I’m mostly writing this just to keep it straight in my head, because, honestly, it’s just so absurd.
I just tweeted about this, but thought – hey! New year, new adventures, let’s get back to this blogging thing. I want to be more creative and flex my writing muscles more, so, perhaps, my first instinct shouldn’t be a threaded tweetstorm, but a blog post.
Anyway. I digress.
Let’s talk about Bean and Moana.
For anyone reading this who doesn’t know, Bean is my kid. She’s currently four years old. She is a delight, a challenge, a light, and the love of my life. (No offense meant to my spouse.)
When I first heard about Moana, Disney’s latest animated adventure, I bookmarked it as something I’d like to take Bean to for several reasons. I want her to see strong, brave, smart, kind women on screen. I want her to see stories from other cultures and people. And I loved the idea of her seeing a movie – animated or not – that didn’t have a single white person in it. I also loved that there was no romantic subplot. It was, simply, joyfully, a rollicking adventure about a girl finding her destiny and learning to trust herself.
We went to see it opening weekend, I think, and we both loved it. It was, simply, joyfully, a rollicking adventure about a girl finding her destiny and learning to trust herself.
The music was pretty awesome, too.
Then Bean asked to go and see it again, so we did.
Then she asked to go and see it again, so my spouse took her.
And she’s still asking if we can go see it again. She loves Moana. We listen to the soundtrack on a loop when we’re in the car (and sometimes during dinner). We read one of her Moana books every night at bedtime. She reads stories to her Moana tsum tsums and has tea parties with her Moana dolls.
(BTW, there’s nothing like the image of the tattooed demigod Maui ordering the mint tea and a biscuit at a tea party.)
We are all Moana, all the time at Casa Celt is what I’m saying.
But here’s what’s amazing to me. Bean is talking to us about Moana. She asking about character motivation. She’s asking why certain events transpire and what she thinks it means. She’s working out that there is more to the story than what’s on the screen and trying to figure what all of that means.
It’s incredible to watch. To see her edging around discovery. To see her beginning to understand that stories are often deeper than what’s on the surface. And to see her actively trying to work out what Moana is all about.
She’s beginning to think critically about things, to think symbolically about things. And it’s freaking amazing. She asks us what we think, tells us what she thinks. She wants a give and take, though she’s just beginning to understand what that is.
And it’s mind blowing.
It’s funny how little things like this make me realize what an unbelievable thing parenting is. How gobsmacking it is to watch a person forming and emerging.
From my perspective, being the middle-aged woman I am, it’s so easy to take knowledge for granted because I know it. I understand what it means to interpret and dissect stories. I know what symbolism is. I know how to spot themes and subplots, how to speculate about character’s motivations.
I forget that all of that was new to me at one point. That I had to learn that.
Watching my daughter go through this discovery on her own, is humbling and wonderful. She is figuring this out, she’s beginning her journey. And it’s marvelous, in the purest sense of the world. I marvel at her, at her cleverness, at her imagination, at her empathy for fictional characters and their trials and tribulations.
She knows the world is bigger than it seems. She’s beginning to see that our stories often are, too.
I couldn’t be more proud. And I can’t wait to see what she discovers next.
A quick, sort of related aside:
So, there’s a giant crab monster in Moana named Tomatoa. His species – as far as I know – is never identified – mostly because I think “giant crab monster” is about as specific as it needs to be. But, the key thing about Tomatoa is that he’s gathered shiny treasures and covered his shell in them.
Out of nowhere, Bean speculated that Tomatoa must be a decorator crab because he’s covered his shell with things. As she put it “He’s a decorator crab because decorator crabs gather things up on their shells to hide themselves, which is why he probably has so much stuff.”
She’s learned about decorator crabs from watching Octonauts, but to make that leap knocked me over. She’s truly thinking about the story, about the characters, and trying to apply what she knows – her worldly 4 years of experience on this earth – to Moana.
