Friday, May 27, 2016

Continuity

I arrived exceptionally early to the airport this evening, due to a combination of Memorial Day weekend traffic paranoia and some TSA understaffing drama, which fortunately were both non-issues, but it gave me a chance to peruse around the bookstore for longer than usual, which I love.

I can typically spend hours reading the backs of books and puttering, although the chance to do so doesn't come up too often. And tonight here it was, but I spent nearly all the time I had contemplating one thing. Steig Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy is hands down the greatest thing I've ever read. Each individual book on its own and the series together; I've never been so entranced by a story or characters. Lisbeth is the most intoxicating character I've ever come to find in fiction, and I'll admit, I was a little behind when I started reading them, unaware that their beyond-brilliant author was already gone, and there would never be another part of the series.

Again, very behind on all-things Lisbeth, I'd completely missed the news that someone would be picking up (or trying to) where Larsson left off. And here it was, the fourth book in the series, years later. My first thought when I realized what it was was total excitement. And then, so many other things. How gutsy. How dangerous. How potentially disappointing. Writing a novel is complicated enough without writing someone else's novel. One that already has so many complex characters, so many fans, so many plot lines.

So the contemplation, although I knew I would buy it, was, do I dare? If it's a disappointment, will I regret it? Not for the money or the wasted time but, the way a sequel can ruin the original for you when it's done wrong, will this crush my love for these stories?

It's a bit dramatic, yes, and like I said, I knew the second I saw it I would buy it. I couldn't step away knowing there's a next part to the story. And I've done no research yet to find out who the author is. I'm curious if he's spoken publicly about his decision to write it. Did he know Larsson personally? If he did, does that make the decision easier or more complicated? Was he a writer of crime fiction before? A writer before? A lover of this series?

All the confidence in the world couldn't make me continue a book I had that much love for that was started by another person. No matter how much you think you know, you can never get inside the writer's head, dead or alive. You'll never know what was intended for the characters. What additional back-stories the author had that weren't included in their entirety in the stories.

Then there's an entire other issue of tone and language, but who knows, maybe that's easier to mimic.

Boarding the plane, book in hand, expecting the best and the worst. I've never nerded out so hard. He was just so goddamn talented.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Remember boredom?

Something occurred to me today out of seemingly nowhere: I can't remember the last time I was bored. I was walking toward the bus stop that would take me home from another long day of work, and I was thinking about how my to-do list will never be over. Not my work to-do list, not my home to-do list. There are weeks that I make good dents and there are weeks that I lag or that more things than usual get piled on, but even if I had one productive week after another, I can't conceive getting to the bottom of those lists.

There are points in my week that I'm doing nothing, sure. Laying on the couch, hypnotized by the TV. But frankly I feel like the downtime is necessary. If all my rebooting time was strictly to sleep, I'd be miserable. I need some mindless goofing off. Both for me and my relationship with boyfriend, CJ. But at no point does the mindlessness last long enough to come close to bored. At some point something in me turns on that says I've had enough nothing and it's time to do something again.

When I try to think back to the last time I was really bored, the kind of bored that makes you want to fling your head back and grunt, I think of summers as a kid. The days when no friends were free to play, no computer existed to kill the time, and TV could only stave off boredom for so long; I can remember pacing around my house, begging my parents for any form of entertainment. Following my mom up and down the aisles of the grocery store because anything was better than sitting in my room, staring at the toys that just didn't do it for me anymore.

Sitting at the bus stop, wondering if I would ever be that bored again, I thought of two things. One, any parent out there with several kids, multiple jobs and a home to take care of would laugh at my idea of being "too busy" for boredom. I admit, my to do list isn't strenuous, really at home or work.

The second thing was, is there a point when that boredom comes back? We assume that the elderly  are bored, and often that's a reasonable assumption; our grandparents seem so happy to have just a moment of our time to talk about anything. It's also probably very situational. My grandmother, who had a garden to tend to and bingo nights and three annoying grandchildren to entertain always seemed to have something going on. It's not fair to say all elderly are bored just like it's not fair to assume everyone's boredom ends at childhood. People often talk right before a career change or significant change in their personal life that they felt like they were muddling along, bored.  I don't doubt that that could one day happen, but I can honestly say I could never describe any point in my day as muddling along.

I found myself on a flight the other day with no book, no TV, no chance of sleep, and I'd done a satisfying-enough amount of work that I didn't feel the need to pull my computer out. I knew I had hours left, and yet no "what now?" moment came. I loved that I had this excuse to do nothing. To sit, wide awake, looking at nothing in particular, letting my mind wander. It seems there are so few chances to do that these days.

Maybe in a few years from now I'll be at home with a child, ready to pull my hair out of my head after months on end with little adult interaction, cursing at myself for what I'm feeling now: a sense of missing the feeling of boredom. Maybe missing it isn't the right word. I don't know that I ever want to feel bored. Unencumbered, maybe. Weightless. Satisfied. Not bored.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Long live the streak

I have the ultimate test coming up; I'm three quarters of the way through this book on creating and keeping habits and I'm pretty confident I have a good grasp on this (this particular habit being avoiding grains and sugar altogether) and I have a press trip for work this week. It's not just difficult to turn down what you're being served on a work trip; it's rather rude. You're there to experience the area, and that includes their customs and what they're known for. So if you're visiting the bread and beer capital, guess what?

So I don't plan on staying on this awesome cold turkey streak while traveling, because it isn't realistic, but I can still decline eating desserts with every meal, and--here's the toughest part--get up early enough to get a workout in. I've packed a handful of gym clothes on every trip since I was probably 16 and I can count on one hand how many times I've used them while traveling. There's something about a hotel bed after a day of travel that sucks the life and motivation right out of me, but it's another thing I need to become a habit, despite my surroundings.  I'm partially using this blog to hold myself accountable. I doubt I'll be able to update from the road, because the schedule on these trips is nonstop and exhausting, but I will update when I'm home on how well I stuck to my guns. My wannabe habits are in no way habits yet and are therefore super fragile. But I'm so proud (I think impressed is more accurate) with my progress so far that I hate the idea of starting from square one again next week. I'm impressed that these suggestions for implementing change are working as well as they're supposed to. My willpower has been, for as long as I can remember, nonexistent. Suddenly I can talk myself into realizing passing on something isn't the end of the world.

But there will always be press trips. There will always be holidays and vacations. There will always be junk to eat at the office. The entire month of December is a parade of chocolate and sugar.

An arguably more important habit to develop: define a time to blog so that by the time I get around to it, I'm not so exhausted that all I can think about doing is regurgitating this damn book and droning on about eating habits. I must have something more interesting to say...