So this weekend I found several boxes of my stuff stored at my parents’ house. I didn’t even know they were here!! From the time I was a small child I wanted to be a writer. I fiddled with tall tales, poetry and “chapter books” (those were really more like sentences on separate pages, but ya know!) Here are a couple of poems I wrote when I was 8 and 9. Clearly I was obsessed with the sea for some reason haha. I don’t think I did too bad for a small child! I’ll scan some of my books and post later but for now enjoy the poetry!
At Sea by Paige
The water on the rocks
The seagulls in their flocks
Pew, I smell someone’s dirty socks!
That’s at Sea!
The sailor calls “Land Ho”
Listen to the water flow
This is how the children go
That’s at Sea!
Splash goes the whale
“Stop it!” Said the man who brought the mail
“Look at me sail”
That’s at Sea!
Look at the dead crab
I fed my horse on shore
Look at the led in the pincel [sic] in the sand
That’s at Sea, Sea, Sea!
The Pilgrims by Paige
They sailed across the deep blue sea
There were more than three
The pilgrims they were called
Finally the sailor called “Land ho”
Everyone started to glow!
The pilgrims they were called
They met an Indan [sic] named Squanto
Who showed them how to make plants grow
The pilgrims they were called
The winter was very hard
The men were to guard
Their famalies [sic] from the times of hard
Yes, the pilgrims they were called
I just finished reading “The Fountainhead” — this isn’t the blog for my review, which I’ll do on my book blog later when I have the energy to retrieve the appropriate quotes and such. But reading a book so full of symbolism made me begin to look at my own life. Already I had been contemplating the idea of possessions as symbolism. Many people remember me for my massive numbers of books. I liked that. I would not get rid of a book that I had read or intended to read. My bookshelves were stacked two deep and I had more piled in my room and more in boxes. When I started thinking about getting a Kindle for the first time I resisted. Part of it was the tactile thing the feel, the smell of books. But part of it was missing my library. And I began to ask myself what did it symbolize to me? I was disappointed to learn that to me it was more of an ego thing than a love thing. I do love a great number of my books, but I was holding on to a great deal more than the ones I loved — ones I never intended to open again partly because it created a greater library. It gave me the image of a reader. I am a great reader, but my library said nothing about me, so I got rid of probably 4/5 of my library, keeping only those that I truly loved or at least respected. Now I think if someone looked at my library they might have more of a sense of me. A symbol of what kind of reader I am. (Although I have currently loaned out three of my favorite books. . . haha.)
I was also thinking this weekend about another kind of symbolism and me. The messiness that once plagued me. Since arriving home I have kept my room perfectly tidy. It hasn’t even gotten a little messy. But many of my friends and family can attest that wasn’t always the case. I am often teased about this (many times because I used to make fun of myself for it — mostly out of my own shame. I guess I thought if I laughed first it wouldn’t hurt as much when they laughed.) But the messiness, I’ve come to believe was a kind of outward example of my own inner messiness. One time a friend of mine in Brazil said that to me and I was furious with him. I thought, “No, sometimes I’m just messy.” But I think my fury was just an acknowledgement of how right he was, at least in my case. Right now I am at peace. I am happy with where I am. There are things I still struggle with, of course. Life is never a cake walk. But I feel like I am following the path I am supposed to. I’ve never been at peace with my place in life before. I’ve always struggled before. I’ve always felt in turmoil as if being tossed about by the ocean. So I suppose it is no surprise that my space reflected that. People still tease me about my former messy way. I suppose they don’t know that I’ve changed. It has only been a short while, after all. And those memories, even just of the mess, are painful. Maybe someday, I’ll figure out a way to ask them to stop the mockery.
What do the things that mean a lot to you say about you? What about the things that embarrass you?
Is there anything better than opening up a new book, ruffling through the pages and the scent that wafts off of it — ink, paper and glue? Maybe an older book does — one that has taken on the scents of former owners, has that light dusty/musty smell, but just seems to have more “weight” because of the scent that floats off the pages.
I adore my book collection. I am not sure how many I had at my most — probably around 300. My dream has always been to have a house that has a library of its own. My favorite scene as a kid in any movie was the part where the Beast gives Belle his library. So many books that there were ladders and stairs to reach them all! What could be more romantic than a gift like that? Well, nothing, really.
