“We want not so much a Father but a grandfather in heaven,
a God who said of anything we happened to like doing,
‘What does it matter so long as they are contented?”
“Fairy tales are more than true;
not because they tell us that dragons exist,
but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
[ G. K. Chesterton ]
What an awesome title, huh?! Pretty presumptuous albeit. I can just hear you saying: “What is she thinking? I mean we’ve all heard about the dangers of fairy tales, waiting for your own Prince Charming to rescue you and all that, but this?! Does she really believe she’s a fairy-tale princess?”
Well, yes and no.
I’m pretty sure you all know the sweet Disney Version of Sleeping Beauty. Equally you all know that Sleeping Beauty was named Aurora Borealis by her parents and dubbed Briar Rose by her guardians (or rather guardian).
What you might not know is that Sleeping Beauty is a original German folk-lore collected (not written!) by the Brothers Grimm. You might have guessed that the original tale is not as sweet as the Disney interpretation of it.
Again, what you may not realize is that all German folk-lore (to a certain extent) is not a compilation of fictional entertaining stories, but was actually used to teach children important lessons, such as “Don’t walk into the woods on your own and don’t talk to strangers. You never know who might be a wolf in disguise praying on you!” (Little Red Riding Hood).
Well the original tale of Sleeping Beauty holds a similar moral for the little girls of past times: Don’t have sex before marriage!
“Really?”, I hear you mutter again, “She can’t be serious?! What in the world does this have to do with premarital sex?” ;- and to a certain extent your right.
It’s not necessarily premarital sex, but more careless decisions that can diminish your reputation or worse set your life up on a wrong course, leading everybody around you into shame and humiliation. Back then, the ultimate careless decision for a girl was premarital sex. I understand it still is largely that way in the U.S. even though it may be (at least a bit) different in large parts of Europe including Germany.
But I am digressing. The moral of the story, although it might be hidden today, was blatantly clear to the children of earlier days who were used to this kind of imagery. And this is the story they would have heard:
“Once upon a time, there were a king and queen who for a long time could not conceive a child, although they loved one another very much. Then finally, the queen gave birth to a beautiful little girl. This girl was so precious to them (and to the kingdom, being the sole heir of sorts), that they feared for its safety having it grow up inside the walls of the castle.
For the King beloved as he was by his people was not without enemy. There was a powerful Queen (who by all accounts could only be a Witch, because such intelligence and strength is not common in the gentle and sweet nature of a woman!), who had long since wanted to take over his kingdom and was just waiting for the perfect opportunity, a moment of weakness in the King.
So the King and Queen decided to send their daughter secretly away with her trusted wet-nurse (who was so schooled in the art of natural remedies, that some also considered her a witch, but a good witch, more like a fairy) to be raised until the day she was old enough to marry and thus could not be harmed anymore in an attempt to harm the King. And so it was done. Carefully a spot was chosen away from the public eye and most importantly away from eager young men already besotted by the beauty of the little girl and the promise of power she held (men=spindles).
Alas the powerful Queen never gave up searching for the princess, determined to find her and use her against the good King and his Queen. But the years past and with it a feeling of false security came over the good King.
Then on the eve of the princesses 16th Birthday her trusted wet-nurse told her the truth about who she really was. The princess who had come to love her nurse like a mother was distraught at the idea of leaving her and cried greatly. This outburst was overheard by one of the powerful Queens spies, who had disposed all over the land in search of the princess and he hurried back to the Queen to tell her of the good fortune that he had finally found the Princess.
The Queen knew that the easiest way to destroy the King was to destroy his only heir to the throne, but even she did not dear to kill the Princess at the Kings court. However she knew that if the girls virtue was lost no suitor would be found to marry her, thus guaranteeing the continuance of the good Kings kingdom.
