Maurice Sendak: Childhood, Life and Death

Maurice Sendak: Childhood, Life and Death

A look back at Maurice Sendak’s life and ideas on the seventh anniversary of his death.


Today marks the seventh anniversary of children's author Maurice Sendak's death. Maurice Sendak is known for being the author of some of the world's most beloved children's books. These include titles such as "Where the Wild Things Are", "In The Night Kitchen", and "Outside Over There". Sendak, however, didn't consider himself a children's book author. He said "You cannot write for children. They're much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them." When asked what children's books should contain, he replied, "How should I know?"

Sendak emphasized the idea that "childhood" as we know it doesn't exist. He believed childhood was a tough time, not only characterized by wonder and play but encountering issues that they don't yet have the skills to cope with or language to express. Sendak said that he "always had a deep respect for children" and how they "solve complex problems by themselves". When asked how they do so, he responded "I think through shrewdness, fantasy, and just plain strength. They want to survive." He went on to talk about Hansel and Gretel, and how Gretel had to save her brother's life. He said "Since when do children have to confront such terrible ordeals? Well, they do." Sendak himself had a difficult childhood, chronically ill, and coming from a family of poor Jewish immigrants. His parents, as he often said, were never meant to be parents, and he considered his older brother and sister to be his "good parents". Sendak, even as someone who dealt in the magic and mystery of childhood, never deluded himself about its reality. "Childhood is a very, very tricky business of surviving it," he said, "Because if one thing goes wrong or anything goes wrong, and usually something goes wrong, then you are compromised as a human being. You're going to trip over that for a good part of your life." Sendak talked about such experiences frequently, including a pivotal moment in his young life: seeing a photograph of the dead Lindbergh baby in 1932, released for only a limited time on paper before being removed the afternoon the news broke because Charles Lindbergh threatened to sue the press. Since then, Sendak became preoccupied with death. The realization, Sendak said, as a child that children die too, is something no adult wants to discuss. Adults, according to Sendak, do not want to admit that children, like them, face reality in all of its gruesome and discomfiting truth. When he brought up the Lindbergh baby to his parents, over and over they'd tell him "you didn't see that, stop saying that."

As he aged, Sendak spoke in nearly every interview about death, specifically the inevitability of his own. In a 2011 interview with Terry Gross, he spoke about it at length. "I have nothing but praise now, really, for my life," Sendak said, "I'm not unhappy. I cry a lot because I miss people. I cry a lot because they die and I can't stop them. They leave me, and I love them more." He followed with "Oh God, there are so many beautiful things in the world that I will leave when I die, but I'm ready, I'm ready, I'm ready." He was "a happy old man", but he'd "cry [his] way all the way to the grave."

He said to Gross, "Almost certainly I'll go before you go, so I won't have to miss you." He ended the interview after Gross said she wished him all good things, saying "I wish you all good things. Live your life, live your life, live your life."

Listening to Sendak speak, to me, is nearly transcendental. He had a frank and undiluted view of childhood, and a view of death that somehow encompassed a deep love for life, yet a welcoming acceptance of its end in due time. So often I feel a certain joy that knots itself deep in my chest and can only be untangled in moments of laughter, of unbridled happiness, of peaceful, silent moments spent with those in which those moments can occur and be valuable with. Sendak's love for people mirrors my own in such a way that every time I hear him speak about it, I can't help but tear up. Sendak held, with such genuine conviction, the belief that to be here, to see and smell and taste and simply experience life, was a religious experience. He felt "in conjunction with something [he] couldn't explain" when he experienced life in even the simplest ways, listening to music, or seeing an animal on a walk. He said it was "beyond his ego" as an "observer". I have felt that way for much of my life, and to see it put into words is a soothing, beautiful thing.

Sendak's honesty is a rare phenomenon. He doesn't rationalize, he doesn't delude himself, and he doesn't dull his ideas down for anyone. He was filled with love in a way that didn't include self-deception or ignoring the ugly side of things. Sendak saw life, and all its stages, as times encompassed by mystery, play, fear, joy, and every emotion one can feel. There are no age restrictions on what we feel. We are all simultaneously every age we've ever been. I'm a curious five year old afraid of the dark and I am a hearty nineteen year old determined to make a difference. All eras and sides of us exist simultaneously, just as Sendak always said. The meaning of life in Sendak's eyes is a malleable thing: simple, yet infinitely complex, and unable to be defined by only one person.

