Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Regaining My Equilibrium, But Still Lopsided

Nine hours of sleep through the night, and I was back to my old self after a long day yesterday of walking nearly constantly, partly for my job, but mostly for exercise. Because having the opportunity to be a substitute campus supervisor, and have all that time when the kids are in class, I want to get as much weight off as I can. It doesn't help when I don't have work the following day, though. John, the head campus supervisor was back today, a little worse for wear as I heard (He had been out sick), and so I was home. I was hoping for more days this month as the holidays approached, and maybe that will happen on Friday. I'll get the call Thursday night, get my lunch ready, my books, and happily head off to La Mesa with my dad, in pursuit of another most welcome paycheck. And if not, hopefully what's left of next week before the holiday.

Getting my equilibrium back entailed two unusual dreams. One was walking around this massive candy store and finding this container that was filled with what looked like Oreos with part of their tops broken off and various other chocolate and candy crumbles. I thought it was what might have been deemed unusuable by whoever had made the candy, but it turned out to have been what had been chewed on and spit out by people sampling the candy. Yeah. Disgusting.

The second dream involved this narrow bookstore in which Senator John Kerry was there, for what reason I don't know. I was excited to see all the books available and saw a darkened part of the bookstore further away and snuck over there to see what was there that no one else looked at since they were so busy looking at the accessible shelves. I also wanted to ask Kerry who he thought would win the next presidential election, but I didn't get the chance. Too much of a swarm of people around, though not necessarily for Kerry.

I spent the day devouring The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain, with brief stops to have lunch and get the mail. In one piece, Bourdain gushes over chef Gabrielle Hamilton, imploring her to write a book, saying that she'd make him look like a manicurist. This was 2006, her Blood, Bones & Butter came out this past March, and because of what I had read, I ordered it, $13 price be damned. I don't normally order books that are $13, but this seemed like an important exception to make.

I also had a long think, not entirely about Nina, the girl from yesterday behind the returns and exchanges counter at Walmart Supercenter (Meridith told me earlier tonight that she texted her, but hasn't heard back yet). I've been going back and forth on whether I really want someone in my life.

My favorite Supreme Court justice is David Souter, who retired in June 2009. He always struck me as a fair jurist, and not long after he retired and rushed right back home to his beloved New Hampshire, he moved out of his family farm and into a house that could stand the weight of the thousands of books he owns, which the farmhouse couldn't. He retired because he wanted to get back to his reading. He's always been a bachelor.

Is that me? Do I want what Souter has? I don't intend to emulate Souter throughout my life and certainly I have a personality far different from his. For example, he's a reserved soul, whereas I'm slightly more outgoing. Get me into a good conversation about books and my enthusiasm can be stunning.

Today was not only a good day because of The Nasty Bits. The mail came and I found one of two packages I was waiting for from Amazon, this one containing Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life by Ann Beattie. Beattie researched the life of First Lady Pat Nixon through many sources, and imagined what she might have said at various events from which she could find no records, and what she might have felt. There was an excerpt of this in an issue of "The New Yorker" in which the final Nixon family photo was being taken in the White House before Nixon left office, and it was all from Pat Nixon's perspective. This is not only what made me pre-order this book, but also what made me seek out more about Ann Beattie, ordering her first novel, Chilly Scenes of Winter, and the paperback edition of The New Yorker Stories, a vast collection of the stories she's written for "The New Yorker" for 30+ years.

I will never run out of books to read. I will never run out of books to be excited about. For this month, there's also the second volume of Stephen Sondheim's lyrics from 1981-2011, with observations by him on his career and the people he worked with and his thoughts while creating these many masterpieces. I have the first volume, of course, and am psyched about this one, especially to read about what he contributed to Dick Tracy.

And I'm also excited about Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: The Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella. I'd read Scottoline's previous two books of very funny essays and I love her and her daughter's easygoing style. I wasn't going to wait until eventually reaching a library in Henderson to read this one.

Then I have to wait until April for new novels from Sarah Pekkanen and Barbara O'Neal, whose The Secret of Everything made me want to know so much more about New Mexico, and want to go there one day.

While The X Factor was on tonight and I ignored it like I always do, I kept sneaking glances at Mrs. Nixon: A Novelist Imagines a Life. Finally, I had a book I'd been waiting for, that I looked up on Amazon at least every other day, always checking the release date, always wishing for it to come faster. Here it was. The possibilities that I had felt after reading that excerpt could become a much grander form with this book. All I have to do is open it and find out.

Then before I logged on to write all this, I spotted Maps and Legends by Michael Chabon in a stack on the dining room table, and decided it was finally time to read it. Once I start Mrs. Nixon, no other book will matter, but I'll save this one for after.

My reading list keeps growing every day. I know I'll never read every single book that was ever published, and probably won't accomplish all of my reading list, but I have books I want to read and that's what gets me out of bed every day, well, that and working to be published again and again. Is that enough for me?

I go back and forth on this all the time, and maybe it's just where I am right now, sitting here in Saugus, not yet in Nevada, not able to be aware yet of all there is to do there, all there is to see. Maybe there'll be someone for me there, someone who meets my non-negotiable requirement of being a bibliophile, loving books so deeply that they could not imagine a day without them. But again, my reading list. Having someone in my life means less time for books. Or I could be looking at it wrong. Having a female bibliophile in my life could enrich my reading list and my life, could steer me toward books I'd never even heard of. I'd hopefully have the discussions I'd like to have, because I am the only bibliophile in this house. My sister reads, and so does my dad, but not often because of work, and then, not as many books as I read.

Souter or not? I don't know. I think it's best to not have a fixed view about this. Las Vegas is not the kind of city to be so sure about something. To live behind that glimmering gold of the desert would remind me every day to stay open to whatever may come. Plus, I did like that burst-of-light feeling in my heart when Nina smiled slightly at me. I'm secure enough with myself not to take every glance from a woman as a sign that there may be something more. Other glances I've received, I know it wasn't that. But it felt like that this time, felt like something more. For a moment at least, before falling back into the pushme-pullyou line of thought about this, I wanted that kind of smile all the time.

That's the thing: I don't feel that great pull that other people do in wanting to find someone. It's a slight tug, and it only happens once in a while. It seems like if I find someone, ok, but if not, that's ok too.

I'll just let this keep flowing as I always have. Everything else in my life, job, writing, reading, has a plan, including when I write here (Whenever I'm in the mood), so there should be one part without one.