Thursday, May 31, 2012


Hello, my name is Sydney and I am a lifetime student. This also makes me a lifetime bibliophile.  My library is expansive. In fact, Amazon owes me a thank you letter! IMHO. When the first Kindle came on the market, I was first in line. Ditto with the Kindle Fire. And of course, I still buy hard copies of used books, art, and writing books. How can you not? However, that’s not my true focus here. I want to share how I read a book; or, more accurately, how I “decorate” the pages.

When I am reading I have a highlighter and a pen in hand (or finger on the Kindle screen); I am in “discussion” with the author inside the margins. The pages become adorned with my underlining, asterisks, and highlights to create a kind of personal topography.  The term for this is marginalia. Writing notes in the white space on the page. It helps me to digest and interpret the text and to remember certain words, phrases, and ideas.  It is my form of study and reference. Nerdy, huh? On my Kindle I can highlight and type notes for later printing. The Kindle developers included this function because of me and countless others who also mark up their books. But, it’s nothing new.

For centuries, authors such as Emerson, Keats, Melville, Twain, Poe and Kerouac practiced marginalia. In the 1944 Democratic Review, Edgar Allen Poe said “In getting my books, I have been always solicitous of an ample margin; this not so much through any love of the thing in itself, however agreeable, as for the facility it affords me of penciling suggested thoughts, agreements, and differences of opinion, or brief critical comments in general.”

The margins of written pages speak to me like a blank canvas. Marginalia changes the meaning of the text is into something even more meaningful. A well-read book is essentially transformed into a whole new art form.

"A child her wayward pencil drew
On margins of her book;
Garlands of flower dancing elves,
Bud, butterfly, and brook,
Lessons undone, and plum forgot,
...Seeking with hand and heart
The teacher whom she learned to love
Before she knew t'was Art. " ~Louisa May Alcott

Friday, May 11, 2012

I Hate Mother's Day

I have hated Mother’s Day for decades. My mother was tough. She wasn’t appreciative. Other mother’s would gush at the mere thought of a child’s gift or card. They would state things like “Don’t buy anything for me!” or, upon opening a gift, “You didn’t have to buy me anything!” Not my mother. She was difficult at best. And I always acknowledged Mother’s Day with a gift, a card, flowers, and then out to dinner we would go. But not before the criticism. Nothing was ever good enough. “Oh, that’s what you bought me, what will I do with that?” or “What kind of a card is that?” were typical responses to me, her only child. I would be crushed and my ego damaged every year on Mother’s Day.

So, I grew to loathe Mother’s Day. I would dread it and then look for a generic card that didn’t gush of love and caring. I didn’t feel it. Not until the later years, when she was well into her eighties. Mom moved away to be with “her family” in Wisconsin. I sent her flowers, cookie bouquets, and cards. But then, I didn’t get the same reaction as in the past. She may have thought it but she did thank me on the obligatory phone call. Then of course told me how she gave the cookies away and that hurt my feelings, too.

At age 91 mom fell and she spent the last years of her life in and out of continuous care facilities and rehab centers. She finally gave up healing and died at 5:32 a.m., Oct. 12, 2011. Two days before her 93rd birthday. My last words to her were “I love you”. And she replied back “I love you”.

This is the first year without my mother on Mother’s Day. That gives me another reason to hate Mother’s Day; because I miss her terribly. I do. I really do.