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38 loooong years ago, I entered the world. Amid much fanfare, I’m sure.

I was a full-term, healthy baby, delivered naturally even though I was positioned in posterior breech. What this means is that I was born (quite literally) ass-first. And, to hear my mother tell it (particularly when she’s feeling saucy!), I’ve been going bass-ackwards ever since.

In keeping with my entrance into this world, doing things according to ‘the norm’ has never really been my style. Although this has been evident in various aspects of my life, I believe it has been most prevalent in regards to my relationship with books.

From about the time I was 8 years old, when most kids were caught up in [Link Removed] I would sit and pine in front of my mother's bookcases, impatiently awaiting the day she would say those magical words: You may read MY books now. I memorized authors' names in much the same way many would-be explorers would chart their future courses: Stephen King. Susan Howatch. Kathryn Kimbrough. James Clavell. VC Andrews. Sidney Sheldon and Robert Ludlum and Danielle Steele and Tom Clancy...

These weren’t just names to me; they were destinations! They were distant and exotic and it was painful for me to have to wait to go there. There were worlds to be explored on those pages, and my heart was my compass, pointing me in their directions. When I was outside playing with my friends, I was thinking about books. When I was inside playing with my friends, I was writing books (and grading my friends on the books I made them write!).

Finally, when I was 10 years old, I was introduced to the world of my first writer-hero: Erma Bombeck. Mom knew me well enough to know that I wouldn’t understand everything Erma had to say, yet enough to keep me interested until I managed to figure it all out. (I read those books to tatters before I did, by the way.) By the time I figured out everything Erma was saying, I was already a grown-up with a perspective on domesticity much like hers. Whether influenced by her at such an early age of exposure, or perhaps just having been destined to see it that way anyway, I approached domestic life reluctantly, even as I was thrust into the middle of it with a baby and a husband. In that order.

Bass ackwards.

Grade-school was very different for me too, as compared to the recollections of my now-friends. My vocabulary was always much richer than that of the other kids, and I can remember being looked at as if I was some sort of odd combination of child and adult. (It didn’t help that I hit puberty at 10 and I was 5’ 7” by the time I was 12.) I loved school and homework and essay tests. I was a favorite of all the teachers, while still remaining popular with all the kids. I was the hall monitor but I wasn’t a tattle-tale. It just really bothered me when kids would cut in the lunch line... not because I was on some power trip, but because it was against the rules! And, (perish the thought!) the rules were meant to be followed! That’s why they were there!

Yep. Bass-ackwards.

Even before my mom opened the flood gates to HER books, books in general were a passion of mine. I read everything I could get my hands on, and was particularly fond of ordering from the [Link Removed] I always had such a hard time deciding on which book(s) I wanted, and could typically be swayed if a free bookmark or poster came with any book under consideration. One time, though, I ordered and received a book that I found wildly inappropriate, even for a kid with my level of reading comprehension, and was so distraught over the fact that other kids my age might read it that I went straight to my mother with my concerns. She and my teacher reviewed the book and a huge campaign was launched to change the reading level suggestion for said book. As I recall (and, oddly enough, I've never picked this particular book back up to see if I still feel this way), it was laden with themes and language that just weren't appropriate for 11 year olds. In keeping true to my nature, I didn't find illicit thrills in reading a book I probably shouldn't be reading, even if I DID understand what it was saying. I was simply too distraught over the idea of other kids reading it.

Have I mentioned bass-ackwards?

High school was quite another experience altogether for me. We’d moved to Texas, so my life-long quirks weren’t known (and thereby not appreciated) by the kids and teachers there. My new school district was much, much bigger than the one I’d come from, and as a result I didn’t stand out nearly as much. I was actually grateful for this as I entered the awkward phases of acne and hormonal weight gain. I still found myself forming friendships with unique individuals that weren’t part of the ‘popular’ clique. The biggest difference there is that I was no longer part of that group, either.

Every day of my high school career I could be counted on to lug as many as 3 novels with me from class to class. I discovered Peter Straub and Daphne DuMaurier and continued my love affair with Stephen King. I would often finish classwork ahead of the bell and would sink into any of the books on-hand to pass the time. I’m sure that I appeared to be an English teacher’s dream, and no one was more surprised than I at my reaction when presented with my first required reading list.

You guessed it! Bass-ackwards!!

I was actually offended to be told I HAD to read something. No one had ever forced me to read a book in my life; they hadn’t needed to! I’d participated in Read-A-Thons in elementary school where I would tear through 20 books or more in a day, all of my own choosing. By the time I’d entered high school I’d probably read more books than some people will have ever read in their whole lives, and all of a sudden it wasn’t good enough.

So, as you can probably imagine by now, school and I actually had a falling out over books. My adolescence and a newly-found indignant attitude combined in a way that actually interfered a great deal with my high school success. I struggled in many ways after this revelation. I just couldn’t come to terms with the fact that what I was already doing, in great quantity and by choice, wasn’t going to get me through.

Although I protested every step of the way, and loudly, I managed to discover a [Link Removed] within the required reading lists. However, there were some I simply couldn't stomach and let the chips (and my grades) fall as they may. To this day I can still feel the old tension stir when I remember the first time I was told I HAD to select books from this list to be studied and reported on throughout the school year. I wasn't willing to compromise my indignation for the sake of a good grade.

Bas—Well, you get the idea.

To say that my life and my decisions have been influenced by who and what I’ve read thus far is probably the understatement of the new millenium. Within the last six years I’ve given up a 6-figure salary to return to a career I never really liked and to publish a book that’s been read by maybe 250 people. I walked away from an all-expenses paid life in paradise to move back to a small town who’s only claim to fame is being the birth place of Nolan Ryan. And right now, I’m just finishing unpacking from my 3rd move this year, having traveled a total of 51 miles from where I started.

There’s no way in the world I could have ever predicted my life would be as bass-ackwards and topsy-turvy as it has been, but there’s not a moment I regret. I very strongly believe that my own unique destiny, combined with the powerful and brilliant influences I’ve insisted on surrounding myself with, have led me exactly where I’m supposed to be in this moment.

There also no way to predict the next moment for me and my life, but I’m willing to bet it’s not going to be my head that leads me there...


Feathermaye, Your links have been removed, please consider upgrading to premium membership.



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Bobbi Bacha wrote Oct 15, 2008
    • Well being Bass backwards has given you a unique perspective of the world, and I think a very good one.  At least if you fall your cushioned.

      Great write up.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Merlot63 wrote Oct 16, 2008
    • I really enjoyed reading this post.  I love reading and always did.  I think Erma Bombeck was one of the first authors I read in English when we moved to the US when I was 15.  Rebecca I read in Hebrew even prior to that.

      I used to love Stephen King and VC Andrews (read the whole “Flower in the Attic” series) but today I don’t think I can stomach these books. Since I became a mother I’m much more into feel good books, and books about different cultures and places.  I do read suspense novels once in a while too.



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Feathermaye wrote Oct 16, 2008
    • Thanks greeneyedlady and merlot! I’m glad y‘all enjoyed it.

      As is so often the case with me lately, I actually had intended an entirely different kind of post. However, with the first book I mentioned, my path was determined for me.

      Thanks for making it through my long-windedness, too! ;)



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Daphne wrote Oct 16, 2008
    • Loved this post!!!  As i’ve said before, your writing style is wonderful...you feel familiar.

      Thanks for sharing and i hope i’m on the list to read your book one day!



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