dawnswann

Posts Tagged ‘Life’

Book Fetish

In books on June 15, 2011 at 3:50 pm

*editors note: this post was originally written a few weeks ago on the way to the race at Whip City. Before you ask for the make and model of my car, I was in the passenger seat. But for the record, it’s a lime green 1970 hemi ‘cuda.** in the post to follow I allude to my book hoarding issue as being my only real compulsion. That’s a lie. I also get an assignment with a two month timeframe and wait until the week before the deadline to even call a source. (ok. AND I’m a hyper vigilant hypochondriac. And sometimes I lie. But this isn’t Dr. Phil, people.)the point is, I haven’t posted this post because I’ve been busy un-bleeping the ripples of all of last week’s almost missed deadlines. But it’s a good thing i didn’t because I had a really good idea…

I am lucky enough to be alive in a time when every action, whether noble or perverse, can be ascribed to a psychological condition. If you do something bizarre that you would rather not take credit for, all you have to do is blame your condition. I’m not trivializing these issues either. I’m just pointing out the convenience of being fluent in them. And it’s nice to all be in the same boat. The other day I was out to lunch with two of my dearest friends, Sandi and Alterna-mommy. (AM) Sandi was updating us on the progress of someone else’s OCD.

“Shit,” I said. “show me someone who doesn’t have OCD.”

My friends looked wounded.

“I don’t,” they each said.

“Sandi, you clean and paint your house all day long. AM, you frame all your jewelry and hang it on the wall. OCD, my friends. You’ve got it. And I hoard books. So there. We’re all crazy.”

Then we did some eating in silence. I envisioned my books. When I say I have at least a thousand, probably more, I am not even dipping my toes into the river of hyperbole. Our house is roughly 2,000 square feet, counting the garage. That means at least one book for every other square foot. My family lives in a used book store. We laugh at the library and the Internet when we need to research a paper.

Since Scott does not like to read unless it’s something that’s been posted on Craig’s List, sometimes he makes little sighing noises when a stack of books restricts his movement in some way. I tolerate the sighing, but when he escalates into suggestions that I donate a portion of my collection to the trash can, I kindly draw his attention back to the 25 bicycles that occupy the garage. We are all crazy.

Who cares about rooting around for the source of my crazy? I love to read and I will never quit. If I go blind, I’ll learn Braille. I loved to smoke and I quit doing that for all the loudmouths in the world like my doctor. A little complaining wont make me get rid of my books.

I’m certain, though, that I inherited book hoarding from my parents. When my father died, I also inherited his lifetime collection. He was an engineer and a computer geek. I donated most of the books, like the ones with titles I couldn’t even sound out, to the book box at the elementary school. Most of the espionage books went to Paul at Annies Bookstop in return for a lifetime worth of credit. But I kept the library books he forgot to return in 1957. I kept the books he read out loud to me like The Neverending Story, The Once and Future King and Pet Semetary. And I kept the ones that looked well loved. The ones he must have read between weekend visitations or during all the years we didn’t talk.

One day, Sandi was over marveling at the quantity of books. “Dawn, if you drop dead tomorrow, no one is going to know which you really loved because there are so many,” she said. That’s true. What if someone throws away my copy of The Phantom Tollbooth without thinking about how it kept me company when I changed schools in the 3rd grade? Of course, another psychological condition, narcissism, leads us to believe that anyone would even care. But I would have loved to know which my dad liked better: the dog eared Asminov or the dog eared copy of 2001.

Which leads me to my good idea! I’m starting a quest to weed my books down to the ones I love. That means cookbooks, self help books, and outdated how to build your own farm/robot/computer books as well as paperback novels. I’m going to read them all. If I don’t love them after 34 pages (I know, harsh.) I’m going to give them away or leave them somewhere for somebody else to love. It will be like a treasure hunt! And then, I will be left with the treasures.

So, let the games begin. I began with Frankenstein. Not the one by Shelley. The one by Koontz. I love Dean Koontz because once I sent him fan mail and his dog wrote me a letter back. She even signed it with her paw. And now I get a monthly newsletter from him. My dad loved Koontz too. There are a billion paperbacks in my collection. But Frankenstein will leave me later on today or tomorrow when I am finished with it. I will leave it somewhere secret and mysterious so that somebody can stumble upon it and say, “oh look, a book! The universe must want me to read it.” so, it’s not like I’m trying to cure my hoarding issue or anything. But I’m happy to share. Oh, and Scott? You’re welcome.

