But I thought to post about this since I was talking about "The Velveteen Rabbit" the other day and I got a little choked up. Also, I am recovering from the brilliance (and trauma, anyone who has seen the movie knows what I am talking about) of having just seen "Toy Story Three." Stuffed animals and stories about them have hit me hard recently!
To be honest, I'm hit pretty hard almost whenever I talk about "The Velveteen Rabbit." Because I am a softie, I suppose. Or, because it is a brilliantly crafted tale, even if rather dark for children.
This quote kills me:
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real." "Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit. "Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt." "Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?" "It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
However, that's a famous quote. This section of the book gets me more. I literally cannot talk about it without having to take a deep breath, and carry on calmly. I remember I could not read this part in the book as a child because it would really upset me and freak me out.
A) That a toy would be burned really freaked me out (and still does), because part of me will always believe that they are (capital R) Real. And, B), it made me really sad that the boy did not even protest, that he was happy just to have a shiny new thing to play with, and did not feel any remorse that his beloved playthings were going to be burned. BURNED! Is nobody else horrified at the violence of that? And anyone who has seen the movie I mentioned earlier may be even more disturbed by this section of the book, for obvious reasons.
Forgetting my grown-up fondness for toys, I find this part of the book especially sad because of the fact that children, very often, do actually see their playthings like a friend, or at least a pet, that lives and breathes when nobody's looking-- so that the boy forgot about his original toy for a better model, to me, just always felt as if he had a beloved older dog whom he just forgot about when a spry puppy was placed onto his lap.
Also, I understand it's olden times and the toys were covered with scarlet fever germs-- and *of course, the boy's health is more important than anything. It just always made me sad that he wasn't more emotional about it. Anyway, here is the passage from the book I'm talking about:
"And so the little Rabbit was put into a sack with the old picture-books and a lot of rubbish, and carried out to the end of the garden behind the fowl-house. That was a fine place to make a bonfire, only the gardener was too busy just then to attend to it. He had the potatoes to dig and the green peas to gather, but next morning he promised to come quite early and burn the whole lot.
That night the Boy slept in a different bedroom, and he had a new bunny to sleep with him. It was a splendid bunny, all white plush with real glass eyes, but the Boy was too excited to care very much about it. For to-morrow he was going to the seaside, and that in itself was such a wonderful thing that he could think of nothing else.
And while the Boy was asleep, dreaming of the seaside, the little Rabbit lay among the old picture-books in the corner behind the fowl-house, and he felt very lonely. The sack had been left untied, and so by wriggling a bit he was able to get his head through the opening and look out.
He was shivering a little, for he had always been used to sleeping in a proper bed, and by this time his coat had worn so thin and threadbare from hugging that it was no longer any protection to him. Near by he could see the thicket of raspberry canes, growing tall and close like a tropical jungle, in whose shadow he had played with the Boy on bygone mornings.
He thought of those long sunlit hours in the garden–how happy they were–and a great sadness came over him. He seemed to see them all pass before him, each more beautiful than the other, the fairy huts in the flower-bed, the quiet evenings in the wood when he lay in the bracken and the little ants ran over his paws; the wonderful day when he first knew that he was Real. He thought of the Skin Horse, so wise and gentle, and all that he had told him. Of what use was it to be loved and lose one's beauty and become Real if it all ended like this? And a tear, a real tear, trickled down his little shabby velvet nose and fell to the ground."
(...So sue me, but even now, I could never just not care if stuffed animals of mine were all put in a bag to be tossed away, into trash-- and especially not actual, crackling flames :'-( In all seriousness, too, say the toys were sanitary and had no severe germs-- then there's no excuse not to put them to better use. I think it's inexcusable to trash toys that can still be played with, because there are countless charities and children who need them and would love them. I have donated quite a lot of toys, and I still need to donate more, back from my family's house in Nueva York. I still keep some with me here in my L.A. Apartment, in addition to Fuzzles. The guys in the picture above live here with me in my room, and help keep me sane, ish.)
