Saturday, November 3, 2012

furry reading

My cat is CEO of a fur production company, my ceiling fan is the distribution center and I am funding the entire operation. It is safe to say that the only thing in the house that is enhanced by the addition of cat hair is the cat. But still he soldiers on, eating his kibble and growing more orange and white hairs, then shedding them so the fan can do its work. I hate to admit it, but he’s stuck with this same job for almost thirteen years. The longest I’ve ever done the same job is six years, so I suppose I should show some respect.

This morning I resolved to read a book. I haven’t been reading books lately. Instead I’ve been playing Bingo on Facebook and watching television shows and movies that I recorded on my DVR. I am now so accustomed to fast-forwarding through commercials that it is agony to watch anything in real time. If I find myself watching something in real time, my index finger hovers over the fast forward key, itching to move things along. I’ll even hit the pause button when I get to the commercials and go do some task. This sometimes backfires on me if I am flipping back and forth between two shows and I forget I paused one, flip over to the other show, then flip back to find that I missed an entire section of the original show. I want to beat myself in the head with the remote control when that happens, but I can usually restrain myself.

Until a few years ago, I had over 1500 books in my house. I read every day and sometimes well into the night if it was a particularly good read. I enjoyed literature the best, but I could also go for the occasional mystery or suspense or even certain non-fiction.  I’ve often been deeply affected by a book, thinking brand new thoughts or feeling things I hadn’t realized I was feeling, or feeling stupid that I hadn’t known something or noticed something. There are a handful of books that have been life-changing.

But a few years ago, I found myself being transferred by my company for the fifth time in six years. I could not face packing all of those books again. Plus, I would be downsizing from a 3500 square foot house in Memphis to a 950 square foot loft apartment in Philadelphia. Something had to give! So I weeded through all of those books and got rid of all but about 150. I know that sounds horrifying to anyone who loves books! But I was careful to pass my books on to true book lovers.

So, why did I stop reading? I was working incredibly long hours and was exhausted when I got home. Facebook was easier and required less energy and thinking. Computer games allowed me to escape. Television was even better because it required no energy AND it allowed escape. There were lapses in my full stop. After I watched the first season of Game of Thrones on HBO, I immediately bought all of the books and read straight through them all. Fantasy isn’t my preferred genre, but I admit that I loved them. I did the same thing with The Hunger Games trilogy after I heard people talking about the books. Again, SF is not my preferred genre, but they were good, though not nearly as good as the Game of Thrones series.

So anyway, a switch was flipped in my brain this morning and I walked over to the bookshelves to peruse what is left of my collection. I settled on Growing Up in the South, An Anthology of Modern Southern Literature, edited and introduced by Suzanne W. Jones. The first piece is a selection from the autobiography of Harry Crews entitled A Childhood: The Biography of a Place. As I read it, I can feel my brain stretching just a bit. It is out of practice, since it has mostly been focused on Bingo games, television remote controls and a level 71 Undead Hunter named Amathyst. (Yes, the misspelling was intentional.) And I have even taken a break to write this.

Since it is late morning, the sun is shining in the window next to my chair. I can see individual cat hairs occasionally floating through a ray of sunshine. It makes me smile. That production factory may have been in operation for almost thirteen years, but I've been reading for over FIFTY years! Maybe I'm not as much of a flibbertigibbet as I originally thought!

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