A Few of my Favorite Things: Fairy Tales and Duck Tails

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Mukashi

I apologize for my atrocious handwriting!

I’m not a big fan of roses in general (give me a hydrangea any day), and I’d rather have the whole kitten rather than just its whiskers. Copper kettles, woolen mittens…keep it. Even though I still consider Julie Andrews a kindred spirit, Maria von Trapp’s character in The Sound of Music is not. I have a very odd set of favorite things. If you stick around, you will probably hear a lot about cardigans, cats, sweet potatoes, and the color purple. I have to say that my favorite thing in the world is language.

Call me a word nerd if you will.

My favorite word in the English language is “halcyon.” When used as a noun, it refers to a type of mythological bird that supposedly had the ability to calm storms by flapping its wings. When used as an adjective it means a variety of things such as “peaceful,” “prosperous,” or “joyful.” It sounds archaic and mysterious but reflects all the things that are good in the world—the calm after the storm. In a way, it reflects a happier time in my life.

Perhaps I’m silly to have a favorite word, but I’m sure other people in the world have them, right? The more I study Japanese, the more I find myself drawn to specific aspects of language. I have favorite words, favorite kanji, favorite grammar rules, etc.

My favorite word in the Japanese language starts with a story. I remember sneaking through my living room where my brother sat staring at the TV as usual. But this time, his eyes weren’t glued to Pokemon or Super Mario Galaxy. I saw a bright flash of color and heard familiar music. Ballet. More specifically Swan Lake. He was watching an anime with ballet. I couldn’t question his show choice, because I was too absorbed in the show myself.

I hid myself and watched from afar for a while until I caught the title screen. Princess Tutu. For the next week (or maybe two) I shut myself in my room after school to watch it. And each episode began “Mukashi mukashi…” in the voice of a gentle older woman as she told the story of a duck who wanted to be human. When a mysterious force grants her wish, she’s transformed into an awkwardly clumsy girl who falls in love with a prince only to realize that she plays a much larger role. Something about the combination of beautiful music, innocent love, and magical atmosphere gave me something to look forward to each day.

“Once upon a time…”

I can’t think of those words without thinking of all the fairy tales I’ve ever read. Princess Tutu reminded me that everyone has a story to tell, even a tiny duck. And all those stories can be special. Anyone can be a protagonist.

n a tiny duck. And all those stories can be special. Anyone can be a protagonist.

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