I also have a technology obsession. I love how electronics work. I love the way that facebook has allowed me to connect with people I knew half my life ago — and to again befriend them over many miles and countries. So you would think I would automatically love e-readers (I don’t like how it is traditionally written without the hyphen. . . it looks weird!) That isn’t exactly true. I was fascinated when I first heard of them in high school. Apparently Hearst first worked on the idea in the 1970s (or at least that is what I was told 10 years ago in high school.) But the more I thought of the loss of the pages and beautiful covers and the SMELL of books, the more I mourned the thought. (more…)
I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey with reading lately. At my job I have been hearing a lot about how kids learn to read and the various test results that correspond with state requirements. I really have no memory of learning to read. I think I was reading when I started preschool, but I don’t remember specifically. I have a distinct memory of reading the Little House on the Prairie series because in first grade a friend of mine and I were having a competition on who could read through them the fastest.
I also have strong memories of getting bad grades in reading in second grade. This wasn’t because I had “fallen behind” but because I was so far ahead. I believe we were required to read something like five books per week for class. Well, at that point I was reading through the Nancy Drew series. My classmates weren’t quite reading chapter books yet, but my teacher wouldn’t allow me to count the books I was reading as more than one, but I wasn’t yet fast enough to read five in one week. Stubborn kid that I was, I refused to just read through the smaller books for the grade. Oh well! It was also around this time that I saw a commercial on speed reading. The infomercial went into some detail on it and said that the essence of speed reading was beginning to see groups of words and whole sentences instead of reading word by word. It was years and years before I started doing it, but I did start practicing then with books I had already read.
Now I read maybe three or four books a week. Sometimes seven. When I didn’t have cable at all I was reading closer to seven on average. I am recently obsessed with non-fiction books, but fiction is still my favorite.
It seems like I”ve been on a fast from reading. I’ve been writing so much lately I haven’t read hardly anything! I did just finish The New Diary by Tristine Rainer. Although I already knew most of the techniques in it, it was a good inspiration. I’ve been writing in a journal nearly every night now. I wouldn’t say big revelations, at least not yet! She suggests naming your journal before beginning as a sort of blessing, mantra or vision for the time recorded in the book. I named ine Verto Prosperitas Venustas. I haven’t really shared that before and it seems so personal, but that is ok. I’ve been thinking a lot about Harry Potter and the various spells and the relation of that and the visions I have for my future. So it is a play on words from a transfiguration spell, meaning transfigure: prosperity, beauty. I suppose it is also a test of myself and my ability to work on something and stick with it. I’ve never kept a journal to the point that I finish an entire notebook, probably because I’ve always been afraid of someone reading it. Now I’m taking charge of that. I have a vision of journals lined up on a shelf chronicling my life, journal and future. 🙂 I know this is less about books and more about MY books, but this seems like the right place for this blog.
Yay! I love book club, and now it is my turn to pick!!!!! Such a responsibility, but since I have been thinking about this since I joined six months ago, I already had an idea of what I wanted to pick. So here they are along with my take on the books — and spoiler free… I PROMISE!!
It is so hard to pick and I wish we could read all of these because I would LOVE to hear what everyone at book club thinks about each one.
For a summary click on the title of each book. I’m just including why I picked them!
This book is what I think of when I imagine modern great literature. Winning the Pulitzer in 2005, Gilead is literary and beautiful. Although the plot doesn’t move forward quickly — it is more of a contemplation than a story — one becomes attached to the characters so that the changes and revelations of each are just as surprising and entertaining as plot revelations in other books.
By the author of acclaimed My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult (pronounced Pee-ko) I was skeptical when I picked up this book but I was hooked almost immediately. I think Jodi uses the perfect blend of commercial and literary. Though I guessed the ending at one point, she did a great job of making me second guess every single one of my assumptions. Who can resist a court thriller (a la Law and Order) blended with a study of the Amish?
Broken for You
This book — set in Seattle, YAY! — a hint of the supernatural and a little about how people relate to each other. Add a touch of redemption and anyone who knows me well knows this is the recipe for a book that I will love! I loved the idea of a kind of “hermit” woman who invites people into her home at the end of her life and it didn’t disappoint. I was also happy to find an author whose writing I enjoyed. I haven’t picked up her newest book, but I am looking forward to it!
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
A retelling of the Cinderella fairytale from the perspective of her step sister, Maguire has a decidedly darker tone than even the Grimm’s telling. If his Wicked — a retelling of the Wizard of Oz — was a study on what goodness and wickedness really are then Confessions is a study on the place of women in the world, family relations and he can’t resist pondering wickedness again. A few surprise twists and some ambiguity that I’m still not sure what the real truth of the matter was in some cases just add to the “real life” feeling of this book.
Peace Like a River
This book was recommended to me by a former co-worker who I didn’t like at all. I was semi-determined to hate it but I just couldn’t. I think the other review said it is the father who haunts you in the end and I think that is very true. I think Enger shows us the father’s torment and the injustice of the situation so clearly that one can’t help but feel just as torn as the father. The writing is beautiful and the plot enticing but it is the character development that I think really shines in this book.