Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Time for Reruns?

A recent online book review gave me a flashback to a not so favorite time of my life.  And, in that flashback, I realized I wanted to revisit some of that time.

Mind you, just some of that time.  Not all of it.

I don't know about you, but high school was not the best time of my life.  No, it was far from a great experience for me, which is one reason (besides cost) which I have never attended any of my high school reunion.  I did go to one of my spouse's (we didn't know each other until college) reunions and it was - interesting.

Nor, did my high school alumni association know where I was until my sister in law ratted me out worked a part time college job (she's a few years younger than I am) at compiling data of alumni of the high school I attended.  Not knowing why there was no information for me in their directory, she helpfully gave them my married name and current address.

I ignore the mailings.

I hated high school English. This may be a surprise to you.  After all, am I not an avid reader and blogger? (I'm saying avid.  Not "grammar geek" or technical expert.)   I love to read, yes.  I taught myself to read (so did my sister in law) at the age of four, and I'm surprised I didn't wear out my New York Public Library card.

I was possibly one of the best customers of the bookmobile that stopped every Thursday afternoon (except during the summer) at my NYC housing project.

But I hated English class for so many reasons.
1.  I am a poor speller.  Always have been.  And what do they do in English class, but continuously give students spelling quizzes? (at least, they did in the 1960's).
2.  I was too shy to participate in class discussions.  More points off.
3.  Grammar drove me crazy.
4.  But last, and certainly not least, was the Required Reading List. And the dreaded Book Discussions.  And what books I had to read.  Books I never would have touched with a 39 1/2 foot pole in my non school life suddenly became steep mountains to climb.  The discussions were torture.  The last thing I wanted to do was dissect books.

I just wanted to read them and experience them and be lost in them, not analyze them.

So sometimes (true confessions) I would hide in the back and read a book I was interested in.

The online book review I read was a review of one of those books I had to dissect in high school.

Flashback.  And you know what?  I realized - I may actually want to reread some of those books.

Some of them, in fact, I can barely remember.
Of Mice and Men.  The Great Gatsby. The Red Badge of Courage.

Maybe a teenaged me couldn't experience them without a bunch of eye rolling.  But the 62 year old me might be able to.

Maybe, for some of these books, I needed maturity.  Or seasoning.  Or more experience in life.

My tastes have changed.  I once hated feta cheese.  Now, it's my favorite. I hated gin the first time I tasted it, and never tasted it again, until recently.  I liked it.  (Of course, it was probably a much more expensive gin than whatever I tasted when I was a young adult.)

I don't know if I will do this literature rerun thing, but it is tempting.  I still won't dissect those books, though.  I still want to read them and experience them and be lost in them.  When they end, I want to hurt with the ache of being ejected from a world I didn't want to leave.  I want the voice of the author to stay with me and keep me company, and speak to me from hidden corners.

Did you hate high school or equivalent?


  1. I loved high school English, and went on to major in English (and music) in college, but I HATED dissecting books, and I really HATED literary theory. I too prefer to just read and get lost in a book, and have little patience for picking apart the themes. When I finish a good book, I almost mourn for a day or two, missing the characters.

    I do, however LOVE grammar and the structure of language, and I decry the lack of grammar tutelage in schools nowadays. I am the person who screams at TV commercials when they use the nominative case instead of objective, or when I see plural words formed with apostrophes!

    You may not be fully confident in your technical abilities as a writer, but I am here to tell you I notice precious few errors in your posts. You clearly put thought and care into what you publish. Believe me, I would not continue to visit your blog if the writing were not well constructed and interesting!

  2. I despised high school. In middle school (junior high back then) my family moved into a neighborhood where most families had lived for generations. The area was rife with cronyism and nepotism and this filtered down to the kids. I went from being a "regular kid" to one of the "invisible kids." Now, many of the snobs from high school are my facebook friends and we have friendly communication and I'm looking forward to having a reunion (class of 75) to visit in person.

  3. Age does change and expand our perspectives. I find that in all areas of my life really, and a big part of that is my reading life. I find myself enjoying books that I would not have considered reading many years ago. On the other hand, some things that were once quite meaningful to me (the poetry of Rod McKuen springs to mind) now seem pretty lightweight and a waste of time. I've moved on from that point.

  4. I didn't care much for English in school either. Who wants to spend hours explaining what a noun is and what a verb is? Also, as you said, I want to read a book, not dissect it. So yes, I hated general English. However, I loved my journalism class, and my creative writing class.

  5. Alana, you touched on a couple of hotspots for me. I mainly hated High School. Too bright, too bored, several of us requested Something Else from our English teacher. She set us up as a private reading group, and I read books I never would have heard of or read otherwise. Classics. College (Vassar) was better. I read Thoreau, Emerson, Fitzgerald and Jewitt (Country of the Pointed Firs). With a 5-story high cluster of firs outside my fifth-floor window, I never wanted to leave. Today, I cannot let go of those books. Maybe someday I'll try my hand at writing fiction!

  6. i always found out schools interesting. that is one of the reason, i came back to school now for doing my higher studies :)

  7. not sure if my earlier comment was submitted.
    i never hated schools and that is the reason i came back for my higher studies after 10 years of work :)


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