Books, books, books! I don't read enough. I need to change that.
Wednesday, April 06, 2016
When I revived the blog I said I was doing it because there were things that needed to be written. That remains true. Writing has always been cathartic for me, it was a way to get the swirling thoughts out of my head in a way that made me process emotions, ideas, aspirations, fears, anger, etc. Everything that happened last year should have been accompanied by heavy bouts of writing but I was so out of habit, not just with blogging, but with actual writing that I didn’t do it. As a consequence, all of these words continue to live in my head.
The problem is, I don’t want this to be the cancer blog. I don’t want to have entry after entry of just depressing content. Because, that’s the thing about writing in public, isn’t it? It isn’t just a therapeutic exercise. It’s the creation of “content”; the understanding that the words, once given life outside of myself, are going to be processed by others and that changes things. This isn’t a bad thing, this isn’t a condemnation of living our lives, part of our lives, in public spaces. It’s just a layer. How much that matters is up to each of us.
As I chafe against having every entry be about the cancer, and, hell, if I’m honest the cancer isn’t what I think about or cry over on still a very regular basis. It’s the infertility, stupid. That’s the root of the sadness. So, because I don’t want this to be entry after entry about how that has affected me, I don’t write. I don’t write despite knowing I need to write.
So, for now, I’ll just do a bit of a brain dump:
- Thing one: I finished A Tale of Two Cities. I had a hard time finding a groove because of the style of writing. The story itself I enjoyed very much so I know I’ll go back and reread it at some point. I also greatly enjoyed having the chance to discuss the book with someone; so the mini-bookclub was a success in that regard. I realized that while I was aware of the famous first line (It was the best of times…) I wasn’t attributing another famous line to this story. When I read the last line (It is a far, far better thing that I do…) I gasped and thought, “Oh! That is from this book?!?” I know know exactly why I find that note worthy and yet I do. Next up for the mini-bookclub is Atlas Shrugged. It’s one of those books that people reference a lot (especially lately) but that I can’t speak to having never read it. From the little I know about the book the reading and discussion should be interesting.
I am so close to being done with the cross stitch project that I intend to give to my mother on Mother’s Day. I’m generally happy with the way it’s come out. It has been a few years since I worked on a project this big (it’s an 8x11 cross stitch) so it’s given me ample time to become aware of the short cuts I take. I imagine that may improve if I stick with the plan of stitching on a more regular basis. Though I don’t want to impose such a tight deadline on myself for anything else. Getting this done for May has meant putting aside other activities and that’s definitely not a sustainable way to live my life.
Hmm. I thought I had a third thing but maybe the beginning of this entry was thing number one. This will do for now.
Sunday, March 27, 2016
After reading a blog post on Bookriot about reading rules I started thinking about mine.
- Never dog ear a book. I tend to not use bookmarks and if I do, it’s something thin, like a receipt or even a square of tissue.
- Related to the above, if the book is new, I endeavor to not break the spine. For quick reads, it appeals to me to be done with a book and still have it look good as new.
- That said, if a book requires thought and time to finish and understand, having it gently show wear also appeals to me.
- I like to have more than one book going at the same time. They have to be of different topics so it’s easy to keep track of each book’s progress. I move between books as the moods strikes but inevitably one book will rise above the rest and compel me to devote my time to only it. I let the stories tell me how to read.
- I’ve tried to get into reading books on the Kindle but I find that I still prefer reading paper books best. Although I’ve been reading A Tale of Two Cities on the Kindle, progress is so slow. I blame the ability to be distracted so easily. No matter how engrossed I think I am in a story, when I hear a ding or feel the buzz of the phone in my hand, I am pulled away to check emails or make a move on a game. I wish I were better able to ignore the notifications but that seems to only happen when I’m holding a paper book in my hands.
- If it’s a series, I have to read the books in order.
- I try to end at a chapter but that’s sometimes difficult if I’ve read long into the night and have to admit that sleep is more necessary than getting to the end of a chapter.
- At some point in a story, I find the need to know the ending. I don’t fight this; sometimes all I need to do is read the last page, sometimes it’s the last chapter. Only once has this actually ruined a book for me. Knowing how a book ends detracts not one bit from wanting to know how it got to that ending.
- No marginalia on quick reads. But I do make rare exceptions on school books, history/philosophy books, etc. Basically any books that I a) intend on keeping and b) require significant thought to understand.
- Unless I am sure that I will be reading the book multiple times, I gift/donate the book so that others can enjoy it.
I think those cover my rules. Though it does feel as if I’m missing something. I’ll add to it if I remember anything. So, the question now is, do you have any reading rules?
Friday, February 26, 2016
I have memories of being an avid reader so despite the fact that my reading levels have gone down steadily for several years now, I still think of myself as being an avid reader. I still love books. I still collect them despite putting myself on a book buying ban back in 2007. It was necessary, really. It wasn’t uncommon for me to buy a dozen books a month and simply put them on the shelf, to be read later. As a consequence, I’ve built a nice diverse personal library. This I consider an accomplishment and it pains me that the bulk of my books have been in storage for three years. I yearn for the day when I am once again surrounded by my books.
