“Why Bother to Wish it Then?”

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“Well, wasn’t that what you wanted? I thought you wished to see the ocean.”

“I did.” said Jane, looking very surprised. “But I never imagined the wish would come true.”

“Well, great oceans! Why bother to wish it then?”

This quote from P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins has always made me catch my breath and stop dead in my tracks. I had it hung on a quotes wall in my school computer lab last year for all of the students to read. I could write article after article about all of those quotes–the books, music, or movies they’re from, the authors who wrote them, and how they’ve helped shape my character. For the sake of time, however, and because I was out shenanigizing until dawn this morning, let’s stick with the Poppins quote.

I’m pretty sure I’m a self-sabotager. (is that a word?)

“Let me explain. No. It is too much. Let me sum up.”

I’ve never had any shortage of dreams, goals, and aspirations, and yet somehow they all seemed like the proverbial desert mirage–unobtainable, feathery figments of my mind. I’d desperately desire to be and do the things I claimed were my dreams, but never actualized any scenario where I would see those dreams lived out.

I would cite varying reasons why I could never accomplish such and such, or I’d do just enough to make it look like I had given my best shot at it; all the while knowing that I had zero intentions of actually being or doing the thing I wanted to do.

Am I alone in this? Does anyone else keep themselves at bay?

I’m sure there are a zillion psychological insights which could tell me why I do this, but I’m guessing fear and control are the primary motivators. You know, like breaking up with your boyfriend because you’re certain he’s going to break up with you, or knowing you’re going to fail so you quit before you fall on your ass in front if a crowd. That type of thing.

This past year, though, has smacked that silly shit right out of me.

Maybe I’m having some type of aging crisis. Admittedly, I have blogged and facebooked about turning thirty-five more than anyone should be allowed to do.

Maybe I’ve just now accepted that my untapped potential is worth a go.

Maybe I’ve finally decided that I am special enough to have special things happen to me.

Maybe it was that Ashton Kutcher speech.

Either way, I’ve personally challenged myself and met those challenges with fireworks, confetti, and champagne. Metaphorically, of course–I hate cleaning up confetti.

This may be the start of a whole new way of life, and now that I reflect on it, I wish I had realized all of this much sooner. Who knows where I’d be or what I’d be doing? I could be singing on the Met stage. I could be autographing CDs for adoring fans. I could be the director for an award winning high school choir.

It doesn’t do for us to worry about the “might have been’s” in life, so today I’m making an official declaration. (cue the royal trumpeters!) Going forward from here on out, I’ll no longer find myself surprised when I get to “see the ocean.” Instead, I’ll expect it–because I drove the car down to Florida myself.

Who’s up for a roadtrip with me?

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Wishing on a star–or a green light.

I snap the Ziplock bag full of jewelry and find an unoccupied spot in my suitcase between my bras and blouses. Could this suitcase BE any more stuffed? (you read that in Chandler Bing’s voice, didn’t you?)

I’ve got everything I could possibly need and backups of them all just in case. You never know, right? I’ve been checking off mental lists–planning for this once in a lifetime vacation for the past six months. We’re taking the kiddos to the place where dreams come true!

Not Vegas, people.

DISNEYWORLD!

I’ve researched online, ordered and studied books, perused restaurant menus, read attraction reviews, planned our daily itineraries, secured dining reservations, watched planning videos, read blogs devoted to Disneyworld, made autograph books and coloring books for the kids, and overall tried to think of everything.

I want this to be perfect. For months I’ve dreamed of my kids’ faces smiling–glowing in the light of the fireworks as we stand near Cinderella’s castle watching the magic spectacle. I’ve played and replayed in my mind a fantasy reel of my delighted daughter running into the arms of Princess Aurora. I’ve secretly smiled thinking about my little boy getting dressed as a pirate to play with the characters. In my head cinema, the vacation looks like an Instagram filtered perfect week.

We leave tomorrow, and as I’m packing my last minute essentials, I’m beginning to get a nauseating feeling in my stomach.
I’m nervous. I’m really nervous and I can’t help thinking about Jay Gatsby.

Stay with me here.

Everyone has been rereading Gatsby since the new movie this summer–which I’ve yet to see– and I’m no exception.

Reading Gatsby as an adult is an entirely different experience than reading it as a high school Literature student, but that’s another story.

In school, we learned how Gatsby was really about the American Dream–the constant and crippling longing for what ultimately is just out of our reach. Desiring what is here and yet not really here at all.

Gatsby spent years in a dreamy state over Daisy. He stood at the end of his pier looking toward that green light with his guts knotted in an anxious pull toward his love.

When they began meeting at his infamous parties; their eyes having silent conversations across the tops of their champagne flutes, I’m sure he felt he was finally going to attain what he had long sought after and painfully dreamed about.

But when they did embrace, it was hollow. How could this complicated love triangle ever measure up to years of fantasies about their love?

I’m glad Gatsby ends up dead.

Oh yeah, spoiler alert.

I recently took a personality profile where, among other qualities, it listed me as a “Dreamer.” I’m prone to get lost in lofty fantasies about life. I serve up airbrushed versions of conversations and situations before actually experiencing them.
I’m sparkling and witty in my head. My friends say the perfect thing that makes me feel valued and loved. Everyone at my party has the best night of their lives. My children look up to me with eyes full of love and say, “Thank you for this vacation. I love you, Mama.”

I’m terrified that our vacation, much like Gatsby’s complicated romance, will turn sour. We’ll end up a modern day Griswold tale or family version of The Hangover. The kids will fight, whine, or get sick. The hot as hell hubby and I will be ragged at the end of each itineraried touring day, and regret the trip altogether. We’ll have horrible weather, a flat tire, and our money stolen.

Ultimately, I’m scared of reality coming no where near the level of awesome that is my dreamworld.

