I really enjoyed reading this guest blog by Tansy Raynor Roberts at Justine Larbalestier’s blog: Reading as a Luxury.
Part of it resonated with me, and sparked something I’ve felt for a long time now about digital books versus hard copies. (I remember saying this during my undergrad publishing studies, too, and as much as I love technology, I’m surprised I’m not more sold on digital books.)
My hardwired memory of books is not just about the words and ideas, it’s about the whole product. . . . Leaving Terry Pratchett hardcover sleeves randomly around the house like fallen apple peelings. The flop. The spines. The end papers. The mysterious blank pages at the end of all my Famous Five novels as a child, which I treated as spare paper, drawing tiny graphic novels to myself. Mysterious inscriptions in second hand books.
I love books. I love them. I love reading, of course, but I love the books themselves. One of my earliest memories is my mother reading the Little House on the Prairie series to me. I remember how perfectly, how precisely she formed each word, the way her lips would press together and then part; the rise and fall of her voice, steady and deliberate and calm; and the books, the rustle of the pages, the way the book filled her hands, solid and real. I had those books for years, for most of my life, and I read them frequently even as an adult. I read them to feel closer to my family after I graduated from high school and left home. I read them because, despite the racist flaws, parts of the story still resonate with me. I read them because they were old favorites and when I was stressed about life, they gave me a brief respite that came not just from the story, but from the books themselves, from all the memories caught in the physical feel of them.(1) I read the books until the covers fell off; I taped them back together. I read them until the spine cracked and pages fluttered down like dead leaves; I glued them back inside.
I read them until, in 2005, I realized I couldn’t justify packing and moving tattered books which were too fragile to read ever again.
I still haven’t replaced the books. Someday I will, and when I do, the fresh copies will be crisp and clean, devoid of memories. I’ll hold them and sniff them(2) and read them. They’ll be fresh canvases for new memories, but also, as I read and reread and the paper goes soft beneath my fingers when I turn the page, they will take on the memories I carry of previous physical copies.
I love technology. I love it. It allows me to do so many things. It can’t give me this, though, the book in my hand and all the things that means.
(1) Not just memories of my mother, either. I grew up close enough to Mansfield, Missouri that I was able to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Home & Museum with a family friend, who gifted me one one of the later books not included in the main set, at least in the 1980s when my mother bought mine.
(2) What? Some people like new car smell, I like new book smell.
I have two things to talk about regarding mental illness today.
1) That Kind of Girl
TKOG writes a really fabulous blog, Not That Kind of Girl, [blah blah], but recently I read a piece (or really, series of pieces) in her archives that really pissed me off.
In the first, she meets a guy and gives him her number. They make a date for drinks, but he canceled and they weren’t able to reschedule right away. Which, yes, sucks. What also sucks is casual ableism like this: “Really, there’s nothing lost here: I picked him up in a T station, like a crazy person, and we didn’t even know anything about each other, so, y’know, no big deal.” Which might not be so bad on its own, but these two posts lead up to the post where she talks about their actual date, and that post and the comments infuriated me.
The title of the post is TKOG Who Follows Through and Subsequently Goes On the Worst Date in the History of Friggin Ever. Why is it the worst date ever? Because he was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and he tells her and talks about some of his experiences with it.
The exchange starts like this:
“As we walked to the bar, I launched into a funny story about Kiss-Ducker and I getting drunk in a combination Mexican restaurant slash tranny bar in San Jose.
“When we get together, we’re totally crazy,” I smiled.
“Wanna know a fun fact about me?” he asked. I nodded. “I’m totally crazy too.””
(Note also the transfail.)
If you read the whole post, yeah, the guy’s a little awkward (and he tries to order a pina colada in an Irish pub. Pina coladas are gross, but dude, to each his own), but as soon as she finds out he’s crazy, her language changes. When she talked about him before, he was fabulous and wonderful [insert quotes from first post]. Now that she knows, his attention means he has “crazy eye” worse than she’s ever seen.
They talk about meeting people on the T (which is something she talks about fairly frequently on her blog), and when he says it’s difficult because when you try, people think you’re crazy, she gets skeeved out that he tries to trick people into talking to him, EVEN THOUGH SHE DOES THE SAME DAMN THING WITH HER “LIVE EYES” TRICK.
In her closing paragraphs, she says this: “One thing is for certain: I’m not picking up any more guys in public until I somehow install a better pre-screening process for social dysfunction.”
Because being open about your mental illness is a social dysfunction, I’ll tell you what. /sarcasm
I’m not saying she had to fall in love with him. What I am saying is that she and her commentors didn’t need to be ableist assholes when discussing it. It takes a lot of bravery and strength to be open about having a mental illness, in large part because of this kind of ableist bullshit.
I want to blog more, I like themed blogging, and I love alliteration, so I’m trying out a new theme, Tip Tuesday, to go with the (sporadic) Waiting on Wednesday/Werewolf Wednesday and (Fat) Fiction Friday.
This week’s tips are some calls for submissions I’ve seen posted lately. (For varying definitions of lately.) More information found at the links, of course.
Two calls for subs here:
FLAMBOYANT:A CELEBRATION OF JEWISH GAY POETRY
edited by Lawrence Schimel
MILK AND HONEY:A CELEBRATION OF JEWISH LESBIAN POETRY
edited by Julie R. Enszer