Tag Archives: memories

Dreams of a Lifetime

So yesterday was my birthday. And in honor of that special day, my mother made me read through my entire baby book, which is basically a scrapbook covering the major points of my entire childhood. The only benefit, besides making my mother happy, was discovering a true treasure from my youth. My first story.

For the sake of readability, I’m going to be my own editor and fix any spelling mistakes and capitalization errors there are. But here you are.

“Silly Potatoes”

Once on a Saturday night, Ms. Vanilla and Mr. Vanilla were in the kitchen cooking potatoes. The recipe book said wait five minutes. Ms. Vanilla could not wait. She opened the oven door. Out popped Fred Fryer and Ms. Mashed with their little tater tots. They skied out of the house on French fries and never came back. So from now on, Ms. and Mr. Vanilla listen to the recipe book. Or they will starve.

THE END

My mother and I laughed so hard when we found this. I loved how I left it open ended. It just amused me for a while, and I had to share it.

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I suppose the main thing I wanted to talk about is pursuing your dreams. Since I was a child, I’ve dreamed of being a writer. Though this story is clearly some kind of school assignment from first or second grade, to me it still speaks to this lifelong dream I’ve had of creating and sharing stories. But what does it really mean to pursue your dreams?

When I was little I would always tell people I wanted to be an author when I grew up. When I went to college and started studying English, I still knew that was what I wanted to do. But at the same time I recognized it wasn’t the most logical choice of career in terms of a steady income, so I’ve moved writing to a side pursuit while making teaching my main focus at the moment. However, as I start into my adult life, I’ve had to wonder how this is all going to work out in the end.

I’ve recognized there need to be sacrifices made for this to work. For now I’m working at the YMCA with children, helping them with their own learning, encouraging them to chase their own dreams. And in my free time I write. And I continue to imagine the future, hoping one day I’ll actually have a book out on the shelves.

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I watch America’s Got Talent a lot in the summer, and I always have to shake my head at the people who say they dropped out of high school to be a singer. I suppose it always makes me wonder if that truly is chasing the dream. If that’s the best decision. For me, my dream has required balance. But maybe for others that isn’t the case. In the meantime, I pursue my writing in my own fashion, hoping one day maybe I’ll be published, but recognizing that the pursuit is the beautiful thing in itself. Looking back and seeing these old stories. Knowing I’ve finished novels in my lifetime. Those are beautiful. And I hope many more milestones will be met over the course of my life, even if those aren’t my only pursuits. Each little accomplishment is important to me. And I take what I can, while I try to balance my dreams with the realities of life around me.

What dreams do you have? How do you choose to pursue them? What sacrifices do you make for your goals and aspirations?

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The Things That Change Us

Rowling

When I was a child I refused to follow things that were popular. Absolutely refused. I was a bit of a stubborn girl as my mother would surely tell you if you asked her. And that contributed greatly to my choices of what I read and watched and participated in. I tended to be free thinking, wanting to enjoy my own interests without interruption from my peers. There is something both amusing and admirable when I picture my younger self stamping her foot over people encouraging her to pursue something utterly mainstream. So my reading choices tended to largely be books of my own choosing. But being an avid reader I had already begun my lifelong problem of having recommendations. And like all readers the popular books are always recommended first and foremost.

So began my lifelong dance with popular literature. And in particular, Harry Potter.

Second grade was where I largely blossomed into a reader. I became capable of reading to myself, and that development was troubling to behold. I snuck books under desks to read during class and slipped a flashlight into bed with me to keep going on my latest pursuit. And in second grade Harry Potter had just begun to become a phenomenon particularly prevalent in my age group just as I was beginning to figure out the wonderful world of books.

I was absolutely against Harry Potter to a degree where I wouldn’t even talk about the subject. To be honest, I had little idea of what Harry Potter was only that my peers greatly admired it, and therefore I wanted nothing to do with it. Of course everything changed when I went off to France for a semester with my family the next year.

Isolation tends to make me gravitate all the more towards books. And in France I was homeschooled and since I didn’t speak the language had no chance to interact with other children. So, home was my solitude and books kept me busy. But books in English were not so readily available in our small town. And in the library there were few choices. With most of the books already finished I turned to Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (they had the British version) to occupy my time. There was much irony in my caving as I had thrown a fit over a Harry Potter journal I’d been given before going to France. But Harry followed me across the world, and it seemed I was incapable of fully escaping even in a foreign country.

