Thursday, July 21, 2011

.when I was a child everybody smiled/nobody knows me at all.

Thought for the day: Revisiting childhood via books and writing is a pretty good way to get back to feeling right within myself, or so I am finding. Back to that in a bit. First, I am officially counting the book blog as D.O.A, sadly. I'm just finding I don't have much time for two blogs/finding guest bloggers for To Grow On. But on the bright side, it means that I can stop saving all my book-related posts and just write more about reading here. Alright. So be it. I'm a writer, this is my personal blog and my life revolves around books in many ways, so I might as well include snippets about them here.

That said, I've actually been reading - in hard copy, anyway - a lot of unpublished stuff lately. A friend's novel here, a writing group member's latest chapter there, you know? One newer participant in my Sunday group is working on a middle grade fiction novel that is really very charming and in one scene, one of the youthful protagonists over-packs his suitcase in anticipation of a trip to Morocco. And that's where I track back to my opening comment: children's fiction + me = feelings of nostalgia, some reminiscence of what I have been missing inside myself lately. To put it more concretely, I had this flashback - a recollection of my own childhood and summers in near-coastal North Carolina.

That's hurricane season for the uninitiated. While the threat to us, in our seventy-something-miles-inland town, was not terribly severe (the scariest hurricane that ever hit us while I lived in N.C. just left in its wake a soggy backyard and some down tree branches, though a few years after I left, friends and family survived the damage caused by Isabel), I remember feeling terrified as a child. The house would go dark, but not like night-time - more of an eerie, greenish darkness that dulled everything to shadow. Then the rain would begin in heavy bursts, shaking the house and pelting the roof with rocks, branches and sometimes hail. It would be impossible to see out the windows with the rolling water and steam. The wind would howl through the gutters, vents and whatever tiny crevices it could sweep through.

As long as there wasn't a power outage, my father would keep the TV tuned to whatever channel happened to deliver the most information on the storm. More often, though, since we did not have cable (read: The Weather Channel) in our home when I was growing up, my dad would just curse a lot and then tell my mother to turn on our weather radio. Shivers would run along my spine as a staticky, disembodied voice would announce how long we'd have to endure the storm while my parents argued and gave each other serious looks.

And so my brother and I created our own coping mechanism, one that makes me snicker now: we were so worried at the imagined threat to our lives, home and possessions that we began to gather our most precious items. Our stuffed animals, books, records (yeah, I'm that old). We'd take them and make piles, then sit with them. In the event of actual danger, I'm not sure what we thought piling them up would do to save them. But we would keep watch, gathering them into my brother's bedroom closet - a huge (length-wise) walk-in - because somewhere I'd heard that closets were safe places to go during storms (though I wonder now if that was for tornadoes). When the storm passed, we'd put them away.

It's such an innocent, simplistic solution to the fear of losing everything. Such a child-like thing to do. Probably the same thing that would drive a kid, going to a foreign country and away from all familiarity, to pack up everything he could imagine missing. It's just such a genuine scene and it makes me happy to have witnessed it in this work-in-progress.

As for the reading of published works, it's mostly been audiobooks for me lately with the minor exception of a book called Fast French to help me brush up on my parlant fran├žais (don't ask me if I am saying that right - I'm still not that good). I just finished a re-read (via audiobook) of Middlesex and now I am back to the Millennium Trilogy.

And that's all the update I have time for today. More soon, my lovely readers.


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