The title of this blog comes from the inscription on Hopkins Gate at Williams College, my alma mater. You walk through this gate and past these words after graduating—they set a pretty high bar for their graduates at Williams. The picture is of the coolest birthday present I have ever received (not to slight any other present—it’s always amazing to get a present)—but this one is a quote from one of my books! Sewn in multi-colored gloriousness by my friend! Thank you, Alison!
I start with these two thoughts because they are about aspiring to accomplish grand things. A little over a year ago, I started this blog with the intention of writing a critical essay on an aspect of the craft of an entire children’s or young adult novel every two weeks. That, I’ve realized, was a “star” goal. Maybe, like, a quasar goal. (Little astronomy joke…) I have achieved, at my most rigorous, one blog a month, and at my least, one blog every four months. And so I feel I have to change things up.
I plan on doing a craft blog every three months. Four a year—I think I can handle that. In the interim months, I’m thinking of posting little weirdnesses. Like today’s blog, which features a scrap of my past, some luscious juvenilia dredged up from the depths of the storage boxes.
The paragraph reads:
When I grow up I’d like to be a teacher, a scientist, a doctor, a writer, and an interior decorator! I’d like to get married, have two beautiful children, and live in a warm climate. I’ll have five horses, two dogs, three cats, twenty-five tropical fish, and some rodents (guinea pigs). I also want some artwork, and I like artwork that is abstract, non-objective, and cubism. My home should also have sculptures that look like big golden brass horses, and crystal swans in the window. Around the swans I would like hanging plants, and there will be palm trees in the backyard surrounding a lacquer pool with crystal vases full of big tropical flowers.
Now, those are some goals.
I can confirm for my eight-year-old self that I have been a teacher, but never a doctor or a scientist, though I did take chemistry in college and have learned a lot on my own about ocean life (and giant squids in particular) by watching the Discovery Channel. I’m going to give myself “interior decorator” because I picked out our living room couch. And, YES! I’m a writer!
I am married with only one child (who is beautiful:), but live in a climate where spring equals sleet-frozen mud all over everything (read: not warm). I have the two dogs, but only one cat, and none of the other menagerie. I am actually quite perplexed by my eight-year-old self’s interest in cubism and abstract art. Most of all by the fact that she knew of such things and by those names. Alas, I don’t think there’s any cubism in the house.
Most interesting to me, however, is the amount of detail I put into the pool at my future home. Talk about reaching for the stars! But this is what I mean: you gotta reach for them quasars, baby.
The part of this essay which warms me to my core is that my eight-year-old self ended with this:
Even if I don’t have all this, I want to be happy and with the people I love.
Eight-year-old self, we may not have the lacquer pool, but we’ve nailed this last one.
I’m counting this blog as the May blog because heck, it’s almost May. So look for my next blog in June! And it will be the promised craft blog on textual anomalies!
I recalled, as I often do, the familiar Mark Hopkins inscription as I greeted the morning with photo’s from “Gems of the Day”, a blog written by my daughter, Lucky Anderson, Dartmouth, ’01, who is steeped in Williams lore via my allegiance (50th union begins on June 10…in less than 2 month) as well as older sister Ariel, ’89 and Caroline ”04.
I’m not sure how to access “Gems”, but will check out procedure later today.
Also will check out via alumni list how to send you an email. I am less than half way to mastering internet skills, but these three daughters keep pushing…and hoping.
Dale Anderson ’65
I read the inscription many years ago in a photo book on New England. While I liked it I think the phrasing is wrong.
It seems to me that it should read:
Your aim the sky,
Your goal the star.
To aim is to direct something to a target or goal, so that it will travel a path to that target, or in this case a star.
The sky is where the stars are, so we aim to the sky and then direct a path to our chosen star.
I see that your star goal is to happy, which is probably the only true duty we have in life.
Best regards and congratulations for your blog