they don’t make children’s stories the way they used to. when i was four or five, my mom and aunts read me the little mermaid. the hard core, hans christian andersen version. translated into korean. the version where the little mermaid turns into white sea foam at the end because she can’t stab her prince in the heart with a dagger. they told me years later that i’d cry on cue at that part – after reciting much of it with them. a feminist from an early age. [i’m assuming i was heartbroken that she’d put some self-absorbed loser she’d rescued above her own life].
a few years later, the disney version came out. my youngest aunt took me to see it at the movie theater – twice. i loved it that much. the disney cast of characters was raucous, silly, animated (literally). i loved sebastian the lobster (or crab?). a far swim from hans christian andersen. i still love that disney version and always will. the disney fairy dust – sterilizing and prettifying everything.
i think there’s something to be said for the original HCA version though. for one, it’s the original. and two, it’s good to expose children to a range and depth of emotions. yes, the little mermaid felt as if she were walking on daggers every time she took a step with her human legs. there’s value, i think, in exposing kids to that in a story. to all the complicated layers of life that fall short of being disney moments. and all for the better, likely.
i love the mary tyler moore theme song. her expression as her eyes scan the roads of her new city pre-GPS days, her twirling around (on foot) in her newfound city … i think a part of me will always feel this way (or remember feeling this way), regardless of how old i am or become.
that overwhelming but thrilling feeling as i drove my new MINI from palo alto to redwood shores as a 1L summer associate sans GPS and glancing every few seconds at a mapquest printout, feeling like a country mouse constantly being swallowed by the skyscrapers my first year in new york … or that feeling of starting a new job.
listening to the MTM theme song makes me smile.
“but i will resist except to say that the poem stays with me, in the way that songs we fall in love to stay with us, as a figure for that time and those people, and their different lives will always feel to me as if they are playing out in time the way the adjectives of experience play over the adamant nouns in Stevens’s poem …”
i’m a few essays into robert hass’s “what light can do.” his essays provide something my life has been lacking lately. it has been awhile since i’ve gotten to grab a crisp but chubby stanford college course booklet and open a quarter’s (we had quarters, not semesters) worth of possibilities. i remember flipping automatically to the humanities courses – just reading the choices, the possibilities … it gave the feeling of limitless possibilities. my friend maya remembers this with equal fondness and just as vividly. smiling in agreement, she added, “yeah, everyone would run to grab the course booklets as soon as they came off the press and would run to different corners of campus with it!” and what was more, we got a week or so to “shop” the courses freely before committing for the quarter. i remember circling my picks with a colored highlighter and reading the descriptions just for fun. it wasn’t really the same in law school. law school, despite also being at stanford, didn’t quite have the same sort of infinite choices and possibilities. the path was already narrowed by then, and there was no crip yet chubby course booklet for law school. as a 1L, your classes were chosen for you. and everyone took the same five or so courses.
i remember thinking in college – i’ve made it. i can’t believe i get to do what i love – read novels and poems, write about and discuss them, and then get a grade for doing what i’d do anyways! it was a brief four years, and i miss those four years.
reading hass’s essays brings me back to that (well, as close enough as i can get at this point). and for that reason alone, i’d recommend it.
the lines above are from the first essay in his collection. his essays have a poetic cadence to them. i find myself re-reading his sentences in the way i’d re-read poetry. and what’s more, each essay also has the feeling of being an individual college course of sorts (a humanities one, of course).