Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Purusing Stacks of Pages Bound, and other thoughts

Capturing Thought

When I'm not sitting at a desk and there is no keyboard under my fingers, sentences will bubble up in my brain that are so eloquent and welcoming. I'll rattle them off silently to myself, feeling the clicks of my tongue on my teeth and hearing the rhythm of each syllable while I feel the words bind together. From thoughts to shapes that are letters, to those letters becoming words, to their conglomeration like little trains on white pages; I watch my ideas gather and appear from a foggy nothingness that is my mind pre-inspiration. When I am driving my car I get the most inspiration met with the greatest frustration because I can never, ever record these ideas. I'll get out my voice recorder app on my phone and try to capture my thoughts this way, but it never feels right. Sometimes words feel safer as silent thoughts meant only for paper [or, in our case, screen] before, if ever, they become spoken things. Sometimes thoughts sink and drown in mid-air like that, like creatures of the ocean floor if the world was flipped over and the water stayed put but the fangtooth fish fell into the open endless sky and gulped desperately, fatally.

I will seek then a place and time where I can find myself between keyboard and brain, no other priorities calling for me, so that then I can make sense of the bubbling, gurgling thoughts, ideas, sentences, relentless. But writing is not like riding a bike and it doesn't come back to you by instinct. It is more like a piano, where you try and warm up with scales and even then they sound dreadful, discouraging you from returning. It is the faithful, hopeful, determined ones who will ever find solace in the pushing pushing pushing that must take place when your closest friend is Wrighters Bloque, a guy you met in high school and got really close to when you ran into him at a party a few years later in college. But even then, the pushing pushing isn't always fruitful. Sometimes it's still disheartening. Yet I carry forth.


Facebook has mutilated the good intentions of xanga. In the early 00s, Xanga was king. Though it was a short time before Myspace overtook his rule, the years of Xanga's reign are some of the most memorable of my early years of the double-digit-ages. Rather than a few sentence blurbs here and there, mostly about what annoys us/what we're eating/what we're doing tonight, it seemed that, at least in my circle, the people who blogged had something of worth to say, and said it. In those days there were goosebumps of excitement when your best friend had written something new. What happened to that? And furthermore, what happened to having best friends? Nowadays, though the friends I have I love, I find that my closest friends are only what then, only 5 to 10 years past, I would have called acquaintances. I miss the intimacy of see-you-every-day friends. Of sleepovers and secrets and talking on the phone for hours. In those precious years, we spent our free time coming up with something that would impress the ones we love and now it seems, unfortunately so, that we come up with ways to fill our schedules and obliterate free time. Our agendas and resumes are all that can impress now. The last point to this thought is that perhaps the trade off from having best friends is having significant romantic relationships. All the things I used to do with my sister-like bff's is what I do daily with my boyfriend now. Hours on the phone, inside jokes, sleepovers. and 'of course' is always the answer to 'wanna hang out?'

Purusing Stacks of Pages Bound

So far this year I have read five books--2 nonfic and 3 novels. Last year I read a total of fifteen books. One of those was a memoir and one was The Idiot's Guide to Personal Finance. My goal last year was to read 12 books/1 book a month. It was effortless. This year I decided I would challenge myself to the pace of 2 books a month (the idea is 1fic/1non per month). I've allowed myself to of course read as many as I want per month so long as I stay on track (allowing for the busyness of academia to take center stage and back burner as they will). There is so much pressure involved in choosing the next book. Last year I read the first 7 (of 40) books in Robert B Parker's Spenser novels, so pretty much every other book was an RBP mystery. I am currently waiting on the next Spenser novel to arrive at the library so I can get started on it, and I've already checked out the ninth one in anticipation of quickly swallowing them both whole. That's just how it is with Parker and Spense. But what to read until then? What fills the void?

I dropped by the library today here in Oconee as I felt a familiar tug that told me I needed so badly to get my nose in another book. I finished a nearly four hundred page novel this week, Whatever You Love, by Louise Doughty, in a matter of days. It was spring break, so that partially attributes to how I slammed through a book that fast. But it was also a fantastic read. It pulled me in the moment I took in the first few pages sitting in a giant, overly stuffed sofa chair at the library by my new house two Sundays ago. I knew immediately that it would be an emotional read, and it was. Some books I have read where at the closing of the last page, the book-ends going parallel once more in finale, I have clutched the book at my chest and wept. (This happened last year when I read Julie Buxbaum's two works, After You and Opposite of Love.) It's not so much that the story was sad, as much as I'm so terribly mournful that I shall never encounter the characters again. Even if I did... it would not be in the same way. It would be in the repetition of reading the book a second time. I may see deeper truths in them that can only be seen the second time around, but I will never know new things of their future. I won't know how their hopes and dreams came to fruition. That is such a tragedy to me when the characters become such a huge part of my time and thoughts, for however many days or weeks they're there.

Today then as I walked through the tall, dusty isles of the Watkinsville library, I was overwhelmed by the decision that was upon me. What would I read next? My thoughts slowed and my breathing became paced, also slow. I was careful like I was walking the isles of doves that may swoop away into the sky should I make sudden motion. I flipped through dozens of pages, scanning and analyzing. I tested the thickness of pages with my fingertips, and judged countless books by their covers. One of my biggest fears is finding a book that I think I will love and then turn out to hate. The excitement of a new world squashed by the reality of my own flaws--if I'm uninterested, I just won't be able to finish the book, no matter how many reviews declare its wonder. I also get a little panicky at the library. I notice my biases. I realize that I just don't like reading certain types of books, and it makes me self-conscious. I judge myself for walking past books more than two inches thick, or disregarding books that have been written by any author whose name is bigger than the title or has written more than two shelves worth of books (Parker is the only exception, because his stories were referred to me by a trusted fellow-reader and friend). I want to challenge myself to go outside my own comfort zone. For some reason, I just can't force it. The right book will always find me when the time is right.

Then there it is. My stack. Two novels and one Spenser. I carry them hopefully to the counter and exit the building, coddling them like babies to my chest, anticipating my futures with each of them uniquely. There is something lovely about libraries to which bookstores may never hold a candle: the shared experience of a loaned book. I love dog-eared pages, illegal underlines, and especially, food stains. That someone else once sat and loved this book, not just this story and its words but the physical pages themselves, just as I will, is a truth that will forever make me fall in love with loaning and borrowing books. I own a Kindle and I have no idea where it is. Libraries for life.

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