My parents play Scrabble.
I know. Really, do I have to tell you much more about my childhood?
The other night they were playing it with friends and my father played the word "vox". Immediately great potests ensued. No proper nouns and such allowed. 
But guess what? He was right; vox is indeed a word. Latin for voice, and included in the official scrabble dictionary. 
Yes, they own a scrabble dictionary. 
And the entire OED. 
As in, a hard copies, on their living room shelf. Or somewhere. 
They literally have books and words in every room of their house. When I was a child my mother would bring home crates of books discarded from the library and the schools. 
Every once in a while, when I thought I had read every book we had a dozen times already, I would take them all off again, organize them by height, width, subject matter, and restock the shelves. We had bookshelves down the halls, in the living room and blocking off one entrance to the kitchen. Books on the couch, by our beds, on the countertops and under one arm. 
And newspaper clippings and random quotes scrawled on lined and white and every color of paper. Words on the walls and taped to the fridge and the mirrors in the bathrooms. Really important ones on the wall right in front of the toilet. Filing cabinets full of them.

I noticed that now she has dry erase boards, too.
Do you think that our voices are truly our own? That any part of them exists as something other than a subconscious mash-up of every other voice we've ever experienced? 
I feel like me. I think this is my voice. 
But every time I read Jane Eyre or War and Peace or Dante, I am startled to find constructions I thought were my own. Perhaps this vox is more accurately a mentalcuisinart, than a maytag. 
Not that that's a bad thing. Can you imagine what I'd be writing right now if my parents had primarily stocked the shelves with the ilk of, say, Gary Larson?
Yeesh. Although…I might be funnier.
Is that a word? Under what stack of books did I leave that dictionary…

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10 responses to “MentalMashup

  • Freedom Smith

    Ah, to grow up in a house of books. I think back to kids that considered having one book a treasure!

  • LBeeeze

    Such a very interesting concept. We are the compilation of all of our experiences. What we've seen, read, and done. An original concept is so hard to find….but OMGosh, oh, your parents so fed your mind.

  • Kimber

    No kidding, eh? I was just reading about William Tinsdale, who was burned at the stake for making the bible available to the common folk. Books were so precious, and now I've got thousands of them on my shelves, gathering dust.

  • Kimber

    They did, and I haven't given them nearly enough credit for it! I look at my own kids and wish I did half as much for them, as mine did for me. Two of them are real readers, but the others aren't as much.

  • Alicia

    I would love to grow up in a house filled with books!!! We have a limited number. My dad loves to buy all sorts of fantastic books. My mom finds a way to throw them out. :/ I do think that our voices are our own, but there is a basic human experience that we all have. We all of the same feelings and frustrations, even though they may come in a different form. So why not have the same basic thoughts? Or ideas about people and things? We are also shaped by our culture and society, what's expected of us and what is not. But ultimately, it is up to us what we think, and how we feel about it.

  • Ladywise

    I grew up without the books. My mother was not a reader and we moved so much being a military family that she did not tend to collect anything. However, I found a love for reading at an early age and so as a mother, I filled my home with books. I used to love to go to yard sales and buy books. I would offer a price for every book they had rather than pick through and just buy a few. I had a wonderful collection at one time. The best find I ever came across was actually given to me by an old friend who knew I collected books. It was a McGuffey's "First Eclectic Reader" copyrighted in the late 1800's. Though my son was too "busy" to do much reading, my daughter did become an avid reader. I agree with you and your parents Kimber, every home should be filled with books.

  • P.S.

    I love books. Six years ago I sold over a thousand. (yes thousand) children's books at our garage sale. We read them and loved them- but kept only our favorites. The lighter load is wonderful feeling. And it made room for more to love. Instead, now we visit the library every week with the youngers and every two weeks with the olders. I just gave away a stack of books to a young man doing a Eagle Project for the military. I love when people Vox about a good book they love!

  • Emjay

    Wow – your childhood home sounds like a paradise – no wonder you have such a wonderful way with words – your building blocks were solid.

  • Kimber

    Haha! I'm the thrower in my house, too. Not the books, but other "fantastic" purchases the Mr. and the kids buy, I'm finding the first opp to toss! As much as I like to dejunk though, I still have over a thousand books!

  • Kimber

    You know, paradise is the last word I'd have used to describe my childhood home when I lived in it, but I wow, doesn't our perspective change with time! I had no idea what a blessing that deluge of words would be in my life.

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