Cute animated cartoon with really awesome scene transitions. Please ignore the song in French that I can't understand and the frequent 'AGH GAK KISSING" moments - I love the flash-forward time-compression techniques of Happy Seamlessness. It reminds me of the 6-word-story exercise (also see 6-word-bios). I did a longer 50-word variant as an extra exercise for a high school English teacher who was encouraging me to write more.

Ah, Dr. Kuhl. And Mr. Panitch from 6th grade. They gave me writing as an outlet, for which I am forever thankful. I wish I had continued to hone it more than I did; there's much that I can do to cut the cruft from what I write, and I am pretty sure I was a better writer at 11 and 14 (because of how much/seriously I concentrated on it) than I am today, though I have richer things and thoughts to write about now that I've actually been exposed to the world beyond my childhood home, my school, and the library in the town where I grew up.

I wonder what Dr. Kuhl and Mr. Panitch would say if they saw my writing now, over/nearly a decade later. I think one reason why they had such an impact on me is that writing was one of the first things I'd ever heard a teacher (or really, any grownup) say I had potential for - potential that went beyond the "give the correct answers, get good scores on tests" stuff I was doing in my normal public school classes. By no means was I a prodigy or anywhere near it; I was just a kid who liked to write. But the fact that I was good at something - and, more importantly, that this was Not An Awful Thing - was still a novel concept back then.

Some folks have heard this story; I may have written it down somewhere before. In any case, retelling the past is part of how we shape our future selves, or so my sociology class told me.

I remember being 7 years old one afternoon in school, listening in dawning horror as my classmates read their essays. I was petrified to realize I'd put visibly more effort into my own paper - in other words, my paper was Different, and this was a Horrible Mistake, because I was supposed to Be Like Everybody Else, and now I had brought Shame and Dishonor on my family for making such a dumb mistake at school... It seems a tiny thing now, but it was huge to me as a little kid. Later that day when my mom told me my teacher had called, I broke down in tears. I basically never cried, both then and now, especially in front of anybody else, but I was pretty much hysterical that afternoon. And all because I thought, at 7, that putting more effort into something in a non-specified, non-pre-requested-by-a-superior-officer way, was Terrible.

Turns out my teacher had called to ask my mom if she had read my allegorical description of myself as a mouse that hid in fortresses of books to escape the Cat of Reality's vicious claws. (There was an illusration of a little mouse with a sword trying to fend off a cat with unrealistically pointy teeth and very, very anatomically incorrect Angry Cartoon Eyes. As a side note, this story is how I got my first online nick, 'mouseymel,' many years later.) I was reassured that I had gotten a good grade on the essay and that I could, y'know, stop crying now. (I stopped.)

The things which stick with you as you grow up are... interesting. And then there are things that don't. So that's the "Riting" part, this is the "Reading" one.

A friend of my parents told me last week that I floored him one afternoon when I was 10 - he found me reading a parenting book one day, was perplexed by this, and asked why. I explained to him I was trying to learn how parents thought, and that what I had learned was very interesting thus far. I remember reading the book (in fact, I read a lot of parenting books as a kid for just that reason), but what surprised me was to learn, 12 years later, that he'd been surprised at that. It seemed a logically normal thing to do; I found books, they looked interesting, I read them.

I'm very glad he didn't tell me that he was surprised back then. If I'd known that somebody thought that it was slightly odd to do that, I probably would have stopped immediately. Although I guess book choice and reading quantity is something I deviated from the norm from when I was tiny - I think I would have died from boredom otherwise. I was overjoyed in kindergarten when I learned that the lower classes (us) could check out novels and textbooks instead of only picture stories. I think I thanked our school librarian for allowing me to read the encyclopedia set. (This was a privilege that I had not expected.) And I had no objections when she gave me a special higher limit for the number of books I was allowed to check out - almost every day, I'd get the max number of books I could (iirc it was 3, then 5, then 7), stagger home with them, read them all, return them the next day and get the next 3 or 5 or 7 more...

Then again, my classmates didn't have to know about these things.

Re: "Rithmetic" - I'm pretty sure I wouldn't love math today if it hadn't been the shelf I chanced to dive behind while hiding from librarians in the Adult Section. I thought 4th graders (or was it 5th?) were not supposed to be outside the Children's Section, and that I'd get in trouble if I was discovered. But I had read through pretty much the whole darn Children's Section, and I wantd more, so I waited 'till the librarians weren't looking and snuck in. It felt like Mission: Impossible. I was the rogue spy trying to get secret information! that I was not supposed to have - lucky that one of first Forbidden Books I found was Martin Gardner, and boom! a world of mathematics opened up before me...

What I am trying to say is that I was the kind of timid little kid who used to follow rules - a lot - and who needed to hear "you know, I know that you can go beyond these standard expectations, and it's okay if you do - in fact, it's really good." I literally didn't realize that rules could be created, bent, and broken (instead of merely followed) until a very mindbending freshman year

Of course, now I have to relearn that sometimes one should follow rules for the sake of longer-term changes to complex systems that one can't just immediately hack... if your experience is the best teacher, mine is an incredibly sadistic one. Effective, though.

On the previous note of writing, is anybody planning to do NaNoWriMo this year? I don't think I can do a fiction novel (as much as I really really want to finish "The World Is Too Much With Us" at some point - I've been saying this for... what, 3 years now?) but I'm trying to see if I can pull my copious word output into some sort of book-like form. I think the key for me is going to be building momentum and then directing it towards things that I want to write.

My favorite 6-word short story is the original by Hemingway. It smells faintly of young dreams, sad ones.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.