So she sent her trusted spy to destroy the Princess virtue. The Princess who had been raised without the knowledge of mans charms and deceptions naively followed the spy into the dark towers of the castle and succumbed to his sweet words and promises of true love, but after the spy had pricked her (= had sex with her) he did not as he had promised marry her, but left her to face her destiny alone. So shamed was the princess after the loss of her virtue, that she and with her the entire Kingdom withdrew from the outside world, that shunned them. It was almost as though the entire kingdom had fallen into a deep sleep.
The years past and no eligible suitor was able to master the walls of thorns of social spite that had enveloped this kingdom, no matter how hard they tried. And try they did for not only was the Princesses beauty without compare, but the Kings kingdom was famed for his riches and a similar favorable prize. The powerful Queen waited patiently. She knew it was only a question of time until the King would become old and weak and without a worthy heir his Kingdom could easily be conquered.
Then one day a young prince arrived from a far off kingdom, who had heard of the tales of the beautiful princess disconnected from the world in a seeming slumber. He too had to face the thorns, but were others had given up he pushed on, because he had seen the true picture of the princess in his heart. And then when he reached the princess and gave her the kiss of true love (= marrying her although the princess had already been pricked), the spell of the powerful Queen was lifted and the kingdom awoke to new life. And – of course – they lived happily ever after.”
This is the tale as the Brother Grimm heard told in many German village while they were travelling the country. Again you’ll ask “But what has that got to do with her? Is she trying to tell us she had pre-marital sex and destroyed her family in the process? I don’t get it.”
Well, like I said before, yes and no.
I did have pre-marital sex, but seeing as I am thirty years old, unmarried and living with my boyfriend that couldn’t come as much of a surprise, but that’s not what I mean.
What I mean is that I’ve made more than my share of bad choices in my youth (which ultimately led to more or less dire consequences and also, naturally, effected by family, especially my father).
What I also mean is that Phil is the first person, who ventured beyond the walls I had erected around myself, because somehow, behind all the masks, he caught a glimpse of the true me.
In many respects he did save me from a long slumber. Without his patience I would probably have never understood, how wonderful the true me really is and that I don’t need to hang my head in eternal shame because of bad decisions I made when I was 13 years old or 14 years old or well probably up until I was 23 years old.
And you see, I think that’s the true beauty of the moral. No matter what you do (but yes, it would be better you don’t do it in the first place), there is always hope.
It only takes one person to see you for what you truly are and the spell is broken.
If one person sees the good and truth in you, you too can recognise it and in the end, you become your own Prince Charming.
[ “September” – The Shins ; – performed by James Mercer (live version)]
“Like everyone else I am what I am: an individual, unique and different, with a lineal history of ancestral promptings and urgings; a history of dreams, desires, and of special experiences, all of which I am the sum total.”
I haven’t talked a lot about my mother lately. In all honesty I have been to busy rejoicing in my new-found freedom.
Today I remembered something I didn’t even know I had forgotten.
I remembered the first time I distinctly realized that I was the girl who was different. I was the girl without a mommy.
The German School system is different from the American School system, so when I tell you I was in pre-school, I mean I was in my last year of kindergarten about to enter first grade and I was only one long summer vacation shy of being seven years old.
(No, I wasn’t held back a year. I’m an October baby and the deadline is in August, so … you do the math. You’re probably better at it than I am. Come to think about it, maybe I was held back a year?!)
Tradition wants that the last day of pre school is celebrated by taking on the little boys and girls on a glorious outing or in my case on a field trip to the local zoo.
The kindergarten teachers sent out information packages to the parents specifying what the children should bring a long on the trip and when to drop them off and where to pick them up.
I know it specified us bringing lunch in a backpack. The reason why I remember this so clearly is because my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Pich (pronounced “Peach” – sweet, huh?!), reminded us to bring our backpacks that our mommies would give us to kinder garden the next day.
The next morning, I didn’t have a backpack. It must have slipped my father’s mind. Somehow I knew it was vital for me to bring a piece of carry-on-luggage. I didn’t have a kiddy backpack, but I had something so much better. I had a pink sparkly care-bear lunchbox in which I stored all my favorite toys. So that morning, backpackless, I grabbed my pink lunch box filled with my most prized possessions (including but not limited to a toy car that changed colours when you rubbed it long enough with your sweaty palms) and walked myself to kindergarten.
