Tag Archives: reading

A Good Book and a Big Cup of Tea

There’s nothing quite like being so wrapped up in a book that you feel emotionally let down when it ends, when the last page has been read and you’re cut off from the life of those characters going forward. You’re sad, but at the same time, you feel satisfied—full from the experience, if only for a little while.

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That’s why I’m a weirdo and end up delaying the inevitable, saving the last few pages for some other time when a) I feel a bit more prepared to move on or b) I have another book waiting in the wings.

Yes, I will actually walk away from a book for a week or so—even if I only have a few pages left—because I don’t want it to end.

But it doesn’t just stop with that, my friends, as I take it one step further.

Money is an issue, which makes the fact that I have the attention span of a manic gnat slightly helpful because I can re-read things I read a couple years ago and find new details that I missed, but I will splurge every couple of months or so on something new.

And although I look forward to having one or two books I can read, I then get stressed out because I am suddenly overwhelmed with quality reading material. It’s like I go from famine to feast and I feel the need to go on a bender and read everything, just because it’s there, or stash it away for those times when I have nothing new.

It’s been like this since the beginning.

As a kid I was the one who read all the time—when we were driving, watching TV, waiting in line somewhere—and going to the store to get a few more books was a reward that I always looked forward to.

And Book It? I was the Queen with my little purple button full of stars to indicate books read and personal Pizza Hut pan pizzas earned.

Of course I went through that adolescent phase were books were replaced with New Kids on the Block cassette tapes and multiple viewings of “Clueless” followed by college years that often required so much studying that any “fun” reading was out of the question.

But I eventually came back to books—a way to distract myself, to escape from the reality of my world and instead get absorbed in the reality of somebody else, if only for a little while.

There are times I think about getting an e-reader — I do appreciate how they get more people to read — but I like the feel of a book in my hands, being able to mark the pages that really stood out and then finding those notes when I read it again in the future. I like the anticipation of an Amazon package arriving in the mail, and as odd as it sounds, I like being able to actually turn the pages myself…until I get to that last page.

Sigh.

All of this could be avoided if my favorite authors would just continually write sequels and ensure that I will always have quality material waiting for me when I finish something up, or at least provide Facebook updates on what the characters are doing now.

But regardless, the ups and downs—the anticipation of starting to read something new, the resignation when that book is read—are worth it. Reading is something that molds you and adds to your character because you often take a little bit of something from every character you meet.

Foe me,  C.S. Lewis said it best:

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”

The End.

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Why I’m Glad I Grew Up When I Did

Children of the ’80s and early ’90s had to endure the mental anguish of trying to manually untwist the insides of  a cassette tape, but all in all, I look back and think we were pretty damn lucky.

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Now: Pinterest and “vision boards”

Then: A bulletin board filled with color-coordinated push pins, pictures of teen heartthrobs, quotes created from random cutout letters that end up looking more like white trash ransom notes and school pictures of friends that perfectly captured their awkwardness. Speaking of which…

Now: Selfies (for the record, I have never taken a “selfie”)

Then: Cameras. People took pictures when something special happened, not when they ate breakfast. As kids, school picture day was a big deal with the most important decision being what “laser”-color background you wanted. You couldn’t wait to get the free black plastic comb so you could bend that sucker back and forth a few times until it got hot and brand the kid next to you with a touch.

And the anticipation of getting a roll of film developed really can’t be overstated.

Now: Jeggings and skinny jeans

Then: Stirrup pants and stonewashed jeans. Pants today are basically tights, which were something I loathed when forced to wear. Stirrup pants—they’ll stay in place forever!—and stonewashed jeans—they’ll hide any wear and tear!—were designed for function much more than fashion.

Now: Blogs

Then: Diaries, and god save anyone who tried to pick the flimsy lock and read the drama of trying to decide what color rubber bands to get in your braces. Thoughts were private and you didn’t WANT to share every detail of your day, mostly because like pictures taken of yourself in the bathroom—see above—you were aware that no one would care.

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Now: Politically correct “holiday” parties with “refreshments” from Costco or Whole Foods in which there is no trace of sugar, peanuts, lactose, gluten or fun.

Then: Actual Halloween/Valentine’s Day parties with room mothers who would bring in homemade goodies and roller skating parties with a “couples” skate when pre-teens with sweaty hands would shuffle across the rink together with Boyz II Men playing in the background.

Now: Reality TV

Then: The only real slime on TV came from “Double Dare” and we had actual TV shows with actors and a real TGIF lineup. I’m talking about Full House, The Cosby Show, Family Matters and Alf, that smart-mouthed, cat-murdering alien we loved.

Now: Smartphones and texting

Then: Landlines and notes. I remember dragging the cord into my room to have what I’m sure was a very important discussion about Punky Brewster or zits. Instead of texting and getting instantly rejected, we were forced to actually write notes, those of which an inordinate amount of time was spent folding into a specific shape for delivery.

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Plus, we knew how to spell and how to write—even cursive. OMG. LOL.

Now: Ecards

Then: Because computers were huge monstrosities with a four-color screen, use was relegated to games of Junior Jeopardy or Oregon Trail. While we eventually got Print Shop to make birthday cards and banners, hours were spent cutting out construction paper to create our own cards with scented markers we had to resist the urge to lick.

Also, the joy of getting a card in the mail also can’t be overstated.

Now: Kindles and iPads

Then: Scholastic book orders, Book-It and the smell of library book pages illicitly dog-eared and worn. It was fun to wait for the order or go to the store. True, Book-It rewarded kids for reading with a free personal pan pizza full of grease and devoid of veggies, but we all lived to tell—and read—the tale.

