Around the World With Flat Olivia (the Second)

27 01 2010

It was nearly three years ago that Flat Olivia returned to Real Olivia, and to be honest I hadn’t given her much thought since. Until, that is, I found a manila envelope, decorated in peace signs, in my mailbox a few months back. Inside was a paper doll, not so extravagant at the first, but wearing a pink dress (with peace signs) and sporting incredibly long eyelashes.

She came with a note: “Dear TT, I am doing Flat Olivia again for myself. Please take her around NY. I’m just doing this because it’s a do nothing day. Love, Olivia”

Lucky for me, this time there were no requests for the American Girl Store or other hard to reach New York landmarks. Instead, the paper doll embarked with me on the randomness that is every day life. Together Flat Olivia and I watched the New York Marathon and joined friends for dinner and drinks.

She accompanied me on my trip to Aruba, and kept me company as I made my way form hard to find hotel to hard to find hotel (if only her navigational skills were better…), and she came along with me to a celebration at El Museo del Barrio, where we got to watch a live salsa band, and Flat Olivia even managed to shake her groove thing a little.

And then she returned to California with me at Christmas, where she joined Real Olivia’s cousin Gio and I on our excursion to visit the elephant seals, a very special occurrence since, Gio being my godson, our dates are generally limited to just the two of us; but we agreed that she could join since she is quiet and doesn’t take up a lot of room.

Earlier this month, Flat Olivia rode first class, compliments of the U.S. Postal Service, home to Real Olivia (who, I’m told, had been dragging her father out each night to check the mail for some weeks prior). Along with her she carried several photos of our adventures, plus a box of paper dolls, some stationery, and a new friend: Flat Titi. I’ve been missing my sometime paper companion, but yesterday was treated to a nice surprise. In my mailbox was a letter: “Dear Real TT, I’m having a really fun time with Olivia. I hope your [sic] having a good time. I am. I love you so very much. Love, Flat TT”

I was delighted to hear that the flat version of me is enjoying herself, though I do wonder what she is doing in Colorado. I imagine she’s gone skiing (something at which the real Titi isn’t all that adept) and I do hope they are reading lots of good books and maybe having a tea party or two. I suppose with that I should go write to my mini-me.

The Adventures of Flat Olivia

26 01 2010

There is a children’s book called Flat Stanley, which, though more than 40 years old, has become something of a phenomena of late. In recent years, Flat Stanley, the little boy who was flattened by a dresser, has traveled the world as the star of many books, and as such, he’s become a teaching tool to help elementary age children learn geography.

My brother Gregg’s youngest daughter, Olivia, is one of the world’s most charming children. At eight years old, she’s inquisitive, sweet and has a spirit so endearing it’s impossible not to adore her. And, for some inexplicable yet very happy reason, I happen to be her favorite person. When the family is together, Olivia can generally be found by my side, and she relishes in referring to herself as my appendage (yes, she understands what that word means).

Me and My Shadow

When we’re together, Olivia is fond of tea parties and hours of reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and when we have to part there are always tears and promises of letter writing. Wherever I go (with or without the stilettos) Olivia receives a postcard, and when, Olivia’s first grade class created “Flat Me’s” to send to relatives, Flat Olivia arrived in my mailbox. She was dressed in pink, with the hair of a real doll and stickers for earrings.

Per Real Olivia’s request, I was to take Flat Olivia to “the Statue of Liberty and the American Girl Store.” Anyone who’s passed American Girl Place knows it’s relatively hellish, especially if you don’t have someone under the age of 12 along with you, but not wanting to lose my status as favorite person, I went, and Flat Olivia received much fanfare, and even some real clips for her real hair at the Doll Hair Salon (yes, Virgina, there is a hair salon for dolls.

The Flat Olivia returned to Real Olivia, with a pile of postcards portraying Flat Olivia’s adventures in New York (plus a couple of American Girl hats for Real Olivia and her mini-me doll). And now little Olivia (the real one) has a better idea of New York, the big, strange place where her Titi (that’s me) lives.

I’m a little fascinated by this whole Flat Stanley thing. It’s become a major to-do and a pretty amazing one at that. It’s linked students and teachers around he country in a new exciting way. Check out the Flat Stanley Project.