A circa 1880's poster
with a picture of a can-can dancer in the midst of a high kick hung above my white-canopied
bed, on the green checked wallpapered walls of my girlhood bedroom. Every night, in the hours spent
dreaming, these words hung over my head:
She Dances, Recites Poetry,
She does it all!
Bucket O'Blood Saloon
Virginia City, Nevada
I'm Karen Suzanne. I basically became a can-can dancer, an actress, and
a writer of poetry and slightly amusing anecdotes.
On the walls of Palmer Chinchen's childhood house in Africa was a tapestry
of the last supper.
Palmer became a pastor.
My husband's boyhood bedroom walls were covered in all things Star Wars.
While my husband resembles Mark Hammil, remains jealous of Harrison Ford,
and still gets a little disoriented when you mention Carrie Fisher and gold
bikini in the same sentence, that's where the imprint ends. He does kind
of look like Mark Hammil though...
In my oldest daughter Hannah’s room hangs a painting of stripes in various
lengths and colors with the words "Be Original" along the bottom, a
poster of 12 distinctly different cupcakes, a few monkey posters and an
autographed poster of the Rockettes. Oh, on the wall opposite her bed, so the
last view she sees at night and the first thing she sees in the morning is a
mural I painted on her wall of a castle high in a cloud with the words Once Upon A Time...
Hannah wants to be Cinderella. She is hoping to attend Chapman University
when she graduates, partly because it's a 10 minute train ride to Disneyland.
Where she could get a job as Cinderella. (Ultimately, she wants to be an
occupational therapist…and a Rockette.)
Talia, my youngest daughter has the word hope in various sizes, shapes and
forms all over her room. Her middle name is Hope. Hanging directly above her
head board is a mirror that is surrounded with pictures of her friends, the
little pictures that you take in photo booths. Not one of them is serious.
Talia wants to be a neuro-biologist and a photographer, but after she is
married and has 3 kids. It’s not incredibly likely that one of the kids will be
On the top of the mirror in their bathroom is a quote by Ghandi "Be the
change you want to see in the world." I'm not sure they've ever seen it.
They're teenage girls... their focus is on who is staring back at them. As it
should be at this point. But, I have hope that one day they will look up.
When I was preparing their nursery, I agonized over paint swatch colors for
weeks. I asked anyone who seemed to have a reasonable handle on humanity what
color meant in the years spent forming an individual. I sincerely wanted a
color that would be both soothing and stimulating and would help guarantee the
inhabitant of the room acceptance into Julliard. The last person I asked for
input replied "I think you're asking too much of a color."
I settled on a kind of blue/gray with a classic Winnie the Pooh wallpaper
border. Pretty much the room became the hundred acre woods of Christopher
Robin's (and my) imagination. So far, my girls alternately resemble Tigger and
Eeyore with the occasional Rabbit thrown in during finals.
It seems to be critical what we hang on the walls of our homes, what we
surround our children with during times of innocence and rest. I'm pretty sure
my parents just thought that can-can dancer poster was funny. I loved it. For
about 12 years it hung right over my head every night as I drifted to sleep. If
my parents had hung a tapestry of the last supper over my head would I be
closer to God? A pastor?
Can these seemingly innocent acts form the course of our destiny?
If Palmer had had a can-can dancer poster in his home growing up would he be
throwing in a high kick every once in a while?
If my husband hadn't seen Star Wars...well, I don't have a comparison
It's too soon to know the lives my children will lead. I hope Hannah is
original and sweet and creative and delighted with small creatures, just like
Cinderella. She actually is already. I hope the best things happen to her
before midnight. I hope Talia never loses her hope to be - my hope, the hope of
her generation. She has the capability. And the humor.
I guess as parents we are just doing whatever we can to not only keep our
children alive, but guide them into the lives we hope they will lead. And maybe
all the kids have to do is survive through our preconceived notions as to what
will make a difference beyond survival.