REBELLIOUS? – Marilyn Armstrong


I was never consciously a rebel, but I was definitely “different.” I’m pretty sure the difference  was books.

I read a lot of books. If you couldn’t find me, I was probably hiding somewhere. With a book. Rain, shine, sun, or snow — I read books. I read books intended for grown-ups long before I was “ready” to read them. Once, the librarian tried to prevent me from reading adult books and my mother came and tried to eat the librarian for breakfast.

After that, I could read whatever I wanted. I read ten to twelve books a week and if school hadn’t interfered with my reading program, I’d have read more. Sometimes, my mother took the books from my hand and shoved me outside. So I also jumped rope and played tag and built weird “houses” out of old crates and whatever junk we could find on the streets.

Because I read, so did my friends. Just as bad habits are contagious, sometimes, so are good ones. We were a group of completely outlandish friends who were friends only because we all lived in a strange part of town and were the only kids in the area.

Two girls attended the local Catholic school, the rest of us — a bunch of miscellaneous Jews, Lutherans, and non-believers — read books. We used to have contests with questions and answers — sort of personal trivia — about the books we read.

Of this crowd of kids who basically had nothing in common, everyone (except me) got either a Ph.D. or a Masters … and none of us really fit in anywhere. We used big words — always something that makes you an outsider in most schools — and we all wanted to be something. We got a psychologist, a Director of a NY school district, two college professors … and me.

We were different because we read books and books gave us ideas. They weren’t — apparently — like the ideas everyone else had. Maybe they were ideas others had and dismissed.

Is that really what a rebel is? Someone who has different ideas?

The official definition is:


1  –  A person who rises in opposition or armed resistance against an established government or ruler, e.g. “Tory rebels”
Synonyms: revolutionary, insurgent, revolutionist, mutineer, insurrectionist, insurrectionary, guerrilla, terrorist, freedom fighter.

reˈbəl (Accent on the second syllable)
2 – To rise in opposition or armed resistance to an established government or ruler. E.g., “the Earl of Pembroke subsequently rebelled against Henry III”

Synonyms: Revolt, mutiny, riot, rise up, take up arms, stage/mount a rebellion, be insubordinate as in “the citizens rebelled.”

I’m not insurrectionary or any kind of freedom fighter. I have had some unconventional ideas, but ideas don’t make me a rebel. Not being the same as everyone else is — or wants to be — is not revolutionary.

Having unique ideas is just “thinking for yourself.” It’s something we should all do. No one can manipulate you if you do your own thinking.

19 thoughts on “REBELLIOUS? – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. Books were my source of becoming a rebel, as I learned of a bigger world. The day I walked into a library was the sweetest day of my life, to know there were so many books to read. I would have liked friends who read with me.


    1. It was funny that our whole little gang of five girls with completely different backgrounds all became rather intellectuals. They loved classical music — because I played it and I had a grand piano and lived at the top of the hill, so EVERYONE heard it. We read psychology because one of us discovered an article about it in a magazine. We read history and we read non-fiction and the smarter we got, the smarter we ALL got.

      That, by the way, is what is wrong with special ed. If you put all the “less bright” kids together, there’s no one to spark others to “be smarter.” A lot of us could be a lot smarter if we got the options. God bless LIBRARIES!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I’ve skipped the tear gas, but I’ve lost jobs because of it — and never got a lot of others for the same reason. I don’t really fit in. I don’t know if that is real rebellion, but from a corporate point of view, that’s entirely enough.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Because of my interests in so many things and, maybe, because I was just a slow reader, I didn’t cover as many books in a week as you did. Of course, I wasn’t in any race with my “so-called” peers either, many of whom didn’t read much at all. I was often chided for reading about stuff that no one I knew was much interested in. While I really liked those people I knew I had to find some newer friends, some I could actually talk about stuff with. Later on, my sisters and I realized that we were really a family of nerds.., unheard of in most black families. HI!, my name is Ben.., and yours?


        1. The didn’t invent the word until I was WELL past caring. I was just weird when I was a kids. “She uses really big words!” was a curse thrown at me. I had trouble figuring out why that was a problem — until I realized they didn’t KNOW any of those words.


  3. I was always a reader. The librarian said she didn’t know what to do with me because I’d read everything in the library and they couldn’t keep up. It was a BIG library I might add. Eventually, I got tired of having to read the same books and stopped going. I played outside with all the others in the neighbourhood, hopscotch, skip rope, even played with my brothers, but that was short lived because they were rough! (maybe in part to get me to go away) lol


      1. I wished! I ended up spending my money on LP’s as they were cheap, then I bought books, I had books everywhere and eventually found a store that would take them all so I could obtain new books, lol.


      2. I worked in the Hempstead Public Library, after school, and often got lost in the stacks from reading when I was supposed to be working. It seemed like everything I wanted to know was there in those little treasure chests called books.


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