Monday, August 22, 2011

Mermaids and such

I’ve always been spellbound with the idea of mermaids, water nymphs, and sirens. Something about magical human creatures surviving underwater seems so powerful and mysterious. In older mythology mermaids were represented as evil, vicious, and always dragging men to their deaths (this sounds a little biased. Maybe sailors were just being melodramatic…). However, I feel that stories such as Han’s Christian The Little Mermaid and recent media have changed that negative connotation. Quite often mermaids are portrayed as curious, kind, and loving creatures.

One of the characters in my novel is a water nymph named Sierra. She’s not a mermaid, but has kin who are, and once she realizes what she is, Sierra finds other students who share her same gift. I liked the idea of a water nymph or mermaid being able to choose whether they want to live on land or sea. Sierra lives on land, but can stay underwater for incredulous amounts of time.

There were a lot of mermaids featured in the most recent Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Most of the mermaids were malevolent, although the movie did focus on one who wasn’t. I became so enthralled with this mermaid’s story that I stopped worrying about what Jack Sparrow was doing. When it ended, I was only curious about what would become of the mermaid and her love interest. Did they both survive? How would their relationship work if they were from two different worlds?
I think a lot of girls also have some sort of memory of mermaids from their childhood. When the Submarine ride first opened in Disneyland in the ‘50’s, they hired woman to dress up as mermaids and lay out on the rocks on the lagoon. My mom still remembers seeing those mermaids when she was little, and how mesmerizing they were.

I have a lot of good memories about dressing up like Ariel when I was younger, or laying out on big rocks and pretending they were seashells. Recently I found a necklace with a mermaid on the front and I couldn’t help but get it. It reminded me of all my mermaid adventures when I as younger (also it was sparkly, I can’t often pass up things that are sparkly). Photobucket

I felt a little push to write this blog post because of a recent show on the Travel Channel (is it embarrassing to admit I watch that?). They featured this travel destination in Florida called Weeki Wachee. Here in this aqua theater visitors get to watch a mermaid show from underwater. It actually looks incredible. Not only do these girls wear fins and dance underwater, they don’t come up for air for the whole show (there are underwater air tubes they can use for a quick breath). When I saw this, I had a sudden urge to go to Weeki Wachee and possibly steal a mermaid costume backstage before plunging into the lagoon.
Whether mermaids are portrayed as evil monsters wishing to do harm, or beautiful water princesses of the sea, I always find the idea fascinating. What is your favorite mermaid in literature or film? Do you have any memories of mermaids when you were younger?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lucky Gnome

The kid inside of me still likes making a wish when the clock hits 11:11, or tucking a good fortune into my pocket after eating Chinese. I know it's silly, and sometimes I don't want to admit that I'm actually making a wish when I blow out my birthday candles, but isn't it just fun?

I was recently in Canada with a gnome. Well, it was a gnome necklace, but he felt like a person. His name was Ollie and he traveled everywhere with us. Everyday we rubbed the gnome's belly for good luck. I made a rather large wish and sure enough it did come true while I was on the trip :)

It's fun to use luck and superstition in writing. There's a certain magic about wishes, lucky numbers, misfortune, charms, and curses (and lucky gnomes I suppose). When I imagine a character I like to make a list of their qualities and traits. Something that defines a character to me is whether or not they are superstitious. It says a lot about their personality and how they'd act in certain situations.

I'm not saying that you need to stare at the clock until the precise moment to make a wish, or try to steal my lucky gnome. I think there is more to luck than that. Everyone can optimize their own luck by being prepared, being in the right place at the right moment, and by trying your hardest to be positive in life.

What are your thoughts on superstition? What's lucky for you?