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By Anita J. Jamison
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2013 Anita J. Jamison
All right reserved.
Chapter OneWho Is Francie Roberts?
Francie Roberts is Barbie Robert's cousin. Fran, as she is affectionately called, is attractive and funny. Her personality can light up a room when she walks in. A little shorter than Barbie in height, she doesn't have the glamour and confidence like Barbie. They both start out together exploring the modeling world. Each wanting to become a model. The two were always close. But after a few years Barbie begins to see a change in Fran. Fran is becoming distant and cold towards her. Fran's mother Iris died while giving birth to Fran. After her death, Waltron Roberts, Fran's father, took his baby daughter and moved from San Diego to Wisconsin to be near his family. He's very protective of Fran. It's as though he's trying to make up for the loss in her life. He spoils her tremendously. Waltron has high hopes for his daughter. Like most parents he wants nothing but the best for her. Fran and Barbie are both cheerleaders at Willowtree High School. Although their relationship has been close since childhood, Barbie sometimes feels that Fran has a sense of entitlement. Many times she thinks that Fran feels things are suppose to be dropped in her lap. Barbie doesn't share these feelings with Fran. However, she does discuss them with her parents Ruby and William Roberts. William and Fran's father Waltron are brothers. Ruby assures Barbie that Fran probably acts this way sometimes because of growing up without a mother. But Barbie isn't totally convinced of this. And over time she begins to see a different person emerge from Fran's personality.
As children they shared little girl secrets. As teenagers they stay up for hours late at night talking on the telephone about the latest school gossip. The two even double date sometimes. They share many of the same girls as friends. Because they are together often, Barbie sees this other side of Fran but isn't able to understand it. Somehow Fran has developed the ability to mask her true inner feelings from many people. She is able to control these feelings for the most part. However, when they do surface she lashes out at others for no apparent reason. Just to be devious, she secretly flirts with some of the other girl's boyfriends sometimes. On the outside people see her as this attractive, confident, smart, popular person. This other side of her is totally opposite. It is something she is not willing to share with anyone, not even her own family. Unsure of herself, she is always comparing herself to others. She never feels good enough. What she shows to the world is in conflict with the person she has become. Fran wrestles with these feelings not ever talking to anyone about them. The confidence that other people see is really a cover up for her insecurities. She is plagued with fear, anger, self-doubt and low self-esteem. Her funny outgoing spirit is her way of getting people to like her. Her family and friends don't know that she has been experimenting with alcohol. Waltron doesn't understand that by spoiling her he's missing her cry for help. He doesn't know how she still cries herself to sleep at night because she misses someone she never got the chance to know. He never talks to Fran about her mother because the subject is just too painful for him. He wants to shield her from this pain. So Fran grew up not ever discussing her mother's death and afraid to ask questions. Waltron thought when he moved to Wisconsin to be near his family that he had solved everything.
It was a new start for them. Moving from San Diego to Wisconsin was only a physical move. Fran never got the counseling she so desperately needs to sort through all of these feelings regarding her mother. She tries to deal with them on her own. But it only leads to more turmoil and confusion. All of these feelings will continue to hunt her into adulthood. They will be the driving force behind many of the decisions she makes in her life. The only thing she was ever told was that during delivery, her mother developed some sort of complication. The subject was always hush-hush around her. Fran never knew all of the circumstances surrounding the birth. She has always felt responsible for Iris's death. Years later through her faith, a supportive husband and becoming a mother herself will she begin to understand that her feelings were normal. The fact that she was never allowed to grieve or talk about these feelings to her own father is what was not normal.
Chapter TwoCollege Years
After high school Barbie and Fran enroll at the University of Wisconsin in Green Bay. Barbie works hard often taking on part-time jobs to help pay for her education. Fran is involved with work-study programs to earn extra money. One Saturday Barbie comes across a want ad in the newspaper regarding a clothing store opening up at the mall. "Fran, Fran, hollers Barbie, listen to this. Brand new clothing store opening up soon. Looking for fashionable young women with sales experience. If interested apply online at WWW.Taper. Com. I think I'm going to apply. This job is full-time. We have dorm fees and new books to buy for this semester. Mother and father are already stretched enough paying for my classes. I refuse to get another student loan." " I don't know Barbie, says Fran, a full-time job is a lot of responsibility. We both have a heavy course load this semester. Besides, we don't have any experience in working in a department store." "Fran, I know we don't. It can't be that hard. We do know a lot about fashion. I think we should apply. Who knows what might happen." So they apply for the jobs and are surprise when the store's owner calls them to come in for an interview. When they go in for the interview, the owner Mrs Taper immediately notices Barbie's physical attractiveness. She loves Fran's sense of style. "I see that neither of you have any sales experience. My store is going to be a youthful upscale clothing store. The both of you have the appearance that I'm looking for. You're stylish and classy. That's what I want the store to reflect. You all will be in training for approximately a month before the grand opening of the store.
