Wednesday, December 26, 2007

timeless classics

Melanie's blog entry has been magnified all out of proportion because I immediately stopped posting afterward. I have a half-written blog about the iNano commercial song, but that's about it. Since then, the holidays took over and I've been drowning in soul food, Christmas movies (or what passes for them in my world) and very strange presents.

I've also been reading Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder. One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read, mostly because of the subject. The book is about Paul Farmer, an American doctor who does work in Haiti. If you hate all charities (as I do) you'll probably love this book. It replaces the "let's make things slightly less miserable" mentality with a "there's plenty to go around" philosophy. Sort of the third-world equivalent of Project Runway's "Make it Work."

Today was spent struggling to find the will to work, interspersed with fascinating conversation with a co-worker's 9 year old son. (His day was spent dogsitting Sequoia, who now licks the ground he walks on.) So today I learned about the Imperial Star Wars version of Legos, the intricacies of making a binder fit in the correct zipper compartment of a backpack, correct piano technique as well as the definition of a triad (as it relates to pianos), and the entire plot of The Nutcracker.

This last was most intriguing. When I was his age, a teacher mentioned that The Nutcracker was a timeless classic which we would all do well to read. I was a literature geek even then, so I checked it out of the library. There were great, almost overwhelming, illustrations. But I remember sitting on my bed in my nightgown, reading the few last pages while waiting to be tucked in, and feeling that unmistakable apprehension you get when you see that a story simply isn't developing on schedule.

Like that ten minutes into the movie without a plot point. You don't really know consciously that it should be there, you just feel your eyes wandering toward the Exit sign. Anyway, the book ended. It was all a dream. The plot made absolutely no sense, just some war between nutcrackers and mice and none of it was real anyway.

I blamed myself. If this was a timeless classic, and I suffered from a complete inability to comprehend it, what did that say about my future? A lifetime of Supergirl comic books? I promptly burst into tears.

My mom came in, found me in a state, and reassured me by riffling through the book and agreeing that it lacked plot, theme, or substance. There wasn't even much character development. To this day, I'm grateful to her for putting the blame on the author instead of me. I was able to sleep that night by promising myself that I would never expose my brain to The Nutcracker again.

Until today. I was overcome with curiosity. I shamelessly confessed this whole story to Miles, who took it in stride. He hadn't finished the book yet, but he provided updates throughout the course of the day. By 5:00 pm he was done and had readied his lecture notes. Apparently, the heavily illustrated copy I had read was a f***ing excerpt. It was just the dream sequence. There's oh so much more. Miles described a universe peopled with clockmakers and the nephews of clockmakers, dreams and awakenings and entire conversations with toy nutcrackers. The whole thing culminates in marriage, a year and a day after the story ends.

I asked, "Why a year and a day?" Miles shrugged. "Who knows?" Then he shook his head and smiled.

And why couldn't I have adopted that attitude when I was nine?

1 comment:

Melanie said...

Wow; and all this time I thought the Nutcracker was just a ballet. Geez. Post the Sequoia song!