Basil Dill’s New Friend

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Basil Dill was a lonely little doll. Basil Dill was lonely because, unlike all of the other dolls who lived here in the giant backyard dollhouse called Much Ado About Nothing, Basil Dill was only a head, still growing inside cabbage leaves, nestled inside a plastic flower pot. Basil Dill didn’t have a body, so you could say that Basil Dill was not quite born yet. Basil Dill may not have had a body, but he did know who he was. He knew with absolute certainty that he was definitely a boy doll.

When Basil Dill arrived to live in the dollhouse with the other dolls, Scary Shirley, who had the most intimidating name out of all the dolls, decided to name him Basil Dill because at that time she had recently spied new Basil and Dill plants both growing in pots inside the nearby greenhouse. Scary Shirley and the other dolls wanted Basil Dill to feel just as complete as they all did, so they found him a little baseball cap to wear. Basil Dill enjoyed wearing his baseball cap as he watched the other dolls playing and enjoying having adventures together.

Despite having other dolls to observe having fun all around him every day, Basil Dill felt very alone. Basil Dill was the only doll who could not do the Hokey Pokey when it was music time. He was the only doll who could not hold a book to read books at story time, and he was the only doll who could never go on picnics with the neighborhood teddy bears. Basil Dill so longed to attend a Teddy Bear’s Picnic with the other dolls. Basil Dill liked sitting in his flower pot by the window, where it was warm and sunny, but he wanted more. Basil Dill wanted to run and play with the other dolls. Basil Dill’s loneliness seemed like it would never end.

One day a package was delivered on the porch of the dollhouse. All the dolls gathered around to find out what was in the box. Scary Shirley opened the box. She was able to do this because her name instilled such respect for her in the other dolls that they were more than willing to go along with her assertion that she was the most adept at using full-size scissors safely.

“Is it new uniforms for us?” one of the cheerleader dolls asked Scary Shirley.

“You’ll see what it is once I’ve opened it, won’t you?” Scary Shirley replied.

“Is it a rocking horse for me to ride on while I sing my songs to all of you?” asked the Johnny Cash  cowboy doll.

“Oh no! This box isn’t nearly big enough to hold a rocking horse for you,” Scary Shirley told him with a friendly laugh. The dolls kept on asking what could be in the box, but again and again Scary Shirley’s answers revealed that not one of the assembled dolls had any idea what was in that box.

“Is it my passport, finally here so I can travel again?” asked Hitty, the tiny carved wood doll.

“Your passport won’t be delivered in a box nearly as big as this,” Scary Shirley replied.

From his place by the window Basil Dill could not see what was in the box once Scary Shirley began the process of opening it. The other dolls were all blocking Basil Dill’s view of the box contents.

Finally Scary Shirley had the box open. From inside the newspaper packed in the box, the dolls all heard a little voice calling out, “it’s dark in here!” When he heard that muffled little voice, Basil Dill figured he knew what was in the box. It was another doll. Like all the others. It was probably another doll who would be able to run and play, and have fun in all the ways that he couldn’t.

Scary Shirley opened the newspaper and she held the new doll up high, so everyone could see. Basil Dill gasped when he looked over the heads of the other dolls and saw another doll just like himself! It was a doll head wrapped in fabric green leaves.

“Scary Shirley, who is that!?” Basil Dill asked after Scary Shirley had snapped her scissors menacingly at the other dolls to quiet them down. The other dolls weren’t even a little bit scared of Scary Shirley, and she knew it, but they quieted down just the same.

“Basil Dill, I want you to meet someone very special,” Scary Shirley said with a smile. “This is Heather Fern. she was delivered here today to become your new friend.”

“A new friend, like me?” Basil Dill asked, his painted eyes wide.

