Two Colins

My dream from last night is hazy except for the part where I was back in kindergarten and meeting one of my childhood chums for the first time.  I say “chums,” because everyone is generally friends in kindergarten, although I distinctly remember disliking this boy at first because he was loud and rough and I was shy.  So shy, as a matter of fact, that while my September birthday might have qualified me to head to school early, my parents decided to keep me back another year for fear that I would be too timid to make friends.

Anyway, in the dream, the boy told me that his name was Colin.

I was delighted.  “Colin? I love that name!  One of my favorite literary characters is named Colin.  That’s in a book called The Secret Garden.  Everyone else likes Dickon because he talks to animals and isn’t so cranky in the beginning, but Colin is the best at the end.”

Kindergarten Colin gave me an incredulous look.

So much for being too timid to make friends.

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Relinquishing the Hoard

I’m taking a hiatus from writing my graduation saga in order to write about another momentous event:

I have cleaned out my bookshelf and donated one hundred of my babies to my old K-8 school library.

My bookshelf is a giant, unvarnished, red-brown thing, looming over all of the other furniture in my bedroom at home.  I’ve had it since I was about eleven years old, when my grandparents, knowing my tendency to stash overflowing books in piles around my room, got it for me for Christmas.  The bookshelf was initially supposed to be hidden in the detached garage.  Grandpa had written a clever poem which was meant to lead me to its location.  Unfortunately though, Christmas morning dawned especially cold that year, and my parents thus decided to spare me the traipse outside.  The bookshelf waited beside the Christmas tree instead.

For years, this bookshelf has been large enough to hold all of my books.  Sure, there’s some double layering going on.  Sure, when I ran out of room to arrange spines vertically, I stacked more horizontally on top of the vertical.  But I don’t especially mind having a packed bookshelf: I have a system of arrangement, and I do, contrary to my family’s belief, generally know which titles I own and which I don’t own (and how to find them).  Plus, a packed bookshelf implies literary affiliations.  I feel proud and cozy and like an English major when I gaze upon it.

Today, however, when standing in front of the dear thing, trying to decide what to read next, I tipped back a few titles to peek at the ones behind.  And some of the ones behind, I realized, I hadn’t seen in a while.  And I hadn’t missed them.

I decided it was time to pare the collection down.

I have long thought that if an eleven-year-old girl in possession of familiar bookworm tendencies were to stop me on the street and ask me for a suggestion regarding what she should read next, I would undoubtably pile all of my Gail Carson Levines, my American Girls, my Nancy Drews into her hands.  I would happily pass my books off to someone who I knew would enjoy them as I had.  Why, though, was I sitting like a miser on a mountain, hoarding books I had long outgrown, waiting for the right young prodigy to come along and ask for them?  Surely it would be better to put the books in a library, where they could be paged through and jam-smeared by hundreds.

I quickly had all my books off my shelves and into piles: Classics; Popular But Still Quality; Popular; Teen Fiction I Still Love; Short Stories, Poems, Plays; Reference; Series; Children’s With Sentimental Value (Little House, Betsy-Tacy, Charlotte’s Web); and Donate.

I dusted the empty shelves, and then slowly started refilling them.  I moved my most beloveds to the top, and–vainly–put the classics front and center.  I pulled out the books I plan to attempt this summer and stacked them separately, for easy access.  I bagged up the “Donates,” including A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Perhaps the ban has been lifted since I left middle school?

Mom (a teacher at my old school) placed the bags in her van.  While I’m a little ashamed that it’s taken me so long to pass all of those books on, I’m glad it’s finally happened.

 

Dark Side of the Moo

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After three weeks of mysterious on-and-off nausea, my lactose intolerance has been officially determined.

Note that when I say official, I mean that I conducted several tests on myself including drinking milk and waiting to feel crummy, and eating string cheese and waiting to feel crummy.  The crumminess arrived promptly in both instances, to the point where I am now revolted at the prospect of dairy.  Except for ice cream.  My goodness, what will I do without ice cream this summer?

It seems funny to find out about this so late in life.  I mean, I can think of childhood instances where dairy made me sick, but not to this extent.  My sister also mentioned that it makes sense that I’m lactose intolerant, as I’ve never been a big milk drinker.  I always thought that was just because I don’t especially enjoy the taste of plain milk, but perhaps this preference has roots in me not feeling well after drinking milk as a kid.

Apparently, however, not experiencing any symptoms for a few decades is fairly common.  The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse says the following:

Primary lactase deficiency develops over time and begins after about age 2 when the body begins to produce less lactase. Most children who have lactase deficiency do not experience symptoms of lactose intolerance until late adolescence or adulthood.

What’s nice, though, is that dairy products in certain contexts don’t seem to bother me.  For instance, I had pizza a few days ago, and didn’t have a problem with the cheese on top.  I thought maybe it had something to do with the cheese being cooked, but apparently not: pancakes made with mix and milk are a no no, as is oatmeal nuked with milk.  It will be interesting to keep experimenting and to determine what affects me and what doesn’t.

Overall, I think this discovery will involve a minimal lifestyle change.  As you can see above, I bought my lactose free milk at the grocery store today, and am looking forward to trying it out tomorrow.

Mostly, though, I’m glad that I’m not allergic to gluten (like my darling sister, who is much more of a champ about it than I would be).  Giving up baked goods would be much more of a blow.