Things That I Was Obsessed With As a Kid

I was in all ways a better and more interesting person when I was a little kid. There is one main difference between me as a kid and me now. As a kid, I followed through with shit. Did I want to learn about medieval history as a kid? Then by god, I read every single book ever about medieval history. Did I want to learn how to draw the Superman symbol? Then I would sit at our kitchen table and repetitively draw that symbol until my fingers bled.

These days, I have no attention span. I can’t even manage to make it through the first season of Lost, which is a show that I like. I have the DVDs, and I’ve only ever made it as far as the polar bear. What is my problem? The problem is that I’m an adult. I’m stressed out, I get distracted by booze and sex, and I have limited time and resources. It is all very sad.

Anyway, here is a partial list of the things that I was obsessed with as a kid, as a reminder that I was an interesting person once. (And you were probably an interesting person as a kid as well…)



If I could do my childhood over again, I would definitely spend way less time on origami, the Japanese art of paper-folding. No one is impressed by origami, and especially no one is impressed by origami when you are an adult. As an adult-type-person, I have attempted to make origami cranes for a girl at bars, as a way of “breaking the ice” and starting a conversation. All this does is result in the girl moving to a different section of the bar. Or, if all the seats are taken, then the girl will start wildly scanning the bar with her eyes, hoping against hope that an empty seat will open up.

As a kid, I wasted hundreds of hours on origami – even to this day, I can make multiple magical animals that no one gives a shit about – cranes, ducks, frogs, horses, cormorants, dragonflies… But as it turns out, turning a piece of paper into a differently-shaped piece of paper is just not impressive, and moreover, it can be accomplished far more quickly by the simple “crumpling the paper up into a ball” method. Oh well. FML. FML for real.

The other thing I remember about origami is that a Japanese legend says that if you make a thousand paper cranes, your fondest wish will come true. I attempted this as a kid, but around about crane sixty, I already knew what my fondest wish would be – I wanted to never see another goddamn paper crane again for the rest of my life. So I stopped. FML again.

Learning Japanese:

I don’t know what my deal was with Japanese shit as a kid, but this was probably a spin-off of the whole origami thing. Anyway, as a six-year old, I decided that I would learn to speak Japanese. But here’s what I actually learned: Japanese is fucking hard! I spent long boring, boring hours on Japanese, but I could only ever remember how to draw the word for “sun.” I was going to say here that I still remember how to write “sun,” but that is a total fucking lie. I do not remember. I know; like you even would have been impressed that I still knew how to do the thing for “sun.”

Joan of Arc:

Perhaps my oddest obsession as a kid was with Joan of Arc. I was fascinated by Joan of Arc, because I read in a book that she was “burnt to the stake.” Because I couldn’t spell correctly, I thought this meant that when she was burned to death, all that was left of her was a juicy T-bone steak. (In my imagination, this resembled the steaks featured in Tom & Jerry cartoons.) This obviously turned out not to be true, but the whole steak/stake thing was sufficiently gory to capture my imagination, and so I started reading lots of books about Joan of Arc and about medieval history.

As an adult, I remain fascinated by Ms. Jeanne d’Arc — and so I got a Joan of Arc tattoo, which was a stupid idea, for me to get a tattoo like that. (Although any tattoo is a stupid idea if you think about it for too long.) My tattoo is of the Cross of Lorraine, which is the symbol for Joan of Arc. It’s probably good that I don’t live in France, because soon after I got this tattoo, I learned that the Cross of Lorraine is also a fascist symbol in France. (It’s also probably good that I don’t live in France… because the only two French words that I know are “bonjour” and “oeufs,” which means that I could only ever say “Hello, eggs!” over and over again.)

Another thing that I have learned about Joan of Arc is this — if you’re obsessed with her as a kid, it’s supposed to be an indicator that you’re going to turn out gay. (It makes sense if you think about it; cross-dressing, martyrdom, etc…) I did not turn out gay, although I have always felt that this was a mistake on my part. Certainly, I would be better at being a gay dude — if only by default — than I am at being a heterosexual.