“That’s right. A new friend just for you. Go on, you can say hello to her if you want,” Scary Shirley said. Scary Shirley placed a lace headband on Heather Fern’s head, and then she gently placed her inside a flower pot like the one Basil Dill was sitting in by the window. The other dolls exclaimed in an overlapping chorus about how pretty she was, and Heather Fern politely thanked them for their compliments. Basil Dill felt a little envious that he could not talk to Heather Fern right away, like all the other dolls could.

But then, Scary Shirley carried Heather Fern in her flower pot over to the window where Basil Dill sat alone. “Basil Dill, meet Heather Fern. Heather Fern, this is Basil Dill.” Scary Shirley introduced the two little dolls to each other quite formally. Heather Fern spoke first.

“Hello Basil Dill,” Heather Fern said softly. “I didn’t expect there to be another doll like me here. I am so happy that I won’t be alone.” Upon hearing those words, Basil Dill’s little leaf wrapped heart leapt with joy.

“I am happy that you are here too!” Basil Dill cried. I have wanted someone to sit here with me, and talk to me, someone who would know what it feels like to not be able to do all the things the other dolls can do.”

“Well,” Heather Fern said, “Now we have each other. And as long as we live in our flower pots I will talk to you whenever you like, and about anything you want.”

After a moment of consideration, Basil Dill cautiously asked, “Can we talk about what we would do if we ever got to grow bodies? The other dolls never want to talk to me about that, for some reason.”

“Of course we can!” Heather Fern exclaimed to Basil Dill. Scary Shirley agreed that the two of them would certainly find many things to talk about sitting together in their flower pots.

Basil Dill and Heather Fern quickly became very close friends. They would sing little songs together for the other dolls. they made up a song about flowers and other plants and the other dolls all loved to hear their song.

One day, when it was quiet and a lot of the other dolls were either reading or napping, Scary Shirley and the Johnny Cash cowboy doll  came over to the window. “We owe you an apology, Basil Dill,” Scary Shirley stated solemnly.

“Yeah,” the Johnny Cash cowboy doll agreed. “We didn’t realize how lonely you were sitting here alone all that time.”

“Now that Heather Fern is here you seem much happier now. Are you happier, Basil Dill?” Scary Shirley asked somewhat hesitantly.

“Oh, yes!” Basil Dill exclaimed. “I have never been happier. Now I know what it’s like to have a friend just like me, the way the rest of you dolls do.”

“And I’m happy to,” Heather Fern chimed in. “I didn’t expect to find a friend here who would be just like me. When I was traveling here I worried all along the way that I would feel lonely in my new home. But, I’m not lonely at all.”

Scary Shirley and the Johnny Cash cowboy doll smiled at the two little flower pot dolls. “I’m glad that you’re both happy,” Scary Shirley said.

“I’m happy too,” the Johnny Cash cowboy doll said, smiling. “It’s nice to have a friend just like you, isn’t it? In my last home I was the only musician doll. I’ve been here so long now with Elvis, Debbie Reynolds, and the Fabric Four Beatles dolls,  that I’d forgotten how out of place I felt in my other home.  I can’t imagine how lonely you must have felt, all alone by the window all that long time by yourself, Basil Dill.”

“It’s alright,” Basil Dill said happily. “I’m glad to be a flower pot doll now! Having someone who understands me is the best feeling I have ever had.”

“And I will never leave your side,” Heather Fern assured Basil Dill. They smiled at each other, their leafy fabric green leaves, quivering with delight.

“Will you two sing a song for us again today?” Scary Shirley asked the two happy dolls.

“Oh let them spend time together on their own,” the Johnny Cash cowboy doll suggested to Scary Shirley. “I’m sure they still have plenty to talk about being the only two dolls in flower pots. “Besides, I think I remember you said you were finally going to join all of us musicians today to do some singing for the rest of the dolls. Isn’t that right?”

“That’s right! We did plan that for today,” Scary Shirley said. “I hope you’re all ready for me to sing with you. Because I’m always ready to sing.”

