A former reading whore discovers books again

The seventh Harry Potter book came out and I spent the day in the hammock at our then-campsite. It took me ten hours to read it in its entirety. A week later, I read it again.

In a time before I had a cellphone and my own personal computer(s), I read. A lot. I had a designated book backpack that I wore while riding my blue Huffy to the library. I read through many a Boxcar Children and Goosebumps. When teen fiction became relevant, I coasted through novels by Ann Brashares and Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. Lurlene McDaniel was another favorite, as was Laura Ingalls Wilder. I accrued library late fees, but either managed to pay them off or just avoided the library for awhile. The fish obviously weren’t biting on days I only brought home three books to read.

I won an award for reading the most books during sixth grade (52), but that part of me died when college classes began. I can tell you –– thanks to my Shelfari page –– I’ve only read 27 books in the three years I’ve been a metaphorical slave to schoolwork and story writing.

Now I’m trying to reignite my intense appreciation for books.

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Since Christmas, I’ve read seven: “A Prayer for Owen Meany,” “Divergent,” “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” “The Thank You Economy,” “Cartwheel,” “Thirteen Reasons Why” and “The Fault in our Stars.”

I’d like to read more.

My parents rarely said “No” when I shoved a book in their faces as a kid and asked them if they would buy it. Now I’ve applied the same rule to myself. If I want to read it, I’m going to order it on Amazon (I apologize to those lovely small, independent bookstores out there).

Last month, I ordered “The Fault In Our Stars” by John Green, “The Color Purple” by Alice Walker and “The Blind Assassin” by Margaret Atwood. When I saw my professor’s newly published –– and first! –– novel in the school bookstore, I picked it up and purchased it without a second thought.

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Check out “Mapping Utah” in the middle there by Denny Wilkins. He’s been a huge influence on me in terms of personal and professional growth. Gosh that sounds fancy.

While Green’s novel did make me tear up, I think I’ve grown out of teen fiction. I obviously couldn’t relate to Hazel’s situation (though he did make it seem real) or her thoughts on dating and, well, boys. I’m past those awkward teenage years and don’t really care to relive them.

I’ve nearly finished Walker’s book full of characters who have positively sucked me in to their stories. I really liked the female protagonist in “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Atwood when I read it for my post-apocalyptic literature course, so I’m sure I’ll have no trouble with “The Blind Assassin.” It came from a recommendation made by the comedian Rob Delaney:

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People think I’m crazy when I say I don’t have time to watch TV. I’d rather pick up a book and continue from my bookmarked spot than try to follow the excessive cumulative shows on the tube.

Go back to high school, sweetheart

I probably shouldn’t roll my eyes at relationships that extended original roots whilst in high school, but I just can’t help it. I’ve seen so many young women with short leashes too often to sit back and shut up. Especially since I too once had a useless, constraining leash.

Christian and me at 15 and 14
Christian and me at 15 and 14

I talked to my friend Christian on the phone for over an hour the other night. He was my first boyfriend, first kiss; now we’re just very good friends. We talked about our self-diagnosed psychological problems and I, of course, blame a lot of mine on the controlling relationship I’d been in after Christian and I broke up. I couldn’t hang out with anyone but the boyfriend, forcing other friendships to fade and often igniting arguments.

“I remember you saying that you couldn’t tell him I was there when you hung out with Kevin,” Christian said, referring to our other good friend. “Shouldn’t that have been a red flag?”

Yeah. I definitely should have realized that was wrong.

When my two best girlfriends stopped contacting me to hang out, I should have realized something was up. Everyone else did. Nobody told me.

When my friend died last October, I really didn’t want to see everyone from high school again. My boyfriend-shrouded brain thought nobody from high school liked me.

Quite the contrary, actually.

We sat around the fire exchanging stories about our friend. My former classmates laughed at things I said and several of them told me sincerely they’d missed me and wanted to see me around more. I don’t think they realized how much those comments truly meant to me.

My high school-rooted relationship made me hate college my freshman year. I had fun when he visited me, but I also lost out on plenty of potential friendships because he always wanted it to be just the two of us.

Here are five things for you high school sweethearts to keep in mind:

1.) Can you really see the relationship going anywhere?
I don’t care how long you’ve been dating or how easy everything is, if the two of you are going in completely different directions, it’s probably not worth it.

2.) Will your significant other hold you back?
Maybe he or she isn’t as motivated as you are. If that person doesn’t support you in reaching your full potential, better think twice.

3.) How far away are you from each other? 
It’s one thing to go to the same school, it’s another to be left at home, or vice versa. If you’ve answered “no” and “yes” so far respectively, driving two hours to see him/her every weekend isn’t worth it. Maybe you can work things out if you go to the same school, but read on to number four.

4.) Does he/she support your friendships/trust you?
If your only friend is him or her because you’re not allowed to spend time with anyone else, see ya. If you do end up attending the same school, you still need to branch out. What happens if it really doesn’t work out and you had invested all of your time and energy for friendships into him/her? That sucks.

5.) Are you happy?
The most important one. If the person who is supposed to make you happy is failing, you need to really think about your relationship. The constant Snap Chatting and texting is obnoxious if he/she doesn’t even satisfy your happiness. You should be happy to see him/her, not dreading the sight of him/her. You should enjoy one another’s company. Once that excitement stops, your relationship probably should, too.

 

I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I’ve been there. Two years ago, I would have answered each of those questions negatively. Clearly something was wrong, it just took me a while to realize it.

Because “buoyant” is a cool word

I wrote this post on my friend’s and my shared blog after my first day as a single lady.

I was worried. Scared. Lonely.

It’s been nearly a month.

Uh… it’s been awesome.

No joke. Yes, this is Emily typing. No, I’m not on something right now. I’m serious.

I am finally –– finally –– living the college life. I haven’t left campus to see a boyfriend, I haven’t been home since midterm break. I’m here. I’m going to live.

I flirt with whomever I want. Sometimes it’s reciprocated. Sometimes I get rejected. But I don’t even care. For the first time in five years, I don’t have a crush running my life.

“I’m all out of pick-up lines,” I said bluntly to a guy two weekends ago. So I grabbed his hand and led him to the dance floor. Two other girls intercepted him.

But I didn’t even care. 

I danced with my girlfriends, instead.

I’m happy. Buoyant, even.

I’m doing things for me instead of worrying about someone else.

It’s about damn time.