I have always loved chalkboards. I love the feel of the chalk in my hand, the sound of chalk tapping against the chalkboard as letters, words, sentences appear on the black surface. I love the ease with which an eraser can wipe a chalkboard clean.

Perhaps I should’ve been a teacher.

My parents probably don’t remember my desire for my very own chalkboard. I doubt I asked very often, but it was there, that wish for one of my very own.

In California, I was friends with a guy named Dan. He was a very tall guy and he had three sisters – or maybe it was four – but all of the kids had names that began with the letter D. His childhood home had a pool and gorgeous views of Los Angeles. He lived in the guesthouse until he married a reporter, whose name escapes me right now, and they moved to an apartment in the Hollywood Hills.

But the reason I mention Dan and his family is because in the kitchen of his mother’s house, they had one narrow wall that from floor to ceiling was a chalkboard. And growing up, they all used it. His mother would write her grocery list on it; his dad would write info pertaining to his work on it; he and his sisters would draw on it or leave notes for each other or take phone messages… An entire chalkboard wall! I was completely fascinated.

Fast forward to me living in Wilmington, NC and working as a technical writer. I somehow managed to score a chalkboard from an old storeroom for my office. No one in the company understood my desire. Who uses chalkboards anymore?

I admit I rarely used it, but I loved it. And then when the company downsized, closing their Wilmington office and moving all work to their home base in Charlotte, my boss told me to take what I wanted – within reason of course, not the computers, printers, copiers. The Charlotte office had all they needed and so whatever the company couldn’t sell and the employees didn’t want, would be put in the dumpster.

The only thing I wanted was that chalkboard. (That and a couple of clipboards as I also have an odd, though lesser, love for them.)

Do you share my love of chalkboards? Or is there something you love that perplexes those who know you best? I’d love to hear about it!

My Love of Books or Sure Signs of My Insanity

Everyone who knows anything about me is aware of my love of books. In fact, I’m a little fanatical about it. I’ve mentioned how going to the library as a kid brought me such joy, the slickness of the plastic covering as I ran my hands over the title of the books I’d chosen, the sound of the plastic crinkling as I opened the book to the first page. Okay, perhaps, I didn’t go into those details; I didn’t want you to think I’m crazy…

Dear Readers, I was a book hoarder even as a child.

When I was six, we went to California to visit my great-great-grandmother (maybe she was just one great) and other relatives and in the airport there was a man selling books. He had a shaved head, was barefoot and wore an orange toga-like garment. And I begged my father to buy me one of the man’s books. My father couldn’t believe that I wanted one, but I was so adamant that I convinced him. It was a small paperback book with a silver cover. And on the cover there was a child dressed in white with a yellow halo or sun behind the child’s head. I don’t remember the title, but the topic was reincarnation, which at age six I certainly knew nothing about. It ended up being over my head (even years later), but I tried my hardest to read that book cover to cover.

When I was maybe ten or so, my mother had a yard sale. We were living in the green house behind the shop and so she had to schlep all of the items from our house closer to Rt. 113 to generate activity from shoppers. There were two things that still stand out to me after all these years about that yard sale:

  1. This is totally off-topic, but my mother sold a purse of hers that I loved, although I have no recollection now of even what color it was, but which my younger brother had thrown up in — oh, I can still see him leaning forward from the back seat to vomit into her purse which happened to be open and sitting in between the two front seats.  (Now I’m making a mental note to always zip my bags closed, aren’t you?) And just so you know, the purse cleaned up to be as good as new, but she just couldn’t shake the memory of it and that’s why she ultimately sold it.
  2. And she sold my books to a non-English speaking woman for her young child for like a $1 or something. Obviously she was desperate for the woman to take all my books.

I remember being upset about the loss of those books. Perhaps they were below my reading level, but that didn’t mean I loved them any less! Which is why my mother explained who she sold them to and for how little. She thought it would help another child develop a love of reading. She hoped it would help a mother learn English as she read to her child. She believed that selling my old books would create room for new books. So how could I complain after hearing such kind and generous reasons? Although it has occurred to me that she might have made up this Spanish-speaking mother, wanting to keep as little as possible from the yard sale.

And since I’m being honest, I might as well confess that my fanaticism even causes me to hesitate when a friend asks to borrow a book. I want to loan them my book, but what if they bend the pages or mark it up or get it wet or…A friend of mine accidentally dropped a book of mine in the swimming pool once and I will admit that I may have overreacted. I still have that waterlogged book, the pages no longer lying perfectly flat, the cover slightly marred and I can’t shake that memory whenever I glance upon the title on my shelves.

So I have trouble loaning out books, but I also have trouble borrowing books. Once I’ve read it, I like to  write my name in it and put it on the shelf.  And in case you are wondering, yes, my books are in alphabetical order by author.

Some of you are rushing to print this post out right now so you can provide proof when having me committed. And that’s okay, but I’d have to bring my books.

My husband is on me every time we move to give up my books. (He is the reason I no longer have that slim paperback about reincarnation I mentioned earlier and I just want to point out that if I still had that book, I could’ve inserted a photo of the cover into this post, which really would’ve added, don’t you think? But alas, it is gone and I must move on…) In fact, I’ve often wondered if he hasn’t secretly “lost” a box of my books between here and there. There are moments when I think, Don’t I have more books than this? There seem to be fewer…or it seems I should have more…

And whenever there is a potential gift-receiving occasion (my birthday, Christmas, etc.) I always have books on my wish list. Always. But this year I have decided to not ask for books – although let me assure you I will not refuse any books should anyone be so inclined to give me books! Instead, of expanding my library with new books, I’m going to reread the books in my library.

Of course I’ve reread some of my favorites from time to time, but I’m going to start at the beginning with Dorothy Allison and work my way spine by spine, finishing with Xiaoa Xiao.

I’m excited! (And fairly certain most of you are admiring my husband for having remained married to me this long despite my…peccadilloes.) Now, if only I could find more hours in the day to allow for such leisurely, yet purposeful reading.

P.S. After having written this post, I have probably added twenty books to my wish list. What was I thinking, saying I wouldn’t buy any books until I’ve reread the ones I own? Will I be able to keep to my goal? Or will I succumb to temptation and buy more books? And what about e-readers? Subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss a detail!