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In Which Gloria Admits Her Addiction

By Gloria Diaz

Check out Gloria's Blog — Edge of Gloria!

Fort Wayne Reader

2009-06-04


Iím a word junkie. Iím serious. Some people go through nicotine withdrawal if they go without cigarettes, but if Iím stuck in traffic, I read. If Iím at the doctorís office, I read. Once, my boyfriend and I went to Barnes and Noble, and stopped for a snack at a nearby restaurant. Did we chat? Did he whisper sweet nothings into my ear? Not on your life. He pulled one of his books out and started reading. I did the same.

I admit Iím bad this way. Sometimes with friends, if we are in a restaurant that offers free local publications, Iíll pick one up on the way in. During dinner, my mind may start to wander, and Iíll itch to pick up the publication. But I try not to.

I think this all comes from my parents. My mother taught me how to read at age two and a half. One of my earliest memories is of white poster board painted with simple red words. My mother had come across a book in a library, Teach Your Baby to Read, or something like that, and with me perched on her hip, she checked it out. She said one of the recommendations in the book was to make the words big, so they would be easier to read.

It must have worked, because I was way ahead of everyone in the reading department. I got full of myself and thought Iíd submit a book report of Gone With the Wind while in sixth grade, but the book didnít hold my attention long enough, so I abandoned the project. That was the year I didnít really study spelling and got straight A pluses the entire year. I didnít miss a single word. That was the peak of my spelling ability, which went almost straight to hell the following year, while in middle school. Come to think about it, my stellar academic career ground to a halt in seventh and eighth grades and never really recovered, until I got to college. But based on my grades, I probably shouldnít have been admitted to college in the first place. Ironically, it was there that my writing was encouraged by my beloved college professor, who later became my advisor. Any of you hoping to complain to him that he created a monster (me) youíre out of luck. Heís dead.

Through the years, my parents encouraged my love of words. My mother always let me order whatever I wanted through the Scholastic Book Club. Because she let me get anything, our class always ended up with the bonus gifts for having such high orders. The days when the books came in were so exciting. I think I still have some of those books to this day. Dad got me a huge Websterís dictionary, with quotes from famous people in the back and I canít remember what all. I tucked school papers that were exceptionally good between the pages. He also bought me a Brother electric typewriter with a mini-screen that was almost like having a word processor. I typed many a paper on it, in my B.C. (before computer) days. What was frustrating was having to make changes. Taking out paragraphs or adding things meant that everything at that point of the change or beyond had to be retyped. Yet I cranked out 15+ page papers. I was a decent typist, so it wasnít so bad, just time consuming.

As a result of me being a word junkie, my house is chock-full of reading material. Everywhere you look, there are books. And magazines, and newspapers, and pamphlets and so on and so forth.

The other day, I took Summit, my cat, into the vet to get spayed. I lingered in the waiting room to read the details of Mel Gibsonís divorce in People magazine. One of the technicians said everything was taken care of, and that I could leave. I explained I was finishing up the story.

Hey, when youíre poor, having to sit in a waiting room is almost like going to the library. Except when you hit a place with nothing but Field and Stream and AARP. I havenít been to that doctorís waiting room in years.

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