July 16, 2013

Learning to read

Y'all. Today, my child said the words, "I don't want to learn to read."

Like, out loud. With venom. Enthusiasm. Conviction.

And my heart broke a little.

Now, ok. I'm realistic, and I know it was spoken in frustration because learning to read is hard. (Seriously....I never knew how many utterly ludicrous rules exist in the English language until I began teaching her to read. I also never realized how many ways exist to break those ludicrous rules!) I know she won't make it through kindergarten without learning to read. I also know she LOVES it when I read to her. She'll sit still for hours a day if I'm reading a Junie B. Jones or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We read Charlotte's Web together in less than a week, and she adored it. She asks pertinent questions, so I know she's comprehending what I read. She's not going to be illiterate.

know that.

But I also know...hearing those words broke my heart a little.

It's just...books have always been such a huge part of my life. I have exactly one memory of LBR (Life Before Reading...also, weirdly, my initials, but whatever)...and that was of struggling to understand the Sunday Comics in our local paper, not knowing what all those crazy words actually said. 

After that? Yeah, I only remember knowing how to read. I remember the early days of reading The Berenstein Bears. I remember the first time I read a chapter book, and how cool I thought I was. 

I remember the early books I loved. The Cam Jansen mystery series, about a girl with a photographic memory - I introduced Zoe to those a few weeks back, and now she walks around saying "click" when she wants to remember something. Just like Cam. There were the Sweet Valley Twins books, the Babysitters Clubs, and the classics like The Island of the Blue Dolphins. Then I moved on to Anne of Green Gables, A Wrinkle In Time, The Phantom Tollbooth, anything and everything by Christopher Pike, and too many others to name.

And that was before I discovered Stephen King and Toni Morrison and Zora Neal Hurston and oh dear God don't get me started about boooooooooks! 

So many books, so many worlds. So much love.

My best friend and her husband visited me recently. They still live near my hometown, and her husband plays ball with a guy I used to know when I was a kid at the swim club. When they realized they both knew me, the old friend said only, "Leah? Leah Soltis? Man, that girl always had a book in her hands."

I was surprised by that. Me? Really? My brother, sure...but surely not me.

I looked at my best friend. "I thought I was more sociable than that."

She laughed. "You always had a book in your hands."

Huh. Go figure.

It's not that I'm worried Zoe will never read. I'm sure she will. 

But when she says something like "I don't want to learn to read," I have this fear (irrational though it may be) that books won't...be a part of her, like they are me. Like they are my husband. I'm afraid she won't ever be that kid who always has a book in her hands. That she won't get lost in those worlds for days at a time. That she won't cry so hard when her favorite book ends that she has to turn back to page one and start reading all over again.

I know she'll read. I hope one day she'll love it. I think she will, based on the way she always begs for just one more chapter, Mom. Please!

But still. Hearing those words opened up a whole new world of possibilities...of a world without books...and I wouldn't wish that world on anyone. Least of all my own child.

July 14, 2013

Back to the soapbox, sort of...

Sheesh. I've been neglecting this blog lately, haven't I?

So much has happened in the world in the past few weeks, and I've not made a single comment here. Not a one. I'm sort of mad at myself, butI swear I've had a ton of stuff going on.

Excuses, excuses...

Part of my silence has had to do with the fact that I'm doing lots of *other* writing these days. I finished editing (for the third or fourth time) my book, JO, and now I've dived right into my sci-fi, THE MOTHERS CLUB. I'm in love with this book, but haven't had anywhere near the time to devote to it that I'd like. I'm comforting myself with the knowledge that Zoe and I are pretty much back to routine starting this week, and come August 21st I'll have lots of time on my hands when she starts kindergarten. It'll be a Writing and Editing Frenzy up in here. But more on (sniff) kindergarten later...

I've also been steering clear of soapboxy issues, even here, because I've got a yucky taste in my mouth right now regarding the Internet and my own opinions. I've done a few columns over at a local paper, and it's been my experience that (with some few key exceptions), people comment on those columns with the sole intent of being mean and nasty. I know enough by now to ignore them - honestly, I don't even read them - but I've been questioning whether or not to even put myself out there as fodder, you know? Is it worth it, the whole "freedom of speech" and "getting paid to write" stuff, if it just means people are going to be complete jerks to me?

I'm not sure....and I'm evaluating that question as I type.

Still, though. This blog has always been my safe place, my little slice of heaven in the world of the interwebs. The only time I've seen nastiness here was when I wrote a nice letter about my ex-employer...a couple people left anonymous douchey comments, and since they were anonymous I felt no need to publish them. Maybe that's cheating, maybe not, but it's my blog. I make the rules.

Anyway, I've been missing my little happy place, and I've had a bunch to think about lately, so I think it's time to come back here and have a chat.

And there's so much to chat about, isn't there?

It occurred to me today that I never even commented here on the overturning of Proposition 8 and DOMA! What was I thinking? Those are issues that are sooooo key to me, and I basically ignored the best news I've heard in ages. Ugh. I'm sorry. Please know that on the day the news broke of those decisions, I was hanging out on the beach with my kid and some of our closest friends, and no lie...I did a happy dance. Like, a big, bouncy, jumpy happy dance...while wearing a bathing suit. That's not meant to be a pretty image. That's meant to let you know that I was SO HAPPY I stopped caring about what I looked like in a bathing suit and just...danced.

So yay. There's still SO MUCH more work to do to ensure equality for everyone in this country, but that day we took a big leap forward.

And then...there's that other case...you know the one....it was decided last night. That case....sucks. No matter how you look at it, no matter what decision was made, there was no way for justice to ever be served. Not when the media has sensationalized the case to the point that there was no possibility of having a fair jury. Not when we all formed our own opinions a year ago, when the story first broke about a boy, a gun, and a bag of Skittles.

A boy is dead. The man who killed him is free. But no matter what that jury decided last night, there would never be a happy ending to that case. Not for anyone whose life it touched. 

I just hope things stay calm down there in Florida, and across the country. Because we can't seek justice with more senseless violence, can we?

So, ok. Some slight opinions here. I promise to stop neglecting this space, and to remember that I have a voice, and I can use it, and that some people out there actually enjoy reading what I have to say.

July 1, 2013

The Zombie Project!!!

A few weeks ago, a writer-friend of mine tagged me in a Twitter post. "Want to be part of this?" she asked, and she used the hashtag #TheZombieProject.

Well, you know me and zombies, right? Count me in on just about anything!

So I raised my hand, met some new friends, and thus, The Zombie Project was born!

The brainchild of a super-cool girl called Chynna-Blue, the idea is to amass a group of writers and write a chain of zombie-tales. Each story has to take a piece of the story posted before it...and write a new story using it. Then the next person in line takes a piece of THAT story, and so on and so forth...

And since every story has to be about zombies...it should be pretty damn fun.

We'll be using the hashtag #TheZombieProject to talk it up on Twitter, and stories will go live weekly on Chynna-Blue's blog. The "origin" story posted yesterday - go check it out if you have a few minutes to read about zombies!

My story won't go up until October, but there will be great stories to read between now and then. It's a fun project with cool people, and I hope you take a few to check it out each week! I know I will!

Logo by Catherine Scully