There’s No Such Thing As BookWorms Anonymous

The Carl Spitzweg image strongly associated wi...

The Carl Spitzweg image strongly associated with Leary’s Book Store. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Books and I get along well. A little too well. So well, in fact, that I have a hard time leaving them all alone, unwanted and unloved, on the shelf of a bookstore. I feel better knowing that, even though I may not be able to give it all my love for quite some time, it has still found a better home on my bookshelf, and that one day, I will be able to devote to it as much time as I want.

But alas! This is not an ideal situation. It is an addiction, a terribly beautiful addiction. I say terrible because it drains addicts of finances, shelf space, and the will to do anything other than pick up a novel and rifle through the papery angel wings that are its pages, becoming intoxicated by the smell of the ink that forms the divine words within. And even more terribly, yet also an element of its beauty, society encourages this addiction. Bibliophiles are commendable for this habit. They’re thought to be intelligent and educated human beings because of their literary consumption. If only those unperturbed by the throes of bibliophilia knew what it was really like…

I am a self-proclaimed book addict. It started when I was little, when my parents and grandparents started reading stories to me. Then I wandered into the wrong part of the house one day, that dark little alley known as the library. It only took one book. I was hooked. From that moment on, I read whenever I could, whatever I could. I was constantly looking for the next dose of literature, and even was caught catering to my addiction in class, when I was supposed to be doing math.

But it was worse than that. While reading made it very difficult for my parents to punish me (no good parent can take books away from their child!), it also deprived me of things essential to human existence, particularly food and sleep. The power that books had over me was so great that I would simply forego eating in order to finish a section, or ignore the fact that I hadn’t slept in over 36 hours because I had to find out how a story ended. I would push myself to the limits of existence just to continue feeding my lust for literature.

Now, I’m suffering from withdrawal. English major though I may be, the writing I consume for classes is not enough to fulfill my cravings. It is the wrong type of drug for this addict, and I am suffering from withdrawal. Required reading simply adds insult to injury. I have not read a book (or at least finished one) out of sheer pleasure since the middle of the summer, a whopping 8 months ago, and my inner bookworm is crying out for attention. It leads me to the campus bookstore, a place almost regrettably not devoted exclusively to text books. Popular fiction and classics not required for class take up a quarter of the shelves, and it is to this quarter that I am so often drawn. My wallet is endangered every time I step foot into that sanctuary of paperbacks, for though I know I cannot read them right away, I still feel compelled to make a purchase, simply to salve my withdrawal ever so slightly. It is despicable, and yet oh so sweet when I carry a new addition back to my dorm and cradle it lovingly for a few moments before tucking it in with my other drugs. “Someday,” I say longingly, “I will pick you up and let my eyes caress your pages, the sweet type imprinted on them flowing in and coursing through my mind as blood through my veins.”

But until that day arrives, I must wallow in the depths of requisite reading, of knowing that recreational reading is only a few feet away and still so far out of my reach. The only thing that keeps me from relapsing into sleep-deprivation and unintentional anorexia is that I only have to hold out for a little over a month. On May 4, 2012, I will finally be able to become a bookworm once more.


Escape From the Indoors

The sun is suspended in the clear blue that hangs above. Heat, a stranger now after the chill of winter, has returned once again, creating water droplets on the skin of those enjoying the weather. The thermometer sits at 73 degrees, flipped from just a couple of weeks ago when 37 was almost expected. The only hints that winter was here come in the earthy brown of the bare trees and a brisk breeze caressing the skin. Everywhere people and plants bask in the warmth of spring, and the sounds of life have returned– chipmunks scurrying through the underbrush, birds flitting and twittering about in the bushes, and insects buzzing in the air. Walls are no longer a comfort against the environment, but instead a hindrance to the enjoyment of the outdoors. And outdoors is where I want to be.

The past two days have fit the description above. Warm, breezy, noisy, fresh, spring weather. The lack of bone-chilling cold has allowed me to indulge in long walks and a very muddy, thoroughly enjoyable hike. Both were much-needed after the cold rainy winter we’ve had here in northern Ohio. And extremely relaxing. Sitting in a dorm room because it’s too miserable to go outside makes me anxious and a little depressed. Perhaps a bit claustrophobic, too.

In a previous post, I mentioned how much I enjoyed the Metroparks. But my infatuation includes more than just the local park system. Nature itself has always been a love of mine. It may stem from the men in my life– my father, grandfather, and uncles– who would coax me on fishing and camping trips, bike rides, and hikes. It might have also been influenced by the reading material I picked up when I was younger, titles such as My Side of the Mountain and Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, and Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I would pretend I was stranded in the woods whenever I played outside, crafting spears from fallen tree branches and finding edible plants (safely, of course– my grandmother is pretty knowledgeable about stuff like that). My dream was to run away one day and test all the skills I had learned from these books and the wilderness survival research I’d done on my own, maybe on a mountain in New York as Sam did in My Side of the Mountain or just in secluded part of the park system. I was obsessed with nature.

Unfortunately, real life has gotten in the way of my excursions into the wilderness. I haven’t been camping in what seems like an eternity, and my hikes are few and far between. Going for long walks helps to curtail my obsession a bit, but even in the parks, there are still unavoidable reminders of civilization. Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is literally right down the street. Houses flank both sides of the parkway. And the park seems to be a main thoroughfare for traffic. It’s impossible to find the isolation from nature that I desire when I live in such a town as Berea, Ohio. Maybe one day, I’ll find it again. But for now, I’ll have to settle for Coe Lake and the Metroparks. With views like this, I can’t complain too much.

Ah, Internal Conflict… How I Don’t Love You

Unfortunately, I’m not simply talking about analyzing a piece of literature. A character’s inner turmoil is so much easier to dissect and solve. Instead, my own conflict is playing tug-o-war with my mind, and it is not pleasant.

In light of my 19th birthday, a presidential campaign, and comments made by important people in my life, I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking, attempting to reconcile the clashes occurring inside my brain with the world outside. It isn’t working. I’m at a point where I’m ready to be treated like a responsible adult, whose opinions are considered valuable and who isn’t forced to sit at the kids’ table at family gatherings (yes, that still happens to me, and it frustrates me to no end). But at the same time, I’m still inexperienced and need some mentoring. I don’t know everything. And I’m going to make mistakes. I’d like that to be taken into consideration.

My opinions and beliefs are developing, some contrary to those I had earlier in life and those of my family and friends. Torn between being true to myself (pardon the cliché…) and keeping my family happy, I often have to mask what I think and keep comments to myself. I’d prefer not to have to do that, but I’m not so sure that’s going to change any time soon. And new ideas are constantly causing me to rethink opinions, do research, and then rethink opinions I’ve already rethought. I’m in an incessant state of chaos, and it’s driving me crazy.

I’ve always heard that four years of college really changes a person. After only a semester and a half, I’ve already noticed differences. These differences are certainly for the better– I’ve gotten neater, though my parents may not agree, and I’ve been better at staying on top of things.  But it’s a bit disconcerting, all the insecurity and being a total stranger to myself. Things I knew for certain over the summer, just a few short months ago, have been completely obliterated by doubt and evidence to suggest otherwise. While nothing in life is truly infallible, where I am right now, everything seems abstract and fluid. Let me tell you, that is completely unnerving.

I know I may not like the answer, but I need to ask this one question of the universe: Does chaos eventually settle down into order?