When I moved in with friends and was once again living in limited space I carefully chose 30-40 books that I swore would tide me over until I would be on my own again and reunited with my library. Of course, the bulk of those 30-40 books have gone unread as I’ve purchased more books. Due to the limited living quarters, however, I have delved deeper into the e-book market (though I don’t much like it. I do it simply for the convenience. A convenience that I actually dislike and resent so go figure.)
I lost the point of the post immediately after the first two sentences, I believe so let’s get back to it. Despite believing myself to be an avid reader, my reading levels have gone down. So, to do something about it, I convinced a friend to read A Tale of Two Cities with me. Believing that if I had a deadline and a promise of a book discussion I would be more dedicated to the reading.
This would have been, I still contend, a solid plan had I not decided to work on a cross stitching project for Mother’s Day.
As quick background, during the last two trips to El Salvador, I have completed a small, quick cross stitching project for a favored aunt. My mother, while appreciating that I am doing something nice for someone she cares for, has also expressed mild jealousy over the fact that I’ve never done something similar for her.
Still riding the nice mellow high of completing a project, making something pretty that someone really enjoyed, when we came back from our vacation this January, I had the brilliant though of starting a new project and why not kill two birds with one stone and make something for my mother in time for the May observance. But what to stitch for her, I wondered.
I quickly considered and rejected various themes and then I realized something religious would do the trick. Thankfully, Amazon came to the rescue with a cross stitch kit of Our Lady of Guadalupe who she has tremendous appreciation of. Perfect! I though, she’s going to love this. Or so the theory goes and I certainly hope I’m right or I’m going to be ridiculously disappointed.
So what does one have to do with the other you ask? Or maybe you’re not asking and you know exactly where I’m going with this.
The 8.5x11 cross stitch work has been taking up the bulk of my time and, honestly, also my interest. While I have started the book, I’m no where near close to being finished with it and the book discussion is this coming Monday. Trouble! I’m going to have to focus on the book over the weekend, a fact that leaves me wishing I didn’t have to because I want to really only focus on the cross stitch. Leading me to the title of the post, at first I found myself thinking, I wish I had more hours in the day so I could focus on different things, the reality of it is that I would probably still only focus those hours on the cross stitch project. I’m that obsessed with it right now. This is a good thing however. Because I’ve made great progress on it and I have no doubt that I’ll finish it way before the May deadline.
Because I’ve enjoyed working on this so much I’ve been thinking I should get back into the habit of doing one or two projects a year but if I do that, I’m going to need to figure out how to balance out the work because I can’t continue to ignore other things (such as focusing on exercise, reading, photography) simply to churn out cross stitching projects.
Monday, February 01, 2016
I expected to like Carrie Fisher’s book, Postcards from the Edge, because I enjoyed the movie. Though I haven’t seen it in a while scenes from the movie, lines, the tone in which those lines were delivered often pop into my head. (“It twirled up!”)
To my surprise I didn’t care for the book. So much so that I felt guilty and out of touch. I’m supposed to like this, I thought. Where or when this was message was picked up by me I do not know. With trepidation I opened a Gchat window and sent a message to Miss Bliss, “is it wrong,” I asked, “that I don’t like postcards from the edge?” After explaining why - seems too self indulgent, too pithy, I didn’t care for any of the main characters etc - I decided to absolve myself from the senseless guilt and just let it be. Though this is where I perhaps express some delight in not having a library card. Ha! There’s no card to strip me off, library mafia! That is a thing, yes? Oh, why am I asking? As if anyone would admit it.
After the chat, I thought I was done thinking about the book but I was wrong. As I finished my dinner from a fast food place it hit me. The main reason why this book troubles me. In my chat with Bliss I mentioned that the description of Suzanne’s therapy sessions was the reason I chose to not become a therapist. The idea of sitting day after day listening to people analyze their lives and yet make no progress- I wasn’t built for that! How dreadful, I thought then and I still think that now.
But with the smell of the burger and fries still lingering in the air, the grease sitting heavy in my stomach, I thought, “That’s me. I’m Suzanne.” Mind you, this is no grand epiphany. I’ve had probably every thought one can have about food and dieting, fat and exercise in the oh 40-some years of living in this world as a fat person.
No, the epiphany was that I didn’t dislike the book for the writing, the unlikable characters, the overly pithy dialogue. I disliked it for something Ms. Fisher can’t control. Her book was a mirror and the reflection I saw is of something I say I want to change and yet I haven’t found the strength to do so. Much like Suzanne keeps gravitating to men who don’t fill the void she’s feeling, I keep choosing food that does nothing but leave me feeling weak, out of control and undisciplined. I’m the person on the couch, year after year, boring the therapist with my overly indulgent thoughts as to why I make these choices, rationalizing them, and still not capable of just stopping.
As a psychology major I believe we work our good and bad habits for a reason. What I can’t or won’t admit to myself is exactly what I get from staying fat. It isn’t a love of food. Oh, do I wish it were that. At least if that were the case I would have enjoyed getting this fat.
So, these are things I’m pondering. I also wonder if I should go back to Goodreads to revise the three star rating I gave the book. I’m not sure yet.
The only thing I’m sure about is that I’m feeling good that I went to the gym and did 40 minutes on the treadmill. I didn’t make great food choices today and the one gym session won’t undo all the calories I took in but it was one good decision. And for now one good decision will have to do.