Disney and how I made my peace with pixie dust

by Angie Hilbert
( April 15th, 2015 )

My granddaughter was over the moon. We stood in line at the checkout with a Disney Minnie Mouse toy shopping cart and a pink plastic vacuum cleaner. I was mortified! The feminist in me was raging at the patriarchy that had already gotten into the psyche of my precious little Sage-bunny. I had shown her the Goofy peddle car but she wanted none of it! The airplane that really flew was cool but she couldn’t be bothered. She saw Minnie going shopping and it was all over. I tried to coax her into the “boy” isle for a second present, but she insisted that if she could have two presents, she wanted the vacuum cleaner that made noise and popped confetti. (WHAT!?) Woe is me, the feminist grandmother of a princess granddaughter.

Anderson's The Little MermaidYou see, I’m not cut out to be the kind of grandma that sews lavish costumes or buys dolls of unrealistic body proportions. I’m called “Gran” and I act like auntie Maim. I buy season passes to zoos and children’s museums. I buy quality children’s classics and take Sage to art fairs. I am often a solo traveler myself and I don’t dream of taking Sage to Disney World. I dream of taking her to see the real world! Sage was not recognizing my needs as an independent feminist not to buy pink vacuum cleaners!

Sage, on the other hand, has a very different self image. Sure, she’s only four, but she has firm ideas about who she is. She is a princess. She wears glitter-gowns to bed and insists that tulle be incorporated in the design of all her clothing. Her sense of well-being depends on being surrounded with love and beauty and anything pink or purple or aqua-marine. The Disney brand is “real” to her. My fine literary offerings of Mother Goose, Grimm, and Hans Christian Anderson are looked upon with suspicion. (Curse you Disney! You’ve ruined The Snow Queen and The Little Mermaid forever.)

I give up. That Mouse is just too powerful. To be a proper grandmother, I had to make my peace with Disney.

Disney's The Little MermaidWhile I have humbled myself to the power of the mouse, I am relieved to learn some of Disney’s more contemporary messages are edging toward more progressive values. When reading Disney versions of the stories, I make sure to point out to Sage the more independent and pro-active actions taken by Disney princesses: Belle’s love of reading, Ariel’s independent spirit, Jasmine’s refusal to be defined by marriage, Elsa’s choice to embrace loneliness rather than suppress her gifts, and even Minnie Mouse is an independent business owner now. (Did you know she runs a bowtique?)

Sage may be a princess through-and-through but she is also has an independent spirit. She says what she means and doesn’t demure. She can guard her turf in the sandbox with boys wearing her tule-trimmed clothing (then insists on changing her sandy cloths when she gets out). She enjoys going to the zoo and museums (wearing glitter-gowns) and brings me flowers to weave into a crown for her to wear to the fairs. She’s a princess in a realm where queens have power.

My Disney PrincesThere is only one thing to do. I still can’t bring myself to take Sage to Disney World but I braced myself and booked a Disney cruise for her fifth birthday next year. All the Disney magic on board and then a few stops to visit the real world too. We’ll have a day in Mexico to see ancient ruins and she can see if anyone can understand her Spanish.  There is a day in Jamaica where we can visit a historic plantation and dine on goat curry. We have a stop in Grand Cayman where we can visit a turtle farm and learn about marine conservation. Then at last, a day on a Disney’s Castaway Cay where she will watch her mother do a 5K co-ed run. And yes, I do plan on giving her a princess makeover complete with gown, shoes, and crown, at the Bibity-Bobity-Boutique. She is a princess, after all.

Wander-readers tend to be discerning readers and worldly cultural travelers. Have any of you been confronted with the power of the mouse? What do you think about Disney’s influence on travel and literature?



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Call me a liar

by Angie Hilbert
( March 12th, 2015 )

a liar with a secretIt’s probably not surprising that, as a hobby writer of fiction, I’m a liar. My best work happens when I successfully take an essential truth and warp it with artful lies. But I don’t want to talk about fiction as lie. I want to tell you about lies I’ve told about my fiction.

I did a lot of lying growing up. I don’t mean the kind of lie where you tell your parents about going to Suzie’s to study when you are really going to a party—  I mean the kind where I would tell my mom I needed five dollars for school supplies then take the five dollars and buy a blank book to write in. Now, if you’ve read things I’ve written about my mother in earlier WanderLit posts, you know she would have gladly given me five dollars for a journal I had been honest with her. But she was not as introverted as me and maybe a week later (probably at dinner in front of my little sister) she might expose me and ask me how the writing was coming. This could lead to all kinds of intrusive questions she might feel entitled to the answers of. So I lied.