So you all will get to know a lot about sales and dealing with customers. Fran I'm going to put you in charge of showcasing the mannequins in the store's window. The mannequins are to be changed weekly. I want you both to look and be professional, but also stylish while at work to attract buyers. The starting pay is $8.75 an hour. I will be hiring two additional full-time workers once the store opens up."
The grand opening was great. The store is called ELLE. It bores part of the owner's name, Mrs Ellen Taper. Mrs Taper was a fashion model years ago. She knows a lot about clothes. Since Barbie nor Fran has given up on their dream to become a model they are trying to learn as much as possible from Mrs Taper. Working at ELLE fuels this desire even more. Both girls are attractive. Both are blonde and blue-eyed. However, Fran has a slight advantage over Barbie. She knows how to sew. Her sense of style is very good. She acquired her sewing skill from having to make her own clothes as a teenager sometimes. Barbie is a little intimidated by this, but she never tells Fran. Fran on the other hand is intimidated by Barbie's beauty. Also, Barbie is taller and thinner than her. Neither shares their insecurities with the other. These thoughts they harbor about each other sometimes manifest in outburst of jealousy and anger. The bickering between them soon becomes obvious to Mrs Taper. One afternoon she goes by the store and finds Barbie and Fran engaged in a heated argument regarding an outfit Fran has put together to be displayed in the store's window. "Fran I know you're not going to put that blouse and skirt together, says Barbie. You should use more color. This outfit is just plain boring. We're having a big clearance sale tommorrow. Mrs Taper wants us to attract customers into the store, not run them away."
"This outfit is not boring. And I'm not changing anything just to satisfy you. Mrs Taper put me in charge of the displays, not you. Apparently she feels I can do a much better job than you can. Barbie responds, "well, once she sees this uncoordinated stuff in the window she'll quickly change her mind. Furthermore, you're not the only one that can put an outfit together. I can outdress you any day of the week." The two did not see Mrs Taper in the corner near a rack of clothes watching and listening as they continue to bicker back and forth. She waits until the customers leave and then makes her presence known. Angrily she approaches them and says, "girls how many times do I need to tell you that I want teamwork not competition. If you two cannot work together as a team without one of you flying off the handle, then you give me no choice but to replace you. I'm afraid the constant bickering is going to eventually hurt my business. You were arguing in front of customers and that is totally unacceptable. When customers come in here, they want to shop. This is a clothing store not a battleground. I will not put up with this any longer!" "We're so sorry Mrs Taper. It won't happen again," pleads Barbie. Fran and Barbie's relationship is changing towards each other. They're not as close as they were before they started working at ELLE. They both often call home and complain to their parents about each other. Barbie also calls Ken, her long distance boyfriend and complain for hours about Fran. Ken Carson is a junior at Syracuse University in New York. He and Barbie have been dating since high school. One day after listening to her on the phone talking about Fran Ken says, " Barbie I understand how you feel. I know how Fran can be sometimes. But I cannot continue to have these long distance conversations about Fran. I'm using up all of my minutes on my cellphone. If you're that unhappy maybe you should find another job."
Mrs Taper never sees Barbie and Fran arguing again, but she senses something has changed between them. The girls continue to work there. Business is good. Sales are up from the previous year. Therefore, Mrs Taper doesn't see a need to bring the subject up again.
Barbie continues to work at ELLE until she graduates the following fall with a bachelor of arts degree in fashion merchandising and a minor in business administration. Although she has done some modeling as a teenager in local talent shows, she isn't sure if this along with her experience at ELLE will be enough to break into the modeling industry. Fran graduates the following spring with a bachelor of arts degree in fashion design and a minor in accounting. She continues to work at ELLE for the remainder of that year. They both land modeling positions with a local agency call Wiscon Talent and Modeling Agency after graduation. The Wiscon Agency is located in Willow and isn't well known. Willow Wisconsin is located in Richland County and very small in population. Barbie and Fran love Willow, but they soon realize that the opportunities in the fashion and modeling industry there are limited. Before graduation they had discussed moving to Madison Wisconsin for more job prospects. Fran was still considering relocating there until one day after talking to her father. He told her that William said Barbie is moving to New York to be near Ken. Also, because New York is well known for top modeling agencies. Later on that evening Fran decides to send Barbie a text message regarding the change of plans. After getting the text, Barbie calls Fran back. Fran says, "Barbie dad told me he talked to uncle William earlier and that you're planning on moving to New York. When were you going to tell me? I thought we had decided on Madison." "If you still want to move to Madison you can Fran. I know we discussed moving to Madison, but I feel New York has more to offer. I want to be with Ken now that I've graduated."
