship. Neither one felt the need to constantly be in charge, to 'wear the pants' in the relationship as they say. And both of them were willing to compromise in order to make each other happy.

I learned a lot that day. I learned about Jimmy and Nokia's past, but I also learned a valuable lesson about life in general. I learned that if I gave other dolls a chance, regardless of whether they were common or collectable, I might be pleasantly surprised. Since that day I've met many other dolls, from many different backgrounds, and I've done my best to be more inclusive, more accepting. I would like to say that I've been completely reformed, and that my previously snobbish behavior is now all in the past. Unfortunately, one and a half decades of ingrained beliefs are difficult to overcome all at once, and sometimes it's been a struggle not to give in to my old ways of thinking. (The words 'common playline doll' still pass through my mind more frequently than I'd like to admit.) But I've learned a saying that has helped me to hold my tongue when I feel the urge to criticize or 'instruct' others: if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. I try to think of this phrase before I speak, and to ask myself how the doll I'm speaking to would react to my words. Would they be grateful for my input, or would they think I was being unkind? I've also apologized to a number of dolls for my previous behavior, including Dandelion, though I doubt a simple apology will ever be enough to change Dandelion's opinion of me.

I'd like to thank you for reading my contribution to Treesa's blogging project. I'd also like to apologize for the combined length of these posts. When I first sat down to write, I didn't realize I would have quite this much to say.

Quote The Raven

Monday, January 9, 2017

Raven's Story: Second Installment (Silken Flame Barbie reproduction, brunette)

(I'm going to continue my story where I left off the other day. I've reread the first 'installment' to put me in the proper frame of mind. If you have not read the previous post, please do so to avoid confusion. Thank you.)

Not knowing what else to do I waited to learn my fate...and waited...and waited. At the time I was sharing a box with Tish, a Nite Lightning Stacey reproduction that Treesa had received as a Christmas present one year.

It'd been a while since Treesa had even opened the box. In fact, the only reason I'd known about Sable at all was because Treesa had wanted to compare us side by side. Afterwards I'd been put back in the box with Tish, and the two of us had been there ever since.

I lost track of time inside the box, and I wondered if Treesa had forgotten all about me. Then one day someone knocked on the box lid. "Anybody in there?" a voice called. I could tell that the knock and the voice weren't loud enough to have come from a human. Tish must've realized this also because she answered the voice, letting whoever it was know that we were there.

"Push up on the lid," the voice said. "I'll work it from this side." Tish shoved at the lid with all her strength. I helped as much as I could, for Tish's sake. It was clear that Tish desperately wanted to get out of that box but during our confinement I'd fallen into a depressed state of mind, so much so that I had difficulty building enthusiasm for anything.

Finally the inside of our prison was flooded with sunlight as the lid rose off the box and was shoved aside. Standing just outside the box was a doll I'd never met before named Halle. She'd been checking to see if 'anyone was home' because Treesa had begun communicating with her dolls, and Halle was trying to spread this information to every doll in the collection. I thanked Halle politely, but told her that I didn't expect to be there much longer, now that Treesa had Sable. I was so depressed that I couldn't even summon the energy to leave the box, now that Tish and I were freed. Halle tried to coax me out, but she eventually gave up. Still Halle didn't forget about me. If what I heard after the fact was true, she gave Treesa an earful when she saw her next.

All I know for sure is that Treesa came to see me soon afterwards. "I'm so sorry, Raven," she apologized. "I had no idea you were so worried! I want you to know you've got nothing to worry about. I remember how long it took me to find a doll like you that I could afford and I'm not getting rid of you."

I didn't say anything. Treesa's explanation for why she was keeping me sounded a little hollow to my ears. It sounded as though she was keeping me because she felt obligated, rather than because I appealed to her as a collector's item. And despite Halle's reassurances that Treesa knew we were alive I didn't yet feel comfortable talking to a human.

When I didn't respond Treesa said, "It must be really stuffy in that box. I think you need some fresh air. It worked wonders for Tish." With that Treesa picked me up and brought me over to the window, leaving me sitting on the window sill. As I stared out the window, which looked out over Treesa's small backyard, I couldn't help but notice how blue the sky was. It reminded me of that day at the flea market, of lying in a cardboard box with the rest of the dolls in my first and second owners' collections and staring up at the sky. Some of the other dolls had been nervous and worried over what lay ahead, but I hadn't been at all concerned about my future. I'd felt certain that, as a reproduction doll, I was sure to attract only the best customers.

Now though I realized just how precarious my situation had been. My first owner had always been careful with me, because she'd been told to be. Her sister, my second owner, was basically the same. But I knew from observing my previous owners' friends that not all children were that careful. I could very easily have been bought by a careless child, the kind of child who would accidentally damage her dolls by treating them too roughly.

