Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Self-Destructive Reader, Part 2: The Root of My Discontent

(This is a picture of Walden Pond that I found online. It's one of my favorite places ever and this is just about what it looked like the first time I saw it. I am also now a firm believer in including some sort of audio or visual something or other in all of my posts, but since I can't find my camera cord, I'll have to make do with other people's pictures. Anyway...)

Perhaps I avoid classics because as a student I was compelled—nay, commanded—to read things like Ulysses and Moll Flanders and The Canterbury Tales in middle English; The truth is I am a true escapist at heart and do not immediately gravitate towards really hard subjects. 

Hmm. The problem with being an escapist is that the escape is always temporary, and the thrill momentary. When the chapter or book (or movie) is over, I am forced to open my eyes to my own life again. I should clarify that my life isn’t by any means bad. It’s just that sometimes I feel like it’s a little…colorless. My real life doesn’t follow the rules of narrative. There is not always tension to make things interesting. And when there is tension, it isn’t interesting; it’s just tense and crappy. Every once in a very infrequent while, my life presents me with something so beautiful and romantic it takes my breath away. Usually, it doesn’t.

These days especially, I find myself wishing my life would follow the same kind of trajectory that good narrative does. (Having just taken a fiction composition class, I am very much aware of story and how it works.) I wish I could say that something really interesting is definitely in store—a promise that all compelling literature makes. I think it would be cool, for example, if my life had a soundtrack that other people could hear. But mostly, I just wish I knew where all of this waiting and wishing and mindless toiling was headed. I wish I could take a step back from my life and read it like a book, knowing all along that all the loose ends will be tied up in the most satisfactory way possible. Or at least in the most interesting way possible. 

The Self-Destructive Reader, Part One: Elizabeth Gaskell

I am what is known as a “self destructive reader.” When I get into a book, the rest of my life is put on hold. Eating even ceases to be a priority, to say nothing of sleeping; I become irritated when interrupted; I forget to do other somewhat important graduate. About a week ago I finished watching the BBC miniseries North & South for the first time, and found it so fantastic, I checked out the book the next day. I then became so absorbed that I was almost late to my own graduation. A good book in my hands is a dangerous thing. To me, mostly.

Now, I am a sucker for a good romance. I love Georgette Heyer; I love Jane Austen. But I sometimes surprise myself by enjoying stories of, shall we say, greater substance—stories that are not just romance. So blown away was I by North & South’s combination of poignant social commentary and smoldering romantic tension, I couldn’t believe I’d never even heard of Elizabeth Gaskell before. I often make a point of telling people that I am no great reader of the classics. But after this, my latest voluntary dip into Classics, I can only ask myself why am I not? These books are classics for a reason…so why do I avoid them so? Can I not learn something from them, as a writer and as a human being? 

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Two cellphones and three years later...

...I finally learned how to use predictive text, today! This revolutionizes the whole way i think about AND use the text messaging mechanism on my cellular phone! I have been living in the Stone Age! I've been in Darkness! Positively Medeaval have been my texting ways!

But now...

Now! I need no longer fear receiving or responding to text messages! No longer need I fear the small beep of an incoming text message! No longer need I dread the 7 and 9 keys for having four letters! No lngr nd I wrt lke ths! ltrs wer nevr so wndrfl! Indeed! The dread of responding has been lifted from my shoulders! Lifted, I say!

Life! i have been given life! Now, my text messaging takes flight!