Pictured above: My bedroom wall of books. I have slept with books my whole life.
Precocious. Rambunctious. Obnoxious. Curious. Chatterbox. These are the words that best described me as a child. When I was old enough to care about what others thought of me, I was able to mollify my overly expressive nature. That’s one way to put it. Another way is to say I became more introspective because I was aware for the first time that I was driving everyone around me fucking crazy.
When that happens, people react to you in not-so-pleasant ways. My punishment was sending me to my room. That’s when I discovered the wonderful world of books.
The family bookshelf was in my bedroom. Fuck yeah!
My parents foolishly assumed that being confined to my room (“Go to your room and close the door!”) would be like doing hard time for a kid who couldn’t sit still, admittedly, I was an incorrigible repeat offender. They soon became worried though when I refused to leave my room. They yelled down the hall, “Time is up!” then swing open the door, “You can come out now.” Only to find my eyes glued to the pages unaware of their presence.
The door was open. I had permission again to roam the house, outdoors, and have conversations with humans. I had one problem with that: my new world was so much more exciting, and it was no further away than my face attached to my hands, propped up by bent elbows. I had become a book sandwich.
I liked big books not fat dudes with big beards and gloved hands.
I was alone but liberated. An entire world within my room cradled in a maze of Southern California tract homes equipped with a standard issue 1960s working-class family: father (breadwinner), mother (housewife), two kids (boy and girl), pet salamander named Sally, and a guinea pig named Ginny. Imaginative pet names, right? Well, my sister fried Ginny leaving her cage out in the sun, which finally took the heat off me.
I found nirvana before members of the legendary grunge band were even born. When my mother read to me at bedtime, the words became a symphony. A musical. Porn (before I knew what that was). There’s no better way to put it; stories turned me on.
Learning something new by flipping through pages of the World Book Encyclopedia was no small miracle. Words and pictures on every page rocked my world. I could stay awake all night long and never sleep. So I thought.
When I began to write stories at age seven, no surprise, I did not rest.