Fiction

Indulgences that Shouldn’t Be

I never got to the end of Gravity's Rainbow, but I got to witness one late last summer. It's a double. And it ended at a brewery. My life is ironic, for sure.

I never got to the end of Gravity’s Rainbow, but I got to witness one late last summer. It’s a double. And it ended at a brewery. My life is ironic, for sure.

Wow! Where has the time gone? My blog is like my son’s bearded dragon: sorely neglected (more on that in a moment)!

I won’t bore you with the minutia of my life these past couple of months. There’s been a lot on my plate, but that’s pretty much par for my course. However, I did something really strange, different and extraordinary on January 1st: I took a vacation.

And not just any vacation; a proper vacation. Americans are weird. We have more wealth than any other country in the world but we think taking a break away from work for more than a week is the eighth deadly sin (or maybe it’s just Sloth). Basically, we can afford to take time off (those of us with jobs… I fear this argument may be dated all too quickly) but we never do. Even I, these past two weeks (more on that in a moment), worked almost every day. This wasn’t a huge sacrifice on my part, as my daughter is a late riser and I’m the opposite; it was pretty easy to get in four hours of work in the early morning before heading out to the beach.

So, where in the world is The Right Writer? I’ve been in the USVI, specifically five days on St. Thomas and a week on St. John. I chose this place because they were basically giving away airfare in a deal I purchased several months ago. I was very much driven by budget, taking my son out of school for a week as opposed to traveling during the standard holiday period (at three times the cost).

This is the first long vacation we’ve had since I turned a cousin’s wedding in 2010 into an extended trip (that was nine days, including the wedding events). Before that you have to go back to 2007—when the hubby and I were still together—to find an extended vacation that afforded us time to rest and rejuvenate. It feels strange to take an almost-two-weeks off.

Thanks to the Internet, of course, I’ve been able to keep up with all my friends and family. In fact, the woman watching our apartment and critters may have saved our bearded dragon’s life. Norbert (see below) was not doing too well when we left, but the plunging temperatures we thankfully avoided gave him a turn for the worst. Sweet Alexis has been nursing him back to health, and it appears now that he’s getting ready to hibernate. I’m cautiously optimistic that when we get home, he’ll be waiting for my son (and I’m hiring her to teach him how to train his Brooklyn dragon!).

I also caught up with my sister this week, who was surprised that we were still on vacation. She asked me, “So, what are you doing other than eating island food and hanging out at the beach?”

My answer: Reading.

It was such an indulgence to lie around half the day and read a novel. I actually have been reading three books on this trip:

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. The kids and I are reading the Harry Potter series; I’m trying to teach my son to read more critically. We all read a chapter a day and discuss it. Yesterday while hiking out to Reef Bay, I taught my son the meaning of exposition. We plan on getting through all seven books, hopefully this year. And Norbert is the name of Hagrid’s baby dragon in this book, but we’ve not gotten to that chapter yet.
  2. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton. I hope I mentioned earlier this year that I joined my first ever book club, The Long Hard Books Club. I feel that reading these books are akin to playing Sudoku in that the definition of “hard” is somewhat loose. Sudoku puzzles are generally ranked as easy, medium, hard, challenging, and extreme. Well, Moby Dick, the first long hard book we undertook was more like a long challenging book. I was glad to say I had read it more than I enjoyed the process of reading it. Then, we moved on to Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. I got to about page 400 (roughly half way) and decided this was a long extreme book, and I wasn’t having fun reading it at all. I even considered dropping out of the book club, because what’s the point of forcing oneself to read a book. I want to love what I’m reading. Thankfully, the third book chosen is Catton’s tome, which is truly a long hard book, but not overwhelming. Maybe it’s because she’s a woman that she actually wants to you want to read her book. I haven’t finished the first section, but I think I’ll be ready for our next meet up.
  3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Now, I know this book was controversial when it was written, but I thought the author addressed the whole “white privilege” thing pretty well. Also, it was just a super fun beach read (it was here at the vacation house, but I didn’t want to take it home with me because I didn’t have a book to leave in its place). I tore through it in four days.

These are three completely different books in terms of genre and literary merit, but I was able to luxuriate in all of them because I was on vacation. Which made me realize how ridiculous it is that I have to go away to allow myself time to read. I feel that I’m constantly “doing” when I’m at home. I rarely take a break and rest. Even taking a half-hour to exercise each day feels like a waste of time, that I should have better ways to occupy myself (cleaning, teaching my son Russian, working on my novel, finding a better paying job… I haven’t even boarded my plane to get home and I’m already making lists!).

And this blog kinda falls into an indulgence, as well. I don’t mean to let it languish. In fact, I want to use 2014 as a platform building year. But that gets put on the list, too.

However, taking time to rest, to read, to be more healthful in body, mind and spirit… these shouldn’t be under the category of “indulgence.” And that should be a resolution worth keeping.

May this new year bring lots of literature (trashy, sublime and everything in between) into your sphere.

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