My mother read book one aloud to my brother and I. Within the first few pages my resistance melted away, and I was helpless to do anything else but enjoy. We devoured the first and second books together and even enjoyed watching the newly released first movie on the plane ride back to America.

While I could sit and ramble about how amazing the books and movies are, I would prefer to speak more personally about them. Because that little lonely boy in the cupboard under the stairs sparked something deep in me that I had never known before. And that was a desire to write.

I began with copying J.K. Rowling’s ideas, making a school for fairies rather than wizards and creating an orphan character as my protagonist. I remember little about that initial series, but I remember it being the first of my inspiration and that it paved the way for later books to come. Something in Rowling’s works made me come alive and gave me a desire to emulate Harry Potter in changing children’s lives through story. I think if nothing else those books gave me hope of something better, of a world filled with love and light, and in the dark years ahead of me those messages continued to remain both a prevalent part of my worldview and my own writing.

You would think Harry would have cured me of my desire to be unique in my entertainment choices, but to this day I still do meet some resistance when faced with something popular. I’ve certainly become better, but it is a fault I have to work to correct.

Today I’m a total nerd when it comes to Harry Potter. I know what house I’m in (Hufflepuff), know what character has the same Myers Briggs personality (Neville), know what wand I would have (12 1/2 in. cedar dragon heartstring), and even own a copy of Luna Lovegood’s wand from the movie along with two of the books (one in French which I can now read and one in English).

Yes, I’m a nerd, and I love it, and anytime I think about Harry Potter I know that it’s never just a fandom to me, and it’s something more than that. No matter how critical people want to be of the books or movies, I hold onto a few very special things in knowing that Harry Potter changed my life in an impossible way. As I have completed my fourth novel this year I can only look back with fondness at the little third grader who wanted to make her own Hogwarts. Because with her change in mindset she gained a whole new world. And I suppose I keep that forever in sight today, that in opening myself up to something new and different, I can gain something new.

What books or moments have changed you? Do you have any good stories of childhood reading? Has Harry Potter had an influence on you?

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Wishbone: My Roots as an English Major

What’s the story, Wishbone?

My love of literature started at a young age. Though I didn’t realize it at the time I was fascinated by many of the books of the canon. Even before I could read myself I already knew stories like The Odyssey, or Tom Sawyer, Romeo and Juliet, The Count of Monte Cristo, or Pride and Prejudice. But of course at such an early age I wasn’t reading, instead I was watching.

My favorite show as a child was Wishbone, a PBS show about a Jack Russell Terrier that uses classic literature to relate to the adventures of his humans. My family didn’t have cable so for the most part I was stuck with public television or movies. But I didn’t mind too much, it gave me more time to play rather than absorbing screen entertainment. As a result of my few choices I usually was presented with the opportunity to always watch Wishbone. And that started me down the path of loving stories.

I will never forget when I started reading those books for myself. Remembering how they portrayed things in the children’s version always gave me great joy in rediscovering the stories as an adult. It was a new angle, a further dimension to the thirty minute episodes I used to watch. It was a great joy to get to read my favorite stories again.

Alongside that Wishbone’s example of applying literary lessons to real life was one I would continue to value for years to come. When I’d be scared for a presentation at school I’d remember brave heroes I’d read about in books and use them as an example of what I wanted to act like. When I was bullied for being a book nerd I’d remember Hermione Granger and how her cleverness paid off in the end. If I struggled to find comfort in my circumstances I’d think of Sarah in The Little Princess and how she always found ways to be happy, and in turn to share happiness with others. Books are full of inspiring people and circumstances and thanks to Wishbone I learned some of what it means to apply a book to my own life.

So, here I am years later as an English major, continuing to read and write. I hope one day I can share with others that love of books that I first gained as a child. I know my own children will grow up with books all around them, constantly being taught that when life gets hard a book can be a great friend to keep you company.

Thanks for all you taught me Wishbone. I miss you!

Where did you learn to love reading? What childhood memories stand out to you? Did anybody else watch and love Wishbone?

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