"Barbie do you know how big New York is? We will have to compete with so many other girls trying to break into the same industry." After going back and forth about the pros and cons, they finally agree on New York. "Barbie are you up there?" hollers Ruby. "Yes mother, I'm on the phone with Fran." Ruby yells back, "I'll be up there in a minute to talk to you." Ruby waits until Barbie and Fran finish conversating and then goes up to Barbie's bedroom to talk to her. "Barbie she says, the family is very happy for you and Fran. You two are pursuing your dreams. We wish you both the best. However, your father and I have doubts about whether or not you and Fran have ironed out all these ill feelings you all experienced in the past. None of us know a lot about this modeling business. Your father said one of his patients who's neice is a model, said that it is tough. Can you and Fran be there for each other?" "Mother I assure you Fran and I will have no problems. I know we had some issues back in high school and college, but we're all grown up now and much more mature." Ruby sits on the bed watching her daughter pack. She's thinking how they've always stressed family togetherness to their children. They all appear very close. But will they be able to stand, and up hold these family values? Or fall when faced with the demands and harshness of a world very different from Willow Wisconsin?
Chapter ThreeBig Dreams
Barbie and Fran go to New York for the weekend to find an apartment. Their goal is to be in New York and settled before the weather turns cold. When they arrive in the city, Fran ask, "Barbie what are we going to do about money until we find a job? I know we have some money saved from working back home. But we'll still have to rely on our parents for financial support. It's expensive to live in New York." "Fran will you stop worrying so much? Look at all these designer stores! Oh my God, that's Paris Hilton coming out of the Louis Vuitton store! I wonder if we can get her autograph?" "Barbie will you calm down? Remember we're here to find an apartment not to gaze at stars." "One day I'll be able to shop in stores like these. I forgot to tell you. Ken pulled some strings and he's taking us tommorrow to look at a two- bedroom apartment. I hate that we'll have to ship all that old furniture from home. But I guess it will have to do right now because we can't afford anything new. Oh, remind me to call Midge to let her know that we're here for the weekend," says Barbie. The next day after Ken takes them to see the apartment, Barbie and Fran put a deposit down and go back home to Wisconsin. They return to New York in two weeks for good. They are so excited to be in the Big Apple. Later that week Midge comes down from Albany for a visit. They all go out to dinner downtown at a very nice restaurant. Fran says, "the people here in New York are not that friendly. They stare a lot. It's different back home. I guess because many of the people in Willow know each other." "Oh just ignore it Fran, says Midge. You all will get use to the stares. These are probably the same type of people that you're going to encounter in the modeling industry.
Hey listen on tommorrow I want to take you two shopping for new clothes. The both of you could use a good hair trim to show off your facial features." "I don't know Midge, says Barbie. These are upscale designer stores. There's no way we can afford these clothes, not on our budget. We brought some nice things from home and Fran is going to coordinate our clothes with some new accessories we bought. But you are right about our hair. We've had the same hairstyles since high school. We look like teenyboppers instead of career women. Fran states, "I agree that our appearances need to be updated. But I'm not getting a lot of my hair cut off." "The way you two look right now no modeling agency is going to hire you. You all can use my credit cards and pay me back when you get jobs," says Midge. Before going home, Midge finds a good salon that also specializes in make-up application, manicures and pedicures. After a few trips to the salon, Barbie and Fran begin looking like New Yorkers instead of wide-eyed open mouth tourists. "Barbie I think all this excitement in New York has thrown us off balance. We didn't come here just to shop and look pretty. We came here to work. I think it's time we got back into focus. Has Ken already lined up the several modeling agencies that he mentioned? We need to call him when we get home." "Fran, Ken has already emailed me the agencies. We just need to go on the internet, find out information about each agency and see if we can submit a resume'. I know that the criteria for models here is probably very different from Willow. "Barbie, do you feel you are attractive?" "Yes, I guess so. Fran why did you ask me that? Do you think you are attractive?" "I thought I was back home. But after moving up here, now I'm not so sure. Just look at all of these beautiful and sophisticated young women we're passing on the streets. I don't feel I'm pretty enough to compete with them. Barbie I told you we should have moved to Madison."
Excerpted from FINDING FRAN by Anita J. Jamison Copyright © 2013 by Anita J. Jamison. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
A Beauty Icon....................xi
Chapter 1 Who Is Francie Roberts?....................1
Chapter 2 College Years....................5
Chapter 3 Big Dreams....................13
Chapter 4 A Ray of Hope....................23
Chapter 5 Self-Pity....................31
Chapter 6 A Family Divided....................37
Chapter 7 A Leap of Faith....................45
Chapter 8 A New Horizon....................53
Chapter 9 A Family Affair....................61
Chapter 10 On A Mission....................67
Chapter 11 The Christmas List....................77
About the Author....................89