Freedom of Choice
My mom would take my sister and I to the library frequently. What made books so appealing to me was that at the library there was a room full of them and I could pick whichever ones I wanted. This was my first experience with freedom, one of the only parts of my life I could control. When you’re 8 years old, even maybe 10 anywhere you go you’re choices are limited. You’re completely dependent on parents for money if you even get to buy what you want.
It was a big deal for me because my mom usually made my decisions for me; my life was planned and I had an empty head. I also liked books as a kid because reading came pretty easy to me. I wasn’t someone who stumbled over words or needed to practice reading extra. Reading gave me confidence, and at the same time it was something I could challenge myself with. I liked to read book series, like the majic treehouse books it was a challenge and an accomplishment to finish each series, to read thicker heavier books.
By middle school and high school reading wasn’t exactly a cool thing to do so I gradually stopped reading books, became more social and spent more of my free time with friends instead of sitting in a room by myself with a book. Writing was a different story though, I was always the last one to finish copying notes from the board, I hated writing as a kid because it was so structured. By the time high school came around most of the time writing assignments were bullshit.
Teachers just gave long tedious assignments because the harder they made school the smarter it made you obviously. I hated writing pretty much all through high school. By senior year I stopped doing English assignments, because I hated them and I was going through a rough patch in my life. I began to look at life from a much more pessimistic viewpoint, stopped caring about a lot of thing like school and writing in general. After I was old enough to think for myself I was angry about how I was being taught English and writing.
I hated listening to other people in classes reading aloud and taking notes about a book while I was reading in it. For me it ruined the story to have to look at it closely and painfully pick it apart piece by piece. You can’t dissect a frog with out killing it first. I don’t know why but for some reason English teachers get some sort of sick pleasure out slaughtering the books they love, or maybe they hated the books and threw them on the chopping block because they were taught English the same way.
Junior year of High School I finally got out of accelerated English classes, it was a good move. I breezed through the class and my English teacher used much more modern teaching methods. My favorite part of the class was outside reading. Outside reading was my favorite part of English class as long as I can remember because I like books I just couldn’t enjoy them piece by piece I needed the whole thing, and once again with outsde reading we had freedom to choose what book we wanted to read.
If I could use one word to describe my English teacher junior year it would be progressive. There were a lot of other words I could use to describe her, like biased, radical, batty, but if I had to choose just one it would be progressive because she used modern books, unconventional books, classic books, she used the whole spectrum from online media, blogs, email, ipods and sure some of it was still busllshit but it was bullshit I could get on board with. Sure we still slaughtered texts but that class introduced me to my all time favorite book.
Walking through the library was an everyday thing, part of moving from one class to another or a safe haven for skipping class, as long as I kept my head down and my pencil moving because who skips class to do work? But that day in the library was different. First it whispered in my direction, then it called quietly, until finally after many double takes and sideways glances it shouted “Read me! ” so I slowly walked over, grabbed it and read. And read. Until the bell rang and I had to leave. But I didn’t stop there like an itch I couldn’t scratch the book haunted me until I was done. From beginning to end I was riveted.
This book broke all the rules, the author used words like bastard and shit talked about life, about the mysterys behind it and about walking away from it all on a whim. He wrote about everyday things in the most interesting way, he wrote about sex, about drugs, about nothing at all and about everything at the same time, I’ve never asked more questions about a book in my life and found comfort in never knowing the answers. Its main character stole cars married women, left women, conned innocent people, was well connected, and the whole time survived on nothing more than wits and keenness.
The book changed my life, I found it at a very impressionable age and it made an enormous impact on me. It made me realize that there was more to life than what everyone said, it made me understand that I had been thnking backwards my whole life it made me second guess our consumerist society, it made me want to leave it all behind. Without On The Road by Jack Kerouac I would be a very different person today. I always thought that reading and writing was for lonely people. People shut away from the world wether they wanted to be or were there by choice.
Ann Frank’s Diary is considered a great novel but if it weren’t for the Nazi’s it wouldn’t have been as interesting. Hemmingway was a drunk that loved cats. Once a basic foundation of English rhetoric has been laid down, most people could become writers if given the chance, it’s a side effect of cabin fever. Writing is the closest you can come to talking to yourself without being considered insane. No matter how you dress it up though, writers are artist at the core their painbrush a pen their canvas the page, and all artist are weird. Too weird to live too rare to die