Category Archives: reading

Lofty Aspirations

Daily Prompt: Lofty

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/lofty/


Know me like a book

Open the paper treasure

Immortality.

 

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?

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.

Libraries Saved My Life Or Why Kindle Won’t Do

When I was growing up, I found refuge in a library. Home was often chaos, and a walk or a bus ride to a library saved me. I escaped to the library building and within the covers of each book I checked out.

I discovered all sorts of books by accident as I wandered the aisles of shelves. I could pull down and examine any number of books at my leisure and take them home for free. Good deal since I had more curiosity than money.

I discovered different cultures. At home, the only place I found culture was on a carton of buttermilk.

One time, I found “The Source” by James Michener and I thought I found the most profound book ever written. Later on, when I found “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov, I began to scratch the surface of a world of truly great books out there.

The library arranged books in nice, organized  rows on identical shelves. Unlike home where stuff was strewn all over and never put away.

I loved the quiet in a library. Home had loud, senseless drama.

An e-reader has no shelves to wander around. It has no walls, no chairs, no tables. It has no spines to glance at as I meander.  It has no old or new paper smell, nor atmosphere. It is no place.

Even if e-readers existed back when I was young, I would not have been able to afford one. I wish people would wake up to the power of knowledge that a free library offers to even the poorest person. It’s not boring, it’s freeing.

So many people question the value of a library building today.  There is no question in my mind that value exists within those walls. I still go and find gems. I don’t always know what I’m looking for. Sometimes it finds me instead.

The pleasure, knowledge, and peace I have found inside a library will keep me one of its biggest fans. My kind is rare today, I hope I don’t become the last card-carrying member.

What the Pterygium?

The ophthalmologist said I have pterygium. Never heard of it. It’s also called surfer’s eye since many surfers develop it because the ultraviolet rays and the wind magnified near the ocean can create this problem. I’ve never lived by the ocean and never surfed so how did this happen?

My eyes look perpetually bloodshot. Bloodshot without the benefit of a heavy drinking binge the night before. They feel grainy, irritated, and my vision is cloudier.

Last year, my optometrist reground the lens of my new glasses twice because my vision didn’t seem right and I was sure my glasses were wrong. He finally said that my eyesight is as good as it’s going to get. Maybe the pterygium was developing at this point.

Pterygium has the same prefix as pterodactyl. Pter means one with wings just like that scaly dinosaur with its wings of stretched skin. I have a scaly growth on the inner corner of each eye.

Surgery is recommended. A surgery that stitches up the growth removal has a nearly 50% chance of recurrence. A newer form of surgery uses an amniotic glue to close up the scraping away of the growth and has about a 1% chance of recurrence. If too many surgeries are done, there is a chance that the scaly skin can no longer be removed and will eventually cloud up vision.

I have also learned that I have rosacea which has a connection to pterygium. By reducing rosacea flare ups, I can reduce the pterygium aggravation. Even with a perfect surgical procedure, an out-of-control rosacea can cause a regrowth of pterygium.

I always thought that rosacea was strictly a problem of vanity. I hope the rosacea/vision connection would get more exposure so that people can take note of the serious side effects. Red blotches on your face is one thing, losing your eyesight demands much more attention.

This is not good news for a reader like me. It is constraining my writing diversion as well.

Like Saul from the Bible, I need to have the scales lifted from my eyes. Perhaps I’ll find religion after the scales fall away. At the very least I hope my vision is preserved so I can read and write my way to the grave. What happens after that remains to be seen.