The one and only time that people thought that I was a genius was when I was four years old. When I was four, I could draw pictures of cubes and houses and things in perfect three-dimensional perspective, and for two weeks my parents were thrilled: “Our little Oliver is a savant-level GENIUS at drawing!” etc… There was, however, a sadder and more realistic explanation. My dad is an architect, and I was just copying the pictures that were on his drafting board. So much for that.

As a kid, I was obsessed with writing and drawing, but I quickly hit a wall, wherein my writing improved, but my drawing did not. So I can still draw really well… for an eight-year-old. The things that I can actually draw are the following: a dog; a bunny; a flower; the face of a pretty girl. Anything else, and the results are not pretty, and will definitely not be appearing on my mom’s refrigerator anytime soon.

Comic books:

This is the only one of my obsessions to bear any fruit. Comic books essentially taught me how to read, and they no doubt taught me how to write. Comics taught me about plot structure; they taught me about climaxes and angst and continued story-lines. They also did wonders for my vocabulary. Thanks to comics, I now know what an “exo-skeleton” is and what “slumgullion” is (hint: it’s a type of stew). Comics taught me what “invulnerable” and “omnipotent” and “telepathic” mean; it is due to comics that I am in any way smart. I became a writer because I wanted to write comic books, and though my drawing remains stuck at a shitty level, my love for writing continues.

As a kid, I had over four thousand comic books. They were all neatly alphabetized and placed in order of publication, and were safely kept inside acid-free pouches, which were themselves placed within acid-free boxes. I had heard sad stories from my dad about how he threw all his (now-valuable) comics out when he was a teenager; I was determined not to make the same mistake.

And indeed, I didn’t make the same mistake. I had all of my comics until I turned twenty-nine. Then I moved to New Orleans. Then my house got hit by Hurricane Katrina. Ahem. Farewell, Oh four thousand neatly-packed comic books!

I’m still sad about this, and there’s probably a metaphor in here somewhere — something about youth vs. age. Maybe it’s a metaphor for how you simply can’t hang on to the things of your youth; that they will simply slip away, and perhaps they will slip away all the faster, the more that you try to hang on to them. But whatever. I’m just still pissed that I lost my copy of Giant-Sized X-Men #1. It was in Near-Mint condition! With the first appearances ever of Storm and Colossus! Anyway, fuck my life again. The end. TC mark

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Thumbnail image – Paper cranes


More From Thought Catalog

  • Vanessa Glenda

    For whatever its worth, I would think it cool to receive an origami crane in a bar. I would have saved it to put on my windowsill.

  • Kelvin Lee

    “I can make multiple magical animals that no one gives a shit about…”

    I give a shit Oliver. I GIVE A SHIT.

    • Oliver Miller

      But does any other commentator give a shit?  This is what I need to know.

      • misskimball

        yes, I give a shit too. I would like the origami crane in a bar unless you do weird grunting while folding it or something

      • valentine_kitchenson


      • Aelya


      • Oliver Miller

        Come to O'Flanagan's Bar on 65th and First Avenue.  I'm there with cranes sometimes.

      • chelsea

        Be there Thursday night with a bouquet of oragami magical creatures and  I will let you have your way with me.

      • Aelya

        I hate you for being geographically inaccessible.

  • Delilahsjoint

    Are you kidding? If i dint have attention deficit, I'd learn about all those stuff. Unfortunately, I had a thousand other things I'd planned that dint get to follow through. So by far, what you have, sir, is GOLD, in this generation of attention deficits and jacks of all trades. Fck this generation.

    • Oliver Miller

      As an adult, I was later diagnosed with OCD, so some of this stuff was no doubt OCD-related.  My mom has told me that I would sit at the table drawing the fucking Superman symbol ALL DAY in an effort to get it right.  Although, in my defense, it's a really hard symbol to draw.

  • Julie

    People who don't appreciate origamis from strangers are so not worth it!

    • Ali

      yeah dude! on our first date, my boyfriend brought me a bouquet of origami flowers that he made for me. I still think it's the nicest thing anyone's done for me.

