It’s an ugly thing.

Jealousy, that is.

It doesn’t happen often; nonetheless, I’m always terribly ashamed of myself when it does. What is even more awful is that it is completely unwarranted.

As many emotional reactions are.

Auuughhh. It’s ugly. That’s what.

Screw you, star-boy.

…I kid. You’ll always have a special chunk of this heart of mine. Just be happy. That’s what is most important to me.

—–

I started reading “Love is a Mix Tape” by Rob Sheffield because Kathy mailed it to me. I sent her a used copy of “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I haven’t read it yet either, but I was having a damn difficult time thinking of a book I have read that I don’t already own. Sitting under my brother’s small flat screen TV is a giant storage box containing most of the books I’ve acquired over the last… maybe ten years. It’s a decent-sized collection and the only problem is that it is in Cerritos. There are stacks of books I would love for Kathy to read; but alas, that box was not among the many items I packed my grandpa’s truck with for the move. Maybe I’ll get a chance to bring it up next month after Comic-Con with the guys. I would LOVE to read everything all over again.

It was Kathy’s idea to do this sort of pen-pal-book-exchange, since she won’t be moving up here as soon as we would both like. Obviously, we ache for each other, so she thought it would be a good idea to trade books via snail mail. When I called her a week or so ago, she exclaimed, “It feels like I haven’t heard your voice in TEN years!”

Corny, yes, but such is the depth of our love.

Thus far, I’ve made good headway with her book while riding BART to and from work. For a while, I shied away from reading on the subway because I have a habit of becoming completely submerged in the words. The idea of missing my stop irritates me, and that would undoubtedly occur more than once.

Unlike every other activity I enjoy, I prefer not to multi-task with reading. Well, I lied.

It isn’t a preference. I can’t really do much of anything while I’m reading. When I was a mousy little girl, reading was the only thing that could save me from the real world, not that reality was boring or particularly frightening.

I simply didn’t do very much when I was little. Sure, there were family vacations to exotic locales like Hawaii and, god forbid, Orlando, Florida (Gag. I hated that place.), but how much real exploring can be done under the watchful eyes of blood relations?

Family vacations hardly show you much of your surroundings; at least, that is my experience. The only fun I ever had with kin was when I managed to steal away and get in trouble elsewhere.

But I digress.

I was a voracious reader. Anything that came my way, I devoured. I even read through Book 4 of the Harry Potter series, but that couldn’t hold my interest very long. Personally, all of the characters in that series were fairly one-dimensional. I may as well have been reading about the not-so-secret lives of paper dolls.

Obviously, I have some “beef” with the Harry Potter craze. Even this new Twilight nonsense. Edward Cullen can kiss my ass. Trust me; I’ve read enough of both to justify this gagging.

Again, I am leaving my point.

Books were an escape. They showed me how the world is, how the world could be, and even how the world used to be. Some literature even dropped me into places and situations that will likely never, ever exist.

Every new story was an entirely fresh universe for me. Every time a really good read would end, I felt cheated. I wanted to be a part of a character’s life until his or her very end. Some novels made me want to hold the protagonist’s hand as he or she waded through their private miseries. John the Savage from Aldous Huxley‘s “Brave New World” drove me insane with worry. Iris Chase from Margaret Atwood‘s “The Blind Assassin” became my best friend, because the trials she silently suffered so greatly resembled some of my own problems. Oy, and don’t even get me started on Dostoevsky’s creations!

When I was about 12 years old, I had this strange dream that contained so many of the characters I loved and felt I’d lost. Truly, within that dream, every book I’d read was a glimpse of some real alternate reality. And I somehow had the ability to jump into each reality via something very much like the Wood Between the Worlds from Narnia, sans the need for those green and yellow rings. “Fantastic” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

I could meet-and-greet all of the characters I’d ever fallen in love with. And I did. Within that dream, I became a real part of these people’s lives. And just the suggestion of that possibility thrills me to the core. Imagine my desolation upon waking up. It wasn’t pretty.

There certainly was a bit more of a narrative in that dream; it wasn’t one of those dreams in which you all of a sudden find yourself in a bizarre place or situation. There was a definite starting point in THIS reality. Maybe if I like you enough I’ll tell you the whole story one day.

Truth be told, that dream hasn’t died. If ever you’ve wondered where my mind disappears to when my eyes go blank, it’s a sure bet I’m playing with that old literary amalgamation.

It’s become a defense mechanism, of sorts. I used to have an astronomical problem with worrying a problem to excess, sometimes to the point that I couldn’t sleep or eat, much less focus on everyday tasks that I deemed emotionally trivial.

Focusing on something other-worldly helps me relax; and the more relaxed and composed I am, the better I am at dealing with all sorts of stress.

Literature has salvaged my sanity, and moreover, it assures the safe-keeping of my soul.

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