Just then I heard the sounds of cheerful laughter coming from somewhere nearby. I turned my head and saw Tish, chatting with a soldier action figure I'd never seen before. At the time I was amazed that Tish had managed to make a new friend so quickly. But then, Tish has always been outgoing. When Treesa first put me in Tish's box, Tish had immediately tried to engage me in conversation. But she'd quickly realized that we had few shared interests. I realize now that my superiority complex must've made me a rather boring conversationalist.

In any case, Tish had been speaking to me less frequently as time passed. When she had spoken, she'd sounded as though she was talking more to herself than to me. At the time I'd thought that something was going wrong inside her head, and that she was slowly losing her mind. I'd heard that being in an enclosed space for an extended period of time could do that to a doll. Of course, I'd thought I was immune to such things. I'd also been convinced that responding to Tish's random statements would only fuel her madness. So I'd stopped speaking to her, thinking I was doing her a favor. Then I'd learned about Sable, and my own mental state had quickly deteriorated.

As I came closer to where Tish was standing and overheard her talking to her new action figure friend, whose name I later found out was Joe, I learned just how much my lack of response had affected Tish. She basically said how relieved she was to be speaking to someone again. She mentioned how, when she'd first met me, she'd wished she didn't have to listen to me drone on about the higher standards of reproduction dolls. Then, when I'd stopped answering her, she'd wished that I would say something, anything, just so she could hear a voice besides her own.

I quietly left before I could hear anymore. It was a shock discovering what Tish really thought of me and my actions. After what I'd just learned my decision to stop speaking to Tish seemed cruel. Soon I began thinking of the other dolls I knew. I wondered if they all saw me the way Tish did. Had I harmed others with my narrow mindset, the way I'd harmed Tish?

I thought of Vesper Holly, and how she'd reacted to being separated from her family. Had I been insensitive by not offering her emotional support? Granted I've always been rather stoic by nature, and I had expected the same from those around me. The quickest way for a doll to lose my respect was with any kind of excessive 'emotional display'. It didn't matter to me what the emotion was. In my mind an excessive outpouring of joy was as much a sign of weakness as giving way to tears. I believed that a doll of good character must appear composed at all times. But then, keeping up appearances comes at a price. In my case, the price was severe depression that resulted from an inability to address my feelings of fear and rejection. I wondered if Vesper Holly had ended up in a similar state because of my behavior, or if another doll had managed to reach out to her the way I couldn't.

Then I thought of Dandelion. Her first owner had been my second owner, so she'd known me longer than any of Treesa's other dolls. When I'd first met Dandelion, I'd thought her lively personality was undignified, and had told her so. As I mentioned before, I myself had always tried to remain composed in any situation, at least outwardly. At the Time I'd thought that bringing what I'd seen as a character flaw to Dandelion's attention would help her improve herself. But Dandelion hadn't seen it that way, and she hadn't hesitated to tell me exactly what she'd thought of me. I was afraid to even imagine what she thought of me now that she'd had years to dwell on the subject.

I think that's when I really started to change. Before that moment I wouldn't have cared about the opinions of a 'common' playline doll like Dandelion. When she'd 'overreactred' to my 'helpful' critique all that time ago I certainly hadn't been prompted to reevaluate my position. I'd simply believed that she was being overly sensitive, and that she would come around once she realized I was right. But now I was seriously considering the possibility that my personal worldview may have negatively affected those around me, and a suspicion had been planted in my mind that perhaps my way of thinking was flawed.

(I'm going to have to pause my story again.  Treesa was supposed to take some additional photos for me, but apparently she never did.  She said it's been too overcast and that there hasn't been enough sunlight to take photos. I apologize for the interruption, and will post the rest as soon as I can.
Quote The Raven)

Friday, January 6, 2017

Raven's Story (Silken Flame Barbie reproduction, brunette)

The fear of being replaced is something that is unique to dolls. Humans don't really understand it. Treesa read those two sentences over my shoulder and said that that's not entirely true. The friend she gave Wedding Bells and Wedward to was replaced when her job was outsourced overseas. Treesa's friend has a new job now, but she went through some difficult times to get there. Treesa also said that there are plenty of stories in popular culture about men who replace their wives with younger, prettier women when they're going through a midlife crisis. She said there's even a term for the younger women - trophy wives.

I still believe that the fear of being replaced is more common in dolls than in humans, because dolls lives are mostly controlled by their owners. Humans have more opportunities to choose their own fate and make their own decisions. Now Treesa's saying that that's not entirely accurate either. She says that sadly for some humans it's almost impossible to change their circumstances, mostly due to lack of money or social status.