I always walked myself to kindergarten. It was just across the park and it was the 80s so my father wasn’t too neglectful that way. A lot of kids walked themselves to kindergarten back then. Well at least preschoolers did.
When I got there not only was I the only kid who arrived without special parental attention, but I was also the only kid without a backpack.
For a moment most mothers just looked at me. Then my Mrs. Pich took be aside and asked if she could see what I brought for the special outing. When she saw that my lunchbox was filled with toys and other inedible items (including but not limited to a dried up marker), she asked me if I could do her a favor. She told me she had stupidly brought her lunch for today and for tomorrow. She wanted to know, if I would leave some of my toys behind and help her carry all the lunch she brought. Also she quickly tied a jump rope to my lunchbox so I didn’t have to hold on it around all day, but could instead carry it like an overgrown purse.
I don’t remember much more from that day. We saw animals, I think. Afterall it was a zoo. But I don’t really need to.
I have photos.
In all of them you see 12 happy children, smiling, laughing and having a great time.
All of them have little kiddy backpacks on their backs. Except for one. The brown-eyed girl with two dark thick braids carrying a glittery pink care-bear lunchbox tied awkwardly to her with a jump rope.
I remember sitting on the jungle gym for the group shot holding my lunchbox.
I distinctly remember feeling different.
But I also remember feeling special: I might not have had a mommy drop me off that morning, but I was the only kid that got to share Mrs. Piches lunch with her.
[ “Soul Killing” – The Ting Tings ]
“Facts and information are the nourishment, the lifeblood, the raison d’etre,
and also the bane and despair of librarians and researchers.”
there is more understanding and beauty in life when the glaring sunlight is softened by the patterns of shadows.
there is more depth in a relationship that has weathered some storms.
Experience that never disappoints or saddens or stirs up feeling is a bland experience with little challenge or variation of color.
it’s when we experience confidence and faith and hope that we see materialize before our eyes this builds up within us a feeling of inner strength, courage, and security.
We are all personalities that grow and develop as a result of our experiences, relationships, thoughts, and emotions.
We are the sum total of all the parts that go into the making of a life.”
is like wrapping a present and not giving it”
The first award I ever received was at a YMCA day camp on the Cape. It was an honesty award. I was eleven years old. I don’t remember exactly why I received it, but it had something to do with lot’s of drama. The kind of drama that only a prepubescent girl perceives as vital to her own existence.
Over the last couple of weeks you kindly bestowed awards on me without me having to flood the Atlantic beforehand to receive them. I’m grateful for that: For the awards and for unnecessity of prepubescent drama (well mainly because I’m not sure I’d still know how to channel it – completely).
Yesterday, Papa Sakura of Sakura Lights bestowed “The Versatile Blogger Award” on met, yet again. Although I’ve already received it twice (once by Patrice here and once by Quieter Elephant here), it humbled me.
Especially, since his criteria for the nominations were growth and change, which I am both trying to achieve. I’m not sure, I’ve met them yet, but I see it as a vote of confidence on his part that I will receive them in the future. I’m grateful for that. It’s incredibly uplifting having people believe in you. If you know me (or at least have read a couple of post or comments of mine) you know I’ve already found a lengthy and winded way to thank him for this nomination on his award post (if you don’t well go see for yourself!).
Obviously, that doesn’t mean I can’t seize this opportunity to thank him again in my home. I felt the best way to do this was to post my favorite art work of his.
If you wish to check this wonderful painting out on his blog, which I highly recommend, you may do so here (in case you were wondering, I tried linking this pack to him directly, but it somehow wrecked its dimensions).
Although, I feel extremely grateful towards him for bestowing this wonderful Award on me yet again, I really wasn’t up for another Nomination Post. In all honesty, I don’t have anyone to nominate that I haven’t nominated before (except maybe Quieter Elephant and he already received it – obviously) and I’m pretty sure you’re all still recovering from my last seven random, dirty secrets.