What can I, a nineteen-year-old girl, learn from an elderly Jewish man and his life's work? Well, as it turns out, everything.

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18 Times Kate Middleton Was Actually All Of Us In College, Beside The Princess Thing

Every girl has to go through her clueless college stage before she reaches Duchess status.

Kate Middleton is basically a household name by now, and how could this not be the case when she has the gorgeous hair, kind smile, and incredible fashion sense. With her constantly in the spotlight looking so put together, we sometimes forget that the Duchess was actually all of us in college!

Here are 18 times that Kate proved she was just like all of us.

1. Going all out in the name of school spirit

There is nothing like breaking out the war paint and screaming for your home team. Like Kate, we all love to get a little messy and make some memories with our friends.

2. Hanging out with the roomies

Some people may not get lucky in this area but for those who are best friends with their roommates, they understand the love. It's a dream come true for everyone who has always wanted to live with their best friends. It's like a sleepover that never ends.

3. Dressing up cute on the first day of school...

You got to make a good first impression on your way to school. Whether it's during your 7 A.M or 4 P.M., it's always best to dress to impress.

4. ...and wearing yoga pants for the rest of the year

And this goes all the way until the last week of school when you don't bother getting out of bed to wear pants at all.

5. Going grocery shopping and throwing in cookies, ice-cream, and every type of Pringles because your mom isn't there to say no

You'll probably regret that in a few months when the Freshman Fifteen kicks in.

6. Walking for miles from your car to your dorm carrying groceries

We can't park by the apartment for a solid five minutes to carry our groceries up to the kitchen or we will risk a ticket, but we can walk a few miles carrying food that gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier with every step.

7. Going out for a night on the town on a Friday night

Dancing, laughter, and fun? Everyone in college has been to a party or two. It's a classic part of the college experience. Sometimes you just need a distraction from all the essays and tests.

8. Being so late to class you threw on whatever your hands grabbed next

We've all been there. Our alarm doesn't go off, we press snooze a few too many times, or forget to even set an alarm and next thing you know we are running around the dorm room like Taz from Looney Toons. You throw on whatever, then run to class.

Unfortunately 9/10 times our outfits don't turn out. Although, Kate can certainly pull off this look, no matter how mismatched.

9. Pretending your walking to the same building as the cute boy you met so you have the excuse to keep talking to him

I am very guilty of doing this. Although I missed my class, at least I got to talk to the really cute boy who has class at 9:45 in the STEM building. It was worth it.

10. Sitting on the floor or standing because you're a poor college student who can't afford chairs or tables

Eating on the floor? Always. Being a college kid is tough and sometimes you have to sacrifice some things to obtain the others. Such as choosing chocolate milk and Halo Top over vegetables and hair conditioner.

Judging by Kate's beautiful locks, she chose the conditioner.

Probably the vegetables too.

We should just all follow her example.

11. Going on cute date with the boy you followed to class-turned-boyfriend

Now my short-lived romance may not have extended farther than us talking and walking to his class, but Kate and William obviously had a better ending. Nevertheless, college is the place to grow and date and possibly find the one.

12. Keeping your hair long and growing because you can't afford to get it cut

Don't trust your roommate. No matter how many times she begs you to let her cut it. Don't.

13. Turning 21 and getting dressed up and going out with your best friends

While this one probably doesn't apply to Kate, since you can drink at age 18 in most countries, all my people in the United States know the sweet freedom of turning 21. It's an iconic time in a students life and marks a huge milestone as well.

14. Passing out flyers for some type of movement or protest

Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger - which is why college is the time to stand up for what you believe in. May that be RedforEd, Planned Parenthood, anti-Abortion, Trump, the Wall, pizza bagels, it's all an exercise of the first amendment.

15. Ranting to your friends about the professor that just "doesn't understand you"

You know your thinking about that professor right now as you read this. And you know that that's your reaction whenever they give you a bad grade or say something you disagree with at the tiniest degree.

16. Getting glammed-up for those senior photos

Pick out your best outfit and make sure it's a good hair day because everyone will be viewing these photos forever... and in Kate's place that is more than true. Luckily she looks as gorgeous as ever. Does she ever have a bad hair day?

17. Walking out of your last class knowing you'll never have to write a single paper again

And purposefully not thinking about how you will be going into the real world in less than a few days.

