On Facebook I have been tagged in a round robin status: “IN YOUR STATUS, list ten books that stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. They don’t have to be the “right” books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you. Tag ten friends, including me, so I can see your list!”
I can’t do it.
10 books? That is far too few. I started reading in kindergarten and could not put books down. The first books I recall, most influential I believe, were fairytale kids books. Snow white, etc. I learned to read with them. I loved them and read them to myself over and over. My little sister was angry at me at some point and ripped them all up. I sorta forgive her.
After that, in no particular order: A Little Princess - Frances Hodgson Burnett- purchased at a book sale in 5th grade with a borrowed .50 from the cutest student teacher ever. My father had died the beginning of the school year and I read this book over and over at the end of. I still have a copy somewhere.
CUTE is a 4 letter word. One of the first teen romance books I was allowed to read. I read it in third grade though it was on the 5th grade shelf. Somehow I had my name down to get it first – I was also reading all the Grimms Fairy Tales, Lloyd Alexandar, these strange white covered hardback paperbackstyle size books with freaky sci fi stories in them, Tuck Everlasting, alan mendelssohn and the boy from mars, and a few other fantasy/sci fi goods, along with all myths I could get my hands on.
At some point I won the summer reading challenge by a WIDE margin and got my photo in the paper.
Bridge over Terrabithia fucked me up for quite a while, as did To Kill a Mockingbird. And the impressions of different lives soaked my soul. I swam in that shit.
I was (am) a reader and a believer. I forget who I am and live the story. At my most obsessed I read three or so books a day, depending on page count and complexity of subject matter. While I read I think everything can happen and everything is true and everything makes sense.
I read the Book of Mormon and Bible and Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine and Covenants before baptism at the age of 8, to be ready. I’m pretty sure that influenced me a whole bunch. Though a lot was sorta rote reading more than understanding. Much of my life has been spent reading spiritually motivated books as I fell out of Mormonism, then christianity, then new age. Finally science won as the system I had a right to trust. That couldn’t have happened without science fiction. (And new age writers trying to explain quantum uncertainty as a spiritually controllable effect. Google was invented and once you start reading real science about it the new age is up in smoke.) It’s overwhelming obsession showed up around 12 while in Utah, we moved there for school for mom, for mormon help and community and I think for mom to run from some memories. And my eyes moved through all the wizard of oz, anne of green gables, dickens, little house on the prairie and hundreds of others on the shelves of the kids library, to the point that i had nothing else to read. Oh there were some books I hadn’t read but they were the ones I couldn’t make myself pick up. So I got permission to roam upstairs. I’m pretty sure I was testing into college levels with my reading comprehension at this point but what kid wants to read an autobiography of thomas jefferson or a novel of modern ennui set in paris? I roamed the stacks of the old building desperate for something and suddenly there were the spines with the rocket ships, the atomic sign, the nuclear warning all meaning science fiction lives within, in front of my face. True Love can happen.
Asimov – every word he wrote I could get a hold of, including the biographies and non-fiction but of course I Robot and Foundation. All changed how I looked at things. Then there was Heinlein. – Stranger in a Strange Land. He was probably a mistake but the stories were easy and gripping and full of super heroes, as well as some pretty frighting ideas of incest and pedophilia if applied to the real world. Not that I understood it at the time. Dune. Oh who can read Dune and remain the same? It took a lot of years of growing up before I could get through the rest of the series. I find them amazing books now though, but the follow ups by his son can be skipped. Those are just trash.
Xanth series – Piers Anthony, how I loved his puns as a pre-teen, how I use those books as an example of what not to do in my head now. Anne McCaffry – Dragons of pern – ALL the first 9 books. There are no words about how much I loved the sprawling tale turning fantasy lands into a science fiction crash landing. It was storytelling magic to me.
Other authors are Twain, Le Guin – every book she ever wrote really, she’s a brilliant author and thinker. Orson Scott Card – Enders Game of course but even more Speaker for the Dead. Ha and then some horror crept in – Stephen King – Christine scared me for many night, Pet Cemetery even more but I kept reading.
