Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Small Piece of my Childhood Died Today

When I was in seventh grade, I spent a glorious two months living with my Grandparents, Porter and Lydia Merrill in tiny Duchesne Utah. I bet you'd have an easier time guessing the pronunciation and spelling of Duchesne than where it lies in Utah - I'll make it easy for you - it's in the Great Basin. Thank You. * I moved from being a middle child of nine kids, to being the only child in the household, a difference for me, to be sure (What? You want to know where I am all the time? And you know exactly who made any mess in the house?).

The only real memory I have of English class during that time was a story our teacher showed us, and then the subsequent writing assignment we had. She showed us the picture book, The Mysteries of Harry Burdick, a book with fourteen illustrations, each with a title and line of text, but no more. She read us the introduction, of a book publisher Mr. Wenders, who received a visit from a man calling himself Harry Burdick, who had written fourteen short stories, and who showed him these fourteen pictures he had drawn to accompany them. Harry Burdick left the drawings, and said he would be back the next day with the stories, but he never returned. Many years passed, and now they decided to publish just the pictures.

We each had to pick one of the fourteen drawings, and write a short story about it, and the short story I wrote (based on the harp drawing) captured my imagination. It stretched twenty pages long, and that was just the beginning - I never even reached the pivotal moment of the story. It was the stuff of high fantasy, of quests, a dryad turned into a harp, a young man searching for...something. Yes, it was original - for a seventh grader, and I loved that story. I used to tell pieces of it to Halley, my younger sister as we were roommates. I even have on tape one session I recorded. I dreamed of that story, of the world, of the theology - Sun god, Moon goddess. And through the years, I forgot the name of the book, but I never forgot that sad story - what happened to the poor man? Did he die? Is that why he never came back? Did he just like confusing people? One of life's great mysteries, right there. So many years had passed, I've even wondered if I had made up the back story, or remembered it wrong, it was so mysterious.

Until today, when on a blog I saw the book referenced. I had found it! There it was - The Mysteries of Harry Burdick. I read the top review, and wait for it, so that your childhood can die too, the reviewer said, "The introductory story, I should probably point out, is utterly false. But it gives some nice context to the images that follow..." (found from the link at the top of the page). What? What?? WHAT????? Utterly false? And that is when my Childhood died. I feel deluded and denuded and maybe derided, but that's just because it makes a nice triune of adjectives.

All these years, I had worried about Harry Burdick, even if I couldn't remember his name, and there was no Harry Burdick. He never died a tragic death, on the verge of fame and fortune. There were no lost stories, just waiting to be found someday. This is like when I read The Princess Bride for the first time, but I have a thing against abridged books, so I off to the library I promptly went, and spent a long a fruitless search looking for books by S. Morgenstern. Only I feel more tragic now, since I spent 16 years hanging from a lie. Given, in both cases of the Princess Bride and The Mysteries of Harry Burdick, if I had ever given a thought to the fact that they had author bylines not by the purported author I might not have struggled quite so much.

*What, that didn't help? It's about two hours east of Salt Lake, on the road to Vernal, which is in uttermost eastern Utah, and another hour beyond Duchesne (said, Doo-Shane).

Friday, January 20, 2012

Mine and Avram's bucket list

(I'll let you decide whose goals are whose, and which ones are joint.)
Bucket List:

1. Become a full professor
2. Have six children
3. Visit the five sacred places (to Avram): Jerusalem, Rome, Karnak, Jackson County, Missouri, and Nauvoo.
4. Live in Jerusalem
5. Get a PhD
6. Buy a house I love
7. Get published
8. Get a tenure track job
9. Go to Gen-Con
10. Go back to school, get a Master's and maybe a PhD
11. Visit England again, and go to all the touristy places; watch a Shakespearean play, Stonehenge, Wayland's smithy, lake country, Cornwall, Ireland, London, Monthly Queen's college dinner, walking (as the national hobby), etc.
12. Visit the Continent, especially France and Italy.
13. Visit Alaska
14. Go on a holiday, where we rent a beach house for a week, and feel like amazing people.
15. Read the Three Musketeers in French
16. Decorate a house (my house that I love - #6)
17. Go scuba diving
18. Go snorkeling again
19. Attend my children's Temple weddings/sealings
20. Finish the Hebrew bible in Hebrew
21. Read the Greek New Testament
22. Go on a biking trip in Europe
23. Teach a course on Biblical translation
24. Visit the Grand Canyon, specifically go down inside the Grand Canyon. Ideally raft it.
25. Visit Maine, stay by the ocean
26. Have a flower garden
27. Take the family to Disneyworld/Disneyland
28. Go river rafting
29. Visit the Berlin Museum
30. Do a seminal camping trip with the family
31. Have all natural births (3/3 so far)
32. Nurse all children (unless they're adopted)
33. Do foster care
34. Be a temple worker