So I decided to design a new Award, which I could bestow on a bunch of people I deem worthy. This proved to bit quite a bit of work. Not only because I couldn’t come up with a name at first (“Because of you” and “Je ne said quoi” – Award just didn’t cut it) and also because Phil had to help me a bit with the design in Paint.net (which I use because I’m to cheap to pay for Photoshop, if I can have something equally as good for free). I finally settled on this:
Every single one of the following writers (I didn’t say “bloggers” now did I?!) has light the way for me on this journey. They are sparks for me (and not just me I’m sure) and this would be a dark, dire and lonely place without them. I don’t know, how to thank them enough for what they have done for me, but I hope to find a proper way some day in the future. Until then, this little jpg – file will have to suffice.
Rules for accepting this award: None. Honestly, this is yours and yours alone. Grab it and stick it on your blog or don’t. Share it with people you deem worthy or don’t. Make your own set of rule when awarding it or don’t. I said it before, this is more a tribute than an award and I can’t attach rules to a tribute (well maybe I can, but I don’t want to).
[However, I should add, that in order to spotlight the nominees the way they deserve, I chose to only nominate three writers this time. This time obviously implying, that I plan on awarding “The Spark Award” again in the future]
List of nominees (in chronological order of appearance):
Patrice was the first writer I met here and she was kind and understanding and genuinely interested in what I had to say. Above all, she thanked me for sharing my story.
Please let me repeat that:
“This wonderful, extraordinary and lovely writer and person thanked me for sharing my story”
She never gave up on me. Even when I stopped blogging for a while, even when I didn’t respond to comments. Even when I disappeared into thin air without a word of explanation. Through all of that, she never gave up on me. I don’t think I will ever find means to thank her for that.
I love the name and the design of her blog, so I’d like to share the facade of her blogging / writing home with you here:
My favorite Post Not only is this brilliantly written, but it’s honest and deep and it make’s me feel like she just invited me inside her mind, soul or heart. It touches me deeply, when someone finds it in themselves to share such depths with random strangers. I strive to be like that.
But this wasn’t the first time, Patrice invited me in. I went back in time and found our first conversation here, so see for yourself:
If you want to read up on the post, which you should (actually you should read up on all her posts!) you may do so here.
So my dear Patrice, I hope you accept this token of my gratitude knowing it stands for much more than a couple of bits and bites pressed into a jpg-file.
Paprika is one of those writers, of which you can proudly proclaim: “I knew her before.” This wonderful, witty, caring, empathetic, honest and insightful Lady has been struck by lightning recently, – in a good way. This post of hers was “Freshly Pressed” and rightfully so.
Through all the buzz and excitement, she still carved precious time out of her day to read my ramblings and to comment on them. And guess what?! Above all, she makes me feel, like I’m the one she should be grateful to for “being her personal cheerleader” as she put it.
Let me repeat that:
“This rightfully renown writer is grateful to me.”
Paprika has a list of reader’s favorites on her blog (which may be found here), but strangely it didn’t include my overall favorite post and my favorite post regarding my funniest comment (If you want to know what it is, you’ll have to go see for yourself. I promise it will be worth it. Maybe not for the comment, but definitely for the post!)
Once again, I love the design of her writing home: It’s so simple and clean. But don’t trust me on that, judge for yourself:
The first conversation we ever had, was back in September 2011. Nothing can bring two gals together faster than a mutual agreement on their utter attractiveness (is that a word? Well now it is.). Since you weren’t a part of this historic moment, I’ve included it for you here (however this is another posts of hers you really should read up on).
Paprika for all the times you’ve made me laugh, for all the times you’ve made me smile, for all the times you’ve made feel special and for the wonderful that is you, please accept this award, knowing that this place wouldn’t be same without you.
Erik. Erik came to me, when I was but a ghost. He found me in the in-between, when I had stopped posting and before I took it up again (I have Patrice’s nomination for the “Liebster Blog Award” to thank for that).
