Reading II

It is textbook season again at State Services for the Blind. Today, I got to finish the college history text, Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves & the Making of the American Revolution in Virginia, by Woody Holton. I got the last chapter and a half, and the Epilogue. Reading history silently tends to make me sleepy, but reading a good text out loud is, weirdly, one of my favorite things. I learn so much! Also I love reading about things from the Revolutionary War that have value today: for instance, be wary of fighting a war on unfamiliar terrain against a foe defending their homeland, and watch out for those grassroots movements during a recession. This was a very good book. Holton gives us a  bit of a cynical take on our founding fathers and how things shook down back in the pre-Revolutionary day, which was just what I was in the mood for. Except for the footnotes, which were a pain in the breeches, I enjoyed reading it for three and a half hours today. I had to make a lot of corrections to my work, because I found in this text, as in many academic works, the author will zig when I was expecting a zag, tripping me up. I’ll be reading along and then a sentence or two later there I will be in my little recording booth, saying out loud, “Oh. Ohhhh! That’s what you meant.” Erase. Re-record. There are a lot of ways to err, as a reader. You can mispronounce a word, stumble or stutter within a word, change the meaning with intonation, leave too long a pause as you try to figure out if the footnote is explanatory or a citation, determining whether it needs to be read…and the list goes on. Even when I am (totally not sarcastically) having a ball reading, I’ll hit a sentence now and then that will get me swearing and threatening physical harm to the author because although lovely, it was not written with audiotext in mind. For instance, consider the following footnote from page 203:

“Lee, in fact, lost two elections in April 1776. After his defeat in Richmond County, his supporters ran him in neighboring Lancaster, where he lost again. The April 1776 voting was something of an electoral massacre for the Carter family. In addition to Rober Wormely Carter and his cousin Carter Braxton, both of whom actively opposed Independence, two other Carters–Charles of Corotoman and Charles of Ludlow were also defeated. The Carters were among the wealthiest families in Virginia, and their unprecedented repudiation at the polls seemed to reflect the ascendancy of antielitism.” (emphasis mine)

That particular finishing sentence caught me on tape in the middle saying, “You have GOT to be kidding.” Erase. Re-record. There were several easier sentences that gave me even MORE trouble, because once I screw something up, I find chances are at least 50% of the time I will screw it up multiple times in the same or different ways. Holton made it all up to me with this next little passage from page 219:

“Between 1782 and 1806, Virginia allowed slaveowners to emancipate their slaves without legislative approval, and some did so. Between 1790 and 1810, the state’s free black population more than doubled, largely as a result of emancipation. George Washington provided in his will that his slaves be freed upon the death of his widow (after he died, Martha Washington, prudently deciding not to make the slaves’ freedom contingent upon her death, freed them immediately).”

So here, I am picturing the reading of the will, and a house slave in the corner thinking, “Upon her death, huh?” and Martha thinking, “That’s terrific, George. Thank you so much…” and out loud saying, “No worries, folks! Freedom for everyone! No waiting!” I had to re-record that one because I got the giggles. Makes you wonder how often Martha had to help George out with practical thinking during the presidency. We’ll never know.

So while it isn’t parasailing, or a night at the comedy club, this volunteer gig has its moments. Besides, where else would I get to use words like “sobriquet” AND hang out with the nicest state employees in Minnesota?

Related Post: Reading, or How This All Started.

8 thoughts on “Reading II

  1. Kay Vallery Young

    I love this–tears in the eyes–again! I’m just thinking—other than freeing the slaves–the SLOW parts. How do you keep from falling asleep while you’re reading? I’ll be reading to Rae something that we’re both really enjoying and all of a sudden will sit bolt upright and find him looking at me questioningly because I will have fallen asleep and kept on talking–not reading. I’m sure it comes out pretty strange, but, not having recorded it, I have no idea what he heard–and neither does he. No harm done, I guess!

    1. lynnettedobberpuhl Post author

      You are hilarious! I have never fallen asleep, but the computer, recording process, tracking page and chapter indexing, tends to keep you a somewhat aware. Not that I don’t blow off parts of that…more erasing and re-recording or at least some really clever fixing. I would love to have video footage of one of your reading sessions!

  2. Mich

    The fact that you can absorb what you are reading at the same time that you are reading it, especially with that kind of vocabulary is really amazing… I think I would have to stop and think a LOT. I’d get fired. You’re SMART! 🙂 I don’t remember reading/hearing that about Martha’s situation, so that’s an eye opener for me, too. Yes, the Founding Mother’s undoubtedly contributed much more than we will ever know. Love you!

  3. amysmuddledmusings

    Yeah, Mich and I were just talking about you last week (again)! I’m getting to know you in ways other than your blog, you know. 😉 I crazy admire this about you….your volunteer gig. I think it’s a lot harder to give your time away than it seems it should be. So, bonnets off to you!

    1. lynnettedobberpuhl Post author

      Not having a full-time job is very helpful when volunteering, but even with my flexible schedule, getting started was a little overwhelming. Like most things, once it was part of my routine it became easier and even fun! Thank you for the bonnet tip, and for reading!


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