Narnia – An ever present land in my childhood and teens. A box set was expensive and prized to me as a child. Many books of a series wrapped in their own cardboard container behind a plastic wrap was treasure. Narnia was prized but shared with my sister, as most of my life was of course.
Not everything is scifi of course but I never had the classics thrill me in the same way. Open up my mind to new ways to address life, religion, gender, politics.
And how can I forget Sturgeon, discovered him as I got older, and felt buffed with pearls and smoke and mirrors from his old-time writings. Bradbury struck other echoy internal chords as well. A mystery and magic and a knowing of humanity that thrilled me. Illustrated Man made me see. Fahrenheit 451 made me weep. And start to try and memorize a book or two. Didn’t succeed.
So many books. Each one has left a mark, love for the pages and people lingers long after I can remember the details. And I often reread what I’ve managed to keep around, seeing a new detail, understanding a bit the younger me didn’t.
Each time I read a book I am always shocked at the fact others have read it before me. That thoughts it contains are ones I had come to on my own. That over and over books prove to me how different and how the same life is.
Books, books, books – there is no 10 influential books for me. Every one of them is a respite, a learning experience, a saving grace, a sanity restorer. Reading is where I’m home.
A friend called the moments after shoving a plate away, stomach round and full from feasting, legs stretch and tummies get patted, this golden moment is toe crackin time. Shoes off, Curl them up, curl them down, try to grab like a monkey, that’s how I do it.
I haven’t feasted unless you count a perfectly mixed bowl of Colassal Berry Crunch and Marshmellow Matey’s but there is a breeze coming in my window and my bare toes reach for it and I melt into my chair trying to remind myself that life can’t be a perpetual toe crackin moment. But oh how wonderful the moment is.
Than go back in time, even/especially knowing what I know now. I, some days, get bitter and mad for the youth I wasted not understanding how amazingly attractive and able I was. Misunderstanding all I surveyed. Longing for someone to fill a hole that was created by being alive.
I can’t want to unchoose things I have done. Not now. Especially now. And if I had to spend a hundred years in an iron lung I would do it instead of coping through that mess of youth, really.
I cannot truly understand those who wholeheartedly regret the aging. Who long for fresh skin and hormones driving you into alcohol driving you into questionable spaces, into each other.
I am one of the lucky ones.
I am out of it. The nonsense of pre-40 under achievements and torturous situations, of finding yourself and creating a future you want, of forced relationships and angry hurtful connections.
I much prefer to be here, over 40, 20 years of consequences under my belt and left behind as I go over and down the hill.
A desk, a bed, a peaceful nook to stare at the world from, calmness settling
It’s one search of a lifetime closed. (Lookinglookinglooking for my space, my shell.) And finally after a wanderlust that lasted adulthood things are settled.
Finding home after pain leads to reverence. It is religion. Standing for moments gazing with gratitude and appeasement towards whatever forces finally pushed home upon you. (whatever the space of home might be.) Gratitude descends almost unbearable in it’s humblesoulfulgrovel of thankfulness. Eyes rove the riches of fitting and on joyful things they settle.
Over and over emotions roll searching for what to feel now that things have changed completely and life seems to have a reset button and all that has been past is over and where the future is going none can say, but it will probably be interesting to quench the boredom that rises once all that is
Just because I can. No stress. no fuss. Work is good, new home is still the most peaceful place to me.
Just a few more things needed.
Just can’t believe the okness of my life right now.
Just hope this opens the gates and lets me create and communicate the 8millions ideas in my head.
I found a place. Not just a place but THE place, the one that I think I want to stay in forever.
It’s the little things that make it feel like home, like window placements and stoops to see. The space and how easy a commute is.
Sighs of relief echo into my high ceilings as I try to adjust to the feeling of “things been taken care of.” Happiness is not something one obtains and hangs onto, finding the knack for it. It’s a fleeting thing in some lives, gathered carefully, worked towards and possibly needing a last minute determined miracle of a phone call to create it into existence. For those of us who’ve made it to happy moments they are savored.
I’ll never argue the sweetness of finding home is worth the feeling of sorrow and lost before it. I think that’s a twisted way of trying to deal with enormous loss. But a simple meal is made better by the sauce of hunger. And it’s possible that having to carefully build a life also builds character, and maybe character is good for you, it’s certainly can be good for the rest of the world too.
