The world is your oyster!: Life Lessons from the Little Mermaid        

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My name is Heather.

I am 22 years old.

I am an East Coast girl
who also loves Utah.

I love my life. How could I not?

The world is my oyster :)
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Life Lessons from the Little Mermaid

So I have an announcement to make. It's called:


More on that later. Today was a great day. This morning, I went to Statistics, then to Marriage and Family with Kelly, and then to the library. I am starting to love my Marriage and Family class. It's basically a forum for discussion where everyone asks all the "what-if" questions you've always wondered about, but no one has ever been able to answer. Sometimes my teacher doesn't know the answer, but for the most part, he takes each question and patiently answers it until everyone is satisfied. It's great because he's an authoritative source and he won't tell us anything without backing it up with two other additional sources. After this class I had a really long break. Usually on Mondays during my break I will go home and take a 2-hr nap, then go back to campus for my evening class. Today, I called my parents and did homework instead.

I really love talking to my parents. When I'm at college, I suddenly talk to them about everythingg. Today my mom asked how Jake is doing so I told them about his last letter. He's having kind of a hard time because he's in a foreign country, he has no AC, he doesn't speak the language so he doesn't understand anything anyone says, his companion is kind of not the best, and his house is infested with cockroaches and termites. My dad served his mission in Guatemala so he understood a lot of it and was able to give me some really good insights about how Jake is probably feeling. I talked to them for about 45 minutes and then I got off the phone and went to the library, where I did some homework until it was time for lunch with Winnie.

As usual, the CougarEat was a madhouse. I waited in line at Freschetta for a calzone forevvver and then ate my half with Winnie while I waited for Kelly to finish her class and eat her half. Half a calzone fills me up amazingly well. Half a calzone leaves Kelly dissatisfied. So being the good sister that I am, we walked around looking for something else she could eat. Finally she decided on some broccoli and cheese soup from the Grab'n'Go, which, at some points during the day, turns into the Grab'n'Stand Still. Luckily, we happened to get there when it was going, so it still deserved to be called the "Grab'n'Go."

We grabbed the soup.
We grabbed a lid.
Then we grabbed about a hundred tissue papers used to pick up the rolls (white or wheat) and attempted to mop up the mess we had somehow managed to make while putting the lid on the soup container.
Then we grabbed a CougarEat worker and enlisted his help in cleaning up the ridiculous mess. (I'm sure he recognized us from last week when he was working at Freschetta and we waited a ridiculous 30 minutes for cinnamon bites).
We grabbed two truffles since they looked delicious.
I grabbed my student id to pay for the soup and truffles.
The lady at the cash register grabbed a hundred more napkins because we were spilling everywhere again.
We grabbed what was left of our dignity and then, finally, we were ready to go!

With lunch part 2 now over, and Kelly's stomach filled, we headed to the library for our excel classes. I got an email a few weeks ago advertising these free classes at the library that teach students over about 2 weeks how to use different computer programs (PowerPoint, Photo Shop, etc.) They don't offer any credits or anything, but I figured it would be good if I knew how to use them and signed up. This week and next, Kelly and I will be learning about Excel.

Because we are such great friends, taking a class with Kelly automatically makes it funner for me. (In case you are wondering, funner is a word and it is in the dictionary.) This class was so full that they opened up an overflow class in the room across the hall. Anyway, Kelly and I were able to get a seat next to each other and, even though our teacher was no comedic genius, I found myself laughing really hard at all his jokes, whether he made them intentionally or accidentally. One of the things he said that made me laugh was when Excel made a mistake and somehow projected that the commission pay for one of the sales associates was about 10x the total amount of money made by that representative. The teacher said, "Now that can't be right, can it? We are nott gonna go paying our sales representative 6 million dollars, let me tell YOU." So it wasn't thatt funny, it was just a little funny, but I found it hilarious at the time that it left his mouth. I'm sure he has never had his humor so tremendously appreciated as it was today by the two little blonde girls in the front row.

I had one more class (Children's Lit) and then I went back to my apartment. This week in Children's Lit we are studying classical literature. Everyone brings a book that they read the week before, as long as it is consistent with the genre we're studying in that week, and we discuss it in groups. My book was The Little Mermaid, which I would like to discuss here.

