Memoir Mondays: Gimme!

So on Friday I explained that I’m going to begin posting “Flash Fiction Fridays” as a way to take the blog back to what it’s supposed to be: a writer’s blog. Well this is the second feature I’m adding to aid in this endeavor.

More than anything I’ve always wanted to write fiction – speculative fiction, to be exact – but just as a child must eat her veggies before she can have candy, a good writer must spend time honing skills in a variety of areas other than just the ones she enjoys most. Thus I am reserving future Mondays (which you may recognize as the crappiest day of the week) to hone my non-fiction skills by way of writing about my own life. These posts will often come with the help of prompts like the ones shared by the Daily Post, but they may also come from whatever interesting life moments may come my way.

Future posts may be a little longer and more involved, but for today I’m going to go with a quick prompt from the Daily Post that caught my eye:

Was there a special gift or toy you wanted as a child but never received? What was it?

I like to believe that I was the kind of kid who was happy with whatever she got, but that didn’t stop me from trying to get as much as I could. Once I was old enough to understand how things really worked I would anticipate the arrival of the Sears Wish Book on our front step at the end of the summer. For the months that followed that magical catalog’s arrival I would regularly scrutinize every page, carefully considering every toy and game, and circling the stuff that I really wanted. At first I’d be very careful, circling only the things that I felt I absolutely couldn’t live without, but by the time Christmas rolled around I’d have half the catalog circled because everything seemed awesome.

Of course I never got everything that I circled, but I almost always got the stuff that I really, really wanted, and even when I didn’t I got other awesome stuff that I was more than happy with.

But there was one thing that I wanted for many years in a row that I never got. I didn’t ask for it often, because I was a strange, strange child who was actually cognizant of how expensive some things were, but I did ask for it a few times and never got it… That special toy was a dollhouse; the kind that twice as tall as the kid who gets it and comes with massive amounts of furniture and accessories.

As an adult with a child of my own, I understand why my parents probably decided not to get me one of these dollhouses. For one thing, the cost of them is outrageous, even by usual toy standards. For another thing they tend to be enormous; one such dollhouse would never have fit in my childhood bedroom, and my parents were not the kind of people to allow their living area to be overrun with kid stuff. But of course, at the time, that logic meant nothing to me, and it meant even less when my best friend and her sister got a wicked dollhouse and I had to deal with the seething jealousy.

Eventually, when I was way too old to still be pining for a dollhouse, I took matters into my own hands. My friends and I had gotten into Sailor Moon and had collected some of the dolls, and I decided that my two dolls were damn-well going to have a dollhouse. I had a closet in my bedroom that wasn’t the wardrobe type, but was actually four large shelves. I took everything out of that closet, cramming it into wherever else in my room I could, and I made that closet into a doll house. I used cardboard, craft supplies, and whatever else I could find, and constructed a dollhouse, making each shelf a different floor, and I even “built” tons of stuff for the dolls to use, like books and magazines, a TV with screens to change what was playing, and pets to make the house a home.

I won’t tell you how old I was when I built this dollhouse, but I’ll tell you that I was old enough to known damn well how childish I was being. But for a while, that homemade dollhouse made me super-happy, because I’d taken matters into my own hands and given myself something I’d been longing for for a long time, and sometimes that’s just what you’ve got to do!

What’s in a Room?

Yesterday afternoon, while my husband and I were hemming and hawing over the placement of her furniture, our daughter wandered upstairs, sneaking up on us, and peered into her new bedroom for the first time. It’s not finished yet (half of her stuff is still hiding away in the guest room, and we haven’t got any of her new wall decorations up yet), but she seemed quite excited. She pranced around the room for a while, snuggled up with her “Twilight Sparkle” blanket (it’s totally just a purple blanket, but whatever she wants to think, right?), and overall just seemed happy with it.

It got me thinking about my different rooms when I was younger. I had three different ones, even though we always lived in the same house, and each of them was very me.

