I'm reading a great book. Some of you know that I'm not much of a book-reader. It's been the fight of my life. I used to read very well up until I reached the middle of first grade (yes, I remember this). I was in the advanced reading groups and read aloud with enthusiasm. At some point that shifted. I was brought to an eye doctor where he diagnosed me with a lazy eye. Thus began the second joke of all jokes. The first being I was always late "because I was born late." The second seems obvious: I was lazy. Neither were funny to me. But they stuck. I got away with a lot, using my branded labels.
Anyway, they slapped the ugliest glasses on my little six-year-old face just to "train" my eyes to look at the same place at the same time. Looking back (ha, get it? looking ba... oh nevermind) I think I was just bored out of my mind and no one really got that.
I was supposed to wear said ugly glasses for reading and watching TV. I refused to wear them. I hid them, often. One day, I had all the neighborhood kids at my house. We were watching TV. My mom asked, "Where are your glasses?" I shrugged with a look like she was speaking in tongues. A few friends giggled, "You wear glasses?" I rolled my eyes and made like my mom was crazy, "I don't know what she's talking about."
A moment passed when my mom came around the corner and physically placed the ugly glasses on my face. She stood tall (just over five feet) with a smug look of victory, her fists proud on her hips -- the only thing missing was a cape and a big S on her shirt. Everyone laughed. Everyone! That was the last time anyone ever saw those glasses. I hid them once and for all -- said I lost them. Surprisingly, my folks gave up on making me wear them.
In the time I was "supposed to" be wearing the glasses, I avoided reading -- that way I didn't have to wear them. Easy. Not-so-easy in the longrun.
It stunted my reading progression in elementary school. I could read. I loved words (still do). But I had difficulty reading aloud without stammering and tripping over letters within words, sometimes missing whole words in a sentence. I'd read the same sentence twice without realizing it. I'd skip a paragraph. It was embarrassing. I focused so much on trying to read each word with perfection that I completely missed the idea of comprehension.
Eventually, my eyes corrected themselves. [At a later eye appointment, doc told me I had "better than 20/20 vision." So, I just thought the whole "glasses thing" was a torture device.] But the psychological damage had already been done. I survived high school and college without ever reading an assigned book -- fiction, non-fiction, text books. I figured out all I had to do was show up to class and pay attention to the discussion. I would skim for notes before tests, but that was the extent of my reading.*
The thought of reading aloud still terrifies me today. I was asked to read to a fifth grade class recently and I panicked. I told the teacher I'd sweep floors or clean pencil sharpeners -- anything but read aloud.
I learned in my adult life that I actually love to read -- non-fiction. Anything else just seems like a waste of time -- to me. My mind is like a constant dry sponge, eager to soak up knowledge about many different subjects. My interests change with the wind. When I want to know about something, I research it till I fall asleep. Or until another interest sweeps me off my feet.
I'm fascinated by people and where they come from, what their stories are, what their lives were/are like, how they feel, what they think, why they behave the way they do. That's why I like reading journals and blogs. They are short, ongoing, personal accounts. Snippets of life from all over. Inspiring and informative.
I like books that help me live a better life. With non-fiction, I can read one page of a self-improvement book and put that information to use. Like the one I'm reading now -- Organizing from the Inside Out (by Julie Morgenstern). I may never pick it up again but already I've learned enough to get myself more organized. Reading on can only help me get even more organized. And that's where my passion lies at the moment. I've gained new tools, a new way of looking at things, new information. It opens doors to many levels of life and the world around me.
Oooh, gotta run. My roommate's ready to clear out/organize the common areas of the apartment. Gotta do it while the mood strikes.
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* There were only a few fiction books I ever fully read as a kid. And really, the person I have to thank for that is my aunt who made us read for one hour a day when my brother and I would visit. I loved being there, with my cousins and all the fun things we'd do together. But the reading...that was a huge price to pay. I resisted. I suffered. I remember one time being "locked" in a room with my cousins, each of us with a book of our choice. My cousins seemed a little too enthusiastic about reading in silence. I thought I'd be able to get their attention to play a game instead of reading, since we were the only ones in the room. But nope. They wanted to read. To my surprise, the hour was up before I was ready to put the book down. I can't remember which one. But they were always only written by Judy Blume. I still love those books today.