I managed to get Treesa out of the room by telling her that if she wants me to get anything posted, she needs to stop interrupting me. Only now I think I've lost my train of thought. I know where I want to go, but I forget what route I was going to take to get there. I suppose I'll have to go back to the beginning and start over.

My story started the way every other mass produced doll's story has started, in a factory. I'm the type of doll that's commonly known as a 'reproduction'. Sometimes the abbreviation 'repro' is used, mostly in online auction listings. What these terms mean is that I was designed to look like a doll that was manufactured in the past, and that I was mostly marketed to adult collectors. Although in my case, I was also marketed to adults who wanted that special little girl in their family to have a doll like the one they played with as children.

My first owner was one of these little girls. I was purchased for her as a gift when she was just an infant, so in the beginning I was kept in my box on a shelf. Eventually the day came when my first owner's parents decided she was 'responsible' enough to handle me. On that day I was taken out of my box and placed in my first owner's hands. She was very proud of the fact that her parents thought she was mature enough to be trusted with me. Then she added me to her assortment of playline dolls. When she became 'too old for dolls' we were passed down to her younger sister, our second owner. And when our second owner outgrew us we were all put in a cardboard box, along with a few other dolls that had only ever belonged to our second owner, and were then put in storage. After a few years in storage we were taken to a flea market.

If you've read Dandelion's first post, then you know what happened after that. Treesa and her sister were at the flea market. Treesa's sister saw the box first and brought Treesa over. Treesa pulled me out of the box, looked over the other dolls inside, and asked for a price. After she was told we were fifty cents each Treesa picked up a few other dolls along with me, including Dandelion.

When Dandelion said in her post that I was 'an attention getter' I think she was referring to the number of comments I attracted from the adults in my first, and second, owners' lives. Any relative or family friend who was old enough to recognize my vintage style head mold would, when they saw me, share stories of the dolls they had owned as children. Even younger adults who weren't familiar with Barbie history could see that I didn't look like the other dolls in the collection and would ask about me.

I'm sorry to say that all this attention went to my head. I began to think that being a reproduction doll made me better than the more 'common' playline dolls in my first and second owners' collections. The reality of course is that every doll is unique and special in her, or his own way. After all, every vintage doll that is now considered a collector's item started out as a playline doll.

My high opinion of myself remained even after Treesa bought me. In fact, it had been bolstered by the knowledge that Treesa had chosen me out of the box first. Though she hadn't said so out loud, it was clear to me that if we dolls had been more expensive then Treesa would've bought only me. And Treesa's then current practice of separating her reproduction dolls from her playline dolls also supported my inflated sense of importance.

Treesa's other reproduction dolls tolerated my ego. Francie (a 30th Anniversary Francie reproduction) has always been shy, so she never contradicted anything I said about the superiority of being a reproduction doll.


And Vesper Holly (a Cool Collecting Barbie made with the vintage style head mold) was still disappointed over Treesa's decision to separate her reproduction dolls from her then small collection of vintage dolls.

Vesper Holly

Vesper had been good friends with an older Mod era doll named Summer Sand, and had been helping look after Summer's baby boy KC. The three of them, Vesper and Summer and KC, had become a family of sorts. Vesper thought of Summer like a sister, and KC like a nephew. After Treesa separated them, Vesper missed her surrogate family terribly.

Summer Sand and KC

I'm sorry to say that I did little to comfort Vesper during this time. I don't think I truly understood her feelings, having never really had a doll family of my own.

For years I stubbornly held on to my own narrow view of the world. Then Treesa bought Sable at the thrift store.


Sable was what I could only pretend to be, a vintage brunette 'bubblecut' Barbie. That's when the fear of being replaced hit me in force. Over the years Treesa had acquired a number of second-hand reproduction dolls, but many of them had later been let go. Two of them had been given away to Treesa's mother. One had been given to the mother of the friend that Treesa later gave Wedding Bells and Wedward to. And then there was the blond 35th Anniversary Barbie that had been handed over to Treesa's sister to sell at a family yard sale.

For the first time in my life, any feelings I'd had of being special deserted me. I was worried, and frightened, about my future. Worse than that, I felt that there was no one I could really talk to about my insecurities. I realized that my non-inclusive attitude had effectively isolated me from everyone. Even among 'my own kind', as I'd then thought of the other reproduction dolls, I hadn't formed any close friendships. It was as if I'd thought my status meant that I was above needing friends. The reality of course is that everyone needs friends in their lives, someone to share the good times and offer support in bad times.
Treesa just poked her head around the door frame and asked if she can check her emails, so I'm going to have to finish my story later. I apologize for any inconvenience this causes.

Quote The Raven
(This sign off was Treesa's idea.)