Oh Alice, how I love thee

March 12

Bedtime stories

What was your favorite book as a child or adolescent? Did it influence the person you are now?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll has long been one of my most favorite and influential books to date.  Though in truth there are so many that helped shape who I have become.  Each time I read Alice I take something new from the book.  It’s the only book that I can say has grown with me when reading it during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.  In my opinion, it makes this particular story timeless.

The loss of childhood innocence, learning quickly that the world will think you too small or too tall, never really being the right fit for what is needed.  As an adolescent, this struck me to my core.  In fact, I held on to it for far too long.  During puberty and into early adulthood I had the horrible feeling of not being enough.  It took me a long time to grow out of that – to figure out that I’m good with me and I don’t need approval to be me.  Through this story, I, like Alice, learned that I am the right size, after all.  I learned not to let the opinions of others dictate who I was to become.

The Cheshire Cat, with his broad grin and fearless behavior, can be thought of in so many translations. As a child, I thought him to be the secret, imaginary friend that tried to get you in trouble by leading you down a path you didn’t know and then disappearing.  As an adolescent, I thought him to be cunning and too knowledgeable.  The best line, for me, was when she asked which way to go and after she answered she didn’t know where when he asked, he simply said it doesn’t matter she will end up somewhere.  How true is that?  We never really know which path to take, but no matter which one it is, it leads us somewhere.  There is hardly a right or wrong.

The Caterpillar is another example of changing each time I read this story.  A simple three-word question and with it says everything.  “Who are you?” She has such a difficult time answering him, you can only assume she doesn’t know who she is anymore.  She’s changed.  Don’t we all?  She insults the cantankerous caterpillar by explaining it is dreadful being only 3 inches tall after all the caterpillar is only 3 inches tall.  Alice who struggles with her own image judges harshly the caterpillar’s size though it’s the same as hers at the time.  We often run into cantankerous, confusing people, but it doesn’t do well to insult them.

This story mostly taught me about adversities in life.  How the world constantly changes and confuses.  It taught me to expect the unexpected and learn that sometimes there is no logical answer to it and that’s ok, we’ll get through that maze one way or the other.  In this way, the story taught me to be more open-minded, not to follow simply to follow and to go with my gut in all journeys through life.  Life is a mess of puzzles, problems, oddities, and no two people are the same or think the same; we have to learn to accept it and move on.

 

Other people’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality
Les Brown

 

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You know what they say about opinions…

Yeah, I know you do.  It may be a different version for you, but here in the south, the saying is that they’re like assholes…everyone has one.  Charming as that phrase is not, it’s nevertheless true both literally and metaphorically.  We’ll circle back to that thought a little later…

Mr. EMT and I (our whole family, really) are avid readers.  We enjoy a good story.  Our tastes differ drastically, but we work it out.  He has begged me to read some of his various favorites and I’ve never been able to do so before for fear of gut-wrenching pain searing me completely.  Mr. EMT reads a lot of non-fiction war books.   I did, however, succumb to one of his requests and read my first non-fiction war novel.  I read American Sniper by Chris Kyle.  Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or living in North Korea, you’ve heard about it at least by way of the latest blockbuster hit if not the actual book.

The book was incredible, much better than I could have ever thought it would be.  I’m always worried these books will leave a huge hole in my heart because of the death that comes with war.  There were sad parts in this book, don’t misunderstand, but it was told so well and with such character that I fell in love with his words, his duty, his family, and fell more in love with our country.  Yes, it really was that good.  It gave someone like me who has never seen war or had to make these type of hard decisions an insight into what they do and what they go through.  It gave me a real count of what the family they leave behind struggles with while they’re saving the country.

Fast forward to the blockbuster hit, and well I just had to see it, of course.  It didn’t disappoint, at least not too badly.  I’ve always been a book fan before a movie fan, though I understand the need to change things for the big screen.  Going into this, I tried to keep that knowledge and understanding in the back of my mind.  I tried to be open-minded about Hollywood telling the story that moved me.  I read about how Chris Kyle wanted Clint Eastwood to direct, how he was already speaking with Bradley Cooper about his book becoming a movie before his death in 2013.  After his life was taken his wife, Taya, stepped up and kept moving with the filming of the movie – making sure her husband’s story was told well enough to keep the pride flowing through his children.

