Hi. My name is Shannon. And I like vampires.
Let’s not forget the werewolves, witches, and shape shifters. I am confessing to all my darkest secrets right up front. Let’s have nothing but truth between us.
Some people blame their mothers for their character flaws. Well, I blame my daughter. After Winnie was born, I lost my taste for well-written prose – the kind of Literature one can read on the subway with head held high – in favor of what I will generously call “fluff.” We were engaging in marathon breastfeeding sessions, sandwiched between infinite marches to nowhere in Prospect Park. My couch developed a mysterious dent the size and shape of my bottom, and the gravel paths boasted grooves that fit my stroller perfectly. During that time, I just couldn’t find the mental energy to engage with the latest Toni Morrison or Michael Ondaatje.
That was my life. Couch, park, couch park. The proverbial door, then, was open for a vampire named Edward and his wisp of a girlfriend. Understand, this all happened before Twilight was TWILIGHT! Before the Comican craziness. Before vampire fang necklaces were all the rage. (Fang necklaces?? I am appalled! And, yes, I secretly want one.) Propping that book on my knee or on the handle of the stroller got me through some dark days. My daughter got a heck of a lot of “tummy time,” meaning “hush-little-baby-and-stay-on-the-blanket-while-mommy-finishes-this-chapter time.”
Turns out that Bella was just a gateway drug. After her came Sookie. Then Mercy. Then, pretty much anything I could get my hands on. Amazon.com kindly pointed out that I seem to be interested in “paranormal romances” (THANK you, customer profiling!) and the site suggests many lovely titles that I check out by the cartload from the library.
All the while that I am wandering around with my latest obsession tucked under my arm, just hoping for a moment or two of reading time, I am becoming increasingly worried. I am wondering what this all means about me. So many aspects of my life have changed lately. I no longer work full time, which means no more pats on the back about how well I do my job, no more paycheck to spend as I see fit, no more community of supportive colleagues. I don’t have the time, money, or energy to spend with my friends the way I used to, so I always feel like I am either trying to catch up with their exciting lives, or making excuses for why I’m not around much. On top of all those losses, I worry that I’m losing my smarts. I worry that all this reading of low-brow books means that I am not as smart, interesting, or worthwhile as I was before.
And yet, even while I fret about my intellect, or lack thereof, I can not wait until my next chance to dive right into the fantasy book du jour. Somehow, I have re-captured a delight in stories that I hadn’t felt since I was a kid. I no longer sneak a flashlight under the covers, but that’s exactly how I feel when I’m engrossed in a book in the middle of the night and everyone else is sleeping. I know that I should turn out the lights, but I have to keep reading – just one more chapter! It’s a joyful and familiar feeling.
I’ve heard people say that the best career choices have to do with what we enjoyed as children. Well, what I always loved as a kid was this: reading and writing. I used to stay in bed pretending to be asleep on the weekends, while throughout the house my family went about its business – never suspecting that I was kicking back two books before breakfast. Some were quality books – the Anne of Green Gables series was and is my absolute favorite – but many more were the same kind of silly, predictable trash I am enjoying so thoroughly now. The kind of book in which the girl has to choose between the rogue and the upstanding gentleman. (And she chooses the rogue every time.)
I’m starting to think that this lust for trashy books isn’t much of a change at all; I’m just returning to my roots. In addition to inhaling all the reading material I can get my hands on, I’m also writing more now than I have in all my previous adult years combined. (One of my many projects is my own vampire novel, a fact that I had not admitted to more than two people before now.) It all makes me feel as excited and full of life as I did when I was a kid writing reams of stories to show my parents, teachers, and classmates. How had I ever lost that love of stories, that hunger for words? Oh, yeah. I was busy reading Literature.
I’m having a blast, and I think I owe it all to vampires.
Photo credit goes to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usonian/