This Christmas, I was given my usual books and my father was given a toilet seat. If ever again I am asked why my blog title remains this tradition of reading while pottying, I will point to this blog.
This morning I sat at the breakfast table while my mom vacuumed around me and my father had a Santa nap on the couch. I finished the 120th book of the year. Here is my thank you speech:
I’d like to thank the Academy, my mother, my father, my brother for creating competition, coffee, sweet potato muffins, fellow bloggers, my students, books AND bowel movements, dancing in the kitchen, soft rain, both cats, and my budget for adding $50 a month for books for the last year. (It’s clear I have a problem and I should have started with “I am Cassie M and I am a bookoholic.”)
I’d like to thank people everywhere who read and who have encouraged me to continually write this blog even when I’m too tired, or there is too much reality television that I could watch instead.
I tried to get it down, but I’m not sure these words are good enough.
I think it’s safe to say that I came to reading as an escape rather than the sport that it has become in my life. When you’re a kid and instead of playing video games, you’re picking Great Expectations off the shelf of the school library, you know you’re different. And I’ve finally come to realize that that’s a good different. We’re studiers of the language of our time, we’re the history keepers, the stop-motion picture takers, the people who can appreciate a moment put to words. I can analyze the placement of a period for an hour if I must. I prefer the soft light of a flashlight against the glow of a sheet rather than a ceiling light or a lamp. We all do, us readers. We’re like a community, a sisterhood, a brotherhood, we should design robes that have pockets deep enough for all the characters we carry around after we’ve placed our bookmark in new pages, new words, new wishes.
Like oak trees that carry equators of history in one chopped stump, we carry words. We are the people that will carry history all the way to our grave stones. When we’re asked by grand children, small children, dwarves in the woods, about our world we’ll be able to tell them with eloquence and grace whether we start with “Once Upon a Time” or “It was a dark and stormy night.” We carry the voices of generations in our wombs and for longer than nine months, for life times. We’re women made of hair, water, and syllables. They kink in our hair, leave freckles on our cheeks, sunburns, hang nails, wrinkles at the bed of our palms. We’re not made of water, fire, earth, or wind, but stories, paragraphs, sentences, ink. The next time you wonder why you picked up that book instead of turned on that television, remember the gift that you’re bearing because not a lot of people are given this gift. We’re the minor few.
My dad just said, “You know the theme I find with these books about presidents, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, they’re all well read, they all sit in the evening and read.” It’s just proof – we’re the Presidents of time and letter.
We’re the ones who walk into a bookstore and before turning to the coffee, the calendars or the shelves, we just take a deep breath. There’s nothing more powerful than the smell of printed paper bound and stitched to a cover. We don’t read blurbs, we break spines to read paragraphs before we buy the book. We test ourselves with different genres, different publishing companies, different words. We read everything; street signs, mall kiosks, gas station pamphlets, books. If there’s anything I learned from reading 120 books this year it’s that I’m one hell of a dinner party guest, no wait…that wasn’t it. If there’s one thing I learned from reading 120 books this year, it’s that you can’t breathe under water and you can’t breathe in smoke, but you can breathe the middle of an o, the undercarriage of an a, the drooping breast of a b for life support. You can live on words written and trees carved.
Thank you all for being a part of my journey this year. I could not have done this without the encouragement of my blogging friends. This community of people have made me feel more at home and more bookish than I ever thought possible. Keep breathing, keep sobbing, carrying the weight of the world’s words on your shoulders because no one but you can bear it.