Tuesday, November 20, 2007

My Precious

I'd like to think that I'm not a materialistic person. I don't think I'm they type of person who tries to "keep up with the Joneses". However, if my house were ever on fire, apart from trying to save our beloved babies (the felines and our canine), I'd try to save some of my photographs and books. I know this may sound silly, but those are the only things I would really want to save. My photographs carry with them so many memories of my childhood. My books are also a large part of who I am.

I've gotten attached to the works of Shakespeare, Dickinson, The Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Dickens, Orwell, Chekhov and other greats. I know books are material, but they are so much more than just that to me. As a child, I'd lose myself in literature. I love movies, but I have always preferred books to movies.

It amazes me how literature can move you, open your mind, and just take you away to another time and place. Literature can draw out emotions. One minute you're laughing and the next you're crying. You experience feelings through the journeys of the characters. If you've ever seen the movie The NeverEnding Story, you'll know what I mean.

Another reason my books are important to me is...When Baby Bro was a baby, I used to read to him every night. When he was in kindergarten, instead of Dr. Seuss' The Cat in the Hat or Green Eggs and Ham, I read him Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Orwell's Animal Farm.

Unfortunately, as Baby Bro got older, his love for books disappeared. He was more interested in playing video games, watching movies, playing with his friends, playing sports, and he just became a lazy reader. He preferred it if I read the books to him rather than him actually doing the reading.

Baby Bro was fourteen when I went to Japan to teach English for two years. Before I left, I told him to read S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders. That Christmas, while I was slightly bummed out because I was so far away from my family and loved ones, I received a package from my Mom and Baby Bro. Mom sent me bits and pieces of home. She sent everything from Tim Horton's hot chocolate to Colgate toothpaste. She also sent me some extra business suits and pantyhose, since Japanese girls are all a size XXXXXXSmall! In Canada, my size 5 shoe was considered small, but in Japan, my feet were huge! I won't even tell you what a nightmare it was to try to find tops that accommodated "the girls"!

Anyway, the present that touched me the most was this copy of S.E. Hinton's The Outsiders. Baby Bro read it and in the book, he inscribed:
In case you can't read Baby Bro's handwriting, the text reads:
Dear (Sis),
You told me about this book before you left for Japan. It has the poem "natures first green is gold" I really like this book. I think it was one of the only books that I really tried to understand. Well I miss you and I love you. I wish you a merry christmas and a happy NEW year.

(Baby Bro)

It was the most touching note ever (even with the grammar mistakes and all). In fact, I cried and cried when I read it. I wasn't homesick and I loved my life in Japan, but this letter made me miss Baby Bro so much. I was fiercely proud that he actually sat down and read the book and that he got something out of it. He told me that he figured out the meaning behind Robert Frost's Nothing Gold Can Stay.

Now, as an ESL teacher, I assign The Outsiders to my ESL students. My student from South Korea just finished reading the book the other week. After completing comprehension questions and giving a written summary, she watched the movie. She fell in love with the story and with the characters. She learned a lot about social issues, courage, friendship and trying to belong. I think she was amazed by how many "rising stars" were in the movie. Matt Dillon, Ralph Macchio, C. Thomas Howell, Patrick Swayze, Rob Lowe, Emilio Estevez, and a very young looking Tom Cruise were in the film. It was Hubby who noted that Diane Lane played the role of Cherry Valance.


japanmanpete said...

Your Mum sent you hot chocolate and toothpaste! I keep trying to get mine to send me GOOD cheese (Stilton, Emental, or even real Parmesan) and some Marmite. I do not think Japanese customs will let cheese into the country!


Dina said...

my mom sent me Ramon noodles...oy vey! Ramon noodles to the ramon noodle kingdom!
anyway, what a nice post! I have never read the outsiders, nor have i seen the movie but perhaps i'll make a trip to our local library to find a copy and sit down to read it...

C said...

I think the Marmite would be fine. It's in a sealed and labeled container. The cheese...It's not likely they'd get through customs. Where I lived and taught in Japan, we had an "Import shop" called "Trend". They sold food and other products from home. The store was organized by country so you'd have Italian food and ingredients in one section and French, American, Canadian, Indian, British, and Australian in other sections.

The only drawback was that it was SO expensive! I'd spend TONS of money there all the time. I know there's that saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", but sometimes I just wanted my Kraft Peanut Butter or a box of Smarties! It sounds silly, but when you live abroad, sometimes the tiniest pieces of home are comforting.

C said...

:) Your Mom sent you noodles! Too cute! My students spell (and pronounce) it as "LA-MYUN" noodles. I always have to remember that our "R" sound is the "L" sound for them. You can imagine all the pronunciation lessons we have :)


One of my cute little students in the summer kept saying "I like to eat fly lice"!

Oh, do take a trip to the library and read The Outsiders! It's a quick read (only 180 pages) and it's the type of book that you don't want to put down. I read it when I was a kid and I still love it. After you read the book, watch the movie...and then tell me what you think about the book and the movie :)

Calfkeeper said...

I remember "The Outsiders" from high school. I will have to look it up again and then see the movie. I am currently trying to expand my mind and read classics; the Bronte sisters, "Red Badge of Courage", Kipling...etc.

Thanks for the reminder.