**a complete lie. It’s actually a rust colored Bentley convertible.

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Just Sittin Here Watchin the Wheels

In Life Lessons on April 5, 2011 at 4:45 pm

I have two friends who are, right now, this instant, fighting for their lives. Well, one is technically not a friend of mine but the friend of a friend. But we do wave in carpool and occasionally say hi. We have several past get-togethers in common too.

She has cancer. You can read about her here. She’s a brilliant writer.

The other is an old friend from high school who I lost touch with only to be re-connected on Facebook. I remember about a year ago I saw her in Starbucks. She was wearing tiny shorts and a tank top and looked like what a fitness model would aspire to be. I was wearing sweatpants, a sweatshirt, a ball cap, hadn’t showered yet and was trying to hide behind the unidentifiable stains on the front of my shirt.

Right now she is unconscious on life support. She has been for a while. She has some infection that no one can fix. She’s only 34.

God – I feel for them and their families.

Though I write for a Jewish newspaper and look like a Muslim in my FB profile pic, I’m generally Catholic.  Its Easter season. I can’t help but think about life. I spent this past weekend thinking about life and how much of my allotted sentence has already gone by.

I don’t want to let it go. I LIKE it. I want more of it. I want to slow it down and hoard it like I’m on A&E.

One of my favorite bloggers ever likes to make exhaustive lists about things. Following his lead, I’ve made an exhaustive list of how I can slow down my own life a little bit. If you think of any other ways, please let me know.

1)      Get more rest. I know this seems counterintuitive since sleep takes up the precious time in which I could be LIVING. But getting enough sleep helps concentration and concentration helps awareness and therefore it’s imperative.

2)      Limit the amount of to-do’s in a day. I’m really considering hiring an India based company so I can outsource the things I don’t want to do. I already outsource chores like emptying the dishwasher and putting away the laundry and taking out the trash to the people I gave birth to. But I think I could get some more to-do’s knocked off if somebody in India would order my groceries, make my appointments, keep track of my tax deductions and so on. Until then, I’m going to cut things out.

 Scott says that he puts three big-ticket items on his to do list each day. That way they all get done and he can take the time to do his best. I like that idea. Unresolved lists stress me out.

However, lists also clear up my mind so I don’t have to think about what to do. It’s a careful balance. Three things it shall be, in addition to the many other things the house requires. Today, for me, it’s this blog, a chapter in my novel and my homework that is due tonight. I am almost done.

3)      Make walking a mediation. My poor dog can walk and pee at the same time. I think I should leave my iPod at home and be fully engaged in my walks with her. At least I should let her squat to pee. I’m always in such a hurry when I get out and walk.

4)      Spend more time listening. Especially to the people who empty the dishwasher, take out the trash and put away the laundry. I think that listening without thinking about what I need to do or what to say next is probably a Jedi mind trick. Therefore, it’s worthwhile.

5)      Play Board Games. Instead of computer games or Wii games. They are slower and more interactive.

6)      Don’t go to Chain Stores on the Weekend. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before, but living in the suburbs creeps me the hell out a lot of the time. Especially on Saturday. It’s like “Night of the Living Dead” and Target is calling us all to the Mothership. Kids sports games creep me out too. What a strange beast, this culture of the suburbs. Oh, I just noticed that the root word of “culture” is “cult.” Being out and about in the suburbs on the weekend makes me want to:  a. rush back home and b. rush to beat everybody else to the parking spot. I just don’t want to rush anymore. I want to BE with the people I love.

7)      Learn how to sit with myself. I want to learn how to be present in the moment. Everyone always says that. I want to learn how to encapsulate my days so I don’t have to worry about all the other days. I want to calm my monkey mind. When I’m walking, I want to walk. When I’m cooking, I want to cook. When I’m writing, I want to write. I want to use all my senses and be fully engaged in the world as its happening.

8)      Spend more time in nature. Of course, this gets easier as the weather gets better. This past weekend I was raking acorns. It’s a hopeless task. But it made me feel so peaceful.  I Felt like I had tapped into the speed of the world and it was right. Sometimes I go too fast and give myself anxiety and other times I go to slow and lie on the couch eating popcorn. But being outside makes me feel like Goldilocks. In other words, it’s just right.

9)      Speaking of Acorns…I think it’s helpful to have a long project that you know you won’t finish. That way, you aren’t in a rush to do so. The good thing about raking acorns is that by the time I get them all raked, the oak trees will drop more.

Maybe these are shallow thoughts in light of the opening paragraph of this post.  Fighting for your life is no joke at all. But, you know, I don’t think fighting life is too funny either. I think about that old John Lennon song, the one about the watching the wheels go round and round.  I don’t want to be on the wheel anymore.