I am sorry I haven’t been around for a few days. I have been in Canada. In the 1960’s. In fact, part of me is still there because I am about 200 pages from the end of the way the crow flies, by Ann-Marie MacDonald. I could say a lot about the book, the author’s amazing use of language and the way she gets so completely inside the heads of her characters and her reader, but until I get to the very end, I hesitate to say more about it. So I am going to stick with a little problem I have: gluttony. Yes, yes, gluttony with chocolate, gluttony with TV marathons of Dr. Who and Project Runway, but our topic here today is book gluttony. I own stacks of books I haven’t read, and my (barnes & noble) nook is loaded with many more. Even with all those waiting for me, I still seek out bookstores and the library (LOVE the library!) for more, more, more. But that isn’t the real problem. The real problem is that I always start a book thinking that I am a normal person who can read a few chapters, decide if I like it, set it aside and get stuff done, then return to it if I like it enough. I am not a normal person. Even a pretty disappointing book can pull me from my real life and bury me. I am the nut without insight who thinks, “Just a few pages, what can be the harm?” until my husband comes home eight hours later to find me mortified with the lunch AND the breakfast dishes still strewn about, no idea of dinner, and quite possibly still in my jammies. To avoid this happening, I turn to evening reading, which all too frequently becomes reading into the wee hours, which results the next day in sluggish reflexes, sluggish thinking, and probably more dishes on the counter. I am a binge reader, able to go days, even a week or more without a book, but once one is opened I’m a goner. Even if I can force myself to put a marker between the pages and attempt to interact with my family, it is a sham. It might look like I am there, talking, cooking, helping build a deck, but that is just a shell in my clothing, walking around with the minimum consciousness needed to function. The rest of my brain is a dog straining against the leash, panting to get back to that intoxicating word-kibble. I try to justify my habit. I claim that carefully reading a variety of works helps me to become a better writer and I believe this is true. I just don’t think that all of the reading I get swept away with is helpful. Some of it is utter crap. I have a good life–strike that–I have a great life. Why my great life doesn’t tether me more tightly than a half-assed plot and a handful of two-dimensional characters is a great mystery to me. It hints of a character flaw. So in the interest of continuous self-improvement, I am determined to leave my unfinished book where it is until the errands have been run, the to-do list completed, the job boards have been scanned and dinner and dishes taken care of. But my thoughts creep back to the protagonist…Focus! Eye on the prize! Except this book isn’t crap at all, in fact reading it might make me a better person…Shake it off! You can do this! Right. Yes. I can do this and it will be better for all involved. I can become a better person by reading later. Now, I need to become a better person by not reading. My name is Lynnette and I am a Bibliomaniac. Thank you for listening and wish me luck.
I have spent more time driving in nasty traffic the last two days than I have in years. I can’t be in stop-and-go traffic for more than a few minutes without thinking of a Dr. Who episode (okay, I am a major sci-fi geek) where there is a ring of traffic circling a city– for years–waiting for the ramps to open so they can enter a new and better life. The drivers and passengers live their lives in their little space RV’s, receiving automated messages from the city apologizing for the delays in opening the ramps. Actually, everyone in the city is dead and the ramps were closed to prevent the pathogen or whatever from spreading, and there is no one left to open the ramps now that the danger has passed, but the drivers don’t know that and the story is about how insanely optimistic they all are despite the evidence. I can’t decide if that is a British thing or a human thing.
When I am on the road I have a good view of the world from the cab of my F-150. I enjoy checking out the logos on the vans and the interesting loads the trucks carry (really, what was that?) I am fascinated by the behind the wheel behavior of other drivers: the gestures and the acceleration, the bold use of the road’s shoulders and the seemingly magical way some drivers can insinuate their vehicles into gaps half the size of their cars. I make up stories about what is going on around me. One car moves past me in the next lane in a hurry, then inexplicably slows and keeps pace with another car a bit ahead. Is the first driver slowing to answer a call or is there something spectacularly eye-catching about the vehicle it is pacing? Perhaps that driver has an elaborate blue hair-do, or is masked and mustachioed? Maybe the two are long separated lovers who have encountered each other by chance on the interstate at 70 mph. Eventually the first car speeds off and I move up alongside the slower vehicle. Nope, nothing particularly interesting there. Ah well.
I make my way using my lovely Nav (see post below) to find alternate routes around the more epic delays where traffic is stopped for miles. I wonder what is going on in those driver’s minds. I doubt if they are feeling insanely optimistic, but no one seems to be shooting anyone else or driving off the bridge. It is summer in Minnesota and we all cope in our own way with the fact that there is only so much time to get the roadwork done before the snow falls again. At least we can be sure that someone would tell us if ALL the ramps were closed. Right?