Something about his comment on my About page touched me deeply and I felt compelled to return. As I am not going to force you to open another tab in your browser and look for the comment, I’ve posted it here (well at least the beginning of it, if you want to read more you may do so here):
I know, I know, this is rather superficial of me, but it is looks that make the first impression (just because you don’t like this fact, doesn’t make it less true) and this first impression was one of peacefulness and beauty within.
Although, I enjoy all of this modern-day James Joyce‘s posts, I’d have to say, that the Resiliency – Series are my favorite. I’m not sure why, but I love the discontinued feel of continuancy to them (and if you don’t know what I mean you haven’t read them yet – do so now!)
In all his talent, kindness, wit and cutting openness, he still praises my honesty.
Let me repeat that:
“This incredibly talented writer, who shows so much of his soul on random strangers, praises the honesty in my writing.”
My favorite posts of his is “Hannah” as part of the above mentioned resiliency-series. It’s moving, it’s powerful, it’s sad, it’s beautiful. I guess you could say it’s life.
This, in case you were wondering, is the first conversation I had with him on his home turf (on this post of his):
Let me finish this post with two words in the english language that are completely overused and at the same time rarely uttered in earnest:
[“Tribute (The best song in the world)” – Tenacious D]
One of my stored away feelings in one of the many boxes hit home again last night: the feeling of freedom.
One of the things I have always considered both a grace of god and a curse is the striking similarity in looks between my mother and me.
We both have heart-shaped faces with soft brown eyes, brigitte-bardot-lips and thick, jet-black, silky, wavy hair (although I have recently started colouring mine a darker honey-shade blonde – which actually goes quite well with my fair skin).
Beyond the apparent similarity in features we also have (or so I have been told) similar mannerisms. I have a tendency of tilting my head slightly to the left in pictures (so does she), I have done ludicrous things to help others (her life was about being reckless for the sake of others), we have the same insecure half-smile when we are nervous and we treasure harmony more than anything else in the world.
Weirdly enough we also made some very identical choices in our lives and had some not-so-great things happen to us, that would probably happen to almost everybody making the choices we made, but still don’t happen to the average person.
I always treasured that. It felt like all those little tiny pieces came together as a singular stream of connection between me and the woman who gave birth to me and nourished me and raised me and who I still for the life of me can not remember.
Over the years, her friends have gotten in touch with me over Facebook, e-mails, via my father and my grandparents in the US. This too, I treasured. They were my rearview mirror that could show me images of the past I am not able to see with my own eyes. They could paint pictures of my mother that went beyond her life with my father and me, back to her childhood and youth and somehow that was comforting, making her more real to me.
I loved when people said how much I favoured her. It made me feel like my purpose was to keep her alive through me – not just as a memory or a genetic trait, but to actually relive and continue her life for her.
The last couple of days or maybe weeks, before my 30th birthday all this grace slowly started to turn sour. It started to feel less like a gift and more like a curse.
Her life ended after thirty years, how could mine continue? Where was I to go from here, without my steady compass of “This-is-the-road-she-travelled-before-me”? It felt like her steady ghost would abandon me at last and I would finally be left all alone.
This scared me. I wasn’t ready to face the world completely motherless. You see in my mind she was still always there, by my side watching me retread her steps.
I wasn’t sure, if I was capable of living my own life without her almost symbiotic presence. Which way should I turn when the path before me faltered and stopped?
The weird thing is the first thing I felt when I opened my eyes on october the 10th was not fear or loneliness or worries. It was the feeling of freedom. I felt like, for the first time since I could remember, I was breathing fresh air and filling my lunges with endless possibilities of my very own life. I wasn’t aware that I had waited for this moment for so long and that now, finally, it had arrived.
Nothing I would do and will do from this moment forward will have any connection to the life she lived, because her life simply didn’t go on beyond this point.
In all honesty, I will have to admit that this feeling of freedom did not remain pure and untinged for all too long. It was soon mixed with guilt about me feeling this way and a sense of disloyality towards the woman who had cared for me and loved me until the end.
