adult supervision, All Quiet On The Western Front, books, Bridge to Terabithia, death, Fury, Holocaust, memories, overdramatic, reading, suicide, violence, war, Where The Red Fern Grows, writing, young adult books
Mmm. You’d think I would be used to my tendency to obsessively latch onto random stuff so that, in the times when there is not something demanding my immediate attention, I am turning that random thing over and over in my mind.
Not so. I’ll never be used to it. Being unable to stop thinking about something is hard. Especially when I try to be objective and I know it’s dumb to be doing it. I never have figured out how to make it stop though. I’ve tried not feeding them when I see one of these inexplicable fascinations creeping in, but that doesn’t seem to work. They just hover around and pounce on me as soon as something makes it past my carefully cultivated mindscape and reminds me I was interested.
I did forget about this one though, which is absurd, since when I had a Xanga, a fragment of it was in my login for, you know, nine years.
What a long, long time to use something and forget how you came by it.
Because I had a name I used in the internetz before I was Reeser. Imagine that…me before I was Reeser. Back when I really was someone altogether different…before I learned to be cruel, and before I knew I could be funny and people could like me. All the way back before I ever met her.
But…I was definitely morbid, even then. I didn’t know it though. Because of books. I read so, so many books. And would you know it, but young adult books are brimming over with over-dramatic, life-and-death plots? Not stupid stuff about what to wear or about parents ruining lives in petty ways or who likes whom…but about people–characters in the stories–actually dying. So many young adult characters get killed off. It’s obscene.
Parents worry about stuff their kids see on TV or hear in songs, but damn. If parents really knew what went on in books their kids read…I don’t think they would be okay with it. Not that I personally object, since I think reading is a fine thing and I am very much against stifling a young person’s reading…but still! At least films, music, and games have ratings to alert parents…but as far as I know, any person of any age can go into a store and buy any book. Not that they do, because books aren’t a thing kids think of to try and get away with…but…I don’t know. Just a thing I think about a lot.
But there are all these morbid young adult books. And the ones they choose for assigned school reading can be brutal…like…I remember when I read Where The Red Fern Grows, and [Spoilers!] there is the part at the end when the boy is out hunting with his dogs and they get attacked by a mountain lion…and the lion gets killed, I think, but one of the dogs is injured…to the point where his intestines are spilling out on the ground. And the book goes to the trouble of telling about the boy carrying the dog home and about the squishy dog innards and about his mother washing the dog’s intestines in a pan of soapy water before sewing him back up and hoping for the best.
I cried when that dog died. And, of course I finished reading the book right around dinnertime, and my mom came to my room to get me and found me crying over this fictional dog…I believe she was worried about me for a while and kept asking me if I wanted to talk about it. And I didn’t. I knew it wasn’t real, and I would be alright…but damn…
And that’s not the worst, I’m sure. I remember reading Bridge to Terabithia, and a character dying there that was really upsetting…and I remember reading a lot of holocaust and world war related books. Some at school, and some that I picked out when my parents would take my siblings and I into a bookstore. Because for some reason there are a lot of books in that genre. Holocaust books for the pre-teen crowd. Except that, you know…they don’t manage to leave out the fairly vivid depictions of firing squads, babies’ heads being smashed in, and flies gathering on the corpse of a girl who dies during the night (the protagonist’s friend, of course).
That’s heavy stuff for a kid. And I suppose I may have already had a predisposition for melancholy and morbid things…but I feel fairly certain that my reading encouraged it in a way that would otherwise not have occurred. *pause* I really do enjoy my memories of bookshopping with my family…but I have to wonder sometimes if my parents EVER looked at what I was picking out. Like, actually flipped through the pages.
More to my original point though–I’d forgotten about all of that stuff until I went to see Fury a few days ago. And I thought back about when I read All Quiet On The Western Front when I was in high school (mmm…my fiancé got a laugh out of learning that this book really confused me because it never sunk in for me that the protagonist was German), and about all the jacked up stuff I read when I was junior-high aged…
And I remembered about my Xanga. And my very first online identity. And about writing stories when I was in junior high. Because I really took it to heart, this whole over-dramatic thing.
The first story I remember writing for a competition was about a plane crash. The next, about the friends of a kid who dies from pneumonia. And…the first story I tried to write on my own without having to do it as a school assignment was vaguely derived from the (too-)many holocaust and world war books I had been reading.
And I am extremely grateful for whatever prompted me to keep from letting any of the adults in my life read it (a whopping three pages! but I was proud of myself), because I think that would have gone badly for me. Adults tend to not be okay with it when junior-high aged kids are writing stories where the narrator kills himself at the end.
I did let one of my friends read it though, and she cried. (Because at that age, you really can cry after three pages of very poor storytelling.)
And then…I had gotten brave enough to send a fan email to an author who I really liked at the time (she wrote about genetically-engineered teenagers…totally different genre), and she said I could send a story to her to read and she would give me some tips on how to make it better…I was so excited! Ah, it was awesome. And she said she liked the story (and didn’t judge me for killing my narrator!), but I don’t remember a lot else about that email.
And…I took the story to a camp I went to that summer. And I read it to the other kids and a lot of them liked it…
It was pretty awesome.
I have no idea if I ever shared the story with my parents, or if I ever even told them about emailing that author and reading the story at camp. But…you know…I keep thinking about all of it. All because I went to see that movie.
It’s just weird, how things circle back like that sometimes. Remembering things is weird. And uncomfortable, in this case, since all the remembering is prompting me to read morbid books that are morbid in a way that has less to do with monsters and more to do with humans being very upsetting creatures. (Yeeaaah…I did not get any responses to my “Happy Thanksgivings” and “have a good afternoons” when I exit-greeted that theatre today. They mostly looked at me the way I’ve noticed some people do when they think I am smiling too much and being creepy.)
Anyway, happy Thanksgiving and goodnight.