  • Aja

    Yeah, I'm in the same boat with Vanessa and Kevin.  You're probably just talking to the wrong girls.  Any girl worth her salt would be charmed to receive and oragami crane.  I loved this essay.  We liked a lot of the same things.  Though I liked Enya from age 9- 13.  I think my parents thought that was a little weird.

  • Guest

    I don't think the Cross of Lorraine is a fascist symbol?  According to what I knew, and supported by almighty Wikipedia, it was a symbol of the Free French during WW2, which seems as not fascist as you can get.

    • Oliver Miller

      What happened was, Free France has morphed into a sort of “France for French people ONLY” sort of deal, so the cross is now basically a ultra-right-wing symbol.  It'd be like if  I had a tattoo of Sarah Palin on my arm or something. …This is also according to Wikipedia, and if Wikipedia is wrong, that'd be great, because no way am I getting this thing removed.

  • I'd take some origami

    In France, The Cross of Lorraine was the symbol for the FFF under General De Gaulle. So, not really fascism except as relates to being the anti-swastika of WWII. One of the biggest themes for jokes about De Gaulle during and after the War was that he was soft and mildly feminine, because he'd adopted a woman's symbol.

    • Oliver Miller

      Well, what happened — again according to Wikipedia — is that “Free France” has morphed into a sort of “France for French people only” sort of deal-y.  So it's more of an ultra-right-wing symbol now, I guess.  It'd be like if I had a tattoo of, say, Sarah Palin on my arm, sorta.  …But if Wikipedia is wrong, that'd be cool, because I'm not getting this thing removed.

  • FC

    Damn, your opening bit carries a weight, makes me sad/nostalgic…it's easy to forget childhood. I feel like one of the reasons we get drunk and so forth is to bring back that stress-free innocence and desire we once had as a kid, (that rarely works of course).

  • Kathryn Stahl

    If you or any guy handed me a paper crane in a bar, I would be charmed. Beats the hell out of bullshit pickup lines.

  • Tiffany

    Your craning never really impressed me.

    • Oliver Miller

      It only impresses strangers who leave comments on Thought Catalog, sadly.

  • RamonaCC

    Sometimes at restaurants I make a paper crane out of the paper things that go around the napkins and leave it behind with the tip. I like to think that the waiter gets a kick out of it.

  • yjyjk
  • Wondering Star

    Guess what – you actually DO have the Japanese character for sun written correctly in your article! It's the very first character in that Japanese word you posted (the rectangle with the line through the middle). Hooray for recovered useless knowledge.

    On a side note, learning Japanese was TOTALLY useful for me. I met my hubby, a Japanese guy, through my studies, and he's the most amazing, sweetest, funniest person in the world (in my obviously extremely biased opinion). I thank my lucky stars that I'm married to someone so perfect for me.  And I didn't even have to fold 1000 cranes. ;)

  • Nsain

    Yea all fine and dandy…. Make me a  paper Giraffe, then ill be impressed! :p  Oh and i tried the whole 'learn Japanese' thing myself. The only thing i remember is “Abunai!” which is DANGER.. now all i need is the word for “stranger” and i can finally take that trip to Japan i have always wanted.

  • yhyhgz
  • Mikaela Kaimo

    “Any tattoo is a stupid idea if you think about it for too long.” Priceless.HELLO EGGS

  • Diana Z.

    I was really interested in Anastasia and the Romanovs in general. I also when through a “clay” phase when I was like 8. one day, I made miniature bugs out of clay (about 10 or so). I was proudest of my life-size bee. I took them to school, I think? To show one of my teachers or something? No idea. And I also went through an Origami phase! (I had 3 books) and would spend hours folding paper. Now, the only thing I can make is a cootie catcher. If i'm in an awkward situation and there's paper laying around, I will make one.

    • Oliver Miller

      I always wanted to learn how to make a “cootie catcher” when I was a kid, but it seemed like a girls-only thing, and I was too wussy to ask any girl to teach me.  Sad emoticon.

  • Lawl

    funnily enough, you have the kanji for “sun” in the picture. 日。

  • Olivia miles

    Receiving a paper crane in a bar is kind of beautiful. I don’t know. I’d care quite a bit. 

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