Hats

I don’t remember much. Often if I don’t write something down I will forget it. My room is covered in old lists that say things like “do laundry” and “buy Dad a birthday gift” and “you have a job, don’t forget to go to work”.

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In spite of my horrible memory, I distinctly remember my kindergarten graduation. In the classroom, before we got in line and marched two-by-two to the gymnasium, we had to pick a hat to wear during the ceremony. We were to choose between police hats, doctor’s head mirrors, cowboy (or girl) hats, fireman hats, princess crowns, etc. The headwear was symbolic of our futures, of course. Of the great destinies we had ahead of us.

When it was my turn to choose a hat, I chose the princess crown. Even if a writer hat existed, I inevitably still would have chosen the princess crown.

I’d like to imagine that five-year-old me was standing there contemplating the choices my peers made as we congregated in the classroom, wearing these new identifiers.

Does Sarah like the doctor’s head mirror or is that what her parents want to see her wearing?

Does Emily really think she can pull off the police officer thing? I saw her steal that extra cookie at snack time.

Does Luke actually want to be a firefighter or was that just what that was left?

I wasn’t. I think I was probably standing in front of a mirror, admiring the sparkly crown on my head. Past me wasn’t as astute and observant as her present counterpart.

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I hope that at some point during the short walk to the gymnasium, I at least asked one person why they chose the hat they did. Did Michael love Westerns so much that the cowboy hat just called to him? And if so, does he own a ranch in Texas now? Or is he out in Hollywood producing Westerns with the memory of that cowboy hat still weighing heavy on his head? Has he forgotten that moment entirely and lives his life without harping on insignificant memories from childhood? Likely.

To me, being a princess meant moats and castles. It meant dragons and unicorns. It meant happily ever afters and magic. It meant that I was incredibly naive but also that my imagination was flourishing.

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In some ways, that princess crown was my writer’s hat.

One arbitrary choice made at the age of five does not define me. But, it is a part of who I am.

If you had asked me at 5, 10, 15, 20, or 23 what my life would have looked like at 25, I most certainly would not tell you something remotely close to the life I lead now. But, you would see it. It’s there. It was in that princess crown I chose. It was in every subsequent book I read. It was in every horrible essay I wrote for school and in every time I picked up a pen and unleashed my imagination.

You may see a princess crown but I see a writer’s hat.

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Genetic Gift-Giving and My Abhorrent Lack of Humility

I take great pride in my gift giving ability. If you’re one of my best friends and it’s your birthday, Christmas, Hanukah, or President’s Day I will go out of my way to find a gift that is perfectly suited to your personality and interests. It might be several books I think you will like (what the hell do you mean you haven’t read everything by V.E. Schwab?), or perhaps some sort of memorabilia related to a television show I know you love (it is my mission in life to figure out how to procure an actual Tardis. Just you wait) or possibly a DVD that I think you’ll enjoy (one day you will thank me for this and that day will probably occur when the power goes out and all you have is 80% battery on your laptop and the DVD I gave you for your Hanukah. You’re welcome—my brother who claims DVD’s are obsolete will be sorry when this happens to him). No matter what I’ve decided to gift you with after hours of brainstorming and researching, I will likely also include a framed photograph that immortalizes our friendship. I will then throw it all in the fanciest and sparkliest gift bag I can find and attach a sappy card declaring that President’s Day makes me realize just how much your friendship means to me. Boom. Best. Gift. Ever.

I give the world’s best gifts. Though I suppose I can’t take all the credit. It’s genetic. I’ve inherited this wonderful quality from my Dad. 

            Highlights from the Dad’s Gifts Archive:

  • A typewriter- it’s common knowledge that every writer should have at least three typewriters. Though the world thrusts more efficient and modern devices upon us, the typewriter is a reliable classic. Typewriters don’t break as easily when you drop them and there’s no need to attach a printer. Your typewriter is the freaking printer! You have one copy of everything and you just have to make sure you don’t fuck up when you’re typing. It is both simple and instills a sense of precision into the writer. My only problem is I still haven’t been able to figure out how to get Wi-Fi on it. For some reason this is the one thing Google doesn’t have the answer to.
  • A Bonsai Tree- like many young girls, upon discovering that unicorns were mythical creatures and it was near impossible to acquire one, I decided that I wanted a pony instead. Now obviously a tiny tree is not even remotely related to a pony unless you count the fact that they are both smaller versions of their future selves (I don’t). At this point in my mid-twenties I realize the implausibility of me properly caring for a pony. Though, unreasonably I might still pine for a pony to call my own (I would name her Sally the Unicorn) I’ve decided that Dad buying me a tree is a more a more sensible gift. This makes us even and he no longer owes me a pony. (Unless this was a test to see if I could take care of a mini tree before you get me the pony. Dad, I will still accept a pony—provided I can resuscitate my tree.)
  • Life-Size Stuffed Pink Power Ranger- this is by far the most memorable gift (aside from going halfsies on the whole gift of life thing) that my Dad has ever given me. Once upon a time five-year-old Kylie was in a Toys R’ Us and fell down on her knees, begging for the acquisition of the enormous stuffed doll form of her hero. The answer was, of course, no. And she forgot about it. Even as a child, I had an unusually short attention span. On the eve of my fifth birthday Dad proclaimed I would have to find my gift. Naturally the next day I sprung out of bed before the sun was even up, ready to find this sucker. I searched all the places I could realistically search on my own and then it was time to bring in reinforcement. I dragged my younger sister out of bed, confused and bleary-eyed. Together we had the strength of a weak old man. Thus we managed to lift the footstool and move the television set (this was 1995 so you should be picturing this massive, thick, heavy black box that was the current technology). Nothing. Ultimately we gave in and declared our defeat to a half-asleep Dad. He made us get dressed and have breakfast before telling me I had to make my bed and then he would give me my gift. I distinctly remember telling him, “Are you freaking kidding me? I’m five. I don’t know how to make my bed.” Nevertheless, I stomped off to my room. And there, resting on top of my unmade Little Mermaid comforter and sheets was a giant, life-size, stuffed Pink Power Ranger doll. I dragged that thing around with me until I was nine. (Okay, fine. I was twelve when she finally ripped and I was forced to throw her out.)

It is my inheritance to be the world’s best gift giver. I wear this crown proudly—I bought it for myself. It has purple rhinestones and came with a heartfelt card. I was feeling sentimental on Lincoln’s birthday this year…

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I Lied.

My intention upon finishing my last post (when I declared that I was finished writing my thesis but that it was the start of a longterm novel project) was to actually keep writing.  I said I was going to do it and I really thought I was going to keep writing. I lied. I haven’t written anything.

I hate lying. I’m the kind of person that though I’m twenty-four years old, when my Dad calls to check in and asks “How was your weekend? Did you have fun?” I respond, “It was fine. Nothing exciting to report. Well…I went out. I may have had something to drink. Okay I had three beers but I promise I was responsible! I’m sorry! I swear did all my homework!” To which my dad says, “Oh, okay. Well, I’m glad you had fun.” No, but really, I’m unnecessarily honest sometimes.

So every day that has gone by since my last post and I haven’t written anything, I feel like I have been living a lie and it makes me anxious that this lie is so public.

I’m sure you’re all thinking, “Well, just because you haven’t written anything in a week in a half doesn’t necessarily mean that you lied.”

But I have a confession: I’m not sure I want to keep writing.

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Whaaaaaat?

Okay, calm down. I don’t mean I want to stop writing forever but I don’t know what I want to write anymore. A little history on my life as a writer: I’ve always written young adult or middle grade. It’s always been fiction and almost always fantasy. It wasn’t something I ever gave a second thought to. Somewhere along the way I neglected to make the transition to “real” books in both the books I read and was trying to write. But lately I’ve been wondering what I’ve been missing by living in my children’s literature bubble. Between these blog posts and a few creative nonfiction classes I’ve taken in my college career, I’ve gotten a taste of a different kind of writing. And I think I like it.

I feel stuck in the crossroads between this direction I’ve always been heading in and the potential for something else I’m starting to feel passionate about. Maybe I try something new? Maybe I stick with what I know? Maybe I do both? Gasp!

So who knows what I’ll write next. I think maybe I’ll start with trying to read some different book–books outside of my comfort zone. We’ll see where that takes me. I just maybe won’t make more promises I don’t know if I can keep. 😉