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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Sparkler Ideas

When you’re in kindergarten, you’re living life as it was meant to be lived–with nap time and possibilities. For instance, before nap time you can be a princess with all the respect of a monarch but less responsibilities and after nap time a super hero who takes down bad guys on the regular and saves scared cats from trees at least once an hour. And in between you get to sleep.

I live my life like I’m in kindergarten.

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Perhaps I’m stunted this way: indecisive and enthusiastic. My world view shifts and I’m suddenly stricken with the desire to be a pirate or a baker. It is both exhausting and thrilling. I like to call it a Sparkler Idea. Since graduation, I’ve changed my mind exactly seven times about what I want to be when I grow up–wait, eight. I forgot I still want to be a princess.

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I suppose at twenty-four I’m technically considered an adult even though I don’t feel like one. I think I’m waiting for a plausible career option to stick for longer than a few weeks or months. When that happens, someone pops out of the shadows and hands you a plaque that declares you’ve officially entered adulthood, right?

I’ve complied a list of the top 3 4 Sparkler Ideas I’ve had in the last six months exploring: What led me to them? Why didn’t I choose to pursue them? Will I ever make a goddamn decision? How many more questions can I keep asking myself before you get bored?

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1. Comedy Writer:

Sometimes I think I’m funny. This may not actually be the case but a few months ago I got it in my head that I was funny enough to write for television. Thus, I wanted to move out to L.A. and write sitcoms.

*Cue laugh track*

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As I mentioned, I discovered The Office this summer. That coupled with the reading of Mindy Kaling’s book and Poking a Dead Frog by Mike Sacks made me believe that I had finally discovered my true calling. I wanted to write something as brilliant as The Office while being as badass as Mindy while channeling all of the talent of the writers interviewed in Sacks’s book. No big deal.

So I wrote sketches and scripts. I started a screenplay. This dream lasted approximately one pilot episode, two full sketches, and three pages of a screenplay. It faded out slowly and painfully. I tried to hold on to it. I was Rose and this dream was Jack. But the dream wouldn’t let me go down with it. It froze to death in the ocean and I moved on with my life.

2. Teacher:

I’ve wanted to be a teacher approximately four different times in my life. Once when I was in fifth grade, middle school, early in my college career, and a little over a month ago. Just like every other time, I thought this most recent time was the one. Just like every other time, I ended up heartbroken and alone, consoling myself with copious quantities of wine and chocolate.

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“It wasn’t meant to be!” my friends said. “You deserve something better!”

“But, you don’t have to work summers if you’re a teacher!” I replied through heavy sobs.

I liked the idea of teaching because I like children’s literature. If given the opportunity, I will hold an impromptu story time with whatever picture books I have at my disposal. I regularly read Ramona Quimby  and I seriously identify with a grumpy bear from a picture book series. Somehow I rationalized that this would make me a good teacher. I forgot about things like Science and Math, other essential knowledge needed for educating young children. I’m lucky if I can put two and two together on good days and I’m still not sure if Pluto is a planet or not.

Perhaps it’s best if I don’t try to teach anyone anything.

3. Entrepreneur:

If I’m being honest, I really gave this dream up because I can’t spell the word “entrepreneur” without spellcheck. It’s too big and complicated of a word to be a career.

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This is also why I can’t ever be a nanny. Supercalafragalisticexpialadocious is another one of those words.

4. Bookstore Owner

When I decided entrepreneurship wasn’t for me, I considered calling it something different. Bookstore Owner is much easier to spell.

This dream was born during my first viewing of You’ve Got Mail four days ago. I fell in love with the children’s bookstore that Meg Ryan’s character owns.

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That bookstore was everything I wanted in life. Eloise, Madeline, and friends decorated the walls, an army of small stuffed Peter Rabbits hung out behind the counter, there were fancy princess hats for story time, and every inch of that store was stocked with wonderful stories of adventure, family, friendship, triumph, and bravery. It was what I imagine my afterlife will be like: reading Matilda and Elephant and Piggie while drinking a never-ending supply of hazelnut coffee. Either that or I will be reincarnated as a character in a picture book. Honestly I’m okay with either.

My heart split into seven million pieces when Meg Ryan’s store went out of business. In fact, I’m still not over it. I know it was a fictional place but I strongly believe that if I had been there, I would have somehow found a way to keep that bookstore open.

But anyway, for a brief moment after this movie ended I entertained the idea of owning my own children’s bookstore one day. Maybe I’m still entertaining this idea in the back of my mind. Maybe one day I’ll own the most fabulous children’s bookstore and anyone who tries to put me out of business will be beheaded…because princesses have the power to send people to the guillotine and I still want to be a princess.

However, while I’m still figuring things out, I’m pretty happy being a bookseller.

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Now it is nap time.