“Well now,” said the Johnny Cash cowboy doll, “I guess that’s something we have in common with Heather Fern and Basil Dill, isn’t it?”

“It sure is!” Basil Dill and Heather Fern called out together. And together is how they did everything from then on. They sang together. They daydreamed together of what it would be like to be more like the other dolls. But most importantly, they talked together about how special it was to be dolls just like themselves.

 

 

Not with that attitude, you won’t!

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In the years since I was diagnosed with the first mental illness condition I discovered I am living with as a challenge to enjoying this life I have been given, I have been doing my best to maintain a steady course as a writer. My steering hasn’t always been steady, constant, or successful, but I have always felt driven to write. Obviously I’ve also felt a very clear desire to keep company with dolls, hence the creation of this blogging website. Since I was very young I have found my dolls to be muses of sorts for me in my nearly lifelong writing endeavors. However, I didn’t fully realize that my doll collection was a source of significant inspiration until relatively recently.

One thing that has unfortunately been nearly constant in my writing journey has been a pernicious habit of people I encounter, people who don’t write, to quickly offer discouragement when I expressed my desire and drive to make a life for myself through my writing. Like many other people who live with mental illnesses, I was for much of my life very easily influenced by the ideas and opinions of others. I eventually learned that this tendency of mine to care too much about what other people thought was actually symptomatic, and as such it also contained the potential to be altered.

Initially, when someone would urge me to reconsider my vocational choice because they felt the writing life must be too challenging, particularly with someone facing challenges like mine, and probably not nearly profitable enough to be worth the effort anyway, I admit I often felt swayed to believe the discouraging things those nay-sayers were nay-saying.

Fortunately, my desire and drive to write have always been far stronger than my wish to believe things said to me by people who actively rained on my writing parade. I feel proud to state that no matter what challenges I face in my life, I always come back to my writing. One tactic I learned in the past few years that has become essential in aiding me in maintaining belief in myself, instead of in the disheartening words of nay-sayers, came to me by way of an old friend of mine.

This friend of mine used to very patiently, and regularly, endure what had to have been the uncomfortable experience, of listening to me beating myself up verbally in far too many of the conversations we shared. When I would say something self-defeating about how I couldn’t do this or that, demonstrating for my friend just how effectively the doubts of others were seeping into my view of myself, my friend would always firmly tell me this simple rebuttal: Not with that attitude you won’t!

When my friend first challenged my negative views of myself with that statement I laughed, and I didn’t really listen to the words, much less take them to heart. But, as my friend continued to state that same rebuttal, every time I put myself down in conversation, those wise words eventually started sinking in.

Time passed and my friendship with that particularly helpful friend became less of a constant. We drifted apart, as friends often do, but those words remained with me. They haunted me with the persistency of a slow leak in the bottom of a boat. I kept trying to steer my writing craft, and even while I would falter and seem to all but give up, my friend’s words kept leaking into my consciousness, helping me steady my course.

These days, many years later, when I occasionally find myself slipping back into old patterns of being unkind and unsupportive of my own writing ambitions, I feel very grateful to my friend for giving me that suggestion with such regular and reliable predictability. “Not with that attitude, you won’t!”

Many of the upcoming photo stories I will be sharing here at Mini Mansion Memoirs contain within them the trials experienced by dolls working hard to overcome limitations they have placed upon themselves within their own imaginary lives. It is my hope that the dolls living here in the Much Ado About Nothing giant backyard dollhouse will all be able to better succeed in their imaginary endeavors, thanks to the hard work I have been doing on myself all these years which has now enabled me to to reach a place where most of the time, I both believe in myself, and in my ability to share writing that is worth reading.

Emory Corbin, the busy boy pictured organizing doll paperwork above, is my steadfast companion in creating these photo stories to share with you all. He is the doll who I have assigned with that most important job of reminding me, when I slip up and say something self-defeating: Not with that attitude, you won’t!

Thank you so much, my old friend. You know who you are. You made this blog post possible.