Saturday, May 25, 2013

my stab at the personal essay

Originally published on March 22, 2007.

Physical landmarks often mean little to me. (This is evidenced by the fact that I have been a passenger dozens of times coming out of Parley's Canyon, but I couldn't tell my friend when to get off.) No, I track my life by the books I was reading at the time.

Moving into a new house was marked by The Chronicles of Narnia series. It was probably a year after, when I was twelve. I had a white shirt with flowers from Old Navy, and blue shorts, and it was June, because the image about it being as bright as stepping out of a garage in June stuck out to me.

In ninth grade, I was reading The House on Mango Street the day I signed up to audition for The Nutcracker. I was a soldier that year. Which means that I was 4'10", yet in high school.

At Girls' Camp, I was reading Sense and Sensibility when one of my peers was complaining of her omnipresent migraines.
I know I read the Book of Mormon the summer before my Senior Year, because I plowed through the Alma war chapters and Helaman while in South Dakota, visiting Mt. Rushmore. I was none to keen on that trip--for once, I had been invited to a friend's house (MCB's,[1] no less--even if it was a Seminary function), and I was stuck in the boondocks. The drama of 3 years ago--heh heh.

I remember getting a haircut at SuperCuts I was not particularly fond of. I knew it was in high school, but didn't realize it would have been Spring Term of my Senior Year until I remembered I was reading The Member of the Wedding at the time. Ah, Lit of the American South--I don't think anyone was too fond of that class. It was probably the week of "Spotted Horses, " that JVA[2] broke down and exclaimed, "Hasn't anybody read?!" All eyes turned to MCB and me. Ha; not even we had finished it. JVA stormed out, telling us he'd return when we had actually read.

Freshman year, I re-read Anne of the Island. That was the week I lived on Turtle Supreme cookies. I ate them after coming home from the park, having finished the book. That would have been Fall Semester, because I had a "may I offer you the shelter of my umbrella" experience that semester, with one of the guys in my Shakespeare class, outside the JFSB.

Last summer, Emma coincided with my time as a Games Coordinator, because I read it under the pavilion at Kiwanis Park, waiting for my coworkers to show up.

It was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn in the work truck, going to help put on insulation, at the very end of last year, not wanting to listen to my dad.

I suppose when I look back on this epoch of my life, I'll remember reading Mere Christianity at a boring concert where I expected free catered food (that's what the flier said--not gross Costco food you had to pay extra for!), and Ring of Words in line for Laugh Out Loud, or Old Goriot on the lawn by the Fishbowl. Reading's not just something I do in one set place, in private, but weaves in and out of all places and events in my life. You know when Belle's walking down the street, oblivious to the bustle of life about her? That's me.

"With a dreamy, far-off look,
And her nose stuck in a book . . ."

[1] My inscrutable acronym for my high school crush.
[2] My high school literature and American History teacher, who attended Woodstock and lost his Doctoral Thesis from the top of his car. Separately.


  1. I like your description that reading weaves in and out of all the events in your life. That and your whole post reminds me of the quote, "Books are life, the rest is just details!"

  2. Sounds similar to my experience! What an impact books have on us especially at such impressionable years. You never forget that impression they leave, even if you forget the details of the book.

  3. I have a strange memory device associated with books: I like to play with something in my hands while I read, so whenever I pick up an old book, I remember that object too. The Host, for instance, is always associated with a miniature ship that sat on the rim of my day bed.

  4. I'm the exact same way. I get so into whatever I'm reading at one time that I become the heroine, the weird character between the lines.
    The way you wrote this was true to your voice. That's what I love reading. I like to be able to hear the person speak when I read something they've written. You didn't try and flower your language, or perk up your phrasing. It was just 100% Charly.

  5. It came to me what "MCB" means. Men's Chorus Boy. Oy gevalt.