To Read, Perchance to Redeem Myself
Sunday morning on the couch in my pajama bottoms, a Go Korea soccer tee-shirt that C bought me when he went there, and a purple yoga hoodie. The 30-year old furnace growls comfortingly yet I leech heat from the dog and cup after cup of select herbal teas. I listen to the steady rain, random drips of water into the kitchen sink, and the clocks here and in my office, ticking. If I’m not careful, I will fall asleep.
It is a perfect day for staying home and reading. Nothing but—though it can be to ourselves or each other—especially not driving back to Wal-Mart to return the Toy Story DVD we bought yesterday for my nephew for Christmas but which, it turns out, my sister had forgotten to tell me she’d already bought. The alternative title she gave me, when I finally gritted my teeth and asked for one, was Mickey’s Christmas Carol. I gritted my teeth harder, because that was precisely what I’d picked up and walked about with for several minutes before buying instead what was on my nephew’s list. The only copy of Mickey’s Christmas Carol, in that zoo of a store. I chastise myself: Trust your instincts. Next time, do what your self tells you.
This brings me to reading, which my self tells me I want to and should do every day, instead of being on the computer. The first thing I did this morning on opening my eyes was finally not get out of bed for work but pick up one of the books I’m reading, Martha Baillie’s The Incident Report, which I haven’t touched, not on purpose, since the day I read 40 pages at lunch time at the store and then bought it. That was weeks ago.
I want to keep reading but I’d also like to review Yellowknife, by Steve Zipp, because I finished it at least a week ago. I finished a book! Yes. It’s been worrying me that I have turned into that person who reads and tweets and facebooks and blogs about books but never reads them. It’s been bothering me that a person who loves to read more than anything in the world chooses rather to stare at a monitor than make time for a book, except while brushing her teeth or right before she falls asleep after midnight. It doesn’t make sense and it reminds me of my childhood, teenage, and even university days, when I dropped everything for a book, for escape, for the utter appreciation of skillfully crafted stories and essays. Those memories make me want to weep over the loss of the old me. Suddenly, it’s as though my reading life, and all the books I read in all the places I read—under the Lone Tree on our ten acres, wedged between shelves and counter in the library where my mom worked, on the bed, on the floor, in the van, in the bath, waiting in lines, on the bus, on the train, on the couch, by the woodstove, etc.—are determined to flash before me. If this could happen as I’m dying, instead of the typical life that flashes before your eyes, I’d be okay with that. But with my luck and the way I’ve been behaving, it will be all the books I meant to read but didn’t that show themselves.
I know that Steve Zipp, the author who sent me his book, the author who has been supremely patient waiting for me to read it and then review it, will be okay if I don’t review his book today. He told me there was no rush. I think he means this, because if I were an author, I wouldn’t want to rush a writer, or a reviewer. More than anything, I’d want the person to settle down to review when she was relaxed and in a reviewing mood. That way everyone benefits.
So I think I’ll read. I think for the first time in months, perhaps even years, I’ll do only that, all day. I am home, for once, and thus able to hear the rain on the roof for hours, watch a strange fog patch drift by like smoke, able to sit by the lit Christmas tree, able to think I’ll be free from unexpected visits since the heavy rain is dangerously icy and this is a storm, which the WeatherEye in my toolbar tells me is “right on track.”
There are many reasons one reads. And when I put those reasons together with time I didn’t even have to carve out of a tightly squeezing, wrenching, grasping day but which the universe seems finally to have conspired to give me, and when the feeling that I could read right through The Incident Report and through Breakfast at the Exit Cafe and then through the entire ridiculous, though of course incomplete, “immediate pile” threatening to kill me as I sleep, I think I should listen to what my self is telling me: read. Read to redeem yourself. Read while you still can.