I would like to say it helped that her friends got in touch with me that day and I suppose in a way it did, but not in the immediate way one would expect.
The general sentiment that was conveyed to me that day was that I should celebrate my birthday like no other and never falter because my mother could live on through me.
I understand that this was said to comfort me.
All it did, however, was make me furious!
I had given her thirty years of my life. Thirty years of living in her shadow. Thirty years of copying her. Thirty years of searching for as much of her as I could find, so that I could strive to become her.
Enough is enough.
I understand that losing my mother to her friends was a tragedy. She was charming, caring, witty, beautiful, creative and lovely. I understand that life without her will always lack the luster of her wild spirit and pearling laugh.
I also understand that she didn’t leave on october 10th 2011 when I decided to finally live my own life.
All of what she was ended on April 20th 1984. Her 30th birthday, not mine.
So, I’m sorry if this hurts you, but I just have to let you know:
When I started blogging here, less than a week ago, I read through the “Are you new here?” instructions on the top right corner of my screen. I don’t know about you, but I am not a computer whizz. Yes, I get a hang of computer programs rather sooner than later and once halfway adept I can work my way around them, but I have to read instructions and I have to play around with it first.
So obviously, except for the general ABC on posting I was really interested in getting blog traffic (shocking isn’t it). The funny thing is, not so much because I want people to indulge in my fine and eloquent writing (yeah right), but rather because I knew I had to get out there and be seen to meet the other motherless daughters I am looking for.
One of the first things the instructions tell you (and if you are a blogger yourself you obviously already know this) is to use their search engine and read up on other blogs.
Unfortunately, I think I am running a little late. Most to all the blogs I found keying in “mother”, “motherless”, “motherless daughter”, “dead mother” seem to have been abandoned somewhere between 2007 – 2009. Reading through the comments from a couple of years ago almost feels like wandering through one of those old western ghost towns (I’m actually not to sure those really exist, but that’s how they were portrayed in the old western movies I watched as a child).
However, just because their creators (for whatever reason) have given up on them doesn’t mean they are worthless. Well yes, granted, I can’t really get in touch with these women because the phone line has been disconnected so to speak, but I can still pick up on some of their thoughts and feelings: It’s really kind of like listening to ghosts of blogger’s past.
Two of those have really hit home for very different reasons and I feel it’s only right for me to cite them here.
The first of them (and the one I want to talk about in this post) is Jen. In her post: “Happy Birthday, Kate” she shared her thoughts on selling her childhood house. She said: “Yet the ghosts have never moved on.”
Sometimes it can be eery to see your own thoughts in writing. That’s especially true, when it wasn’t you who spelled them out. When I read Jen’s post, I thought about my father’s move about 7 years ago (maybe 6, maybe 8 – I am not good a keeping track of time). I felt that she had somehow read my mind or tapped onto my feelings in a strange way.
Up until then he had still lived in the same appartement that he had lived in with my mother when she died. The bathroom she died in was my bathroom. This must sound creepy to anybody else, but to me it was comforting. Her ghost, to me, had never moved on.
Moving day was rough. Jen said in her post that it felt like she was losing her mother all over again. I couldn’t agree more. I wasn’t able to partake in the general buzz and excitement of that day. I remember sitting on the dirty floor in the empty kitchen while everybody was outside trying to find words to say goodbye. I didn’t have any.
I walked outside and saw that my mother’s coffee mug (blue with cream “Mama” logo) that had always been stored away in the depths of the kitchen cabinet had been thrown out with every thing else. The mug was chipped and a long crack ran through “Mama”. My father was leaving everything behind. For him separating from the past was vital to face a fresh future and I don’t begrudge him that.
The only problem was that I was trying to keep the past alive, because that is all I had to connect with her. A shared bathroom, some old clothes and a Mama-coffee-mug.
Even though Jen may be long gone it is comforting to know, that her ghost also is still here – Thank you!