stories are magic.

It's a weekday, and I am writing a blog post. The Apocalypse has formally begun (gather your zombie fighting gear). (Heh, see what I did there? I rarely write blog posts during the week...quite frankly, I rarely write blog posts, the end.)


Various different things going on in my brain (a list shall follow, as my brain loves these):

1-I have noticed that, by merely reading many chapter books, I have begun to teach 2nd graders about the difference between theme and lesson. And have developed a love of chapter book reading in them. It's really the only time I can get most of them to listen. There are the few knobheads (what would life be, without the knobheads??) who insist on not listening and try to muck it all up for the others, but for most of my small charges, chapter book read aloud time is one of their (and my) most favorite moments of the day.

I think my crying at the ending lines of Charlotte's Web ("It's not often someone comes along who's a good friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.") (Oh my god, I'm tearing up AGAIN!!) was the turning point for many of them: What's this? A teacher crying? Who normally yells at us? My god, stories are magic!

My job on Earth is complete, I feel, when I can impart this knowledge to other human beings: stories are magic.

So far, we've read the following (I've included theme/lesson we decided on as a class, in case you're interested):

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (my personal favorite, not theirs though)--theme: Bravery, lesson: never giving up

Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl (their favorite--good lord, they text-to-text connect this frickin' story to Every.Thing. now)--theme: Bravery, lesson: sometimes, you have to make hard decisions

Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum--theme: Dreams (and Travel) are Important, lesson: you don't have to travel far to find your dreams because everything you need to make them real is already inside you

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White--theme: Friendship, lesson: there is nothing more important in life than a good friend

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (not a chapter book, but still an awesome read nonetheless)--theme: Magic, lesson: if you really believe in something, anything is possible

Currently, we're reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate Dicamillo. We haven't discussed its theme/lesson yet, but I think they're: theme--love, lesson--you are capable of more love than even you know.

Do you read to children? You should; it teaches you a lot. It teaches them, but it also teaches you. It's simply the best part of my day.

....also, if you can find a movie that coincides well with your book, you can a get buttload of work done on a Friday while they compare and contrast the book and film versions. (If they were older, we'd also have a very frank discussion about why so many film versions of books suck so bad...but that's another opinionated blog rant for another day.)

2-I get Rob Brezny's amazing astrological forecasts in my email inbox every week. They never fail me. He's completely confounded me lately, though. This week, he told me I can shut what's been opened, or open what's been shut; just make sure I do so with high integrity. Last week, he told me I was evolving into a more soulful version of my idiosyncratic self. The week before that, he told me I'd get a second chance at something I'd passed up the last time it had come my way.

I have no idea what any of this means, but it sounds auspicious, ominous even. I think I'd just like to be a more soulful version of myself, when all is said and done. I'd like to live out loud. That's hard to do, but really cool when it works out.

3-This summer, I'd like to take a trip. I'd like to take a trip alone. I wish I could get on a plane and go far, far away. Instead, I think I'd like to take a trip alone to a lake, or the ocean. I would just like to stay for a night or two. Stick my feet in some water and think. Write some (incredibly BAD) poetry, and maybe the beginnings of a story (or two). I don't know if the people in my life understand my need to be alone. I don't mind Alone. It's quiet, and I like it. I feel better afterwards. (I test like 100% positive as an INFP on that Myers-Briggs thing, which I find to be far more accurate than any Pisces personality summary I've ever read.)

4-I have an idea for a novel (?) novella (?) or at least a very long short story:

My family (my father's family) is from the Pocono mountains of Pennsylvania. They have tragedy in their family line (not counting for the fact I may possibly be related to George W. Bush via his mother Barbara, via a Pilgrim ancestral connection named Henry Sampson--holy heavens, I can't imagine anything at all more tragic than being even loosely related to George W. Bush). I would like to call this book(?) story(?) Samson Road. Because in Lake Ariel, PA there is a road called Samson Road. That's my family's road. Except if I use that road name, then I worry I can't really fictionalize it; I'd like to fictionalize most of it...base it on real stories that happened, but in a fictional way (isn't that how we roll in the 21st century these days?). I'm talking: childhood drowning, accidental gun shootings, horse-riding suffragettes, the whole lot. People in Lake Ariel still refer to my grandfather as "Papa Joe," like he's The Godfather.

It's fascinating; my dad's family is fascinating to me and I have a deep suspicion they'd fascinate others as well. We have a lot of really complicated people on that side of the family, and I find complicated people to be the best characters in stories.

5-Speaking of families: My little Miss M, who is 5, is deathly terrified of water and has been all of her short, half-decade here on this ironically water-covered planet. Actually, she's not terrified of water itself, but rather of putting her head beneath it. She's taking swim lessons now, and I'm frustrated to the point of wanting to just throw her in the deep end and let her figure it out and get over this stupid B.S. The thing stopping me is I can just see the therapy bills. The other thing stopping me is my memory of being deathly afraid of water...until the day I figured out there was a whole 'nother world underwater, and I loved being there a lot. I was a mermaid (in a pool, in my head...I'm certain the neighborhood life guards thought I was an insane kid, flailing about in the deep end, pretending my feet were fins). I was a true dolphin wannabe; how does one join a dolphin pod? I wished so deeply to be part of one, at age 10. I wish so hard for similar discoveries in my 5 year old landlubber. I will take her for a dolphin ride if she ever gets there.

Today, we were driving back from (yet another) unsuccessful swim lesson, and she asked for a lollipop. Then she said, "Oh, right. I bet you only give lollipops to girls who put their heads underwater." And I said, "You got it, lady." And she said, "Well, I'll just lie to daddy. I'll tell him a story about today when I put my head underwater. I'm good at stories and he'll give me an ice cream cone I bet."

I didn't know whether to be proud of my budding little storyteller or to be horrified at the monster I've created. 

Stories are magic, but apparently they can also create family havoc. I'll have to watch this.

(Epilogue of The Swim Lesson: she tried to tell her story, and her story was whack. She did not get a lollipop or an ice cream cone. She did get a bath, and some Honey Kix cereal with a small glass of iced tea. A satisfying, and far healthier, ending.)

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