Harriet the Spy Influenced My Life
I was an avid reader most of my childhood, so naturally I came across the book Harriet the Spy at age 10. For those unfamiliar with it, Harriet the Spy is an award-winning book published in 1964 that details the story of Harriet M. Welsch, an 11 year old aspiring writer in New York that writes frequently about her life in her journals.
While most people are likely more familiar with the 1996 film of the same name for Nickelodeon, I grew up comparing my life to the book. As a married 20-something, the book still has profound influences on the person I’ve become. Some examples include that I’m…
An Information Junkie
Soon after buying the book for about a quarter at the Goodwill in the small Canadian town where my grandparents live, I began behaving like Harriet. My sister and I spent that summer living with my grandparents, so I saw my cousins frequently (compared to most of my childhood spent living in America). I spied on everyone, but especially my cousins when they came over. To my eleven year old brain, their activities were boring but amusing and clearly not as much fun as what I was doing.
Today, I’m an information-crazy woman. I read the news and current events nearly every day and I like to feel informed about the latest issues. If something in the world is happening, I’ve read about it and can, generally, explain it to other people in a way they understand. I’m a veritable computer of random knowledge; ask my friends and family and they’ll tell you the same thing!
An Obsessed Writer
I grew up wanting to be a writer and, post-Harriet the Spy, continued to fuel this passion. I began to write in notebooks just like her until high school. I filled about five or six from fifth grade on about my life, the various trips my family took and even have entries leading up to the day when my brother, now ten years old, was born. After writing in notebooks, I had a Xanga (does anyone remember Xanga?) where I would write and read posts from other people in high school that had Xangas, too. Then, college began and I abandoned Xanga to begin blogging. You get the idea.
Today, I work full-time as a freelance writer and have a few novels in the queue. It’s not as easy or as glamorous as I envisioned, but I’m still on a mission to write.
Envious of Harriet and Ole Golly
Reading Harriet the Spy introduced me to the curious world of nannies. I moved frequently as a kid never had need of a nanny. I was about as far from living in New York as I could get, so it wasn’t a concept familiar to my experience. Sure, I had babysitters at times, but they weren’t the same as the relationship Harriet had with Ole Golly.
I was jealous that Harriet had an adult around when her parents weren’t to answer her burning questions, encourage her to be a better person and, of course, nag her when she came home with muddy shoes to wash up properly. Ole Golly had spunk, so it was clear to me why Harriet loved the woman as she did; the nanny was tough on her, but loved her, too.
Being an adult can be both stressful and lonely. There are bills, student loans and the incessant need to keep up with the Joneses. I still want an Ole Golly in my life, someone that is older and more experienced to guide my way without feeling the need to pull me where they think I should go. My parents are great, but they’re my parents. I need a mentor that can reassure me when I’m not confident about my path; be honest with me when I mess up; and laugh with me when I am down. Where’s my Ole Golly?
Curious, but Leery, of Weird Foods
Since Harriet the Spy was written in the 1960’s, there are some obvious differences from my life as a child in the ’90s. For example, Harriet frequently egg creams in the book. I didn’t have a clue what an egg cream was, but was fascinated with the thought of what could be in them. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I found out the original egg cream recipe included chocolate syrup, whole milk, carbonated water and a raw egg. Yuck! Even without the egg, the thought of drinking what basically amounts to carbonated chocolate milk turned my stomach.
For this very reason, I’m cautious when it comes to trying foods that sound delectable but whose ingredients I have not researched and are likely unpleasant. Balut? Could be good, but it’s a cooked duck embryo. Casu marzu? It sounds exotic, and it is: you’re eating what’s commonly called maggot cheese. And don’t get me started on Hasma!
Feature image via Amazon.