An addiction that she’s never going to break

Hello, my name is Sylvia and I’m an addict.

I know as a part of the program we are supposed to take personal responsibility and I’m trying to do just that. However, I thought it might help if I told you how it all began.

You see it started with my mother. I know, I know, we shouldn’t blame our mothers, but they are important in shaping our attitudes and habits and my mother was a great influence on me. She was a smart woman and interested in many different things and she had strong opinions that she often shared with me and anyone else who would listen.

Every morning I would see her there at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee. She would be completely absorbed. Often she looked extremely worried and at other times she seemed to be enjoying herself, even smiling and laughing.

Next in the evolution of my addiction came Miss Pepper, my favorite teacher. She taught sixth grade and was wonderful. She seemed to understand her students and saw that I was often bored. If I was fidgety she would let me go to the encyclopedia room and read what I wanted and do a special report. That is where I discovered the ancient world and the wonders of ancient peoples and civilizations. I was fascinated by the pictures of the Pyramids, Chichen Itza and Machu Picchu. I read the exploits of Alexander the Great and the Roman conquests.

This discovery probably led to my desire to travel and to major in anthropology. My desire to live in different lands and study different cultures was probably forged during this time. I was privileged to do that later in my life as I was able to live in both Colombia and Egypt, where I still have friends I communicate with regularly. I learned that most people want the same things – a family, a home, enough to eat and freedom.

Miss Pepper, too, was an addict and encouraged it and spoke about it openly in class. In fact she gave us assignments weekly and made us show proof of completing them.

In high school I was influenced by my English teacher and participated in an activity with a group of other students. As a result I was inducted into a secret society called “Quill and Scroll.”

Things only got worse at college. It seemed that it was necessary just to keep up and I realized that both my history and geography professors were also addicts.

The final blow was when I got married. My wonderful husband, unknown to me, had been doing it all along. He had many special interests and needed to keep up with them on a daily basis. Often he became quite agitated if the final result was not to his liking. Over the years we became co-dependents and supported each other in the habit. He was the worst in reinforcing my addiction.

You see, he is a morning person and I’m a night owl. He knows how hard it is for me to get up and get going in the morning, so every morning when I get up there it is right there next to the coffee pot. The comics are on top and the first page is on the bottom, leaving the news last. I suggest you try this method. It helps.

Old habits are hard to break. I’m not sure I want to try when I can start my day with Doonesbury and Bizarro.

Sylvia Chipman is a resident of San Rafael. IJ readers are invited to share their stories of love, dating, parenting, marriage, friendship and other experiences for our How It Is column, which runs Tuesdays in the Lifestyles section. All stories must not have been published in part or in its entirety previously. Send your stories of no more than 600 words to Please write How It Is in the subject line. The IJ reserves the right to edit them for publication. Please include your full name, address and a daytime phone number.


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