Monday mornings have not been easy for me lately. I don't find myself wanting to go to work. Instead, I'd like to stay home all day and do what I feel like doing, which could be reading, could be writing, could be staring out the window, eating. I hope that by the time I get to work, the day doesn't begin as rocky as it did last Monday.
I feel as though I've been experiencing a reading frenzy and it could be the feeling that has always been there but that I've wanted to follow and talk about. When it becomes too full, though, it makes it hard to know where to begin or how to enter the speaking space. I've written about a few of the books that I've been reading, and this is just as much a journal account for myself, as it is to share with whomever is interested. I find safety and comfort in books. Since I haven't always loved books, I have a different sort of appreciation for them. I wasn't always a reader, but once it took hold, it mostly stayed constant. This is my way of remembering my reading self.
My reading journeys this weekend took me back to some books that I had left for later. I settled on a new audio. I began with The Interior Castle and needed to take a break. The image itself of the mind as mansions and the soul entering and embodying leave me wanting to leave it to my imagination. Lately I have preferred the audio book to the radio in the car when I drive to work. I decided to listen to Harold Bloom's How to Read and Why. I love listening to his analysis and his words. It was re-listening to that audio with a clearer focus that brought me back to Russian literature. I have read a few short Russian stories and began a few novels. I found some Kindle freebies and began with the first short story. Once I was at home, still with books on my mind, I decided to revisit The Brother's Karamazov. It was difficult for me to settle on a translation for Kindle. I have the book, but it's bulky and now I'm spoiled by the slenderness and lightness of Mr. Kindle. I found a translation that feels as though it flows and I do pray that it stays true to the original. My intuition tells me it does. I was so thrilled to be able to pick up where I left off and the chapter I bumped into after the first had a familiar name, which I imagine is a common Russian name: Lizaveta. The same name was in the short story I had read: "The Queen of Spades" by Alexsandr Pushkin. As with most short stories, they seem to require more than one reading to fully absorb what is put between those pages. I hear Bloom in my ears talking about the different Russian writers and how they write simply, but don't be fooled by the simplicity he seems to be saying. What I get from what Bloom is saying is that they write what is real and what is true, what they see and feel. But it feels, from what he is saying--or what I am understanding--that they do it in such a way that they don't try; they just do because they bloody have to because their souls require them to. I'm reading these short stories to enjoy, and at the same time, I'm also reading to learn--not just learn about the craft, but to learn about what seems different. He talks about other short story writers and at first I was disappointed that he didn't think much of Poe's writing or his stories. But if I try to see it from his perspective, I think I can see what he means. For some reason the Russian writers are calling to me because of listening to Bloom. And then somehow Mark Twain slipped back into my mind and I'm not sure if it's because of Bloom or something else triggered it. When the mind starts going in many directions, it becomes difficult to keep track of.
I remember my fifth grade English teacher reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer out loud to us. That's when I most definitely was not a reader. I listened, but I don't know that I was enthralled. Since I have been lulled by the short story recently, I have also decided to read some of Mark Twain's short stories and essays. I truly appreciate the humorist and I don't know what has kept me from reading Twain for all these years. I suppose that's another reason I've felt this frenzy and excitement--because for year's I've collected and intended on reading certain works; started and stopped, always pulled by the hand by another book or piece of writing, including blogs and anything with words and communication.
I don't have quite as much time as I'd like to complete all the reading that I want to in this life time, which is why even if I only make time to experience bits and pieces, that to me--for me--is better than not. I feel also this need to turn back inside in the sense of keeping my private thoughts for my private journals and writing more about what I'm reading. I'm sure that will change and I know that what I say this moment can change in that moment. And I wasn't planning on writing so much and maybe just rambling and writing about nothing. But it's my way of processing and it started out with no direction and who knows what the real direction is. All I know is that there is this moment and this space and I never quite know how I'm going to fill it. And sometimes I'm scared and always a degree of self-consciousness; sometimes I just have to keep pushing myself and telling myself to keep going. It's nice to be able to be one's own coach because in the end, all you've got is yourself. I think that's my Uncle talking. But to some degree it's true. Only I alone have an appointment with God and with Death when that moment comes, so for me it's important to keep that in mind for myself and to prepare myself internally--as has been my goal since I can remember--to try and live each day as if it were the last and to remember that though writing and reading are a passion and sometimes they consume me, I must not lose sight of what is important outside of the books and pages. I tell myself this mantra, have told myself. I must live it. I feel that I have been true to myself for the most part and then what makes me wonder is when my mind goes back to the past. Reading helps me, ironically, stay in the present. Even when we go back even further to the past; it's someone else's past. There is solace in that. By now, I really am rambling and a part of me is saying, maybe you should just keep this in your journals, but the other part of me is saying, you may as well post it and if anything, it becomes a part of your collection--a marker for you to look back at, to remember--and to maybe laugh at yourself.