Fanny Hill Meets Soul on Ice

I keep thinking about Andy Miller’s book “The Year of Reading Dangerously.” I started reading dangerously at a young age.

When I was eleven years old, I picked up an old paperback copy of “Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure” in a used bookstore. This is an erotic novel published in 1748 that became a best seller even though its publication was illegal.

When I read it, I not only didn’t understand many of the words, I didn’t comprehend many of the concepts. A lady of pleasure: I only had a vague concept of what  this possibly meant. The author, John Cleland, used tons of metaphors instead of direct prose when describing sex. It was difficult to decipher metaphors for things I was mostly clueless about.

I reread the book about ten years later with a much better understanding of what that pleasure was all about. I realized that commerce was involved along with the sensation.

At the age of twelve, I read “Soul on Ice” by Eldridge Cleaver. Eldridge was a black man in a Civil Rights era America that made him dangerously angry. He ended up jailed for rape. In his eyes, he rebelled against the white man’s law by raping white women. He exacted revenge for the the way some white men historically debased black women.

In high school, my English teacher began talking about appropriate and inappropriate books for children to read. He was all for anyone reading anything and everything.

I mentioned that I read “Soul on Ice” quite young. He said that this is proof that reading never harms a person.

Ah, but he did not know the depth of my wretchedness. I escaped my own personal hell by reading books, and Cleaver and Cleland were welcome reprieves.  Would my teacher appreciate the comfort I found in depravity?

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The Boob Tube Ruined Algebra

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Land of Confusion.”

Which subject in school did you find impossible to master? Did math give you hives? Did English make you scream? Do tell!


Ninth grade algebra made me want to scream. It was a combination of things: my mind didn’t connect with the math and the teacher stunk.

Yeah, I’m blaming the teacher. She hated me. I had long, dirty-blonde hair, wore wire-rimmed glasses, and looked countercultural (early 1970’s and hippie like). She invited any student that was having problems to come in after class for extra help. When I did, she blew me off and said just read the math book, it will explain it to you. She frequently made remarks about how the protesting students on campus were scum and I guess she pegged me as scum.

Besides hating me, she was nearly as clueless about algebra as I was. So many times the smartest kids in the class had to correct her work on the blackboard since she got all confused and couldn’t solve the math problems.

She was short, chubby, and big-busted. And she insisted on wearing sheath dresses from a few years back when she was thinner. That’s how the students gave her the nickname of Boob Tube.

I nearly failed that class. The next year I took geometry and got an A in it. So it wasn’t just me being totally stupid.

In college, I took algebra even though I knew it may bring down my grade-point average. I was averaging an A all through that class until the chapters on algorithms. Then I got lost and ended up with a B. Yet I was thrilled that I understood the algebraic concepts and passed with a decent grade.

I should have visited my old algebra teacher and shoved that B grade into her face. Then I should’ve told her she needed to get an algeBRA.

A Life of Reading Dangerously

In the third grade, I fell in love with Nick Naroni. Nick had black hair, green eyes, and was actually a taller third-grader than I was. He also read Greek and Roman mythology or at least versions of those stores that could be found in a public elementary school library. So being in love as I was, I adopted his interests and also began reading mythology. Nick failed the fourth grade and I lost sight of him, but literature remains a passion of mine.

I just finished reading Andy Miller’s book “The Year of Reading Dangerously.” Last year I read “My Life in Middlemarch” by Rebecca Mead. Both of these authors reflect on how a book or books can affect a person’s life. What a goofball I am, I read about other people reading. Or so my husband thinks I am.

In Andy’s book sometimes you can’t make out where the books he writes about end and where his life begins. His book reading propels him through a sort of mid-life crisis. After many years where parenthood, the hectic pace of life and work interfere with his first love of reading, he becomes determined to make the time to read fifty great books (and two not so great). The books truly connect with his life.

One time, Nick did an oral report in class on mythology. He started asking questions about the ancient gods and I answered every one of his questions. As you know, I’d been reading. Then he asked a question about something that I didn’t read about: “Why is the month of January named after the god Janus?” Janus was a Roman god with two faces. The probable answer clicked in my head right away. “Because one face looks to the old year and the other to the new year,” I responded. All my correct answers surprised the teacher and Nick. I was so proud of myself. Decades later I’m still reliving my moment of glory!

Anyway, the books through my life are precious and have become part of my essence. Thanks Andy (and Nick) for providing me with a blog post topic. I’ve got stories about my book reading too.

A 21st Century Hermit

I regret that I live in the time of social media.

Not that I avoid the Internet. I do read Internet articles. Although I regret that I have commented on some of those articles. Now I try to keep the comment section closed. That has failed a few times, but at least recently I have refrained from leaving my own comments there.

With Twitter, I began to hate myself and some other people on that site. So I left abruptly. No regrets.

Sometimes I forget that this blog is social media. As I said, it’s mostly for me. I vacillate between boredom, ambiguity, and enthusiasm on these pages.

