Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Randomized Account of my Life Thus Far

I knew from an early age that Claude Monet was my favorite artist. I knew this because: 1) he painted with the most gorgeous colors in existence, 2) he had the most gorgeous garden in existence, and 3) I loved his persistence and his splotchy style. It has long been one of my ambitions to see his garden and paintings in person. My grandmother, Nora, had dabbled in painting once. A few things she’d done were around her house- and ours; I held her on the same level of esteem as Monet himself. I used to go to her house and paint scenes on giant pieces of poster paper in which everything- inanimate or not- had a grin swabbed onto its face. In first grade, I loved to draw and color. My specialty was combining magenta and turquoise while I crayoned in pictures similar to my giant paintings. I still paint occasionally. I’m not necessarily any better, though.

I went to church. I think I can count the days I haven’t been to church on one hand. I went to Sunday School and learned about Jesus. I loved Bible stories- especially Joseph and his many colored coat and stuff out of the Book of Mormon. My favorite of those was a story about a guy named Ammon. He was serving this king in the fields when some thieves tried to steal a bunch of the king’s sheep. The other servants feared the king’s wrath, but Ammon hacked the robbers’ arms off. Of course, the king was amazed. He thought Ammon was the Great Spirit. Ammon admitted that he wasn’t the Great Spirit, but he told the king all about Him.

My family was close. My best friend was undeniably my cousin Connor. We invented multiple games with what was at hand, usually involving mythical creatures or shipwrecked kids (us). There was one we played on the beach in Newport where you would turn to dust if you stepped on the hot, white sand. My brother, Collin, and I played games in which my Barbies interacted with his brainy Lego people. I remember him building me a Barbie house out of K’nex. My parents taught us right from wrong.

Music was everywhere. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love singing. There were two movies I was always watching: The Sound of Music and My Fair Lady. I was shocked when I found out that Eliza Doolittle’s voice wasn’t really Audrey Hepburn’s. I loved Julie Andrews as Maria. I remember picking up two baskets and parading around the house singing “Confidence.” Mom says I used to belt the theme song at the supermarket from the grocery cart. I had confidence in reams.

I started learning to play the piano when I was eight. It was- and is- frustrating at times. I’ve done my share of hitting the keys with fists in aggravation. It’s paying off though. I can play Chopin and the Pride and Prejudice music and accompany myself when I’m singing “Think of Me.” My mom and sisters generally end up singing with.

I was always reading books. Apparently I would fall asleep in my crib with stacks of books around me on a regular basis. I would get my dad to read me “Sleeping Beauty” over and over. After a few times, I would be able to recite the book to him while turning pages as if I could read it. Once, my dad changed the bit where the king burns all the spinning wheels in the kingdom so the king burned all the Sleeping Beauty books in the kingdom instead. You can imagine my disbelief. From the third grade on, I was reading the Harry Potter series. My dad once bugged me about that because I would read them whenever there was nothing new. May I remind you that his childhood books were things like Jonathan Livingston Seagull and a condensed version of Les Miserables. And I read those, too.

Politics didn’t affect me at all until fifth grade. On September 11th ( I think we all know what year), I remember hanging up my backpack next to some other kids and hearing them talk. “Did you hear what happened?” “Yeah. My mom watches the news every morning.” I knew nothing about the news; I was shocked. I’d never heard of Iran or Iraq or any Middle Eastern countries before. I eagerly showed my mom a map of Israel in the paper that I recognized from the pages of my Bible. I was amazed when I heard Billy Joel mention the word “Afghanistan” in a song. He knew Afghanistan existed too? The only elections I recall are the ones involving Bush. I assumed I was republican, since my parents are.

Most of the same things are important to me now- art, music, family; church, books, etc. And I don’t think I’ll ever get hooked on politics. There are other off-hand subjects we could discuss, but they’re not at my core. My geocaching adventures, for instance, or my love of the BBC network; my endeavors in gardening; my random decision one night to be an astronaut in order to attain adventure- these may well stay or disappear, and my personal culture would still stay essentially the same. In the future, I want to have integrity. I want to be who I am because of who I am. But the truth is, no matter what my convictions may be, I am still changing. My culture is not through developing, and my childhood is not officially over (although the end of Harry Potter did seem to be a sign). But as my dad so cheerily reminds me, “Better to be changing than not changing. Not changing is dead.”

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