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Speaking of objectionable memories...

9.20.2007

...I found another one. This one also relates to well-known literature. Which is interesting because my college degree's emphasis was in literature. In general, I like literature. In literature, you're usually not allowed to use a word four times in three consecutive sentences. But I can do anything I want because it's my blog.

After this post, I remembered another book that conjures a feeling of extreme disenchantment for me. This one might even win out over good old velveteen, albeit with much less merit.

When I was a bit older than Velveteen Rabbit age, my parents started to give me larger and more challenging books to read. I didn't mind, as I enjoyed reading, until the day they tried to make me read this book:


For SOME REASON, the cover of this book terrified me. I think the copy I had was even more brown and washed out and it just looked like a couple of cavemen were hovering over something...it looked evil. Bad evil. Those of you who are reading this post right now are probably old enough to look at the cover and feel no fear. BUT, dear readers, imagine yourself to be a young Kelly. And now imagine the effect that velveteen had on me. And now sympathize with the havoc The Pearl was wreaking on my non-adult mind.

Just kidding. I don't really mind if you don't sympathize with this one, I just think it's a comical story. So scared was I of Mr. Stenbeck's artist's rendition that I refused to read the book. I wouldn't even open the cover to read a synopsis; I certainly wouldn't open the back cover to read the last page. (What horror would've awaited me??) My parents often asked me how the reading was going - a usual question - and I just told them I didn't know. I was so scared that I wouldn't even tell them I was scared of it! I finally took to hiding it in the most secret of places - - my windowseat. (Katie, you have a great memory. Kudos for remembering such a saga.) In my room growing up there was an alcove window and below it there was a windowseat. It was basically just extra storage, but it's where I put lots of junk. I knew the book would never be discovered there because my parents weren't keen on searching through piles of broken toys and papers.

And that's where it stayed until...well, until geno and I got engaged and I had to clean out my room at my parents' house. It made for an amusing discovery.

I still haven't read it.

What's the opposite of velveteen?

When I was a small child, my parents (like all good parents) read to/with us all the time. Eventually, they made us start reading by ourselves, and they would give us books with which to do so. This is not really the point of this post.

The point is that I hate The Velveteen Rabbit. Not hate in the conventional anger-driven-rage sense, just in the I-can't-stand-the-thought-of-it sense. And I'm trying to remember why. I remember being given the book to read...after that I only remember feeling very sad about it. SO sad that I have since then avoided the book at all costs. I remember something about scarlet fever, something about toys "acquiring" germs when their owners are sick, something about a toy (an animate toy, mind you) being thrown out with the trash. Who knows whether or not these things are actually contained within the aforementioned book, but my adverse association(s) are quite strong. THEN, when I began this post, I found some of the original illustrations from the book.


Does anyone else find this picture horrifying?? The intense warm colors do not soothe a young child's mind, and the red in this particular one makes it look like the rabbit has died a grisly death. This is not to say that the artist isn't talented, but rather it is to say that they evoke a myriad of objectionable emotions in my heart. Very objectionable. Could it have been the illustrations which caused my fear? Perhaps.

Then, I found this quote from the book:
"Does it hurt?" asked Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real, you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real, you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams
copyright 1984, Running Press
That wasn't so terrible, but when I read it I just hated it! True story. THEN I looked on Wikipedia to find a little synopsis, and I found the following plot summary:

A boy receives a Velveteen Rabbit for Christmas. The Velveteen Rabbit is snubbed by other more expensive or mechanical toys; the latter of which fancy themselves real. One day while talking with the Skin Horse, the Rabbit learns that real is not how you are made, rather a toy becomes real if its owner really and truly loves it.

When the boy's china dog is misplaced, the Velveteen Rabbit takes the place as the boy's constant companion. The Rabbit becomes shabbier, but the boy loves him no matter what.

The Velveteen Rabbit meets very well-made toys with no seams (they are actual rabbits), and the Velveteen Rabbit learns about the differences between himself and the real rabbits.

This companionship lasts through the winter and the next summer, until the boy falls ill with scarlet fever. The boy becomes too ill to play for a very long time; upon his recovery, he is sent to the seaside on doctor's orders. The boy wishes to take the Rabbit with him, but his doctor forbids him to take the diseased toy. Not only can he not take the Rabbit, but the doctor says it must be burned along with all the nursery toys in order to disinfect the house from the germs.

The boy is given a new plush rabbit with glass eyes and is so excited about the trip to the seaside that he forgets his old Velveteen Rabbit. While awaiting the bonfire, in which the Velveteen Rabbit will be burned, the Rabbit cries a real tear. This tear brings forth the Nursery Magic Fairy. The Rabbit thinks he was real before, but the fairy tells him he was only real to the boy. She flies him to the woods, where he realizes that he is a real rabbit at last and runs to join the other rabbits in the wild.

The following spring, the boy sees the Rabbit hopping in the wild and thinks he looks like his old Velveteen Rabbit, but he never knows that it actually was.