The original version of The Little Mermaid is not as happy as Disney would have us believe. In the original, The Little Mermaid has no mother, but is taken care of by her grandmother and her father. Her grandmother tells her all about the people who live out of the ocean, the humans. She also tells The Little Mermaid that one crucial difference between mermaids and humans is that humans live much shorter lives, but when they die, their souls continue to live forever in the heavens. Mermaids live about a hundred years and, when they die, become sea foam on the top of the ocean. More than anything, she wants a soul so that she can live forever, but her grandmother tells her that the only way she can have a soul is if a human falls in love with her and then shares his soul with her when they die. The Little Mermaid's curiosity is so piqued by this that she can hardly wait until she is 15 and is allowed to swim up to the surface and see for herself what the humans are like. During her visit to the surface, she watches as a storm destroys a ship and nearly takes the life of a prince she has admired from afar for years. She manages to save his life and bring him to shore. For days afterward, she is enveloped in her grief because she is unable to be with her prince. At last she can't stand it anymore and agrees to trade her fishtail and her voice for a pair of legs and a chance to win over the prince. The sea witch she strikes this deal with warns her that every step with legs will be painful, but the Little Mermaid still goes through with the bargain. If the prince will marry her, she will be given a soul just like any other human. If the prince marries another, she will die the next morning and become sea foam on the top of the ocean. Accepting these terms, she swims to the surface where the prince finds her and takes her in. As apart of the deal, she is the most graceful human alive, and she often dances for the prince and his court. She is always with him, and although she can't talk, she communicates as well as she can and develops a strong relationship with the prince. He tells her everything, including how he was in a shipwreck and was saved by a girl who he has been unable to find since. One day, he announces that he must marry a princess in a neighboring country. The Little Mermaid accompanies him to meet her, and although she is very in love with the prince, she hopes that he is happy with his bride. When he meets the princess, the prince mistakenly identifies her as the girl who saved him after his shipwreck and can't wait to marry her. The night of the wedding, the Little Mermaid tries to be happy even though she knows she will die the next morning. Then, her sisters swim up to the boat and hand her a knife, saying that they traded their hair with the sea witch for it. They tell her she must kill the prince and then she will be turned back into a mermaid and allowed to return to the sea to live with them. The Little Mermaid cannot do it and casts herself into the sea. Instead of turning into sea foam, she receives a soul and finds herself in heaven. She is told that because she tried so hard to love the prince and gave everything she had for him, she is being allowed a soul. And then she lived....what, is that happily ever after?

I thought this original version of the Disney-popularized story was very thought-provoking. First of all, I was struck by the Little Mermaid's selflessness. She loved the prince unconditionally. She gave everything she had for him. Some might chalk this up to her intense curiosity, others to her naivety. Maybe it is a little of both. But if it was simply her curiosity, she would have tired of him after a short time when he hadn't married her and nothing had changed. I think there is something to be said of selfless love. In our society today, this is a trait that is hardly glorified. Rather, it is looked down upon. When things don't work out in a marriage, when personality differences, scheduling conflicts, and financial difficulties interfere, we are encouraged to get out and salvage whatever is left for us personally. We are advised to protect ourselves against any pain.
This version of the Little Mermaid was written simplistically, in straightforward sentences, but I felt for her when the prince announced that he was going to marry someone else. When she stood by his bed, holding the knife that held her fate, I ached for her to have the strength to kill the man that she loved. Why are we so trained in this society to seek that self-protection at so high a cost? Why did I prefer, as the reader, for the Little Mermaid to kill the prince and return to her sisters? And finally, was I right to want that? Was I wrong to glare at the pages that documented her lonely ascent into the heavens, where she gained a soul, the thing she had really wanted the whole time? Did this story end, as it claims, "happily ever after?"

My teacher said something very interesting the first day of class. She said that children's books don't always have to end happily, but they do have to end hopefully. Children must experience that feeling of hope that promises that something better will come. Our world is fraught with despair. Everywhere we turn, we see another reason to give up hope. But in the end, hope is the most precious commodity we have in our arsenal. When everything falls apart, when life hands us lemons and throws the lemonade in our face, when the sky is dark and the only thing that seems certain is that harder times will come, we fall back on our cushion of hope. We hope that things will improve. We hope that this is not the end. We hope that there is something better in store for us. When our hands, hearts, and eyes are empty, when everything we held dear has dropped out of our lives, how on earth does hope survive?

I believe that hope, even in the form of frail optimism, is not simply a silly idea that the inexperienced people in the world toy with before reality slaps them in the face. Hope survives because, rather than being the flimsy thing that cynics would prefer us to believe it is, it is, in fact, the most real thing about this life. It is a constant that we can depend on. Through the years hope will change it's face countless times, but it is always there. I think this is because we know, deep inside, that things will get better. We know this. In our lives we will be distracted, discouraged, and disappointed, but the one thing we must never let go of is our hope.

One of my favorite quotes is by Marjorie Pay Hinckley. She phrases the idea of hope beautifully in the following statement: "Who knows but that something wonderful may happen today? Have faith that it will! After all, every morning is a chance at a new day." I think of this quote often throughout my day. I anticipate wonderful things happening in my day. I look for them and it is a rare (and very sad :<) occasion that I don't find something wonderful to celebrate in my day.

Today, as I said before, was a great day. The most wonderful thing that happened to me today was that I got a package from my family!!! They are the best family in the whole world, I am serious. Some of the things in the package are just things I left at home on accident (a mug I made with Jake at Color Me Mine, a princess cup Julie gave me for my fake birthday last month, my Bible, etc). Then there were also some treats and other fun things! I got some hot chocolate mixes, Easy Mac, trail mix bars, bobby pins, ponytails, and Dove chocolates. My mom is seriously the nicest ever!

Anyway tomorrow is our first cleaning check. I am a little nervous! (But I guess not tooooo too nervous, since I am still up blogging and not cleaning.)

Besides, I have hope that it will be an easy cleaning check :)

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