Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Be You


Monday, April 14, 2014

Reading is Fundamental

I am a reader.  I am known as a reader.  When at parties, people ask me what I am reading; I am always asking for book suggestions.  I write reviews on books.  I’m in a book club where we actually READ the assigned books.  Point in case - this year, I bought a book trilogy on New Year’s Eve and purposely stayed in so I could get book one finished in the wee hours of the New Year after the ball in Time Square dropped.  

I wasn’t always a reader. 

In sixth grade I was a good two grade levels behind where I should have been in terms of reading comprehension.  In retrospect, I was terribly embarrassed that I was in the “special” reading group, even though no one else in my life seemed to care in the least.

I have two opinions as to why I was so far behind:

  1. In the chaos of my home life no one – ever – suggested turning off the TV to pick up a book.  Certainly, as the youngest of six children, you would think that maybe one of the other seven older people in the house may have opted to read me a bedtime story every now and again.  You’d be wrong. 
  1. I believe I had a very mild case of dyslexia that was not diagnosed.  It was hard to read so I didn’t do it.  But I also recall struggling with cursive writing and flipping my b’s and d’s and my f’s and j’s.  So, that may have had something to do with it too.
So, what happened to transform me from an under-performing reader into a book addict? 

Three things….and all of them happened in 1983.

1 – In the winter of that year, ABC aired The Winds of War miniseries.  A life long lover (as much as one can be at the tender age of 9) of History, I was enraptured by the airing of this miniseries.  I used every trick in the book (including hiding on a staircase out of sight during the broadcast – and then running like mad to get into bed before my dad checked on me) to see as much of this story as possible.  There were no DVRs, no OnDemand back then.  I don’t even think we had a VCR at this point in time.  Bottom line was if you missed a show, you missed it.

I loved every minute of this series and I think it fueled my passion for History as much as it did for Reading.  Anyway, I found out this series was based on a book.  And I discovered that there was a sequel.  And so in May, when I got my birthday money, I decided that I was buying the sequel, War and Remembrance – all 1042 pages of it,  and that I’d read it during the week my family would spend at the beach over 4th of July.  And I did just that.  And everyone thought I was crazy…including the guy at the bookstore who tried to talk me into getting something else.  But I was committed and I did finish it over that week at the beach. 

And maybe it was a bit heavy for a 10-year old but it didn’t scar me for life and if anything, it made for interesting dialogue with my Mother, who had actually lived through WWII, had her own victory garden and remembered being in NYC and getting caught in an air raid drill while at the circus.  And she told me about her friends whose daddies didn’t come home from the War too.  All good stories for a fairly sheltered kid such as myself to hear and contemplate. 
 
2 – My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Price, read to us every day after recess and one of the books she read was the Bridge to Terabithia.  It was a story set not too far from where I grew up and told the tale of two lonely children and the magical kingdom they created together.  I was swept away by this story.  I loved it so much that in 7th grade I reread it on my own.  Bridge to Terabithia was the first book I ever reread (but it would not be the last!) other than a Dr. Seuss or another little kids book full of nursery rhymes and the like.  I still reread this on occasion and have avoided watching the movie that was made a few years back because I know what is shown on screen will never life up to what I pictured in my mind’s eye as a 10-year-old.

3 – Given my growing interest in reading, I got a set of Choose Your Own Adventure books for Christmas that year.  The beauty of these gems was that you got to pick where the story went.  Different choices yielded different results and so you could reread them 20 times and get a different ending each time.  These books appealed to me because I was reading something different each time, they appealed to my Father because they would get read more than once...rather then be left for dead on a bookcase in our basement for years to come.  I’m 40 and I still have that very first set of Choose Your Own Adventure books I ever got.

All this said, I think I was turned on to reading because it offered me something I didn’t have a lot at the age of 10 – Control. 

I got to decide what to read.

I decided how fast (or slow) I’d read it.   

And in the case of Choose Your Own Adventure books, I got to dictate the outcome.

No one was telling me to do it; there was no expectation attached to it. 

It was just something I GOT TO BE IN CHARGE OF.

And at 10, what’s not to love about BEING IN CHARGE? 

Hell, at 40, what’s not to love about BEING IN CHARGE? 

And I am jealous of all the kids out there who have been born into a World where Harry Potter has always existed. And of all the other stories they will get to read for the very first time. And how they will carry those memories with them forever. 

What will they remember?  

Maybe some words to the story, sure, but most certainly they will recall, with startling clarity, the memories of their lives from the very first time they read the tale.


So, read anything good lately?

PS - for a brief history on Choose Your Own Adventure books, visit - CYOA Article brought to you by the folks at Mental Floss.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Talk about Being Born Under a bad Sign

I was supposed to be at this festival this weekend - Coachella

Instead, I am at this one - Dogwood

Is anyone else hearing the old song from Sesame Street about one of these things not being like the other?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jaded, Party of One. Your Table is Now Ready.

So I tried to start subsequent blogs over the years.  None of them took.  I guess your first one is the one that sticks with you.

The latest blog incarnation was a disaster brought to you via WordPress found at /http://couchtocoachella.wordpress.com/  I can safely say I hated using WordPress.  I found it tedious, hard to use and generally a pain in the ass.

And so, like many before me, I choose to return the Devil I know (blogger) rather than continue to wrestle with an allegedly newer, better version of the Devil (namely, WordPress).

I've made a subtle name change to this blog which is symbolic of the evolution of this space.  Or at least that was my intent.

And I have no idea what I am going to write about. Or how often I'll post.  Or what it all means.  Or who killed Kennedy and why they did so.

So the journey continues. Settle in. It could be a long voyage.