Can you believe that there are actually people out there who don’t read? I don’t mean someone like Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham, whose candid admission that she’s never read a book in her life (which apparently includes her own “autobiography”) sparked a minor scandal about a year ago. Rather, I’m referring to ordinary folk like you and me and the guy over there on the park bench staring off into space.
I see it a lot at the library, where at least half a dozen times a day, someone will come up to the Circulation Desk to apply for a new card, saying something to the effect of, “I haven’t used mine in, like, years.” Really? Years? As in 365 days times x? Like, wow. What do people do when they’re sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office? On a plane during a transcontinental (or, God forbid, a transoceanic) flight? Do these people just go straight to bed without ever cracking open a book? Do they attempt to strike up a conversation with their fellow passenger on the plane/train/bus?
I’m always intrigued by people who sit through an entire flight (whether it’s a thirty-minute flight or a sixteen-hour long haul) and not read at all. I mean, they may flip through the in-flight magazine and glance at a few of the photos, but after a few minutes they’ll tuck it back into the seat pocket, settle back, and just, well, stare into space. For hours.
That would drive me in-freakin’-sane.
I carry at least one book with me everywhere, and sometimes a magazine or two as well. B. teases me about my obsessive need to read (I have to read! I have to catch up with the remembrance of the past! — Oskar Werner as Montag, Fahrenheit 451) and sometimes wonders aloud if I would, in the event of a fire, attempt to save my books first instead of him. I read magazines at the grocery checkout line, skim a few pages during workbreaks, and am incapable of falling asleep without reading for at least fifteen minutes before bed. If it’s a really good book, I’m up till dawn. And of course, my first choice of employment when forced to seek it was at the local library. Second choice was at Borders, whether as a bookseller or barista. These books are my family. — Ibid.
Went to an energy expo at the local convention center today for an article I’m writing. In my former life as a developer in the renewable energy biz, I attended several of these business-to-business extravaganzas and always loved the energy (no pun intended) and glitz in those massive exhibit halls. Today’s was quite a bit more subdued than the national conferences, largely because it was limited to the local community and the fact that the event itself was only in its 2nd year.
It’s difficult to write about a conference, not to mention photograph it, because of the sheer size of the event, the number of people who attend, and the limited space in which to move around once it gets into full swing. I did get to befriend Alex, a native from Siberia who works as a sales manager by day and indulges his passion for photography the rest of the time. Always great to meet a fellow creative type. And I felt a twinge of nostalgia for the days when I used to barnstorm dusty west Texas in search of suitable land for wind development. I wouldn’t trade the life I have now for that busy, no-time-for-writing-ever existence, but the experience was nonetheless unforgettable, and I just know that the characters I met while on the road will make one hell of a novel someday.
Speaking of… Great article in the March issue of Poets & Writers on the struggle to write while holding down a day job. Unfortunately, it’s not posted on the Web site, but if you can hightail it down to your local Borders or Barnes & Noble, it’s well worth the trip.