Occasionally, my mother would catch me in one of these lies and be flummoxed as to why on earth I would lie about something that “didn’t matter.” To me this was absolute proof that my lies were justified; she didn’t get why it mattered to me. She didn’t understand.

Those few times I told the truth about writing as a teenager, I became a target. Schoolmates would demand I produce my scribblings for their judgement. Thus bullies and meanies (who had never read anything beyond the Little House series) suddenly became renowned literary critics where my work was concerned. So I lied. I was a closet writer. I filled dozens of journals and destroyed them as quickly as I filled them.

Now I am much more open about my writing but not completely. To this day, I don’t save my notes, journals or drafts, only my manuscripts. The process of struggling toward that manuscript is still a private journey for me. I’m not above the occasional evasion or ambiguous statement to deter would-be readers or critics from sampling a work in progress.

liarIf you ask me “what are you working on?” I’ll more often than not give an ambiguous answer to avoid letting you in to explore ideas with me. If you ask “can I read it?” I make evasive excuses. Not because I’m unethical, but because you don’t seem to understand the intimacy of the thing you are asking. When it’s ready… when I’m ready… I invite readers.

“And if your friends make fun of you for chasing your dream, remember—just lie.”

― Kathryn Stockett, THE HELP

How about you? Do you share your writing in process or do you unveil it only when it’s finished?

Read ~ Write ~ Wander


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Fifty Shades of Grey-mania

by Angie Hilbert
( February 7th, 2015 )

Fifty Shades of GrayThis is not a review of the book: Fifty Shades of Grey by E. L. James because I only read about 35% of it. I didn’t find the content objectionable, though it might have been—at least others have found it so. But you see, I like stories that explore the taboo, twisted, and offensive. The first 15 to 20 shades that I read were just too weak in the delivery to disturb my imagination. It didn’t get in my head or under my skin the way good “objectionable” literature should. I didn’t find the writing terrible either. Others have written scathing reviews of the style, voice, and repetition but I didn’t think it was all that horrific. I could have given it a good hate-read if it had been awful enough to disparage. It wasn’t. Sure, it had all the basic, errors made by mediocre, new-writers but It wasn’t horrible. I didn’t love it. I couldn’t hate it. It didn’t grip me so I just put it down. That’s all.

Except that’s not all! Somehow there are Fifty-Shades-of-Grey everything! And not just your predictable tee shirts, shot glasses,  and bondage kits kinda “everything” either, but EVERYTHING everything!

Fifty Shades of Grey wine ... Fifty Shade of Grey nail polish ... And for the pre-reader, you have Fifty Shades of Grey teddy bears and Fifty Shades of Grey onesies!

Of most interest to Wander~Readers, are the tour and hotel packages (most in Portland and Seattle, where the book takes place). There are a lot of these popping up, especially now with Valentine’s Day and the Fifty Shades of Grey movie about to be released. Some of them are pretty classy (with a price tag to match). For an authentic experience try the Fifty Shades of Oregon vacation package which lets you and your lover spend 6 nights and 7 days living like Christian and Ana.  Including luxury lodging, transportation, dining, wine and even a shopping spree! Or maybe you’d prefer the No Grey Area package at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle which includes the use of an Audi R8 Spyder, just like Christian’s and a helicopter tour (no word on if your call sign is “charlie tango”).

For the fiscally conservative bondage enthusiast, you can find one and two night packages at many hotels. Try The Heathman in Portland where Christian and Ana spent their first night together. If you find your budget tighter than Christian’s knots, just bring home the Fifty Shades of Grey Gift Basket and take your valentine out to see the movie. The trailer is more emotionally engaging than the book started off to be (and I NEVER say that!)

For Wander~Readers who want a literary themed romantic get-away, you might do better avoiding the Grey experience altogether and try an Outlander valentine at Glenlaurel Inn or a Game of Thrones getaway at Ravenwood Castle. (Like 50-Shades, Outlander features a romantic lead scared by a sadist’s brutality and Game of Thrones has just as much forbidden romance and violence.) If you have your heart set on a dark modern romance set in the edgy and ambiguous world of BDSM, may I suggest Nine and a Half Weeks by Elizabeth McNeil? It also comes in an excellent movie form and the story was a real groundbreaking exploration of feminine sexuality.

Are you a Fifty Shades of Gray fan? What’s the attraction? What am I missing?

What are YOUR Fifty Shades of Gray Valentine’s Day plans?

Read ~ Write ~ Wander


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