Or maybe it’s just a thing that happens. Sometimes if you’re very very lucky you reach a place and it suits you and you think here I will stay.
today has been a monday
not the worst monday in the world but one with internet failure and clogged toilet and in general client clean up that is frustrating in it’s techitude (though the clients, still lovely.)
I have ended up at a pub slowly drinking happy hour beer of the foreign and delicious kind while working as hard as I can on their internet. Most of the time here was quiet. Me, sometimes one or two others, and a slip of a young man tending the bar. Then mr. loud guy showed up. They show up to every bar. They are never from around town, but have come from upstate, out of state or just crashing with friends for a month or two.
And they talk. Everything they are so smart about come out the mouth. Loud. So the whole pub can hear the opinions of how to make a new york apartment work, you know, cause living in one for decades wouldn’t give one a clue.
I know, the hubris of youth is unavoidable. People who know like to share and is it really worth my energy to get annoyed at another loudmouth dude who knows how to make sure EVERY ONE HEARS HIM?
SHUT IT! JUST SHUT IT! I HAVE WORK TO DO YOU BASTARD! WAIT TIL AFTER 6! sigh.
work is very very busy right now. I wake up when the alarm goes off, or sometimes before, and immediately try to remember what I have to do today, what day is it? where am I? Even when I know I can snooze the things I need to get done tug at me.
I may not be doing them in the most efficient ways.
But I still keep knocking things out, moving onto the next thing, fixing an issue, negotiating a business matter, replying to an email, doing some research.
In fact writing this made me start thinking about the client that had gotten pushed back due to companies emergencies and skipped over to email to write a lovely letter of apology and solutions.
I AM NOT COMPLAINING! For once I am not worried about money. I have rent paid. I’m not rich. I make my money due to what my time is worth to people. I have never expanded into people working for me, had some partners for awhile but freelance consulting is a nerve wracking experience, as well as dreams and needs change, and my lovely friends moved onto better for them things.
I am proud of what I’ve done with the past 20 years of my life. I’m not perfect but I have built a life from scratch in this city. It probably comes from the same drive that sent generations of my family across the vast plains of this country to the remote place to dig out farms and create lives from scratch.
I’m moving again. My current place is a stopgap. This is the last hurdle. Finding the apartment. The one that I can plant myself in. With the nook for work adn writing, the space to paint and a real live room of my own.
Life has streamlined my dreams in a huge way.
I’m not complaining.
I spent this week struggling with getting all my work done while still fitting in my goal of steady writing in this online JOURNAL (expect nothing!) and by the end of last night instead of running out and seeing a bunch of shows while drinking a bunch of alcohol I got hives from something (wool sweater I dug out of a box to keep warm in?) and took a Benadryl. And I sat thinking about how soon I would be asleep and what I wanted to do with my Saturday and I wanted to write. I wanted to open up the novel and get back to work, find the next step of the story.
I started thinking about the film, trying to find the pivot event. I am looking for something and I’m not sure what.
I did find my appletv remote so I am sitting in my rocking chair, tv speakers playing my itunes, screensaver of the photos I take, some friends, many the scenes of new york city.
And I feel excited to be here. I am going to write and create all day without guilt. My work and junks and the rest of the stuff is where it is. I get this. My day. (Though I will take one moment after I finish babbling on my blog to pay the con-ed bill now that I am remembering it AGAIN.) Tomorrow I will throw myself back into it and clean up all the bits and pieces still needing attention.
Today I write.
Tonight I drink a bit.
Tomorrow I work.
Had an early morning appointment and I was only awake enough to remember to make coffee and spill it all over everything before I had to leave.
Now I’m sitting at a Starbucks watching auto fill screw my attempt at cell phone entry all over the place.
But I am not a quitter. Slow? yes. Fail a lot? You betcha. Quit? Fuck you. Stubborn unyielding determination takes people a lot of places talent and intelligence can’t get off their ass to get to.
So I type. On my sideways phone. Watching where my thumbs go more than crafting clever sentences in my head.
No insights today. Simply one more step forward.