29
Jul 16

Reading Memories: Crying About Dr. Seuss and Frodo

reading memories

This summer, I’ve been working with the Institute of Reading Development, and it’s been a lot of fun and also the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve worked double shifts as a server and bartender. I’ve worked with impossible ghostwriting clients. I’ve worked at the job from hell. But nothing compares to the exhaustion I have felt after teaching 4 reading classes on a Sunday.

When I’m done, my brain is tired and almost incapable of thought. My body hurts from standing for about 8 hours straight, but also from squatting down to talk to each and ever one of my students. I’m drenched in sweat, because even when the air conditioner is on, I can’t stop sweating because I’m all over that classroom.

And while all of this is going on, I’m teaching some of my favorite books of all time.

The high school class centers around learning to properly read and take notes in textbooks, as well as reading Book I of The Fellowship of the Ring. This is absolutely perfect for me, because in high school, The Lord of the Rings trilogy was very important to me. The first time I ever skipped class in high school was to go buy tickets for The Return of the King. I can attribute elements of my own moral compass to that book series since I read it at a time when I was figuring out what was wrong and right to me. If you ever have four hours to watch a person cry hysterically about friendship, or about our ability to rise to a higher nature, then buy me a beer and let me talk about Tolkien.

If you don’t have that kind of time, then satisfy yourself with this picture of me dressed as Frodo back in high school.

Reading LOTR made me think dressing like Frodo was a good idea.

What can I say? I have a very particular milkshake that literally brings zero boys to the yard.

Both of the high school classes I have taught this summer have been very successful. And I attribute most of that to the fact that no one is allowed to dislike Tolkien on my watch.

But I get to teach other favorites too. The last class session with my kindergarteners finds me reading The Cat in the Hat out loud. It’s a straightforward, silly story. There’s no room for emotional breakdowns there.

OR IS THERE?!

There's no room for emotional breakdowns there. OR IS THERE?! Click To Tweet

Spoilers: There is.

I think my first memories of being read to involve The Cat in the Hat. In fact, one of my first conscious memories involves that story. My brother and I are in the bathtub playing with this metal toy pot that went with our kitchen play set. (This was back in the day when kids’ toys were made of metal and other non-safe materials.) My mom is there giving us the bath, but midway my dad walks in. He’s still in his button-down shirt and tie. (Also, his mustache and hair are still dark black and not gray like they are now.) He grabs the pot and pours some water on our heads. My brother and I laugh hysterically.

Then, we’re dried off and put to bed. My brother’s bed is on one side of the room, and mine on the other. Mom sits in a rocking chair between us and reads The Cat in the Hat. Dad sits on the edge of my bed. Then we’re asleep.

This could very well be a conglomeration of memories of bath and bedtime routines from my childhood. But I don’t think that matters. What matters is that I have this memory of my family all in one room together, thinking about the same thing all at the same time. That wasn’t something that happened a lot. While my mom stayed home with us, my dad worked really long hours as a restaurant manager when we were little. I remember we pretty much only saw him for those few minutes before bed. And because my brother has autism-like symptoms, we don’t really share a lot between us. We were never close, but we shared that story.

So, while I read this story to my kindergarteners now, it’s hard not to think about how significant those moments were, even though they happened probably 28 or 29 years ago. It’s kind of crazy to think how unbelievably important a silly story about an anthropomorphic cat who makes a big mess can be.

Do I get a little choked up in class? Yeah.

But I think that’s par for the course with teaching kindergarteners. The class requires that the parents sit in class with their children. And it’s really sweet to watch the kids bond with their parents while they work on reading.

If I’m being honest, teaching kindergarteners has been the first time that I’ve thought to myself that I want to have a kid. And I want to have a kid because I want to teach a kid to read.

Naturally, this desire to have a kid was completely erased when I walked into my middle school classroom. There is truly no birth control like sharing a room with ten 13-year-olds who all think they tell the best jokes.

Spoilers: No 13-year-old tells good jokes.


07
Jul 16

10 Fanfiction Stories I Want to Read

Today, let’s talk about fanfiction.

fanfiction

I like stories. I like them a lot. I like them so much that I write my own and a lot of the time, I read the stories of others. Because of my love and fascination with stories, I spend a lot of time thinking about fictional characters and what they do outside of the actual canonical story. (As well as thinking about what fictional career I would like.) For that very reason, I’m bringing you a list of 10 fanfiction stories I want to read. So, if you come across any of these on the internet, know that you are obligated by law to send me a link.

And with that, let’s get to it!

fanfiction draco malfoy

The Malfoys being tried for their war crimes.

Any society that has a list of “unforgivable curses” naturally must also have a list of unforgivable war crimes. And I find it hard to believe that anyone who helped the Dark Lord rise to power and called themselves a Death Eater wouldn’t be tried for those crimes. I would also like to read about the Malfoys when they are locked up at the wizarding version of Guantanamo.

And I wouldn’t be mad if this was made into an attraction in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Bilbo Baggins - fanfiction

Bilbo workshopping There and Back Again in an Elven MFA program.

Sure, the elves are basically the purest and most godlike creatures in Middle Earth, but that doesn’t stop me from assuming that they are pretentious, judgmental assholes when it comes to the creative writing workshop table. I bet Bilbo brings his book into the room and takes his place at the round table, then Celebrimbor and Glorfindel start tearing his work apart by saying all those shitty things that assholes say in workshops.

In this particular story, Celebrimbor is the goody two-shoes who wants the professor to love him, so he says shit like, “You have to learn the rules first, then you can break them. So you have to be aware of the tradition before you transfer the role of the hero to Bard the Bowman.” Then, Glorfindel is the asshat who would want Bilbo to take out any sort of so-called feminine qualities from the book, like when the dwarves help clean up the kitchen after the unexpected party. He’d also want Beorn to be more of a Bukowski sad sack character.