Plus unlike a Kindle, books don’t break when you drop them.

Now: Instant gratification

Then: Patience

Okay, maybe not patience, but we had to wait for our favorite songs to play on the radio, stand in a line without checking a phone and make up games or Mad Libs on car trips instead of watching a DVD on an iPad. We kept ourselves busy by creating things instead of relying on something else to keep us busy.

True, it might have involved law jarts and hypercolor T-shirts—Sweaty armpits? Show them off with your heat-sensitive teal shirt and hot pink pit stains!—but at least no one could take a picture on their phone and share it on Twitter.

Ugh, like, gag me with a spoon.

I’m glad I grew up when I did.

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Getting a Busy Signal

I’ve recently rediscovered my love for reading books. My love of reading isn’t anything new, but allowing myself unlimited “free” time to sit on the deck to read whenever I can instead of trying to do a million other things instead is.

It’s no longer a guilty pleasure, but rather simply a pleasure.

It’s a relative shift in thinking for me. I used to feel guilty, like I should be spending that time doing something work or blog-related that would garner an external result of some sort.

Why?

Because almost everyone I know is busy. They feel anxious and guilty when they aren’t working or doing something to promote their work. Bloggers talk about “taking things to the next level,” working on widgets, book signings, business cards, spending hours on various social networks, reading, writing, commenting, sharing, creating new tabs for their blogs, etc.

If that’s your job, that makes sense, but I just can’t keep up. And to be honest, I really don’t want to.

My job has me in front of a computer all day. I don’t love it, but it pays the bills, I work my butt off and I’m lucky I have it. And while I love blogging most of the time, it isn’t my job and I know that I’ll never be “big.” I know that as hard as I work, I’ll most likely never “make it to the next level” without devoting hours to doing the things that I’ve mentioned above.

Now don’t get me wrong…

I’m a very hard worker and would spend a million hours working towards “making it” if I thought doing all of those things was the key, but I’m not sure that it is. Why? Talent only gets you so far. There is only one Bloggess, and the market for those looking to recreate that magic is diluted with writers that have time and money to spend in an effort to build up their brand.

I do not.

What I do have are decent ideas, a couple books that barely paid for themselves, a laptop I have basic knowledge of and a fairly constant insecurity that a) what I do isn’t good enough b) confusion over what does become “popular” and c) a desire to hang it all up and let everyone else duke it out.

Because, oh yeah, there’s that whole depression/OCD thing to add in there, too.

And unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury to pick and choose when and where I work. Some days are great, and other days leaving the house simply sounds like hard work—but I have no choice.

What I tend to forget is that I do have in choice in how I spend the rest of my time. And sometimes I get caught up in the hype and forget I’m not the girl who is comfortable promoting herself or trying to appeal to a sponsor or some “higher up.”

I’m the girl who rambles and has her head in a book (when it’s not up her ass) and the game on TV with some snacks. I write because I want to share things, not because I need to have those things shared.

So I guess it’s a conscious decision to choose time and simple pleasures over the pursuit of  “more, more, more.” It’s a decision to always work hard and look for new opportunities, but to be content with where I am, whether it’s on the deck with a book or on Twitter spewing one-liners.

It’s remembering that the best investment of my limited time is to spend it doing the things that I want when I can and ignoring the things that might chip away at that contentment.

True, I might miss “making it to the next level,” but I won’t miss feeling like I’ve missed the moments worth writing about. And if I plan things right, I also won’t miss the ballgame.

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So Many Issues, So Little Time

I love magazines.

Given my profession, I should rephrase that. I love magazines that I don’t have to write or edit in their entirety.

And although I love a good book,  I also love magazines.

Considering my attention span, that comes as no surprise. They are a very non-committal endeavor in that I don’t have to dedicate large chunks of time to enjoy them. A column here, a two-page spread there, visuals to draw me in and feed me bits and pieces of information with bright pretty colors and fun fonts. Aside from being peppered with rogue subscription cards as I flip through, what’s not to love?

Being the eternal realistic optimist, I have found something not to love.

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All of these issues arrived on the same exact day.

While that might not have an effect on a less neurotic individual, we are dealing with me here. I subscribe to the four magazines above and also ESPN the Mag—it comes every two weeks instead of monthly. What that means is that a few days into a new month, I am suddenly overwhelmed with quality reading material.

It’s like I go from famine to feast and I suddenly feel the need to go on a bender and read everything, just because it’s there.

Each month I contemplate the option of rationing the issues out, but then I run the risk of rendering a timely story irrelevant.  (More with the sports magazines on this one, although it would be upsetting to be the last to know about anew use for an old thing if the old thing could be used in a new way relevant to my current situation.)

So I set them all on the table in my kitchen in no particular order and tell myself I will flip through them when I can, when the spirit moves me. This is much easier to accomplish when it’s warm out, as I can take a cup of tea and sit on my deck.

But in the winter, it’s more difficult. I will sometimes go to the gym and sit on a bike (going nowhere despite my enthusiastic pedaling) for 30 mins, driven much more by the desire to burn through the pages of the latest issue than to feel the burn.

I’ll get through one or two of the magazines within a week, but then I’ll start to feel like I should “save” the rest for a bit. What I’m saving it for I have no idea. I just don’t want to read the last one and then be without a magazine option.

What inevitably happens it that two weeks will go by and I’ll realize that I still haven’t read the latest issue of the one I was “saving.” It’s not that I didn’t have the time, but rather that I didn’t have the attention span—or the magazine got buried underneath a pile of other things thrown on the “throw all your crap here” table.

Sigh…

I told you I have issues.