Posts Tagged ‘childhood’

Building a Little City

Friday, May 28th, 2010


Growing up, I loved building little cities for my dolls. I remember having the “Apricot” girl from Strawberry Shortcake land, and my two younger sisters each had a doll. My doll’s head smelled like peaches, and the Strawberry Shortcake doll smelled like strawberries. The Blueberry doll smelled like blueberries. Anyway, I would make a house for each doll, making the furniture out of card stock paper. I even made a piano out of paper once, carefully drawing the black and white keys according to what an actual piano looked like.

I would set up stores. I would make tiny toilet paper rolls by getting scissors and cutting actual toilet paper into tiny strips. Then I would roll up each one, putting a tiny dot of tape to hold each one shut. I made a stack of about a dozen tiny toilet paper rolls, and they looked great at the store in my doll city.

In those stores I made racks to display magazines. Then I went ahead and made tiny magazines with full-color pictures and actual information, written very small.

I would get small containers, and they would become cars, beds, dressers, or anything I wanted. For example, I could glue cloth to a checkbook box and add a pillow, and it became a bed. A car would be a box covered with construction paper, with glued-on wheels.

My sisters and I also played with barbies. We did not have a real dollhouse, so we used four cardboard boxes that were an identical size, two stacked on top of two. The boxes were taped together, and I decorated each room according to what its function was. We used wrapping paper for wall paper. Then I made pictures for the walls and glued them on. I made everything I needed for each room.

Finally when I turned twelve, one of my friends got rid of her wooden doll house at a yard sale. My parents bought that dollhouse, and we finally had a real dollhouse! It was like a round wheel, with rooms that opened around the outer edge. We had to put it on a small table to walk all the way around it and reach all the rooms.

Yard sales soon brought real doll house furniture, cars, doll closets, doll clothes, and shoes. I soon had over twelve pairs of doll shoes to organize in a doll closet. It was fun. I couldn’t believe how much stuff I had. I didn’t have to make things anymore.

Unfortunately, I gave up dolls when I turned thirteen. I just abruptly stopped playing. I had grown up.

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A Little Actress

Thursday, May 27th, 2010


“Fiddler on the Roof” was my first taste of being involved in theater. There were no try-outs at our boarding school. We were assigned a part based on how tall we were and whether we looked like the particular character. I was assigned an insignificant role as the little old lady in the cemetery scene, but I trembled and looked toothless and spoke in my very best old lady voice. The first rehearsal left the two directors laughing hysterically on the floor, and ever after, I was given bigger parts.

The make-up for the little old lady was caked quite thick, with wrinkles aging my whole face. My powdered wig made my whole head sweat. Before I went on stage, butterflies were fluttering through my stomach. I had never been on stage before. I could see lots of people in the dark audience. When the hot lights blazed on me, a surge of energy came through me, and I was able to give a good performance.

I was also a part of the band that played the songs for “Fiddler on the Roof.” I played the cymbals, and every time I crashed them, my hair would fly backwards. That was a fun instrument to play. Luckily for my parents, the two years I played cymbals, I was in boarding school, so they never had to hear me practice. (I also played the triangle and other sound effects.)

The following year, the boarding school put on the play “Heidi.” I was cast as the crippled friend of Heidi, the co-star. I remember in one of the rehearsals, one of the guys had to carry me from my wheelchair to the top of the mountain. I was so thin and wispy at the time, so this was no problem for the guy. It felt odd to be carried by a boy who was only one year older than I was. But it didn’t bother me much. What surprised and shocked me was that the boy I had a crush on (more like puppy love) was secretly instructed to give me a hug at the end of the scene where I walked on wobbly legs. When he suddenly hugged me, I turned beat red. Everyone saw. Everyone knew that I liked him, and in utter mortification, I ran away. Even the teachers were laughing. They yelled for me to come back, and I screamed, “No!” from back stage. They must have dismissed the rehearsal early that day, because there was no way I would have gone back in there!

Performing in “Heidi” was great fun, since I was in a lot of scenes. I was also a part of the choir which sang the songs that went with the play. The make-up wasn’t as hot, since I wore less make-up and no wig. At the end of the play, the audience applauded, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment.

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Spies (A Boarding School Adventure)

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

spies-boarding-school-adventureOne night during seventh grade, after the lights were out in the dorm at my boarding school, my best friend and I sneaked out and grabbed a chair on the way out. We also had a plastic cup, a notepad, and a pencil. We walked across the dewy grass in the moonlight.

