- My sister is four years older. She read every night under the covers and I thought that seemed like a brainy thing to do. I inherited all the books. I always liked books and I was always messy. It started with a strip of duct tape across the pink carpet but I couldn’t contain my mess and I must have thought it was hilarious to throw clothes over, but anyway, they put me in a walk-in closet where my bedroom stayed for the next several years and I’m sure that led to a lot of reading.
- My sister taught me how. At first I just memorized the book, but after awhile they saw through that parlor trick and kept changing up the material. I don’t know when this was. The normal age people read.
- In elementary school every year we got to write stories in bound books made of cardboard and wallpaper, and I thought authoring a good book made you powerful. Where did I come up with that idea? He-Man and Shera get their power by Greyskull. Gem had a magic guitar or something. Some questions just remain unanswered.
- In fourth grade we had a substitute. He read us “The Tell-Tale heart” and I was like, whaaaaaaaaat? I wanted to pull the halloween decorations down from the attic in spring and drape spiderwebs all over the furniture.
- Two years later on the first day of sixth grade at the big new middle school where my life was about to turn into a daily horror show but I didn’t know that yet, our first hour teacher tried to lighten the mood by offering a prize to whoever could tell him the author of “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and I screamed Edgar Allan Poe because I didn’t yet know it wasn’t cool to read and know things. Mr. Roth gave me a dollar out of his own wallet, and I thought, middle school is weird.
- In seventh grade we read a Jack London story, one of the dog point of view ones. Something devastating happened to the dog, and the dog fully realized how hard his life was going to be thereafter, and then came the single sentence, He sat down. My teacher said, “look at that. Notice how simple it is and how much meaning it conveys.” I thought it was so profound. I looked around the room to see if anybody else was having a moment but they all looked cruel or bored or frightened, like always. Fuck all of them. I knew what I’d learned, and my mind was blown and I’ve never ever forgotten it.
- “High school’s better than junior high. They’ll call you names, but not as much to your face” – Welcome to the Dollhouse.
- This is getting too long. I’ll add more later.
Of course it’s never how you remember it. Back in fourth grade the substitute was just a grown up, an anonymous old person. In memories after that I matured and decided he was 25 and sexy. I’ll never know, and I can never go back and say, “hey, edgy substitute. you changed me.”
I found the Jack London quote, and again it’s not quite the way I remember. I think it was, “He sat down, and the men laughed at him,” and it’s from The Call of the Wild.
I think I remember at one point magic was real, and tiny leprechauns lived in the grass and used mushrooms for umbrellas, but again I may be mistaken.