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(no subject) [Nov. 11th, 2012|06:28 pm]
When I was a child, I suffered from being the baby in a family that thought they were finished with babies when I came along. My sister was 10 years older, my brother 8 years older, and any time I wanted a new toy I was told "go check the attic" where I would paw through old chemistry sets, cabbage patch dolls, and choose your own adventure novels until I landed on something that could entertain me.

When I was 5, I found an old and dusty book in a box in the attic. It was thick, with gilded edges and had a beautiful hard cover with flecks of gold and brown, patterned like old wallpaper. I dug it out and showed it to my mother - "Oh, that's just a book of fairy tales. That's probably going to be tough for you. We should find some more Little Golden Books to read at the library."

I could already read, but I hadn't yet built a vocabulary that would allow me to actually comprehend many words beyond the basics. However, this book was the prettiest damn thing I'd ever laid my eyes on. I was already very aware that my brother and my sister went to school for double the hours I spent at pre-school and I developed a plan I thought was quite logical: I'd get home, every day from my half day of school, and read that damn gilded book until one of them got home. As soon as my brother walked in the door (he was usually the first to get home) I would attack him with questions. "What's a cobbler? What's a loom? What's a serf?"

This reader's digest compilation was absolutely fantastic - it included original English translations of most of the world's most popular fairy tales. They were my bread and butter on long lazy Sundays and the stories filled my brain before Disney had a chance to bastardize their beauty (yes, I was the cool kid at birthday parties who would argue that Rose Red was missing from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.) I still have this book with it's collection of 90+ stories, and, much like I imagine people turn to a beloved copy of a Bible in hard times, there is a rarely a month where I don't pick it up off the shelf. It has followed me from Boston to LA and it's binding has become so broken that it's the first thing moved to a new apartment and the last thing removed.

My niece (my sister's daughter) is more my spitting image in spirit and looks than anyone has ever been in my family. I'm sitting here now, debating whether or not I should pass on the book that used to be her mother's, perhaps getting it rebound for the occasion. She's a smart and careful girl, the oldest instead of the youngest, and passing it on as a Christmas gift is probably one of the more logical things I could do.

It's funny how I could act injured 22 years ago about having to rifle through boxes for others old toys and yet I, as a 27 year old married woman, am clinging to an old dusty and broken book because I'm unsure if I can give it up to the daughter of the woman who originally owned it.

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(no subject) [Nov. 4th, 2012|08:46 pm]
When I was in middle and high school, I had a best friend. She was the first person I loved who wasn't a blood relative, and possibly the first person I ever liked without obligation. She was a ferocious and beautiful writer, often troubled, who would succumb to depression so difficult that it would warrant several stays in mental hospitals.

Her friends put a great deal of work into protecting her - while idiot suburbanites recognized something dark and nicknamed her "Daria",  Those close to her kept her mental illness and disordered eating a dark secret. Beloved by those who knew her, young people, teachers, and administrators worked together to create stories of prestigious "writing camps" and "bad cases of mono" to keep her from becoming the latest piece of gossip.

I lost touch with her during college, but at some point I learned that we both were getting degrees in teaching. Mine was in art education, hers was, of course,  English Ed. I found this out over a coffee date that we finally made, and somehow neither of we're surprised. We had always been similar and I loved art as much as she loved the written word. We had both chosen paths that allowed us to share our passions with a new generation. We both were so dismayed by our experiences growing up that we wanted to make them better for a new generation.

I went back to my hometown to teach after college (it was a combination of altruism and a thirst for financial stability that lead me there) and taught art to Kindergartners through Eighth graders. A year after I started, she came back to my hometown to teach high school English.

I've moved away now, having taught 3 years in a public school. I had personal shit I needed to take care of and needed to put 3,000 miles between myself and my past. Today, she continues to teach English in my hometown and, to this date, we've determined based on stats (we both loved logic so much) that we have tag teamed the creative development of approximately  125 human beings. In a month and a half, we'll be having coffee and will discuss our beloved students, past and current, and will share what had worked and what hadn't. Perhaps I can give her tips about some beautiful children who are coming up the pipeline and she will protect them, as teachers from her past did their best to protect her.

Life, eh?
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(no subject) [Nov. 1st, 2012|10:23 am]
Sitting in an empty office under fluorescent lights. I hate fluorescent lights, but every morning the first person in the office is the one who turns them on. Despite being alone and hating these lights, I'll admit that there are some routines I'm incapable of breaking, no matter how illogical they may seem.

I'm typing here in a familiar web form. The same one, more or less, that I've been opening up and typing into since I was sixteen years old. I went by a different name, but that world and those connections became a ghost town. It used to be a party, but more and more people got tired and went home early. Especially the couples (they always leave first). Eventually, all my close friends had left, but the habit of reading words churned by those who shared a generation wasn't fading. How can I measure my own inner monologue without yours as a control group?

Like any addiction (and I've had my share), I started reaching out in ways that I would have never expected, ways that made me question my sanity. I started searching this abandoned building for any other survivors, souls that haven't become engulfed by newer, shinier, and less personal social networks. Jumping from dead network to network, seeking friends of friends, and often acquaintances of friends, just searching for someone who was still alive. Writers who care about their words, others who seem to be performing for an audience of ghosts. These are the people who recognize that life isn't just the What and the Where. It's the Why, and the How, and the feelings and emotions of the experience. Life isn't just about posting a photo of a pretty sunset, and using that photo as proof that you're living. It's processing the life you live and being aware of the breaths you take.

I'm trying to start a new gathering, maybe not with people who are wholly corporeal to me. Geography isn't the point. You can break bread with someone and never really know them. You can sleep in the same bed with someone and never really know them. I'm fascinated by honesty and those who take a moment to reflect. If you don't want me reading your words and it makes you uncomfortable, please bring it to my attention and I'll stop. If you're interested in this experiment, please check my friends list for more journals.
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