I’m relying heavily on Disney magic to help with this condition of mine; this overly analytical fantasy land I can’t seem to shake.
After all, there’s a very famous Disney song that says, “When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true.”

I’m gonna hold you to that Disney.

A Novel Lesson

Fiction teaches us all about the truth of life and the common threads in humanity. No matter where a novel is set or when it takes place, I am often struck with the feeling of being united with the protagonist in the struggles of life.  I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned from my favorite rectangle shaped friends, and ask you to do the same. What have your favorite novels taught you?

1. I’ve mentioned the impact that Anne of Green Gables had on me in another blog, but must bring the series up here too. I think I lived on Prince Edward Island in a former life because this story resounds so strongly with me. I’ve known Anne, Marilla, Diana, Gilbert, Rachel Lynde, Ruby Gillis, and Josie Pye my entire life. They are as real to me as my flesh and blood friends. That statement may send me to therapy one day, but there it is. For better or worse, this book series helped make me who I am today. Enough of that though, on to what the books taught me–besides ejaculation.

Never make fun of a red-headed girl unless you want a slate cracked over your head.

Always keep your home in apple-pie order just like anyone raised by Marilla Cuthbert ought to.

When you want to play the Lady of Shallot, check your dingy for leaks.

If a boy makes fun of you, show him up by correctly spelling “chrysanthemum” in front of the class.

Check every doughnut box for fireworks prior to chucking the box into the furnace.

Always have an extra bottle of ipecac.

Wear puffed sleeves without exception. The bigger the better.

Talk to flowers and trees.

Being smart is better than being good looking.

Recite poetry. Recite it with dramatic flair.

Jonah days come to everyone.

Live beside the sea if you can and seek out a lighthouse keeper/former seaman to live within walking distance of you. Trust me on this one.

Bosom friends and kindred spirits are the best things about life on this planet.

2. Tolkien. What an amazing writer and map drawer.  I read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy about every two years, and see something new and amazing each time. The world he crafted in Middle Earth, complete with thousand-year-old-legends, battle histories, and all types of fascinating creatures never ceases to dial up my sense of wonder.

Things that reading Tolkien has taught me:

Hobbits are the shit! Lovers of good food, good drink, good parties, and good fireworks. They are steadfast and faithful friends, which leads me to my next one.

Everyone needs a Sam Gamgee in their life.

Rings are powerful things.

Tom Bombadill must do mushrooms or acid. No one acts like that, even if they’re a metaphor of the creator.

Trolls are stupid.

It’s handy to have a good relationship with eagles if you’re ever in a tight spot.

The desire for power will corrupt you.

Trees are people too.

You can live on a diet of elven bread for weeks.

It’s a dangerous business stepping outside your door.

Sometimes an unexpected party is the best kind.

Showing mercy on pitiful creatures may save us all in the end.

3. I read Cormac McCarthy’s Suttree upon a friend’s recommendation. Once I got myself past the lack of punctuation, namely commas and quotations, I really enjoyed the read and learned much from this wayward anti-hero, such as:

Everyone needs a J-Bone in their life. (see the Sam Gamgee and bosom friend comment above…I see a trend in my life lessons.) One never knows when one will become fatally ill and pass out in a communal bathroom. J-Bone WILL find you and carry you to safety.

Do not molest watermelons. If you simply can’t help yourself, avoid getting caught.

Don’t throw trash in the river. All the descriptions of the Tennessee River with garbage floating in it made me sad.

You can make money by poisoning flittermice.

A story doesn’t have to be far-fetched, fanciful, or overly dramatic to be interesting. Our everyday life is the story.

Living plainly, with little earthy possessions can be a sweet life.

Early Times is the “best drink they is.”

Avoid mudslides during storms on the river.

Moral ambiguity isn’t all bad.

4. The Devil Wears Prada–because we can’t read legit lit all the time. This is my go-to read when I’m feeling frumpy. Immersing myself in the world of haute couture and the bustle of NYC is as good of a pick me up as a chocolate bar. Often I read this while eating chocolate for a total emotional lift. Things An-dre-ah Sachs has taught me:

Learn to drive a stick shift. This is still on my to-do list, but I mean to do so soon.

When two belts look identical, keep your mouth shut.

Gay best friends are tops at helping you look your best.

There is such a thing as “too skinny.”

“That’s all.” never really means “That’s all.”

There are few things more intimidating than a tall woman walking confidently in a four inch pair of stilettos.

Don’t trust handsome writers who brag on your writings.

Don’t ignore your boyfriend.

Don’t ignore your alcoholic best friend, especially if she has been listening to Jeff Buckley non-stop.

What seems the most important thing in the world may not be. Take a step back and assess your perspective.

5. Pride and Prejudice How could a list of novels not include this one? I could crawl into this book and wallow around in the pages of it, I love it so.
Lizzy and I would’ve been best friends! I actually think my best girlfriends are real life variations of Elizabeth Bennett. Things I’ve learned from reading P&P:

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Entailing estates to male heirs is a piss poor idea.

Keep an eye on Kitty and Lydia at all times.

Mr. Collins is always good for a laugh, even if he is unaware of this fact.

Men, when proposing, always behave in a gentleman-like manner.

Women, don’t be too hasty to believe handsome men when they tell you how they’ve been wronged by another.

Lady Catherine’s buttresses are quite impressive.

If you want to snag a man, ride a horse through the rain, get very sick, and stay at his place until you’re well.

Stay off of Mrs. Bennett’s nerves.

If you feel affection for someone, show it, otherwise you run the risk of losing them.

Visit a man’s house before declining his marriage proposal.

The saddest one: Mr. Darcy doesn’t really exist.

Ok, now share yours! What have you learned from your own adventures with fictional characters?