I don’t dislike the Internet. Every day I go there to look up answers to questions. When did Kurt Vonnegut die? April 11, 2007. When was William Shatner born? March 22, 1931. (Exactly four days before Leonard Nimoy was born.) Sadly, Nimoy just died earlier this year. Thanks for the info Internet.

But sometimes I visit the Internet and stay there in a daze. If ever there would be an opiate of the people, this is it. How many times have I clicked on the weather forecast and strayed to a dozen silly websites and then onto a game of Mahjongg? Let me count the wasted hours.

To maintain my anti-social stance, I will read more books. Real books. Ones that don’t track my reading style nor leave tracks of subliminal messages on my screen (my paranoia is justified, I’m only as crazy as the 21st century makes me). An hour of reading my book is a joy and equals a zero waste of time. I hope the libraries and bookstores don’t shut down before I die. Hell, I may be part of the last generation with this outdated preference.

My social life suffers because of my attitude. I have removed texting ability from my ancient phone. People seem to have a hard time figuring out how to communicate with me. No one calls anyone anymore or wants to leave a voice message. No matter, I may not check my messages for a day or two anyway. So far I have no desire to join Facebook. From what I hear, it can be a mega time-wasting enterprise.

My friends are fictional rather than virtual. I would rather travel in a book than in the real world.

Let me dig up my pencil and paper. Where is that old manual typewriter?  With pen in hand, I’m ready to read and mark up that old book. Excuse me while I step back into the 19th century. Middlemarch is waiting. To make matters worse, this is the second time that I read that tome. I love my social circle.

Blogging For Nobody

DAILY PROMPT
Recently Acquired
What’s the most important (or interesting, or unexpected) thing about blogging you know today that you didn’t know a month ago?

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/recently-acquired/


I have slowly discovered that I blog mainly for myself. This public outlet forces me to think more seriously about focusing my scattered ideas into a semi-coherent written form.

I find some pleasure in writing and enjoy rereading my old posts. Some posts embarrass, others decently flesh out an idea. I’m sure most of my writing makes sense and gives pleasure only to me.

Although I must admit that seeing visitors on my blog stats is kind of a thrill. The Sally Fields Oscar moment, “. . . you like me, right now, you really like me!”

Although I believe that WordPress skews my visitors. They must throw me a bone every now and then and auto click on my site just to string me along. Internet sites cry for content, content, more useless content. After all I’m writing my drivel for free and WordPress is buying it.

Also a chunk of my “likes” are linked to sites trying to sell me a money-making scheme by attracting a bigger audience. I ignore these claims and realize that these people don’t really like me.

Another recent revelation: I should stop being afraid of letting my friends read my blog. I have discovered that they won’t rush out and scrutinize every word as soon and as often as possible.

I should embark on a random blog-unveiling experiment. As I tell an acquaintance about my blog, I can watch their eyes glaze over with boredom and/or fear as I disclose my blog site location. Then they can only hope that I don’t quiz them on my blog’s content. Be careful what you ask for.

Droozing to Work

 

DAILY PROMPT
Play Lexicographer
Create a new word and explain its meaning and etymology.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/play-lexicographer/


drooze (drooz) vt. [[OE droocan]] 1 to drive a car on instinct 2 move from point A to point B with no memory of doing so 3 to have little motivation to accomplish any activity 4 to have no effect throughout — n. 1 a weak impulse or urge 2 an unenergetic initiative [Slang] mixture of drugs and booze

The Myriad Benefits of Hoarding Junk

DAILY PROMPT
Embrace the Ick
Think of something that truly repulses you. Hold that thought until your skin squirms. Now, write a glowing puff piece about its amazing merits.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/embrace-the-ick/


The house was as neat as a pin. Old saying – start over. Let’s say it was zen-like minimalist: sparse, clean, functional. Boring, boring, boring.

Give me a good old hoarder anyday. Ah, the stacks of stuff, the labyrinthine pathways, the decaying paper, plastic, clothing, food stuff, and graveyard of small and large household appliances. What excitement, what purpose!

The hoarder is at the forefront of a strong economy. He buys far more than he can possibly ever use, thereby stimulating us out of recessions. Why buy one shirt when you can buy ten? Especially when you encounter The Sale of a Lifetime. (By the way, these sales happen every other weekend.) If the shoe doesn’t fit, buy it.

The hoarder runs a junkyard business out of her home that could, again, boost the economy. I should say a potential business since she would never actually sell any of her great stuff. Broken coffee pot, it’s there if you can find it. One thousand bobby pins, slightly rusty, got it, right under the kitchen sink. Newspapers* from every day of the year 1966 moldering in the basement.

The hoarder is also the ultimate recycler. We can all learn valuable lessons from him or her. Given enough time, the home becomes a virtual compost heap. The house and its contents will revert back to nature as it decomposes bit by decaying bit.

How many famous dead people alone reside in all those heaps of dust in a hoarder’s home? A little Shakespeare here, a little Gandhi there. A shrine, a veritable shrine. Praise be the hoarding instinct.

*News stories printed in ink on large sheets of paper that were printed each day and distributed daily to homes, businesses, and to a sort of coin-operated vending machine.