We stuck the chair under the window of the secret eighth grade room where they were preparing for the ninth grade banquet. (The school only went up to ninth grade.) No one was supposed to know ahead of time what the theme of the banquet was. The themes were glorious, and no expense was spared. One year it was “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea,” and the decorations of the banquet room looked like you had just walked into an underwater paradise with seaweed, fish, octopuses, and even sunken treasure. Clues were posted outside the banquet hall each year, to see if anyone could guess the theme. No one ever did.

But tonight we were going to find out. We were going to be spies and pick up secret information that no one else in the whole school knew.

The eighth graders got to stay up later than everyone else as they prepared for this wonderful banquet. So my friend and I climbed up onto the chair and peeked through the windows, which were sloppily blocked off with newspaper. A tiny slit gave us barely enough room to see fragments of objects and people walking by. We listed a few random words on our notepad:

  1. a box of wood
  2. suitcases
  3. orange and white checkered blanket and pink crepe paper
  4. glue and chalk
  5. a background sheet with a rocket landing on the moon
  6. books opened to outer space, universe, rockets, and moon
  7. brown paper
  8. papier mache

We put the cup up to the window and listened. We wrote down snatches of the conversation on the notepad:

  1. “Do you have the mat?”
  2. “Aunt Julie probably has a long one.” (maybe a pole to put a US flag on when you get to the moon?)
  3. “I don’t have to wear a special costume,” said a teacher.
  4. “When would you pack your suitcases to go on a rocket to the future?”

Then, before being discovered, we hurried back into the dorm, replaced the chair and the cup, and crawled into our beds.

The next day my friend and I met up at the tree house and discussed our clues that we had gathered the previous night. We were obviously looking at an outer space theme. We guessed that the students would wear space suits, but not the teachers. My original notes (now 20 years later) state that there would be underground cities on the moon. I have no idea how we jumped to this conclusion, but we kept our information to ourselves, and no one ever knew about our nighttime spying.

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Falling Through the Ceiling

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

boarding-school-2At boarding school, I always loved to play Nancy Drew, and I would go investigating with a flashlight any place that looked suspicious. Well, one day my younger sister was crying because she was homesick, so I asked her to join my adventure. I had recently scoped out a mysterious place–the attic of the girls’ dorm. No one had ever told us not to go up there, and lo and behold, the trap door was already open, and a ladder was positioned perfectly so that we had to change nothing in the room to begin our adventure.

I boldly climbed up the ladder and entered the dusty attic. I turned on the flashlight and waved it around the room to investigate if there were any bats or secret treasure. Even a trunk or chest full of old dress-up clothes would have been nice, like in the movies. But, no. It was pretty empty up there except for the dust.

There was enough room for me to stand up, and there were wooden beams across the floor. Between each beam were white rectangles separated by thin pieces of wood. When my sister finished climbing up, I told her to follow me as I leaped from beam to beam. We heard the giggles of two girls as they were playing. It seemed like we were in the same room, but they couldn’t see us because we were hidden like spies. I squatted down and looked through a crack in the floor. I could see my best friend playing dolls with another girl. I knocked on the ceiling, and they were confused. I giggled to myself.

I stood up again, jumping from beam to beam. Suddenly I accidentally stepped on a white rectangle, and CRASH! I fell through the ceiling, right onto a square metal trashcan. I knocked a clock off the wall on the way down, and it shattered on the hard floor. That floor was really hard, and it all happened so quickly that I was in shock. That split second was blurry, and I felt dizzy. One of the girls was in the living room and saw me fall through the ceiling. She laughed and went to tell our dorm mother. I knew I was in trouble. My poor little sister peered through the gaping hole at her injured sister. She must have backtracked her steps to get out of the scene of the crime. Who knows if she could be seen whistling nonchalantly as she walked to her dorm room, pretending as if nothing had happened?

I was deluged with questions from my dorm mother, all of which I answered instantly and honestly. She decided not to spank me, since my toosh was already in bad shape. Luckily I hadn’t broken any bones. However, I did not get away with it scott free. Both my sister and I had to peel potatoes for a month, and many of those potatoes had worms in them. We were just grateful that we had escaped worse punishment. For the whole month, I had to take a pillow with me from class to class to sit on, since it was too painful to sit on a hard chair. I suppose my injury punished me enough to think twice before investigating suspicious places again.

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