The first room that I had was the logical room for the baby, before my parents’ house was renovated in any way. It was in the back corner of the house, across the hall from my parent’s room. It was, as far as I can remember, a perfect square, and the walls were painted a very light pink. I believe I remember that there was a flowery border around the center of the room as well…pink roses, I think. Obviously I can’t remember back as far as when I was in a crib, but I do remember my big-girl bed, a white deal with drawers in the bottom and a headboard that allowed me to keep some of my favorite books beside me at all times. I also had a little double crib in that room for my baby dolls…not a toy, and not the real deal, but one of those miniature display models you see at the store when they don’t have the room to put up one of the full models. I don’t recall who got it from the store for me, but it was pretty damn awesome because I loved my dolls, and it was the perfect thing to keep them in. I don’t recall a whole lot more about that room, except for little flashes of additions (my first TV, my first “boom box”, my first Nintendo system), and eventually I moved on to…

My second room was the one that was adjacent my parents’ room, and across the hall from the bathroom. This room was illogical for a child’s bedroom because of the shape and the size (it was much smaller than my old one), but I can remember insisting that I wanted to move in there. The embarrassing thing is, thinking back, I think the only reason I wanted to move into that room was so that I would get to have decorations in my window during the holidays. Kids are dumb sometimes. But for better or worse, I moved into that room. A lot of the space was taken up by the closet, which jutted out at the front of the room near the door. The space created between the side of the closet and the window wall of the room was where I jammed my bed, and everything else logically had to go on the opposite wall. I actually quite liked the layout because at the time I had about a million stuffed animals that I loved and had given names to, and with the way my bed was crammed into that spot I could have all of them on there with me without any chance of them falling off. It was a bit silly, to be sure…the stuffies took up more room on that bed than I did…but I loved it. Later on in that room I completely negated the use of the closet by building myself a dollhouse in there. I’d never had a dollhouse, but at the time I was too old to not sound weird if I asked for one, so I made my own by building furniture out of cardboard boxes and the like, and making all kinds of little stuff like magazines and the like with paper and crayons. It was mind-blowingly immature, but sometimes mind-blowingly immature stuff is what keeps us happy. I like to think that that homemade dollhouse was an important moment in my creative life.

After some time in the small room I actually moved back to the bigger room, which was mostly the same except that now I was older so I started papering the walls with posters of my favorite bands and actors, and since I was doing a lot of drawing at this time in my life, there was a lot of that as well.

I don’t remember when, how, or why I brought up the idea of me moving into the basement (knowing me, I probably read it in a book), but several months after I first brought up the idea, my parents sold their pool table (which didn’t really ever get used), carpeted the main room of the basement, built a wardrobe/shelf/desk combo, and moved me down there. It was more like a small apartment rather than a bedroom, really, it was so big. The desk combo and my bed were down in in the smaller section, and in the bigger section there was a love seat and the TV and games, and a kitchen table (of all things) on which I would do puzzles and models and the like. I didn’t even have to go upstairs to go to the bathroom, since there was a toilet in the basement. It was really quite ridiculous for a teenager, but I loved it and in the end my parents loved it as well because it allowed them to start renovating upstairs (by way of knocking out walls to make the important rooms bigger). The poster-papering continued down here, and I hold that I probably had the most ridiculously dark room in teenage history because of all the black that wound up on my walls.This photo doesn't even come close to showing how bad the walls eventually got.

This photo doesn’t even come close to showing how bad the walls eventually got.

I don’t know why I felt the urge to write this post. Maybe I just like talking about my childhood, or maybe I was just struggling for something to write about. Either way, thinking about my various bedrooms allowed me to remember how important it was for me, growing up, to have a space that was my own, that I could decorate the way I wanted, my own special sanctuary, and I hope that my daughter grows up feeling the same way about her room.

I think she will. :)
I think she will. 🙂