18. When you've graduated and realized you have no idea what you're going to do with your life

Maybe a prince will be right around the corner to sweep you off your feet so you won't have to figure your life out.
Cover Image Credit: Laura Warshauer

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What The 2019 'Season Of The Crab' Means For Your Zodiac Sign

It could be a super emotional month for everyone.


It's officially summer, and that means it's time to dive into the watery depths of Cancer season on June 21. There is a different energy in the air; different from the vibe in Gemini season. Each sign can expect to notice its effects, whether they are obvious or more subtle.

Cancer season means you're probably going to feel more moody than usual. Maybe you're crying more often. Maybe you'll feel more dreamy and intuitive. Maybe you'll be more irritable. Whatever the case, it never hurts to know what you're about to get yourself into.

So what does Cancer season mean for you, based on your zodiac sign?

1. Cancer - 21 Jun to 22 Jul


Happy solar return, cutie crustacean!

This is one of the dreamiest times of the entire year for you, but lacking structure and planning could prove stressful. You're in an imaginative zone and you may not feel like settling down before chasing the stars, but you must think ahead so things will work out.

2. Leo - 23 Jul to 22 Aug


Cancer season will find you exploring who you want to become, and what you want to leave behind. With your season just around the corner, this is also a magical time for healing and exploring yourself. Journaling, creative pursuits, or talking things through are wonderful ways to nourish your soul.

3. Virgo - 23 Aug to 22 Sep


This Cancer season, you'll find that the stars and the moon are asking you to rest. You will be faced with many choices and decisions this month. Enjoy your time fostering whatever creativity comes to mind. Do not force yourself to go out if you're not feeling up to it. It's okay to be you and be alone sometimes.

4. Libra - 23 Sep to 22 Oct


Cancer season and Neptune retrograde begin on June 21, causing you to need to pause and reflect on your goals. Change can be uncomfortable, but every small shift brings us closer to our goals. Be willing to take a risk, and let the universe push you in the direction of happiness and adventure.

5. Scorpio - 23 Oct to 21 Nov


Cancer season finds you traveling and opening new doors of opportunity. Are you really gaining anything by holding onto the past so tightly, Scorpio? Set your sights on new dreams, and leave all those people and situations that are holding you back in your rearview mirror.

6. Sagittarius - 22 Nov to 21 Dec


The question Cancer season asks you now, Sag, is whether you'll run away from your past, cling on to it, or do the emotional work necessary to process it and let it go. Appreciate the memories you are making and try not to get too wrapped up in the little things that annoy you. This is a time for experimentation.

7. Capricorn - 22 Dec to 19 Jan


You love your deadlines and goals, but remember that taking care of your emotional health will ultimately help you be more efficient! Trust your intuition, take it slow, and use the energy for play and creativity rather than detailed planning.

8. Aquarius - 20 Jan to 19 Feb


Cancer season this year is all about being comfortable and doing what you know, so go ahead and stick to that. This is also a great time for you to check in with yourself when it comes to wellness and your habits.

9. Pisces - 20 Feb to 20 Mar


This Cancer season, the heightened emotion that is in the air will bring you natural happiness. Go out, have a wonderful night under the summer stars, and use your experiences for inspiration. It will reinvigorate your soul to be more creative and more adventurous.

10. Aries - 21 Mar to 19 Apr


Cancer season finds you focused squarely on your personal life. It's a wonderful time for an adventure. Go on that hike. Wake up early and drive to the beach. You'll feel an inclination to do it all-- and you can! Remind yourself that you are capable.

It will be hard to stay focused because the vibe just feels so good, but Neptune's retrograde brings intriguing messages to your dreams, so pay close attention to your inner voice at this time.

11. Taurus - 20 Apr to 20 May


Cancer season causes emotions to be even more extreme so you'll probably reach your breaking point this month, Taurus, but you are never alone in the problems that you face. Remember to control your temper long enough to cool off and take some relaxation for yourself.

Take a day off and drive around with the windows down. Take five days off and drive to the beach to hang out and reflect. Whatever it is that you need to feel better, it is time to do it this month.

12. Gemini - 21 May to 20 Jun


Cancer is a sign that's all about security and protection, and you're really feeling those vibes right now. Your confidence is running high, as you are feeling more in control of your life. Get rid of the elements in your life that won't propel you forward.

Just as the moon and ocean cycle, so do we. Cancer is that strong energy that gets you up in your feels; it's sure to be a ride.

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