In the summer of 2020 I’d hit a wall with my writing (it’s fine, it happens about once a year). The COVID pandemic had been going on for much longer than we expected, and by July I had comfortably settled into the habits I’d started in April when quarantine felt like a vacation: sleeping in, reading, eating junk food, napping, and scrolling social media to see how the celebrities were coping.
In late July, however, I accepted that I wasn’t going to find fulfillment in a bag of Cheetos (besides the obvious) so I finally reached out to the editor of AARP’s newsletter, The Girlfriend, and pitched some ideas. One of the ideas she liked was an article on fangirling after 50. “Oh, I’ve got this,” I thought, knowing my lifetime of getting overly enthusiastic about anything pop culture-related could write the article itself. But at the same time, I felt the need to have a conversation with fellow fangirls to make the article more thorough … and I knew just who to reach out to.
A FANGIRL MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN … OR IN WRITING GROUP
I met Carolyn and Kristin when I joined their already-established writing group in March 2019. I’d been introduced to Carolyn the week before when I’d popped into Modernwell – a women-centered collaborative space in Minneapolis – to meet Julie Burton, the powerhouse who founded it (both Modernwell and the writing group). From the moment I met Carolyn, I knew she was a kindred fangirl.
“Oh, Carolyn, Michelle wrote about Parenthood for Entertainment Weekly,” Julie told her after introducing us. She knew she was dropping the best kind of bomb on us, and Carolyn’s obsession with Dax Shepard was something I felt immediately. Every molecule of her body came alive upon hearing the news. Her overenthusiastic reaction — and our 20-minute, rapid-fire, excited conversation about celebrities — solidified our instant bond.
Shortly thereafter, I met Kristin and learned of her recent mission to contact Shaun Cassidy to let him know that the children’s chapter book she’d recently written was inspired by her childhood crush on him. It seemed her letter writing efforts hadn’t paid off, so she and Carolyn were catching a flight to Santa Barbara to see his one-night-only show in the hopes of snaring his attention.
I was beyond intrigued.
Ridiculously excited for their quest.
“SHUT UP! THAT’S SO COOL,” I wanted to yell. “TAKE ME WITH YOU!” I longed to scream. But as the new girl, I kept my mouth shut. As someone who’d moved around most of my childhood and had countless times been the outsider stepping into established friendships full of histories and shared moments, my residual, lifelong issues kept me from doing more than smiling excitedly and wishing them a fun and successful trip.
Over the next year I felt less and less like the new girl, and my friendship — and shared enthusiasm for celebrity life, pop culture, and nostalgia —with Carolyn and Kristin happily grew.
And then came the aforementioned fangirling article … and my need for some more like-minded brains to pick.
A PODCAST IS BORN
On August 19, 2020 the three of us FaceTimed for a couple of hours and dissected not only what it meant to crush on celebrities back in the ‘70s and ‘80s but how those crushes still can give us what we need — in a different way — today. The conversation wound its way through many areas of our ‘70s childhoods and the pop culture items and moments that defined them, and we found ourselves screaming with excitement at the common connections we discovered we shared. We talked about the power of nostalgia — especially during this difficult time in our lives — and the comfort it was bringing.
And then, at the end of the call as we were all commenting how much fun our conversation had been, Carolyn said, “You guys, I’m starting a podcast where we talk about all of this. Write this date down, because we’ll want to remember it.”
*INSERT DRUM ROLL HERE
Fast forward three months; hours of socially distant preparation meetings; countless moments of research (we are producing this entire podcast ourselves … and from scratch), learning curves, and laughter; more shared nostalgic moments than I can count; and one published article in The Girlfriend; and here we are, working tirelessly to launch our podcast, the Pop Culture Preservation Society!
Because COVID has gotten out of hand here in Minnesota (and everywhere else), we’ve had to make adjustments to our recording schedule.
Until last week we’d been meeting and recording in person — staying safe, wearing masks when within 6′ of each other, and social distancing, of course — in a fun basement meeting room (at Modernwell, naturally) that we were slowly turning into our “groovy attic” with fun mementos of our ’70s childhoods.
But now, to stay safe and to keep everyone else safe, we’ve had to move our meetings and recording sessions to our homes … and for acoustics, to our closets.
It’s not the same, but the importance of preserving the pop culture nuggets of our childhoods — and let’s be real, to keep the enormous amount of fun we’re having going — is worth all the learning curves and inconveniences.
So, if you’re part of GenerationX and want to relive all the great pop culture memories and stories from your ’70s and early ’80s childhoods, I hope you’ll join the society and the conversation! Follow the fun we’re already having on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and stay TUNED for more info. about when our first episode will drop! And make sure to check out our website to learn more about the three of us!