It's the end of the summer, and the reason I know this is that I spent the day at work, getting ready--fixing my website, working on syllabi, creating a new teaching blog, thinking about all the things I haven't done that I thought I would have done.
In this self-assessment mode, I note for the record that I spend a shocking amount of time reading material that by its very definition passes away quickly. Newspapers, magazines. (I save lots of it, too, but that's another syndrome.) Also television, which is another mode of consumption, equally ephemeral (though I tend to re-view things, the video version of saving clippings and articles, probably.)
As a result of buying a DVD set (Invader Zim, second season, v. funny, for my son) at Media Play, we became proud subscribers of both Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly for some odd period of time--five months, maybe? Talk about a waste of paper, both of them. If you added together all the interesting, worthwhile articles in both publications for the subscription period, you'd probably have one fat issue--call it The Best of Entertainment Illustrated. Yet faithfully, weekly, I would read EW (actually, SI is only readable for me during b-ball season).
My daughter left yesterday to go up to college. [wistful silence.] As she was packing up, an old issue of EW surfaced, one with the crazy, post-Oprah couch-jumping Tom Cruise on it. I found myself reading it, thinking that perhaps I hadn't--but I had, and that's just how ephemeral it is. It treads so lightly on the brain that I couldn't even remember having encountered it--yet I allowed myself to spend my time on it. Twice.
In contrast, when my husband and I were in Idaho a couple of weeks ago, I finally finished Mao II and read a whole nother novel, My Russian, by Diedre McNamer. I also read in another book, Arts of Living, by Kurt Spellmeyer. I felt myself sinking into another kind of thinking. It's not like I didn't know this would happen--I hoped it would--but I find myself in my regular life anxiously living in the shallows and at the ready, like I'm waiting for a call that I'd better not miss.