Saturday, July 12, 2008

The One Where I Write The Words Pt. 1

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Like many, my love affair with the strange rectangular obelisks began almost before I could walk. I carried them around, from place to place, sometimes taking a bite from them as well. I could never understand the grownups who approached me with consternation on their faces, telling me I had to keep things out of my mouth. It tasted good, why not eat it? As a toddler, I would use them to build tiny worlds for my plastic animals. They stacked well.

I will never forget the joy I experienced when I realized those prized rectangles gave way to words that I could read. It opened up whole new universes to me. I loved sitting on our threadbare seventies blue-flowered couch, my young brother wide-eyed and tucked into the crook of my arm, as I read to him from my dog-eared copy of Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever. He is in his thirties now, and still remembers, and can quote, "And then the big brown moose came crashing through the woods..." I was a very expressive reader and he would squeal in delight and beg me to continue again and again.

I remember the confusion and yes, pride, I felt when I won a reading contest in the second grade without even breaking a sweat. You want to give me a prize beyond just letting me read? Really? My parents said I read too much. They would shove me outside, and I would skulk out with a book hidden under my clothes. My job became finding the best "reading tree" I could, then climbing into it. I would pull out whatever current book I was devouring and lose myself between the pages for hours.

I read my way through my elementary school library, my public library and my high school library. As a teenager, always on the prowl for material, I found Stephen King and Dean Koontz and V.C. Andrews and had a tough time setting limits on my reading. I will never forget, reading The Shining in the wee hours, and hearing heavy footfalls in my kitchen, sounded like redrum, redrum! I had just finished reading the REDRUM description and my heart hit my toes, thumping wildly. Turns out, I had read all through the night and my father was up for work at 5 am. . He was in the Army and wore combat boots: they have a very heavy tread. Even after all these years, my heart thuds heavily in remembrance.

In time, reading gave way to my own writing. I guess you could say it was my "gateway drug."

T, who is letting it all hang out, do I need to put it back?

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2 sent chocolate:

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of myself growing up. Except for the scary book part. After being traumatized by vampire movies (babysitter's fault), I knew that the horror genre was not for me. Ironically enough I did eventually read a scary Stephen King book (The Stand doesn't count as scary) and it was SALEM'S LOT! What was I thinking? Talk about vampire nightmare flashbacks. I made my husband leave the bathroom light on at night for a week.

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

I did the exact same thing when I read "It" when I was in junior high. Scared the crap out of myself.

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