And she’s practicing being a good little biologist, too, what with the deductive reasoning for the species identification, too.
Oh, she is my heart.
I don’t know about you, but I often find myself earwormed by words and phrases. Don’t get me wrong, I also get the incessant jukebox repeat of songs, too. But, sometimes, it’s actually just language. A phrase. A word.
Today, it’s “obliquity of the ecliptic”. It basically means the earth’s tilt on its axis. And yet … today, the phrase is leaving swirls of beautiful infinity in my brain. It feels peach-ripe with possibility and allure. All I want to do is stare at it, run it around my tongue and through my teeth, hold its weighty, surprising grace in all of my conversations.
The obliquity of the ecliptic. It feels pregnant, a story waiting to be born, a world waiting to be tapped and pulled into existence.
Perhaps I should get started on that.
Did you have clear skies last night? If so, you may have been able to catch the sight above: a conjunction of the crescent Moon and the planets Venus and Mars in the western sky!
I captured the photo above with a Nikon D7000 and a Sigma 150-500mm lens. Venus is the brighter object at left, Mars appears dimmer and redder above. Part of the Moon’s “dark side” can be seen due to Earthshine – sunlight reflected off Earth onto the Moon. (Sometimes romantically called “the old Moon in the new Moon’s arms.”)
Although the worlds were only within a degree or two of each other in the sky they were in reality very far apart (obviously). The actual distances from Earth to each at the time of the event? Moon: 363,784 km; Venus: 213 million km; Mars:…
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For the record, let me state this – I am a boring, generic white woman with mousy brown hair. My hair, in its natural, unruly state is still considered perfectly, socially acceptable. If I never did anything to it again, it would remain that way.
I don’t bear any social costs for my natural hair because it’s still white person’s hair. Nor do I have to put up with people wanting to touch it. The following ramblefest is really just me whinging about my hair because I have the privilege to do so without it being called political. Continue reading
I’ve been meaning to write this for awhile now. And I’ve written it, in my head at least. Lines and remembrances. Memories and silliness. Grief and joy. And, yet, sitting down here to finally write it and … I’m blank. There aren’t any words within reach. I don’t remember what I’ve come up with in my head. Nothing.
So, I’ll just start at the beginning and give up the pretense of trying to create some eloquent and memorable and just go with immediate and hopefully not terrible. Continue reading
Siofra is the first dog that’s truly belonged to me. I adopted her when she was about a year old from Save the Animals Foundation (STAF), where I volunteered as a dog caretaker and adoption counselor.
She came to STAF in late 2002, an overly serious three-month old puppy, her face too big for her skull and her front legs skinned from elbow to wrist. She’d been found at a car wash and it was evident she’d been on her own for awhile, even for her short life. Her coat was matted and her skin scabbed. She’d been living on garbage, struggling to survive, abandoned. Yet, she did survive – despite the traumatic injuries to her legs.
I remember the first night I met her. I came in for my volunteer shift to take care of the dogs, and another volunteer intercepted me. She told me I had to come to the vet room and see this puppy because she seemed like the kind of dog I’d love.
Boy, was that volunteer right on the money. Continue reading
I’m looking over the lazy curl of the Ohio, watching the night lights of Cincinnati grow brighter. The sky itself is a mesh of of blue, grey, and dusky rose. It’s beautiful. And then it occurs to me. I have seen so many beautiful places, have stayed in ancient cities, and witnessed breathtaking wonders. I have seen so much beauty in this world … and while at the time I noticed an appreciated it, afterwards I shoved it back to the inaccessible junk pile of memory that we all have.
I have been so lucky to see the things I have seen … the sunsets, storms, deer, flowers, even the insects … on and on and on. It saddens me a little now to realize I can’t recollect it all at will. I know that’s the design of the human mind – you can’t remember everything or you’d go crazy.
But I still feel a pang, not being able to remember all of the beauty. Continue reading