Sunday, October 22, 2017

Fish and Fairy Tales

Okay, guys, I am so wiped out. I’m having a Halloween party tonight, kind of, so I’ve spent the entire weekend cleaning and baking and shopping, and any spare time has been for writing, and somehow none of the writing managed to be tonight’s blog.

I started a post on noses in the Grimm brothers, and another one about the story “Donkey Cabbages,” and there’s still that final entry in the Lindworm Series that I’ve been putting off, but I just haven’t had the energy to get to the end of them, so enjoy a night of rambling, I guess.

Last Sunday I helped out with children’s church for the first time at my new church, and, well. It was an experience. We learned about Jonah, and then everyone in the room got sent home with a goldfish. Including me.

Look. I love animals. There are those who are concerned that I may have a bit of a problem with spontaneous pet acquisition. (Spoiler alert: we’re working up to the place where they might have a point.) But I didn’t really want a goldfish at that moment.

However, having received said goldfish, I felt obligated to provide it with the best quality of life possible. So I bought a tank, water conditioner, and goldfish food. I named it Eunice. I got home, I set up the tank, and the tank instantly sprung a leak. Back to the pet store. New tank, bigger and sturdier.

Of course, by the time the poor thing got set up in a new tank again, the stress was really taking a toll. Long story short, I kept Eunice alive for slightly less than seven hours.

So now I have a beautiful tank set up, and no one in it. And then yesterday I went shopping for Halloween party stuff. I couldn’t find any caution tape, and I was sad. So I went to the pet store.

Meet my new friend. His name is Mars.

So now it’s me and my three boys in the tower here: Mars, Helios, and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

I’ve been thinking lately about getting a hamster. His name would be Icarus, of course. And I already have the cage set up for my future guinea pigs, Perseus and Andromeda, who would of course produce more adorable guinea pigs. And I really miss having hermit crabs. I’ve even worked out where in my little apartment everyone would go.

Seriously, guys, I have a problem. An animal addiction. Send help now.


On a completely unrelated note, I’ve been thinking again about that stuff I was reading a while ago about oral traditions dying out. And it wasn’t a problem I was really taking seriously at the time, because I figured, well, we just read things now instead of listening to them. I hadn’t really thought so much about how stories are very much falling out of the collective consciousness of our community, and that does freak me out a little.

Last night I watched “The Swan Princess” with my ten-year-old cousin. She’d never seen it before. She’d never even heard of it before. And Odette, for my generation, was like, the ultimate princess. Sure, we were all about the Disney, but when you got right down to it, we’d choose our bird girl every time. I don’t think I know a single girl my age who doesn’t still want desperately to have Odette’s hair.

A couple weeks ago, I found out my best friend had never heard of “The Brave Little Tailor” before. So now I’m sitting here trying to comprehend how one spends a full two decades without a picture of this adorable, ridiculous little fly-swatter in their head, and, like, it does not compute?

Once I mentioned “The Princess and the Pea” in passing, and the person I was talking to was all, like, “What’s that about?”

I strongly suspect that there are a great many people in this world who are unfamiliar with stone soup.

So I was thinking the other day about (of course) Beauty and the Beast, and how I got to the early novel-length version that I frequently rant about. It happened on a ballet website. The details are foggy—I think that I was in the midst of one of my “Swan Lake” phases, and trying to track down performance variants after learning about the version where all the swans are boys.

Anyway, I ended up on this site for this fancy ballet company or something, where they had the complete histories of all their performances. And I guess there’s a ballet of Beauty and the Beast, because this site detailed the entire history of the story, from that French novel straight on up to Disney. And that was the only place I’d ever heard that first story—it’s floating around all over the internet now, but back then it might as well have not existed at all.

I know that I’m way more into fairy tales than the average person.  But I also know that a lot of these stories are built into me, as old as any of my earliest memories, that they’ve been shaping who I am since long before I started consciously seeking them out.

A lot of kids aren’t going to be able to have that. Not with the same stories, anyway, and not with the same kinds of stories—if we don’t tell our stories anymore, if we just watch the movies of them like we mostly do, everyone knows the same version. You lose what I think is the most beautiful thing about folklore; the story never belongs to one person, because everyone has touched it, but it belongs to everyone in a slightly different way. I can’t—and don’t want to—imagine a world where fairy tales are like any other form of story-focused media, where there’s just one, officially recognized version. I can’t imagine many things more tragic than losing the unpredictable, ever-changing, multifaceted beauty of a fairy tale.

So please, don’t let our stories die.

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