Struggling with the Sixties

By the time I began Saga III (the Sixties) of Cinnimin in the Spring of ’96, I was still only a 16-year-old high school sophomore. I’d progressed quite a bit since I began writing my Atlantic City characters in November ’91, but I was still a teenage writer, with all that entails. Though it got better as it wore on, Saga III will still need a fair amount of work when I go to transcribe it.

Among the issues I’ll have to tackle:

Again, there’s no basis for Cinni’s extreme Far Left drift, to the point where she’s enrolling her firstborn Demian in some creepy Stalinist youth group. WHAT?! And let’s not forget that Cinni was also, simultaneously, a Tsarist. Yeah, one of those things isn’t really like the other!

After her oldest sons’ enemy Luke, Elaine Seward’s son, steals and destroys some stupid low-quality painting she was led to believe was worth more money, she wakes up as if from a dream, and never really has anything to do with with politics again. Huge plothole and deus ex machina ending for a storyline that wasn’t going anywhere healthy or normal!

LIttle kids with way more advanced vocabulary, thinking skills, and interests than is normal even for the most advanced toddler or young child. It were like I SORASed them without actually upping their chronological ages. I was too overeager to make the new generation leading characters in their own right.

Cinni’s relationship with Levon comes across as so stupid and immature. She doesn’t treat him very respectfully a lot of the time, and acts more like some 13-year-old with her boyfriend than a woman in her early thirties with the father of her children.

Kit’s second child, her oldest daughter, Patsy, is autistic. Thankfully, she’s diagnosed by Sparky’s progressive, compassionate brother Gary and not someone who subscribes to the then-popular “refrigerator mother” theory. Eventually, in the Eighties, Patsy gets a young, modern helper, Owen, and with his help becomes much higher-functioning. Patsy and Owen fall in love, marry, and have a neurotypical child.

But the way Patsy’s onset is depicted reads more like childhood disintegrative disorder than any sort of classical autism. To be fair, this was 1996-7, when autism wasn’t in the news as much as it is today, and many people really did have stereotypical, misguided, incorrect ideas about how it develops and manifests. I also based it on some tv movie I saw, set in the Fifties and Sixties, about a boy in a large family who gets autism. I really wasn’t trying to be inaccurate on purpose. That was my understanding of autism at the time, based on the information that was available.

In the Spring of ’62, during Patsy’s third birthday, she goes from very verbal, intelligent, and bossy/bitchy to no longer saying anything and just sitting like a stone. Again, I got this from the tv movie I saw, and for all I knew, that wasn’t inaccurate. Then, in the days leading up to Patsy’s diagnosis, she keeps pounding on a piano key and reciting Kit’s Polish textbook. You know, the stereotypical savant behavior. And of course, a 3-year-old reading a foreign language.

There’s not much depth to the growing storyline of Julieanna’s troubled marriage. She’s more upset at not having sex in 6 years, due to Kevin’s unconfessed impotence, because it means she can’t have a second child. Not because she can’t have sex with her husband. I’ve started to restyle the scene where she catches Henry and Adeline making out in a bubblebath, after coming to their mansion by surprise. So not realistic how originally this sex-deprived, emotionally starved, neglected young wife has no real reaction. Now she climbs into the bathtub with them, if only to live vicariously through them.

After 1962, nothing is heard about Cinni’s 7 stepsisters until the early Eighties. Guess I forgot about oldest stepsister Napoleana and her family living in the guest house. Probably realized there were no real storylines with them.

Two important characters, Tikva Laurel (b. 1966) and Aghavni Hagopian (b. 1965), are born at only 20 weeks and live without any sustained health problems. Totally implausible for the era. Even today, it’s rare for a 20-weeker to live, let alone with relatively decent health. In the Sixties, 24 weeks was about as early as a baby could live. And Aghavni’s mother couldn’t have been a combat soldier in Vietnam. She would’ve been Women’s Army Corps or Women’s Air Force, and not allowed to be armed.

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