Back to the Velveteen Rabbit. He is (SPOILER ALERT), right before the inevitable, luckily rescued by a fairy who turns him into a Real bunny. Which he gets to become, because the boy did truly love him as if he was Real, and the fairy explains that stuffed animals who are loved that much get visited by her to be transformed into the Real version of whatever type of animal they are. But that still gets me... as a little kid this story disturbed me enough as was, that I think I'd have had a complete breakdown if he had just burned and there was no resolution. Come to think of it, that's what happens to the rest of the toys... and I'm not one to write Fanfiction, but I would not oppose somebody re-writing the story so there's a loophole, and even the more ignored/not able to become Real toys could avoid the tragedy of Scarlet-fever contamination, and subsequent burning.
Anyway, this is meant to be a thoughtful post not a downer one. I thought of it because of how much I love my plushies and how I love Fuzzles. AND, because I went to Art Walk this month!
When I was at the Downtown L.A. Art Walk, I went and picked up some new friends for Fuzzles and Co. from Elizabeth Romo. She is a great designer and plush-toy maker, and I bought a little felt critter and a little felt Koala from her. Adorable and affordable work! Her website is http://www.elizabethromo.com/ I do declare, I think the link might just work this time! BWAHA blog tech issues, I have beaten thee.
Here are the pictures of the little guys, and their new home and new friends:
Felt Koala Friend! With me!
Critter, Felt Koala Friend, and Fuzzles.
Me being weird with Critter. Toothy? Actually, I think his name is Toothy.
Fuzzles, Felt Koala, and Myself.
Blair Witch Toothy, or something.
Also, a fellow vendor from the Downtown L.A. Art Walk Art Park (at which I sometimes vend) gave me a discount on some AWESOME vintage boots. They are actually made from jeans and have pockets you can store things in. They are ridiculously cool (and great for storing change and Metro passes, so long as one is careful) and I have never seen anything like them.
(Pair side by side)
(Blue and Orange are complimentary colors, so I took a pic with blue shoooooes, orange kitteh...!)
Anyway, that is all I have to say for now. Been working on some projects in the cafe I'm sitting at in West Hollywood... the food at this place was yummy for my tummy, but not my wallet. So, not ordering anything else and heading back home soon. I also feel somewhat out of place, dorky, etc. being the person writing and sketching and not full out fancy dinner having at a cafe like this, and/or getting my pregame on. I'm not quite out late enough to have hit the post club drinking crowd, but I still feel rather nerdy.
That said, I am actually quite comfortable in my dorky quirkiness. Somewhat evidenced by the fact I have been listening to some Disney songs on my headphones via my laptop, while sitting here and working.
Speaking of, I love the song "Belle" from Disney's "Beauty and the Beast," and the character, because she is intelligent, does not want some dude to take care of her, and kind of just wants to wander around her town and read/do her own thing. I always admired her character traits of wanting to explore the world, seeing and experiencing more than the basic goings-on around her. Anyway, neither L.A. nor the cafe I am in are at all cute and quaint French towns. But, it felt funny and weird to be listening to this song tonight, while sketching and comic-planning in a place that's much more weekend partying/drinking/Hollywood-y than the purposes for which I was sitting there.
I actually used to live in Central Hollywood, and it was particularly weird when I'd go to work (much like the way I did tonight) at a coffee shop called Solar de Cahuenga. It was next to this mammoth club, and I always felt... well, it was just weird. Lugging my bag of books and my laptop, and sometimes a drawing pad, walking down Cahuenga after midnight to go home and passing everyone who's decked out in crazy finery (or lack of, given the amount of fabric techincally there in some cases), while not being dolled up.
On a lesser scale, that's what I was reminded of tonight. Oh well, it is what I get for working on a weekend!
On one last note, thank you to everyone who came out to charity art raffle sponsored by Monkeyhouse Toys, "Birds of a Feather," last weekend! It was an honor to be part of a group of artists putting up their work for the raffle. The performances, food trucks, and people all added to it being a great time. Not sure if the link is still live, but here wast he go-to event website if anybody missed it:
Peace and hope everyone's having a "furry" happy weekend :-D