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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Robin Williams, a legend

I’ve stared at this blinking cursor for a while, I’ve saved and re-saved this draft, and I’ve deleted more than I’ve written.  My heart is heavy and I feel as if I have lost a part of my character, a part of my childhood.  The world lost a legend, a genius.  Robin Williams is a household name.  He was in so many shows, films, and on so many stages that I honestly cannot say there should be an adult alive (and even a child) who does not know his name, who has not laughed at his hand, who hasn’t absorbed some part of his character into their soul.  It is simply impossible.

I have never met Robin Williams, as I daresay most of normal society hasn’t, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t taken with me parts of him from the moments he shared with the world.  Great actors and great writers do that, they let you borrow a little bit of themselves to take with you on your own personal journey.  I cried many tears over the news of his passing.  Tears because he passed, and tears because of how he passed – that he felt so alone and so lost.  My heart breaks for the struggles he went through.

I’ve seen and fallen in love with so much of his work that it’s difficult to pinpoint a favorite.  However, there are a few that have touched me and have stayed with me just a bit more than the others.

My first date with my now husband, 22 years ago, was to see Aladdin.  I was 14 years old and loved Disney movies, not to mention that was the only movie playing my mother would let me attend with a boy.  I remember looking at my husband and thinking to myself, if he can laugh at a big blue genie with me then I’ll have to get to know him better.  In that sense, Robin Williams was there on my first date with my husband and brought us closer with his profound ability to make someone laugh.  Dead Poets Society instilled into me the courage I needed to write, to let myself be me, to go against the status quo.  It truly inspired me in so many deeply personal ways that I cannot name them all.

There is one movie that touched me so much so, I still call upon it to get over bad days.  That movie is What Dreams May Come.  If you’ve read the 100 things about me, then you’ve read that I have an irrational fear of dying.  Not how I will die, but dying itself and the fear of nonexistence – it’s a fear I’ve had as long as I can remember.  What if my faith is wrong?  I ‘what if’ myself into a panic attack that can only be compressed by my anxiety medications and the memory of this movie.  I never read the book because for one, I didn’t know there was one, but for two I didn’t want to ruin the movie.  My husband, knowing this very real fear of mine, introduced this movie to me years ago – back in the VCR days.  I watched it repeatedly and it captivated me.  I can’t say it healed me, but it has made dealing with that fear a great deal easier.  His role in that movie, his dedication, his faith, his love, his determination to make sure his wife wasn’t alone moved me leaps and bounds.

Yes, Robin Williams will always be a household name and his movies will live on in the hearts of millions.  Despite or even because of his illness, he successfully touched us all.

In Dreams

It should probably be stated I don’t ‘do’ poetry.  I love it, but I have never been able to produce it.  I felt daring and decided to step out of my little comfort zone on this one…sorry. ha!

 

 

He walks into the room

And causes electricity to spark

So fierce it will cause my doom

Or shock me to life out of this dark

 

His eyes a stormy blue, his lips so full

He sees through me to my core, I’m so weak

Unable to breathe, I try to play it cool

As he brushes his hand against my cheek

 

He smells of sandalwood and wind

His skin is warm to the touch

In his arms, I will easily bend

How can I need him this much?

 

My knees begin to quake

My chest rises, I know what he’s after

From my dream, I slowly wake

As I laughed my nervous laughter

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To Dream or Not To Dream

I am blessed with a good memory of my childhood (which is strange in and of itself as I often can’t remember what I ate yesterday).  I lived in a time where we could leave our doors open, when there weren’t leash laws so dogs followed the children playfully throughout the neighborhood, a time where mud pies and ‘lightening bugs’ were the highlight of a summer, and a time where the biggest worry was what everyone was going to wear the first day of school.  The neighborhood I grew up in is now one that no one would want to drive through without being fully armed, but when I lived there it was full of young families where every mother knew every child and didn’t hesitate to scold you and send you home for dinner.

Summers were spent outside since there weren’t a lot of families with video games.  My family bought a Nintendo64, but we were the kids that would rather play flashlight hide and seek rather than be inside with the ‘old people’.   One of my memories isn’t just one at all.  Nearly every day I spent time laying at the top of the big hill of our driveway staring up at the clouds watching them morph from dinosaurs to Volkswagens.  I could do that for hours, and often did when time permitted.  It was laying there and looking into the blue sky that I began to dream of a future I could hardly imagine.  As a child, it was hard for me to think past Christmas that year, let alone ten or fifteen years ahead.  It wasn’t until the game MASH became popular that made me really start to give my future self some thought.  I had big dreams.  I was going to live in a Mansion, marry Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids on the Block, drive a red mustang, live in California, have 3 kids, and be a teacher.  Yes, I was going to be very happy and this little game started my most memorable childhood dream.

Naturally, I knew I wasn’t going to marry Donnie Wahlberg, but everything else seemed plausible in my mind though I later changed my idea of a Mansion to a really nice middleclass brick home.  The only thing that really panned out was that I am a mother to three children.  In my dreams, I never really considered becoming pregnant at 18, dropping out of college, spending three years as a single mom, eventually marrying the father of my son, and struggling to just stay within the lower-middle-class spectrum.  Those weren’t my dreams at all, even sans the MASH game.

For years I struggled with this.  I had to let my childhood dreams go and welcome reality.  I realized that the loss of my dreams didn’t change the quality of the life I’ve lived.  We have finally landed squarely in a decent home, have an SUV big enough to cart around a 10, 11, and 15 year old, a retirement plan, and while I’m not a teacher, I get to play one at home when homework is too hard.  Dreams have a way a making one feel inadequate when they don’t come true, but I’m just happy to have what I have.

This is my submission to the weekly writing prompt from Studio Thirty Plus