BTW-yes, go ahead and link! Thanks.


pinks & blues girls said...

What a special post, C! You are such a wonderful person and it's so obvious that you touch the lives of all those around you in the most profound of ways! Thank you for sharing that beautiful note from Baby Bro! I love The Outsiders, too!

Jane, Pinks & Blues

Ms. Mamma said...

Great post, Chrissy. I really regret having sold all of my books, but then again, none of them had notes like this inscribed.

hotmommy said...

very sweet chris! i also love that book. and i love the relationship you and 'baby bro' have.

caninecologne said...

re: the Outsiders...don't forget leif garrett who played one of the soc's! ha ha.

i used to be the same way about books. books were my "children" before i had my daughter. i have hundreds of books; a few dozen are signed by the authors. i remember "hunting" many titles at used book shops and making friends with the owners of those (now defunct) bookstores. it was the thrill of the chase to finally get a certain book. no chain stores for me.

my main topics of interest are Filipino American history, literature and poetry as well as childrens boks. I have a lot of rare titles as well as antiquarian books from the turn of the century about the Philippines. I also used to collect various other ethnic studies topics (asian american, chicano and black studies). now i'm not as prolific a collector, but if the price is right, i will "splurge" on the occasional graphic novel or cookbook. sigh - if only there were going to be more harry potter books.

now, if my house was burning down, i'd save my family first, then my photos.... books would be the last thing on my mind, despite my fondness for book collections and the time and moneyi've invested in these items. i ha ve too many books to box up and if they'd have to burn, they would have to burn. of course, i would feel a bit sad but with the recent fires in s.d., i got to thinking about my priorities. i'm trying to get rid of some titles that i don't really read anymore. that, or donate old, unwanted books to the local library so they can sell it at their bookstore.

Karen MEG said...

I was a huge SE Hinton fan when I was in junior high... and I never saw the movie! I guess I should check out that too. I remember really getting into that book and That was then, this is now... (hmmm, sound familiar ?) and Rumblefish.
That note is so sweet - what a great memory C! Something to treasure no matter how baby bro grows up!

AnnieM said...

Did you ever watch it on TV? It was a series for a while and I was hooked.

I love hearing about your relationship with your baby brother. It seems like such a special one!

C said...

Calf Keeper:
I linked you today :)
I'm a huge fan of the Bronte sisters. My book shelves are filled with everything from Classics, children's lit, anthropology books, philosophy books, ESL books, to fiction like Jean Auel and Ken Follett. I'm a nerd. I know! LOL!

Awww! Thanks :) You are too sweet! I see things have been crazy busy on your end too! The holidays are going to keep the girls at P&B super busy! As if you girls aren't always busy already!! ;) xoxo

C said...

I know what you mean. I tried to keep all my books, but I just had so many! I've moved soooooooooo many times, and the boxes and boxes of books were so heavy (and so many)! I wish I had kept all my books from my Liberal Arts courses when I was in college. I sold a bunch of my books so I could buy books when I was in university. In Quebec, we have high school and then two years of c.e.g.e.p (college), followed by university.

Hot Mommy:
Yes, Baby Bro is still one of the closest people to me. I get a bit sad sometimes since he lives all the way in Kingston and I only see him a few times a year. Even then, I always find our visits to be way too short :(

C said...

Yeah, you're right. I was thinking about that after I posted this. I didn't mention saving Hubby because I pretty much figured that he wouldn't need my help escaping a burning house since he's a firefighter and all. I also thought about how much I love my books and other momentos, but I know that if there were a fire in the house, there would be no time to be trying to save anything other than my pets.

It always bugged me that when we had fire drills at the school that I taught at in Toronto, the students would just ignore the fire alarm. One time, we had a mock fire right in first period and some of the kids were in the computer lab. I was getting them together to go down the stairwell, when a few of them just sat there and continued using the computers!!! I was like, "Uhhhhh! HELLO???" What if it were a real fire? The students nonchalantly said, "Oh! Let me just send this e-mail to my friend back home". I was really upset and said, "No. NOW!"

What is that? Let me just take my sweet time and send this e-mail even though the school may be burning down and I might die of smoke inhalation! Grrrrrrrr!

C said...

Ohhhhh! Those titles bring back so many memories! :)
Do Little G and Liamster enjoy being read to?

It was a TV series??? I had no idea! Very cool. I remember rushing home after school to catch the tail end of Little House on the Prairie! LOL! I was hooked on that show!

Did you watch Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts of Life, Growing Pains, Family Ties, The Love Boat, Dallas, V...?

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

Oh boy, Guess I'm going to have to read that book now. I don't know how I've missed it so far, but clearly it's time to catch up.

BeachMama said...

Not only did I see that movie many times, but I read the book over and over again. It is one of the classics. When my stepson read it in Grade 8 English I was astonished at how much I remembered and how little he understood about the book.

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City girl moves to the country, falls in love, and marries a farmer. She tries to incorporate her city ways with her new country lifestyle and blogs to keep in touch with friends, family & students who live far, far away :) Can this city girl go country? Watch as she learns all sorts of exciting things about life on the farm and in a small rural community. *UPDATE* We are now parents! Our baby girl was born on Nov. 11, 2008 (at 28 weeks gestation- 12 weeks premature, but she's quite the trooper)!!!
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