For now, in Santa Clarita, I spend as much time as I can reading, which during the week means large stretches of the afternoon given over to it. And I read with no expectation of doing anything else, doing anything better, because this is better. This is best.
Throughout this afternoon, I read from page 33 to the end of Thinking Out Loud by Anna Quindlen, a collection of her columns. I love newspaper column writers because the great ones teach you about succinctness, of packaging all your thoughts about any topic into a short number of words. Blogs don't have the limit that newspaper space does, but I don't like to pontificate for 182 paragraphs when far fewer will do. 180. Maybe.
In fact, my favorite aspect of my writing is knowing when to stop, an instinct honed from beginning to write when I was 11, all the way through to working at The Signal for two years, and beyond that to today, just as a voracious reader. Whenever I write anything here, it starts from an idea that pops to mind during the day that I just have to put into a lot of words. Then I start, and eventually, I get to that point where I think I've done all I can for that certain topic. The 10 floors of the Fairmont Hotel in Newport Beach (http://scrapsofliteracy.blogspot.com/2011/01/ghosts-grow-larger.html) require more than recounting weekend errands.
In the case of reading Thinking Out Loud, many things were going through my mind, first that Quindlen has a huge heart and an innate understanding of people. Real people. Not politicos who claim to have solutions that turn out only to suit them. Not famous people who are as far removed from daily life as a polar bear is from outer space. You and me and the babies that have changed Quindlen's life and outlook, for example, as well as columns about politics and the human faces of abortion, not just conjecture, and sweet columns about her children.
I also thought about other books I have that I want to read, such as that which I received today, including Supreme Conflict: The Inside Story of the Struggle for Control of the United States Supreme Court by Jan Crawford Greenburg, a biography of legendary film critic Pauline Kael by Brian Kellow, and Second Lives: A Journey Through Virtual Worlds by Tim Guest, about those who live in and for computer-generated environments. I will never run out of anything to read, and this makes me the happiest over anything else in my life, although the attempts to be published for a second time and hopefully so on always compete with that.
Most of all, I just sat there on the couch, deeply satisfied at where I was and what I was doing (It comes with feeling like you're floating a bit, even though you're just sitting). I was reading a book, a particularly good one. That's all I needed. These are my ideal afternoons.