She’s Got Style
By Paige Cooperstein
(Meet my guest, Paige, below)
I’ve been thinking about my future a lot lately. I’m 21 years old, which means I’ve just had my last memorable birthday until I start counting by decades. And I’m about to start my final year of college. Life is nagging me with this question: What are you going to do now?
What I’ve been doing lately is thinking about what my Nana Viv, my mom’s mom, did with her various life changing moments. When my Nana was 21 she was already on her third of five children. She was married fresh out of high school, and family lore has it that when she and my Gaga moved into the first home that they owned together, my Nana cried. She didn’t know how they were going to afford an $80 a month mortgage on top of feeding three kids.
I knew my Gaga was a carpenter, but it never occurred to me to ask what my Nana did for a living. My mom always described her upbringing as a traditional breadbasket type of experience. Gaga was in the Wisconsin branch of a union and Nana raised my mom and my uncles. Turns out, my Nana did actually waitress at the local supper club. My mom joined her there when she was about sixteen. And later Nana was a secretary at an insurance office.
My Nana Viv was a creative woman. She didn’t have money for the big white wedding, but she had a pink dress that she absolutely adored. And even after shoveling $80 a month over to the mortgage company, she kept her kids taken care of and more. Fun could be free, like taking trips to the quarry or an imaginary trip in the airplane that was made by lining the dining room chairs up in rows in the living room while my Nana vacuumed.
But the best of my Nana’s accomplishments has to be the way she does everything in life with such style and grace. If you’re named something as provocative as Vivienne you’ve got to have a certain something about you. I remember seeing a picture of my Nana from when she was in high school. She’s in a bowling alley in her cheerleading uniform. She’s smiling ear to ear and her blonde hair is shining. We’re both blonde, which is one of our most prized commonalities since my feet grew too large to share our shoes anymore. She was the kind of girl and is the kind of woman that people want to be friends with. When she walks into a room, you imagine a wake of warm gold following in her wake. She makes you feel that warmth in every gesture and everything she says to you.
I’ve decided I want my Nana Viv’s style in whatever I do in life. My post college plans range anywhere from travelling to Argentina to getting my MFA to getting a job in communications. But I want to have that ease of motion as I move from experience to experience that my Nana Viv is known for. She is a beautiful woman inside and out. She taught me that everything you do matters, if you do it with care.
NOTE: Since I (Sylvia) write strong women, I have my Google Alerts set up to track any blog post that talks about strong women. A few weeks ago, I received such on the Penn State University PBS Radio Site, This I Believe. The article was written by Paige Cooperstein, our guest today. I was so impressed with the young woman’s article that I commented on it. Then, a few weeks later, she wrote and thanked me for the comment. As a result, Paige and I have become friends (at least I count her as one–even though she’s young and I’m old!) I ended up asking her to write a guest article for this blog–and that is the article above. Powerful, isn’t it? Want to know a little more about our young people today? Read her bio below, and you will see what I mean.
“My name is Paige Cooperstein and I’ve known I would be a writer since the time I asked my mom how to spell “illustrated.” I was six and I was sure I was about to author an award-winning children’s series. I’ve always been resolute. I’ve got a Pennsylvania Dutch and a German streak of stubbornness feeding into me from each side of the family.
This isn’t a memory, just something I’ve been told about myself since I was old enough to remember things on my own, but “I do self” was my first complete sentence.
Apparently I liked the sound of it so much, I used it anytime I could: “What do you want for dinner, Paige?” “I do self.” “Time for a bath, Paige.” “I do self.”
But if 21 years of life have taught me anything, it’s that you’re lucky to have people in your life you can rely on. I’m currently a senior at Penn State University Park studying creative writing. I’m staring my thesis in the face and I just bought the poster board that will keep track of the statuses of all my post grad applications. I never would’ve come this far in my life without the eternal support of my family. And who else would’ve put up with my constant yapping about each new author obsession? I’m a lucky girl.”
Please feel free to comment, and celebrate with me, a super neat young woman. I say, she’s got style!