Sunday, October 2, 2011

Reading and Writing

A Bedtime Routine
As a child I had great difficulty failing asleep, not unlike my daughter now. Once asleep, I slept long and hard. Eventually, the routine of reading at bedtime eased me from my world to another and then into slumber.

When I got married, I thought I should no longer read at night. After all, I had company to chat with. My husband's idea for winding down at day's end is to watch movies. He is a fan of war movies, westerns, horror films, and lots of other genres. Not the stuff I want to enter into my dreams. Waking up in a cold sweat, feeling the need to flee in my dream from some vague threat, was the morning I asked that we remove the TV from our bedroom.

My preference for reading at bedtime lurked. In our first house, there was only a window sill on my side of the bed- no room for a night table or reading lamp. I had little time for reading anyway between working and finishing my nursing degree. Not long after we moved out west. My husband started his family practice residency and worked thirty-six hour shifts. I started reading at bedtime again even on his off nights. I remember thinking, "I gave up reading in bed for a whole year, and he didn't even notice." When not physically moving, thanks to the long hours of residency, he would fall asleep in the blink of an eye. It was hard for him to notice much. My reading habit, thus reestablished, was never discussed.

Eventually we purchased night tables and lamps. Unhappy with the lamps it took me ten years to get the gumption to replace them. I purchased lamps used in the New York Public Library reading rooms and swooned with satisfaction at the light they put out; my husband's eyes rolled at the price, but he said little. Then two years ago, for a wedding anniversary gift, he gave me an iPad. The marvelous thing about reading on the "widget" or "gizmo" is that it has its own light and minimizes the impact on the sleeping partner. It didn't take long before I realized that I was reading on the widget and attempting to turn pages as if it were a real book. I loved that I could highlight passages and return to them later without cluttering up bookshelves with more and more books. There is also no waiting for the books to arrive in the mail, within minutes, they are downloaded.


A New Passion
I have tried many hobbies such as they are called- baking, gardening, photography, journaling, hiking, yoga, knitting- but none of them has consumed me the way that writing has. Friends would pursue these other activities with a more driven interest producing beautiful sweaters, socks, photos, and yoga poses- one even morphing her passion into a business. I liked those other activities but not the way they did. I felt aimless, I kept trying things.


Making Photo Books
I made a photo book of my daughter's first year of life for her fifth birthday. Having it printed, with a book to show for my efforts, felt satisfying. My son asked, "Where's mine?" I made another. Thinking to find a new project I asked about making a recipe book with photos of my cooking class as a gift to my teacher and her daughters for their assistance in helping this gaijin learn to cook. It wasn't the best cookbook ever, but I liked creating something that would not have existed if not for my efforts. I am at work on another volume.


A Confluence
Between my longing to discuss ideas and books and inspiration from the blogs my friends were keeping, I thought to try writing a blog. Sporadic at first, when I finally committed to writing daily, I found the experience transformative. Whether the reader does remains to be seen, but I am compelled to keep going, to see where it takes me. A statistic displayed by the blog shows that readers are stopping by to read or merely take a look, but it is nice to see the number increase. Occasionally, a friend will post a note or mention an entry, letting me know that they read the blog from time to time. It has encouraged me to try to learn more about the craft of writing in an attempt to write a better story, a better essay. At the moment I feel like I am starting over again, neither good at new ideas or my old ideas of writing. It is feeling a bit bleak, I trudge on, hoping the horizon is around the bend. If I keep typing, if I keep sitting, a story will come.