I just saw this article description on CNN News: "Believe it or not, it’s been nearly 43 years since “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret'"... I was going to write a random post tonight about whatever came to my head, and a few weeks back I decided I should do a post about some of my earliest reading experiences, specifically "Are You There, God, It's Me Margaret", by the most banned author in America, Judy Blume. So I took those two semi-formed thoughts, along with the random viewing of an online article, and combined them to create an introduction to a post for a blog titled, "Of Intersections and Strange Things Told" because I thought it was fitting.
And here we are.
I remember reading the book at an early age, maybe 11 or 12. Definitely in middle school or even younger. I remember that it was well written and that I really cared about the characters. Blume was one of my favorite writers as a kid. Like the best children's and young adult authors, they seem to remember what it's like to be in the age group they are targeting and they treat kids as competent individuals, unlike most adults.What I remember most, however, is Margaret dealing with puberty and having her first period. Here I was, just going though puberty myself, and a main character in a major novel was going through the same things, albeit in a much bloodier and disgusting manner.
I was lucky as a kid. In Hartford we got health class/sex ed in 6th grade. I had this giant, looming male sex ed teacher who taught us everything, so I was exposed to reality at a young age. I think more kids should be taught about the realities of life at an earlier age. I know it was a huge benefit for me; I wasn't lost in the world. Why do so many people think that hiding reality of the world from kids is the best way to prepare them for the world? Anyway, while reading the book, I wasn't disgusted by the descriptions or confused by the subject matter or anything like that; I simply related (very deeply) to this young girl going through the most traumatic time of every person's life. One scene that clearly sticks out is Margaret stretching her chest in and out, repeating to herself, "I must, I must, I must increase my bust!" There were so many emotions running through me while reading that. There was the young, hormone-crazed boy fantasizing about a pretty girl and her breasts; there was the young pre-teen, trying to figure life out for himself, sympathizing with this poor girl, knowing exactly how she felt as she wished for a certain part of her anatomy to grow just the slightest bit; there was the still somewhat-religious, overly-guilty Catholic side of me that felt bad for having such an intimate look into this girl's life; and there was the lover of language, marveling at the fact that words on a page could make me feel so much.
Mostly I remember her breasts.
Honestly, though, it was just a really good book that made me feel like I wasn't alone in the world and that what I was going through actually mattered.
Many years after I read it, somebody mentioned the book, and I said I read it in middle school. She seemed very surprised and asked if I wasn't "weirded out" by all the "period talk." At the time of the discussion, I hardly recalled the "period talk" and I only remembered that it was an amazingly real and awesome coming-of-age story (and the breasts scene).
So yeah, I've been influenced by reading since I was able to do it, and I encourage people to read as much as possible. Literally as much as possible. There is so much good material out there to read (and listen to and watch) that you should be constantly eye-gobbling it all up. Yes, you should be exercising and eating right and carrying on meaningful relationships yadda yadda, but you should also be taking in as much information and differing perspectives and art as possible. It's awesome, I swear.
Create, too. The best (and most important) part of taking in all the information and opinions and entertainment that you can is creating something in return. Creating something is one of the best feelings in the world. And when you start creating things, you'll have times when you feel like it's not even you doing it. Authors have talked about the "words already being there", they just put it on paper. Athletes talk about getting in the "zone" and not even thinking about what they're doing. The act of creating something, whether it's a novel, a sculpture, a ridiculous blog post, or a perfect game, is a thing of wonder that even the creator doesn't fully comprehend.
Maybe this is a stretch, but I think that's why we are so fascinated with the idea of an ultimate "Creator". We feel that we have to give credit to something for creating this amazing thing called life. It couldn't have just happened, someone must have planned this. But maybe, like with many works of art, or with the perfect game that LSD couldn't even ruin, the creation of a work of beauty is out of the control of anyone or anything. Maybe it just exists because it needed to exist?
Fuck do I know, but another thing I remember about "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" is the main character questioning the presence of God. I didn't think you could even do that. This girl was looking for some guidance from above and she got no response (hello middle school) so she questioned whether He was even there or not. Damn. I wanted to be half as courageous as her. She even touched on the topic of masturbation. This was a time in my life when I thought touching myself was a one-way ticket to the fiery pits of Lucifer's torture chamber (obviously, I still did it anyway, spending what should have been a relaxing post-climactic state in a confused sweat, terrified of the damnation that surely awaited me).
Needless to say, many of the topics in the book became recurring themes of my life (not so much the wishing for an increased bust size or worrying about menstruation, but definitely the questioning of god and masturbation). That's the crazy part about art, you never know what's going to leave a mark. I read AYTGIMM (for all you acronym fanatics out there) without knowing what I was getting into, and I may not have read it if I knew what it was about, but I remember it to this day and know for a fact that it had a profound impact on me
So go read! Take in some art! Watch some GoPro videos (that's art if I've ever seen it).
If you're looking for things to read, type in an author you like in Amazon.com and they'll give you hundreds of suggestions. Or, look at the side of this page for my favorite blogs. There has been a lot of estrogen on this page so far, so here's a little testosterone: check out my brotha, my roommate, my Corbin Frat Brat Packy Patna, J Roc-a-Block Roc-a-Fella and his awesome blog Men vs Beer. (http://menvsbeer.blogspot.com) Learn about some good beers, read about some good times (maybe see a few pics of the Prof himself) and enjoy a good read. Maybe you'll start your own blog about something you're interested in, or maybe you'll just blog your random thoughts. Or, if you already have a blog, maybe this is what you need to help you step up your game.
Your thoughts and ideas are important, no matter how random, so let the world hear them. Besides, we could use a little more randomness in this highly regulated and structured society of ours.
I Love You All...Class Dismissed.