Mr. EMT and I didn’t make it to the opening night of the movie and instead went four days later.  This gave me ample time to Google reviews and read the outpouring support for this man’s legacy.  It also gave me time to read the disgusting comments made by people who criticized his job, the work he did for his country.

This, my friends, is where I will circle back to that saying about opinions and include one that I’ve heard for as long as I can remember – empty vessels make the most noise.  I have to admit that I was pretty well outraged at the comments I read by some of Hollywood’s elite and many, many other lesser-known empty vessels.  My first reaction was, ‘How dare you’.  How dare you try to defame the name of a man who fought four tours killing the people who plot to kill us every single day.  How dare you try to take away the pride his family feels when they remember his sacrifice to this nation.  The comments about how snipers are cowards were even more upsetting.  These men and women train countless hours to be able to save us from our enemy’s wrath, the wrath that caused September 11, 2001.

After I calmed down a little (not too much, because I’m still violently disgusted in those who claim to be US supports/citizens who clearly are not) I realized that these empty vessels, these ignorant individuals obviously did not read his book, did not look further than the Hollywood movie, and therefore are fools with voices.  If they had read his book they would have a much better understanding of how very difficult it was for Chris Kyle to do the job he did.  He wasn’t a murderer, he was a protector and we are less safe without him in this world.

So, as the critics go on with their defamation of a hero and spew nonsense with their rights (freedom of speech, for example) that people like Chris Kyle fight to protect, I will know in my heart of hearts that these people are truly the ignorant, shameful, and absolutely are not Americans regardless of nationality.

Book intimacy

Book Intimacy is a phrase I used the other day to The Eldest.  He’s approaching 16 years of age and as we all know, he knows everything.  As it is, he is actually very intelligent and the volume of useless, but fascinating, information he holds astonishes me.  Clearly he gets this from my side.  *Ahem*

Moving on. The Eldest is what one would consider tech-savvy.  Though I suppose most at his age are.  He’s just recently turned over his laptop, but he’s had one for years.  He has the newest Galaxy whatever phone.  He has an Xbox that the poor kid endured hours and hours of manual labor to earn enough money to buy.  He has memory cards and flash drives and who-ha’s out the wazzoo.  Clearly, he’s technical.  I should beam with satisfaction as my job is I.T. Coordinator, but truly all of this saddens me.

Why, you ask?  Because.  It sucks.  I know I exude my wide vocabulary and writing/speaking skills here, but in reality I’m well versed and learned from an early age the importance of little things such as grammar, spelling, eye-contact when speaking, general politeness, etc.  I fear this new technology ridden world and what it’s doing to children.

Hence the phrase I used with The Eldest the other day in a lengthy conversation.  He has been begging for a tablet or iPod touch for ages.  He has yet to receive either and will likely not receive them any time soon.  A snippet of the conversation went a little like this:

The Eldest: Mom, don’t you understand the copious amount of learning that I could do with a tablet?  Don’t you want that for me.  I only have two more years left in school.

Me: Copious?  You’re pulling out the big guns now.  And by the way, I hate to tell you that you have 3 years of high school and another 4 of college.  7.  You have 7 years of school.  You’re a sophomore this fall, it’s summer so that year still counts.

The Eldest: You knew what I meant, Mom.  *sigh* Ok, let’s work with this.  7 years, I can learn a lot in 7 years.  I can learn more from a tablet whose unyielding knowledge avenues are at my very fingertips.

Me: We have a library of information in our own home, 2 sets of encyclopedias, a home computer on which you can google to your hearts content.  Tell me where you would go to learn on a tablet that you could not do so at home or school.  Which is where you will primarily be for the next 7 years.

The Eldest: I could use it to read more.  I could download the Nook app and read more.  You always make us to read and this would make it so much easier.  I could read on trips in the backseat.  I could read anywhere I want.

Me: As a close to this conversation, I will say this.  You’ve made an excellent point, however it wasn’t strong enough to persuade me.  You have a phone which has internet allowing you to google as you need to.  You’re completely capable of carrying books with you which makes them as mobile as a tablet.  You need to learn book intimacy and then we’ll talk.

After a large set of sighs and a face palm he understood he wasn’t getting the blessed tablet and dropped it, for now.

To be honest, he almost won me over with his use of the word copious.