Tuesday, November 13, 2018

oh, the places you'll never go, the things you'll never read

I long ago admitted to myself that I'm not a big traveler.  Short weekend trips, the occasional few days in New Orleans (my second favorite city), a week in Rockford, these are really about as much as I'm willing to do.  I have vague ideas that a cross-country route 66 road trip might be a blast one day, but I imagine it is far more fun in my head than it would be in practice.  I spend so much time daily away from home, that the rest of the time I want to be, well, you know, home. Travel also makes me anxious--not only the details involved in organizing a trip, but also money concerns, general anxieties about new, unfamiliar places. (one of the reasons I make exceptions for NOLA was that it is now, after a couple visits, very familiar).  I also don't like to leave my cats for too long, even with a caretaker.  I am the queen of the staycation, though even these are in short supply when, even if I am not at the library, I really should be at the studio.

My parents, as well, were not really big travelers--there were many weekends camping in Wisconsin during summer, but most of our trips were short, daytrips to Milwaukee or Lake Geneva, to Galena or Dubuque. We went to Florida a few times and drove the whole way.  In recent years, I've gone with them to visit my aunt down in Gulfport, to San Antonio for a wedding. I've drug them to Atlanta with me for a couple of writing-related jaunts.  I traveled alone by train out to Seattle for AWP a few years back and that was about a week.   But longer trips are  few and far between.  I am super anxious about flying as well and haven't done so since college, so most of my traveling is land-bound, which never allowed for much jetsetting.  I am totally okay with not having seen Paris or Greece or Japan in person or never leaving the contiguous 48 states (hell, most times I don't leave my zip code.) 

Books are another thing I realize I will never get a handle on, and though I realized it early, it still makes me anxious.  All the books I'll no doubt ever read--some of course that I have no interest in, but others I want to read and mean to get to.  Or don't even know about but would love    Poetry is bad enough, but other genres as well. I have entire shelves of books at home, probably about 75 percent read, but another quarter purchases I haven't got to. When I cleaned my poetry shelves out a few years ago, I found books still in plastic wrappers picked up at AWP 2007.  I was not surprised.  In addition to purchases, there is also a whole library of things beckoning, and with ILL, unlimited possibilities.  Right now, next to my desk at work, there are three shelves of things checked out that I plan to get to, but haven't yet taken home to read.  Some that have possibly been there a couple years that I just keep renewing.  Poetry collections, memoirs on taxidermy, book arts manuals, a couple novels. I'm pretty sure there are a couple trashy YA dystopian novels that are seriously overdue through ILL that I don't want to send back without reading.

I read fiction mostly on the bus and occasionally on weekends (usually sprawled out on my bed.)  Much of my daily reading is chapbook manuscripts (either in curating the series or proofing upcoming chaps.)  I consider this 'work reading' as opposed to 'leisure reading' but poetry sometimes straddles these lines since I am always reading with a poets eye. I read a lot of online content, poetry and articles. Even still, new books come out every day--new fiction, new poetry--and sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed at all that I may never get to. Some things I am totally okay with never having read.  My adventures with ULYSSES in my early 20's mostly involved me checking out the book, using it as a coaster, and returning it to the tiny public library unread.  I've never read Proust, or Tolstoy (I have a copy of ANNA KARENINA, but have never been moved to crack it open.)  It was one of many books that I started collecting in college--mostly snagged cheap in B&N bargain bin back when bookstores were the only source for titles. I bought a lot of mid-list and remaindered novels, some of which were pretty good. Most of which are still sitting on my living room fiction shelves, but that I probably won't read again.

Years ago, to stem the tide, I placed an embargo on buying novels--any fiction I want to read had to come from (and return back) to the Library.  Poetry purchases are another set of shelves and  were of course allowed, but they had to be something from a favorite author, friends, or something I'd already confirmed by reading it previously thatI really wanted to own.   But still the books pile up--and keep piling up, faster than I can possibly read them. Currently on the trunk that doubles as my coffee table, there are about a half dozen novels that I started and mean to get back to, but have not--the sequel to Miss Peregrines...the final volume of the Pure Trilogy.  That novel about Zelda Fitzgerald.  All of these I was enjoying, but somehow got distractedd from--by life, by something shinier, by Netflix.  Eventually I will get back to them.  Eventually.

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