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The Cool Down Crowd

23 Jul

They rope us in especially in the summertime. See, they turn on their air conditioning really high and they know the moment we feel it we will not only let out a great weary exhale, but we’ll most likely hang out a while. A long while. And hopefully in our heat induced daze we will purchase stuff we had no intention of purchasing.

When it’s 98 degrees outside, not to mention when the humidity is sky high, a severly air conditioned Barnes & Noble bookstore becomes a haven. There we were yesterday, total strangers tucked in every corner of B&N perusing books in sections we normally wouldn’t even have entered. The TOOLS section. The RETIREMENT section. The LUSH GARDENING section. It didn’t matter what section we ended up in; as long as it was cool.

I think I found a copy of Motor Trends in my hand. I’m so not into anything having to do with motors. Or clanging. Or being hunched over an engine, tinkering.

There were people sitting on the floors, sprawled in sweaty t-shirts. Panting from relief. I think I saw a Grandpa asleep in a cozy chair sucking his thumb. I think he had his plaid button-up shirt unbuttoned down to his hairy belly  button. I think I spent way too much time in there browsing books and magazines and random book related gadgets. I think I want to live in there until the fall, perhaps mid-October, when the daily temperature finally stops mocking us. By then I’ll be a well-read pro at everything. Even engines.

The Great Gilly Hopkins

13 Jul

This book. Oh This Book. It meant so very much to me in 1978 when I was just a young child in foster care in Maryland. This book. Oh, this book. The parallels were beyond similar yet Gilly Hopkins and I were so incredibly different.

I was mean. I was angry. I was weary at such a young age. I was a fighter. I was bad. A twisted rebel rouser. Brewing. Ticking.

So Gilly Hopkins and I–though I loathed parts of her–were twins in print.

In the same year this book was released and I discovered it, I was sent to my very first foster home and my first group home after my kind gentle social worker removed me with police escort from the evil biological mother’s place. When I look back on this book and read the summary I realize that it was not just written in the very same year I went through similar turmoil, but that just like in my life the story took place in Maryland, of all places. Wow-ah.

All I know is this book was a light in a tunnel. It was a hand being reached out to me as I thrashed in a ditch. To be a kid and come upon a book that speaks to you in such a profound way. Oh! One day as an adult this book just popped into my mind, the details were murky except I remember the girl was just like me yet unlike me and that she was in foster care and she was troubled and that the cover of the book showed a girl blowing a huge bubble gum bubble and that she was a bully and that she didn’t like her foster care surroundings. That’s all I could remember in detail; it was the deep resonation of the book that I couldn’t shake.

Children book writers have the sheer power to save a life. Or two. Or thousands.

It’s like having18 toes and hobbling around in a world of 10 toes, feeling all lonely and different and abandoned, and then strolling into the school library one day and discovering a book about a person with 19 toes and how they survive while presenting their 19 toes to the world. As art.

The Catcher in the Rye

22 May

This was one of the few most influential books of my very life (and I’ve read many books).

This cover was found through a Google search.  It’s like the cover I have from 12th grade actually. When I first read the book I was floored. It was like before I read The Catcher in the Rye and after I read The Catcher in the Rye. I wanted to know everything about the author Jerome David Salinger. Then I found Franny and Zoey and Raise High the Roof Beam,  Carpenters. To discover that the author was a recluse made me want to find a way to stalk him gently.

I mean, I was Holden Caulfield.  And for a while I even started writing in his voice–a lot of “Oh, it was just awful”s and plenty of heavy sighing as if the entire world (except me) was just plain dumb and clueless. On top of that I had terrible sarcasm at everything under the sun.

See, Holden and I, we were searchers. We chased our tails. We packed our bags. We left places we deemed boring, stagnant, lackluster. We arrived disgruntled and ornery. We were twisted and tangled and leery of others. We headed north. And south. And east. And west. We never arrived at our destinations, really.

We had duffle bags.