I love my future hometown of Henderson, and my future home city of Las Vegas, but I am not a gambler. I walk by craps and roulette tables, only pausing to watch the roulette wheel spin, because I like watching things spin. A few Vegas trips ago, my family and I were at New York-New York, and I blanched at finding $10 minimum blackjack tables. The most gambling you will find me doing there is sitting in front of a penny slot machine, playing one line at a time, not even hoping that that one line will turn into a jackpot a few times. I do it for a kind of unique meditation. I sit there, I watch the reels spin, I think about my life, my writing, what I want to write next, basically everything. And there's a total calm that comes over me. Vegas does not move as fast as TV and movies try to portray it. It does allow for moments like mine.
Instead, I gamble with books. Ever since my local library closed to transfer over to be controlled by the City of Santa Clarita and therefore be fobbed off onto a corporate outfit from the east coast, I've had no reason to go back. I don't want to sign up for a new card, I don't want to face a drastically reduced selection of books, which still is at about 250,000+, I'm sure, but when my library was part of the County of Los Angeles library system, there was much more room for discovery, such as when I found the works of Charles Bukowski and he became one of my favorites. Plus, even back when the library had closed in June, we were hoping to move to Las Vegas, and even though we're still waiting, I'm not going to start anything new there anyway because with luck, it would be a short time of use anyway.
I thank every known deity in this instance for abebooks.com, which has sellers all across the country with used books at hand, and therefore cheap prices and cheap shipping, sometimes free, although the $3.99 with free shipping usually means that it was $1 for the book and $2.99 for shipping, both factored in together. And I need books. It's how I live. So I started with the list of Amazon links I have to books I've been interested in, and ordered those which grabbed me right away. And then this collection grew and grew, and now my room looks like a library of sorts. I have a permanent collection of a little over 50 books, which will move with me when we move. I am not going to give up these books. The other books are tentative, based on how I feel about them after I've read them. Would I go back to these books like I do with my permanent collection? Would they provide me with continual inspiration? Those weren't my reasons for buying all these books. I wanted a steady stream of words to keep me nourished each day. I thrive on really good books. When I get deep into one, like I did with The Lost Recipe of Happiness by Barbara O'Neal, which I finished after lunch, my heart swells, making me feel like I could be pulled up into the air, free to float and fly around in pure happiness. I live for those stretches of time when nothing else in the world is around but me and a wonderful book in my hands.
And so I gamble again, now with a novel called My Hollywood by Mona Simpson, about the immigrant women who work for various Hollywood families. It's very slowgoing, hard to find a part of this story to settle into. The story of the main nanny, Lola, is interesting, but there's no spark, nothing in this world that I can settle into. I'm on page 50, and I'll give it about 30-50 more pages and see if anything takes. But if not, there are more books. It is the kind of gambling I like, after all.