Sunday, January 16, 2011


Young Sally: " He will hear my call a mile away. He will whistle my favorite song. He can ride a pony backwards."

Young Gillian: "What are you doing?"

Young Sally: "Summoning up a true love spell. called Amas Veritas. He can flip pancakes in the air. He'll be marvelously kind. And his favorite shape will be a star. And he'll have one green eye and one blue."

Young Gillian: "I thought you never wanted to fall in love."

Young Sally: "That's the point. The guy I dreamed of doesn't exist. And if he doesn't exist, I'll never die of a broken heart."

- Practical Magic

After returning to school, there are some things I can’t help but think about. It must be the dense atmosphere of young adults scurrying from building to building with textbooks and bicycles. I can see trails in the grass where students made their own paths to beat the evil threat of tardiness. Yes, even in college. And then sometimes you pass the couple happily strolling along with their hands entwined like they were dolls – their fingers sewn together as they slept in plastic cocoons inside the box. You can’t help but murmur, “Well, wow. How’s that going to feel when it’s my turn?”

You can both cast a dreamy grin and adjust your bag strap, looking up the sky and wiggling your fingers as if someone was touching them back. Or you could pout and wish that Ben & Jerry’s was in your immediate, general direction.

I actually wrote something concerning this (or maybe echoing it) in one of the online novels I’m writing. Here is a full chapter from my serial novel, Birdcage Girl, where my main character Ashlyn faces her own desires head on. The chapter is called “The Prince List.”

At the age of ten, Ashlyn decided she had five qualities she expected for any man who would become her husband. She sat on her knees inside the birdcage and flattened a piece of her mother’s sketch paper. Her little face screwed up in concentration as she slowly dragged out the list with a salmon-colored crayon:

1. I have to be able to hear him approaching.

2. He should have one crooked pinky.

3. He can make homemade marshmallows.

4. He can't sing better than me, but he can play the piano from memory.

5. He must like birds.

She saved it in her scrap drawer. Over the years it got buried under other lists and other doodles. But Ashlyn still remembers it. She figures that one day, when she unearths it, she’ll either:

1. Laugh at the absurdity of the list.

2. Wonder how her ten-year-old self knew.

Before Figment decided to limit the genre boxes (ah, another kind of list), I had Birdcage Girl ticked off as a romance. And it is. It just hasn't happened yet. Ashlyn has a lot of other things on her mind than finding a boyfriend, certainly, but it doesn't mean she’s not thinking about it. Those gauzy thoughts flutter in her head – way in the back, where they’re practically abandoned. But they are there. And I can say, with every assurance, that someone will step up soon to draw that fragile gauze out and into the light.

Like Ashlyn, I’m sure there has been a time in everyone’s life where we’ve made such a list (though right now I’ll speak specifically to the girls).

You’ve heard they’re bad for you. You watch these lists burn on television in fire pits or just with the flick of a lighter’s delicate tongue.

But there’s something more to them, or to any action involving dreaming up that wonderful person.

Whether you hope your significant other has webbed feet or can make a good ham sandwich, I think it’s important to have fun with these thoughts. Don’t carry the list around with you in your purse, taking it out whenever you see a cute guy in line at the coffee shop or while waiting for your car to be repaired. Rolling it up in a tube and using it as a spyglass is much more useful than meticulously checking off the boxes.

For anyone still wanting for that special someone to walk in the door… well, there are ways to make the interval easier:


  1. Lovely. I adore your stories so! <3 I wish the boys in books could be real. All the boys I know are idiots.

  2. @not wendy Thanks! Haha, same here. I wish I could inherit a magnet that would pull the nice boys closer. That would be useful :)

  3. Here's what I love about your posts: They're beautiful. You. Write. Beautifully. Even when it's not fiction.

    I happen to find it ironically hilarious that the one person who ever asked me out in a serious sense happened to also be a girl. At least, I think she was asking me out. I didn't realize the possibility until afterwards.
    When it comes to joke-dating...I'm married to six other people. At least I was as of yesterday. My friend recently realized he has a relationship status and set it to single, so apparently we're all divorced, we're weird.

  4. I don't think I've ever made an official list, I've jokingly listed a few "must's" before but they were pretty frivolous.

    I think I need to read your stories. In fact, I will! *nods head vigorously*

    (Oh, and note on your last tweet: Milligan!!! <3 I just love him.... and everyone else in The Mysterious Benedict Society.)

  5. @elfarmy17 Aw, thank you! I knew I'd be taking a non-fiction workshop this semester, so I was hoping that the blog would help me get better with this kind of writing!

    Haha, actually, it's not that weird. I once "married" a cartoon character, back when it was the "in" thing to stake your claim on a favorite. I think I still have the silly certificate somewhere, hahaha. Good times! Aw, sorry about the divorce :) Funny how important Facebook makes those things.

    @Melee I have made a list or two - mostly as a frustrated reaction to something. But I usually toss them or bury them away somewhere. And when I find them again I usually have a good laugh.

    Yeah! It's be great if you could check 'em out :) Birdcage Girl has very small chapters like this one - which actually makes it fun and a challenge to write :)

    MILLIGAN! I had happy tears at the end of that book. It broke my brain to try and imagine such a smile on his face!

    My gosh, I just finished the book today and it was all just amazing. I can't wait to read the next two, but I just know that book one was a masterpiece in and of itself. Hmmm... *adds Milligan to silly list mentioned in post* Hahahaha.

  6. I'm an expert list-maker, I particularly like making lists of things that I will never actually do.

    Thank you for your kind feedback about my writing!

  7. Kim, you are a delight to read! I am so glad that you are sharing your thoughts with us, and being bold enough to talk about the unspoken of, hidden away and brought out only at sleepovers, list. ;) -Ashley

  8. Kim, this is beautiful. I'm a bit late at finding it on your blog, but loved the beauty of the topic surrounded by the simplicity of list making. I've been there, done that too.