Stephanie Carlson loved to read. She read whenever she got a chance to. She thought she never had enough time to, though. She thought she never had enough time to enjoy the lives of the characters, feel the suspense of a mystery or the romance of a love story. The truth was, as she discovered later, that she spent way too much time with her nose in books.
In second grade Stephanie discovered Nancy Drew books. She loved them.
In January Stephanie and her family went to visit their grandmother. Stephanie hoped she wouldn’t have to share a room with either of her sisters. Julie always wanted Stephanie to read to her. Then she would ask a million questions. Her other sister, Melanie, who was a year older than Julie, didn’t like it when Stephanie read.
For once Stephanie got her wish to be alone. Now she could read in peace because there weren’t any little sisters around to disturb her.
A few months ago, I wrote this post about how I felt sort of distanced from myself, and a time years ago when I felt more myself than ever, and how much I missed those times.
Well, I feel like I’m back.
First off, it’s like some switch totally flipped for me at some point, when I suddenly, acutely felt my intellectual frustration so strongly that I couldn’t ignore it or somehow make it okay.
I’m not sure how it started – with all these personal changes, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact start to things. They creep. Shift underneath the surface like tectonic plates until they’re erupting and lava is everywhere. And that’s a good thing, at least for me, because it’s like re-awakening, rekindling the inner fire. It’s passion. It’s aliveness. So, even though sometimes it makes present circumstances a little difficult or uncomfortable (because aliveness sometimes makes you aware of where your soul is dying), any day I’ll take it.
A few winters ago, I lived with my friend Tracy in a house at camp, and I’ve probably written about this winter before, and I’m sure I will write about it a million more times because I was so freakin’ happy that winter.
The house at camp where I lived (called The Dispensary because in the summer, the medical staff lived there) looked like a cabin, with wood walls and this real “old” feeling to it, like living there was actually a time warp, in a nice way, back to something ancient, even though we did have modern conveniences there. I also loved the lights, they had a soft glow that on the wood walls just somehow reminded me of something primal. It actually had a feel that brought to mind my grandmother’s house, probably the only other house I’ve loved as much as I love the Dispensary. Something about that house was just like IV nutrition for my soul.
(The artist statement is something I had to write for a grant I applied for. I railed against it, mainly by way of procrastination, but here’s how it eventually, perhaps a bit too passionately, came out.)
Like most people I know, my childhood was regularly awful. I am albino, which means that my skin, hair and eyes are paler than pale and I’m legally blind. This condition complicated social matters, but with a messy home life, I often felt more different and alienated on the inside than I was in outward appearance. I survived my difficult times by reading books. Books entertained and deepened me. Reading took me to other worlds, which paradoxically helped me understand my own life and illuminated what it meant to be human in a more universal way.