Thoughtful Thursday: Happy Birthday!

My niece turns 20 today. I’m not sure what space time warp continuum breach accounts for that since I’m pretty sure she is still nine, but, advanced mathematics and all aside, somehow she grew up. She’s more like a little sister than a niece, because I lived with her and her mom for years after she was born.

Muffinhead, for that is what I called her, is an inspiration to me. She decided she wanted to be a pastry chef so she up and moved to a different state to learn to bake. And then she wanted to see if she could make it in New York City, so she up and moved with to the city with a pocket full of change and a suitcase full of hope. She said she gave herself three months to see if she could make it, and if she couldn’t then she would try something else. Within a few months she was a baker at a restaurant owned by a very famous chef (think orange crocs.) So now she wanders around NYC baking fabulous food and doing fabulous things — she’s joined a quidditch team, participated in a flash mob, goes to museums on her day off, and during the huge blizzard slid down the front staircase of her building to get to the street so she could get to work. She said it was like being Legolas skiing down the stairs at Helm’s Deep. And then, once it had stopped snowing, she hiked out to the statue of Balto in Central Park to take a picture with it in the snow because she loved that story as a child.  She decided she was going to turn her bedroom into a steampunk airship, so she went to Home Depot, walked up to the oldest guy in an orange apron she could find and said, “This is what I want to do. How do I do it?” She now sleeps in a hammock, with maps on the walls to pick where she wants to go. She is always going to be that person — the person who sets off on whatever journey she has chosen. She calls her bedroom the H.L.S. Invictus after the poem by William Ernest Henley — I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

She completely is.

Watching her growing up is like reading a fairy tale.  She’s the charmed princess — a paperbag princess maybe – one who rescues her own self and would never slay a dragon because dragons are cool. She is much more likely to befriend one. She is the fantasy character I wish I could be. It’s great watching her story unfold. I can’t wait to see what epic quest line she is going to follow next.

So, dear readers — Muffinhead included — if you could be a character, either from real life or from a fantasy book, who would you want to be? I’ll randomly pick one commenter to win a book of their choice from our stacks.

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RUTH ARNELL (on FanLit's staff January 2009 — August 2013) earned a Ph.D. in political science and is a college professor in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

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  1. I have no idea what character I’d be but I want to say this is a delightful character sketch! Thank you for sharing it. Now I want a steampunk bedroom!

  2. Actually, I do have one. Other than the classic characters, of course, I think I would like to be Diana Tregarde from Mercedes Lackey’s early Guardian novels. As far as urban fantasy goes (before that monicker existed, even!) Diana seemed like a realistic version of a Guardian–not a superhero, someone with just enough ability and magical knowledge to get the job done.

    Either that, or Jane Marple, from Christie’s St Mary Meade mysteries.

  3. Holy smokes. That’s a hard question! It’s a little easier to answer something like “what world/milieu would you like to live in?” For that question, my answer would be the world of the People (Zenna Henderson), because it’s such a positive place. Or possibly the Middle Kingdoms even with the Shadow (Diane Duane, The Door into… books).

    A particular person? Menolly from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern. I always wished I had more musical talent. And I had a crush on Sebell when I first read the books!

    But probably closer to my personality, sort of and age now, is Maskelle from Martha Wells’s Wheel of the Infinite.

  4. Telzey Amberdon. I want her psi powers.

    Menolly would be a close second, because I would like to be musical and I’m not. And she had the fire-lizards.

    @Melita – it’s nice to find a fan of the People. I would have a hard time choosing between them and the Witch Mountain kids.

    And thanks Ruth for that beautiful tribute to my intrepid explorer of a daughter. It’s all those nature/adventure shows she watched as a child. I blame it all on Time/Life videos and Ms. Frizzle. No ordinary field trips for her.

  5. SandyG265 /

    I’d like to be Mercy Thompson. it’d be neat to be able to turn into a coyote and I’d be able to fix my own car.

  6. At this moment I’d like to be Luna from Harry Potter. She can fix stuff. Like maybe my MP3 player that soared across the room and hit the tile floor after I spun around and snagged the earbud cord on a doorknob yesterday. The thing still plays, but the screen cracked and the display is gone. I was able to finish the book I was listening to, but I can’t figure out how get to a new book.

  7. OK, I wasn’t going to comment because I wasn’t sure I wanted to admit this amongst such a classy and well-read bunch but; whenever I’m asked this question, Conan the Cimmerian, comes immediately to my mind.
    He spends his life going from one adventure to the other, many times coming through with a small fortune and/or a pretty girl hangin’ off his arm. He blows all his money drinkin’, fightin’, and chasin’ women. Then he does it all over again. Finally when he decides to settle down in his late 50’s-early 60’s, he does so by making himself king. Conan’s life is a dude’s ultimate dream.

  8. Greg, I thought you wanted to be Tarl Cabot.

  9. Greg, I don’t think you shocked any of us by that revelation. And Kat, Conan’s got a better (lack of) wardrobe than Tarl.

  10. @Kat-Conan gets the girls without them being slaves plus he party-ed a lot more the Tarl.
    @Ruth-Conan usually had an ever changing wardrobe that usually involved chain-mail or some other kind of armour.

    So, nan-nana-na-na… LOL ;)

  11. Melanie Goldmund /

    Sometimes I’d like to be the angel Alleluia from Jovah’s Angel, by Sharon Shinn. Well, any angel, really.

    And sometimes I’d like to be Siri, from Brandon Sanderson’s Warbreaker.

  12. Joe57 /

    What a tough choice! Conan is pretty tempting with the indominatable will and every pretty girl wanting to be with him. But his wardrobe is lacking. I would probably want to be Harry Dresden, leather dusters are classy and being able to do magic would be awesome.

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