Downton Abbey - fanfiction

Lady Edith enjoying a moment of happiness at Downton Abbey.

So, I haven’t seen the final season of Downton yet, and I don’t know if I can take any more emotional roller coaster rides with Julian Fellowes at the control panel, just laughing maniacally as everything I love turns to absolute shit. But I do know this: Lady Edith deserves to be happy.

Lady Edith deserves to be happy. Click To Tweet

And I don’t care what form that takes. So, if she isn’t an ecstatic ball of joviality in the sixth season, then I’ma need someone to pen a tale where Edith sits on a merry-go-round with her kid and eats cotton candy while the air is a perfect 72 degrees and no one gets a sunburn.

Fanfiction - star trek

Lieutenant Commander Data attempting to install the newest iOS update.

(YES I KNOW HE’S AN ANDROID SO YOU THINK HE PROBABLY USES THE ANDROID PLATFORM BUT THIS IS FANFICTION SO GET UP OFF THIS ALSO YOU’RE CRAZY IF YOU THINK THAT THERE AREN’T APPLE PRODUCTS ALL UP IN THAT STARSHIP ENTERPRISE.)

Anyway, I just imagine he wouldn’t have enough memory to do the update initially, then he’d put it off, just like you do when you don’t want to update your phone in the middle of the day. But then, when he isn’t expecting it, Data would accidentally hit the update button, and then boom! He’d be out, installing that update in the middle of a critical mission, and you can bet that Q would be a real dick about it.

Peaky Blinders - Fanfiction

The Shelby family confronting a business partner/enemy using nothing but the phrase “Are you laughing at my brother?!”

Admittedly, I’m a little sad that the third season of Peaky Blinders isn’t just six straight hours of the Shelby brothers saying this over and over as they fight their enemies and marry each other off to gypsies. (Though, I do understand why the creators of the show chose not to do this.) Anyway, remember that scene in season 1, episode 4 of The Wire where they only use variations of the word “fuck?” For reference, also obviously NSFW:

I want to read a scene where the Shelby brothers confront someone, and only use the phrase “Are you laughing at my brother?!” I don’t care who they are beating up or why they are. I just want this to happen.

Fast and the Furious - fanfiction

The Toretto Family getting kicked off the go-karts at a fun park.

I mean, because obviously they would be. You can get kicked off the go-karts at Celebration Station here in Oklahoma City for the smallest transgression. (Not that I would know or anything, or that I’ve accidentally caught a go-kart on fire.) Naturally the Torettos proclivity for flips and drifting would get them kicked out fast, thus ruining the birthday party of little Jack O’Conner.

Don’t worry, though. Uncle Dom and Aunt Letty would make it up to Jack by giving a Power Wheels car to ride around in. And naturally, they’ve modified it to go faster.

Huckleberry Finn - fanfiction

Huckleberry Finn making out with me.

This is a long-standing literary crush. I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR THIS.

This is a long-standing literary crush. I WILL NOT APOLOGIZE FOR THIS. Click To Tweet

Also, if you have an inexplicable love for all things Huck Finn, I sincerely recommend that you check out Band of Robbers. It will definitely intensify your infatuation.

Avengers - Fanfiction

The Avengers picking out a game room couch at Ikea.

If you thought tensions were high in Captain America: Civil War, that’s nothing compared to the flaring tempers in an Ikea. And you know what? Even though they’ve all actually experienced the world nearly ending multiple times, I bet that Hawkeye would feel like it really was ending if the gang didn’t get the purple sectional, just as I’m sure Black Widow would prefer the black patent leather chaise. And whatever the crew ended up buying, I’m sure it would at some point be smashed by the Hulk. Only he wouldn’t really be angry. It would just be an excuse for him to get rid of the couch that he didn’t really like.

Waiting for Godot - fanfiction

Vladimir and Estragon finally meeting Godot, and agreeing they never want to see him again.

As an English major, I think I was forced to read Waiting for Godot roughly 63,497 times during my tenure as an undergrad. For this reason, I have often thought about what sort of turn the play would take if Didi and Gogo were to actually meet Godot. I have thus concluded that those two lovable tramps wouldn’t enjoy his company, and stand him up next time, only to be found waiting in a more ridiculous location, like a DMV line or camping out for tickets to a Star Wars movie.

Batman - Fanfiction

A Batman story that doesn’t dwell on the death of Bruce’s parents.

I’m not sure why, but pretty much every Batman movie ever has to have the terrible scene where we see Bruce’s parents get shot. And I’m not saying that this isn’t a formative experience for little Brucie, but I am saying that it’s definitely not what makes him Batman. It’s important, but I’m pretty sure his training with Ra’s al Ghul is a little more important. Also, his time spent with Alfred is also important. (Thanks to Fox’s Gotham for showing how Bruce and Alfred get on after Thomas and Martha die.)

And I get that seeing how Bruce witnessed the murder of his parents is supposed to make us feel sympathy for him. But it kind of does the opposite. He had enough money that he could live in complete comfort for his whole life. Other kids in that situation would’ve been bounced between relatives and foster homes until they turned 18 and were no longer anyone’s problem.

And let’s be real. Batman’s origin story has been done to death.

Batman's origin story has been done to death. Click To Tweet

I would really like to see a story that goes into detail about how he does restorative yoga to heal his body after superhero-ing all day, or about how pissed off Alfred is that Bruce can never remember to use a goddamn coaster.

So what about you? What fanfiction are you dying to see/read?