Monthly Archives: October 2013

Sunday-Stunned

“It was Sunday afternoon, never a good time for me, especially in winter. Old sorrows visit me then, and shabby old guilts, and a restlessness born of scattered Sunday papers, cold coffee, overheated dens, unmade beds, too long in the house, and the sure and certain knowledge of a weekend frittered away and Monday morning looming. . . . I know that Sunday afternoon can be fought, with long walks, cooking something French, or just getting out of the house, but the effort even to dress is enervating. Nevertheless, if my husband and I are both exceedingly Sunday-stunned and in imminent danger of having a fight out of sheer boredom, I will consent to go, gracelessly, to a movie.”
John Chancellor Makes Me Cry, Anne Rivers Siddons

I have a tendency to get Sunday-stunned. So do some of my friends. One friend’s husband called me in desperation on a gray afternoon, begging me to come up with an activity that would take her off his hands. He was sort of kidding, but he was right that outside intervention is usually needed in order to become un-stunned.

Even dogs feel it sometimes. In Garth Stein’s charming dog-narrated novel The Art of Racing in the Rain, furry wannabe-human Enzo gets bogged down in dog life until a fluke occurrence turns things around:

I wallowed in the emptiness of my lonely days. . . . Until one day when a fortunate accident happened that changed my life. Denny turned on the TV in the morning to check the weather report, and he forgot to turn the TV off.

Let me tell you this: The Weather Channel is not about weather; it is about the world! It is about how weather affects us all, our entire global economy, health, happiness, spirit. . . . Absolutely fascinating.

Now, I’m not advocating TV as the solution, though Enzo does use it to educate himself:

I tried to teach myself to read by studying Sesame Street, but it didn’t work. I achieved a degree of literacy, and I can still tell the difference between “pull” and “push” on a door, but after I figured out the shapes and letters, I couldn’t grasp which sounds each letter made and why.

Right about now, you may be thinking Do I really want to read a book about what a dog is thinking? The answer is a resounding Yes. I adored this book. It’s smart, funny, and full of love. This idea caught my attention: “Any problems that may occur have ultimately been caused by you, because you are responsible for where you are and what you are doing there.”

Is that really true? I guess if I’m in a bad situation and choose not to do anything about it, my problem becomes my fault. Or rather, the lack of problem-solving is my fault. The world is full of endless possibilities, so why do we hide and worry instead of taking action?

Hmm, so if I’m grumpy and lazy and haven’t done the breakfast dishes, it’s probably up to me to get going and do something with my day. But really I’d rather just read. . .

 

P.S. I went swimming instead. Just as good for the soul but more refreshing after being cooped up all day.

But It’s Not Really A Book

My friend the automated-library-lady called the other day to say I had three requested items available for pickup – an unheard of delight, even for someone with a never-ending list of requested items. (Number 95 in line for 5 copies? No problem!) Off I went to retrieve my prized paper friends, only to find that one of them was an audiobook. Hmmm. Do I want an audiobook?

One of the great pleasures of reading is setting the scene. Cozying up with a slightly rumpled paperback. Window seat. Afternoon sun. Mug of tea. Or even more idyllic, let Alexander Maksik and You Deserve Nothing take you along for this early morning read in Paris:

I crossed the bridge and stopped to watch the sunrise over the dull industrial buildings to the east. I walked up Boulevard Henri IV until I came to the Place de la Bastille and took a table at the Café Francais. Waiters were still arranging chairs when I sat down. The wind was very cold. I ordered a crème and a croissant. The waiter didn’t speak. The coffee and milk came in separate pitchers, both scalding hot, and the croissant was still warm. I hadn’t eaten since lunch the day before. I ate very fast and then, remembering Silver, poured the coffee and milk very slowly.

The first thing I thought after my hunger had subsided and the coffee began to brighten me was that he’d approve. He’d like that I was sitting there alone, so early in the morning, paying such careful attention to simple, beautiful things. Paris morning, coffee, milk, pitcher.

Ah, Paris. I’m pretty sure my new 9-disc box set and my laptop would ruin that moment.

What do you do with your eyes when you’re listening to a book? Look at the screen? Stare into space? Can you get lost in a book the same way Maksik’s young Gilad does?

I read the way you read when you’re young. I believed that everything had been written for me, that what I saw, felt, learned, was discovery all my own. I read for hours without rest.

When I looked up, it was nearing eleven. I ordered an omelette and another coffee. The café had begun to fill. I was surprised to find people around me, reading newspapers, chatting. I was part of that place, part of that moment, one Saturday morning.

My long-awaited book is apparently a gripping thriller, a real page-turner. So what happens if I want to listen faster? At least I won’t be able to cheat and flip ahead a few pages to see what happens.

I don’t know why I’m resisting so much. Having someone read to me could end up being my new favourite thing.

Ok, here I go. Pressing play.