First of all, my recollections were fairly accurate. Second of all, does anyone else think this might be a terrifying storyline for young children? BURNED IN A BONFIRE?! I know that's not supposed to be the focal point, but, come on. By now I've convinced myself that the reason I found this so terrifying was because I thought the rabbit DID turn real and DID get burned (even if in reverse order). This "Nursery Magic Fairy" does not console me. (By the way, Katie, your posts on fear of fire as a young child did not fall on unsympathetic ears. I, too, had a serious fear of fires as a kid. Fortunately, my mom did map out a route with me...but I still thought I would have to jump out my second story window onto some sort of blanket. That's a whole other post.) I shall never read the book again, nor shall my children know of it's existence. I guess I'm one of the people who 'doesn't understand'.

Isn't it amazing what the mind can do with memories it doesn't like?

Come on guys...

9.17.2007

Having found this article on the google home page, I am THOROUGHLY grossed out. It's one thing to choose not to wash your hands in your own home, but at a baseball stadium??? You boys need to get your head in the game.

Like many teachers and school workers, I have recently elevated this practice (hand washing, purell-ing, etc.) to a bona fide addiction. I see, talk with, and sit in very close proximity to over 65 elementary school students each day. 65. The germ count is off the charts; I'm already battling a nasty sinus infection to prove it! So scrub-a-dub-dub, fair blog readers. Otherwise, THIS will start a colony in your body.


My only question is, who started The Soap and Detergent Association? Did you catch that in the article? I love America. Happy sudsing.

123 All About Me

9.12.2007

Here are the rules:
- Each player starts with eight random facts about themselves.
- Those who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight facts and post these rules.
- At the end of the post, choose some people to get tagged and list their names.


1. This morning I woke up with the song "O, Tannenbaum" in my head. And by that I mean I had the words to "O, Tannenbaum" to the tune of "Oh, Canada" in my head. There's just no explanation for that.

2. When I was in kindergarten I was given a solo to this song for our Christmas recital (which was held in our kindergarten classroom). It was a hefty solo - I sang each verse first, and the rest of the class echoed each verse after me. I was proud of what I had accomplished and took this role very seriously...which is why I had to give Carol, the girl next to me, a swift elbow nudge when she started butting in on my solo. You understand. The nerve of some people.

3. As a young girl I shared breakfast each day with my older brother, Austin. One day, while I wasn't looking, Austin decided to pour his apple juice into the remains of my cheerios and milk. (If you've ever poured apple juice into milk, you know just how objectionable an offense this is.) Being the younger-than-kindergarten lass that I was, I immediately cried and complained to our mother. Her solution - making him drink the poison elixir right in front of me - is one of my many terribly fond memories from childhood. Thanks, mom!

4. I once got lost on my way to Venice, Italy. In college I studied abroad in England (see this post for more on that topic), which afforded me the opportunity to travel around Europe for a few weeks with some friends. On our way to Venice we encountered heavily armed guards, drunken men, creepy followers and a hostel matron who wished us more harm than good. To name a FEW. Unfortunately, we never did make it to a single canal. But we did acquire a rollicking story which has served me well in many conversations.

5. I consider myself a phenomenal speller. Seriously. Call me vain, but I love this uncanny ability of mine. (p.s. - if you find any spelling errors in this post, please refrain from telling me, as it will break my fragile heart.)

6. I have hiked to the top of half-dome in Yosemite. I know that many, many other people could put this claim on their blog...but it was really hard...and I was REALLY fearful on the last 200 semi-vertical yards of the trek. So I'm proud of the accomplishment.

7. Sometimes I wish that little snippets of life would turn into musicals. You would be having a conversation, and suddenly you would break out into song. At the pre-appointed time, the people in the background would put down their pencils or books or lawn maintenance tools and join you, knowing all the words (and dance moves) by heart. And there would be a curtain call and everything.

8. I have a collection of the book The Little Prince, by Antoine de St. Exupery, in different languages. So far I've got English, French, Italian, Croatian and Hebrew.

If you're reading this and your name is PAM, consider yourself tagged!

Penelope

9.07.2007

Do you ever find yourself making up conversations in your head because someone like this has taken over the verbal one you thought you were having?

I do.

Googlemania

9.04.2007

You know those parents who name their kids reeeeally weird names just so they won't have to share the same name as any other kids? Well, this is just as bad.

Maybe worse.

What do you think?

And on the flip side...

Fame is a bee

9.01.2007

Working as a substitute teacher for a year gave me the opportunity to do many things. I met hundreds of students of all ages, I taught things that I had long since forgotten, and I read many stories to a variety of attentive faces. But there was one thing that was more gratifying than all of those combined: being the recipient of a student's finest writing or artwork. This post will begin a series of posts dedicated to kid-work that I've received just by being in classrooms. The first is a poem written by an elementary school student, which I find to be most appropriate.



What do you think about that?? I think it's A-OK. This child could grow up to become the next Dickinson or Frost, which would make this poem a priceless artifact! Won't you be glad to know me then. For now, I'm just glad to have something to blog about.