As we’re about to end 2016 I realized some things about me have remained consistent. My love of reading has been one of them. I ran across this post from two years ago. It rings true.
Choices and changes…..
Life is filled with them. Every day. Lately I choose to read a lot. I learned to read when I was in Kindergarten. My Mom was pregnant with my brother and was tired ~she was almost thirty five and, in hindsight, I think my brother was a “surprise.” But the bonus for me was our next door neighbor, Mrs. Noone, was a retired school teacher. I imagine Emmy negotiated the afternoon “visits” so she could take a nap, but her choice led to my vividly enjoying learning how to read. Learning how to read so young led to my “skipping” first grade, which was not such a good choice.
When I was ten we moved to Locust Valley. It was March and I was in the middle of 6th grade. It was all very different as I’d gone to a small private school with about fifteen kids in a class. And we wore uniforms. Not so in public school. I was far too young to be entering junior high school in September, after turning eleven in July but that’s what I did, despite my teacher, Miss Weser’s plea to my father to hold me back to adjust to the change and not be the youngest in my class by far. I desperately agreed with her but my father’s choice was “no.” In Junior high we were “tracked. Who thought that was a good choice? I was put in 7-C. Smartest kids were in “A” and “B” and took a language. Kids in “C” “D” and “F” didn’t. I swear there was really an “F.” Being placed in 7-C left me with an unaware, yet indelible, imprint on my psyche. If they thought I was a “C,” well then, that was good enough for me. But that’s another story for another day.
To say I underperformed academically is an understatement and I suppose my choice, albeit subconsciously. While I still loved to read it didn’t seem to extend to school books. I’d torn through all the Nancy Drew Mysteries and the Bobbsey twins and moved into what they now call “tween lit.” I loved the Locust Valley library and considered my library card one of my treasures. I also considered the Locust Valley library one of the coolest places ever. From the downstairs bowling alley to the wonderful main study room with the fireplace. I can still remember the smell of the books. And the annoyance of the main librarian with me…often. “Shhhhhhhhh, Janet” was another recurring theme during those years. In high school I volunteered at the school library. I filed cards and put back books properly. Ah, the Dewey decimal system. It was fun!
The joy of reading has been one of few constants during my life. One of my favorite things to do on a weekend was browse the Barnes & Noble in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley. I could spend hours and a small fortune. When we moved to Seattle for a year I devoured books as often as the available and amazing macaroni and cheeses of the region. When we left Mercer Island I also left big boxes of books at the local library. Onto Marin for three years with the Corte Madera Barnes & Noble. Upon our move back to LA moving those boxes of books ~ which by now were mostly paperbacks ~ did not make sense so I packed them up and sent them on to a dear friend in Houston.
Somewhere along the way I got a kindle but also got a real pain in my thumb from “clicking” to change pages. I missed real pages. I missed holding a book. My friend in Houston asked why I didn’t frequent the library? My answer was, “I go to the bookstore.” Well, times changed and bookstores closed. And then we moved…again. This time to San Diego. I decided it was time to return to my roots and the library. Some things never change. A library, to me, is one of them. But technology had taken the library to a new level. Placing holds on books? Discovering what’s new by my favorite authors and “ordering” the books. My Sunday New York Times routine included taking the book reviews to the computer to look up what was up and coming and “reserve” my choices. This methodology works well for the most part. Until multiple “holds” become “yours” at the same time. The tilt with reserving wonderful new books is you can not renew. Imagine the excitement and angst when five arrive at the same time. The desire to complete the reading assignments in such a timely manner can be overwhelming. Not to mention the fines. Prioritizing books under pressure leads to reading two or ~ gasp ~ possibly three books at a time. Since not sleeping as well as I used to keeps me up at night, hours of reading is the reward.
Three months ago I found a Barnes and Noble and went back…just one more time. Ha, I laugh. Giving up buying books only works when you don’t go into a bookstore. I’d find a book, write down the name and author and put them on my library list. Except one or two that I didn’t think the library would have. Then we went back again. I renewed my rewards card. Hello, my name is Janet and I am a bookaholic.
I admit the stack on the left are my current library books and the stack on the right is my ever growing pile of purchases waiting to be read. But the “holds” just keep on coming. And I can’t just ignore the new books, can I? I’ll find myself number 89 on a list of holds and where will that lead? A trip to Barnes and Noble? You understand my problem, don’t you? There is still that element of “instant gratification” that lives within me when a favorite author comes out with a new tome and I’m the 15th “hold.” I have learned patience…an overrated virtue, if you ask me.
I made another choice. I decided to volunteer at the library. I went on the interview and was told available options. One sounded amazing so I went to the police department and was fingerprinted and told there would be a background check. Wondering if they were looking for outstanding fines long overdue from my Locust Valley library days. I never did return Peyton Place ~ the book I had just checked out when my car caught fire as I turned off the engine in the driveway on The Knolls. Love those volunteer firemen who arrived within minutes from around the corner, but when they towed off the “hot comet,” I forgot the book was in the back seat never to be seen again. The things you think of as you’re being fingerprinted at a police station!
I passed ~ and was told to report to the library at 3PM one Thursday afternoon. I was handed a list of books to find on the shelves and had twenty minutes to find twenty books. I was unfamiliar with this part of the library. As I started my search I recalled the days at LVHS when I’d spend a study hall putting books away or filing cards in the card catalog. Things had changed. No card file and as I took the cart and began my search I wondered if I was up to the challenge. These shelves had shrunk. They were much, much lower and my back was wondering if it was up to the challenge. But I persevered and returned with my quota just in time to greet our guests. The librarian and I went out into the courtyard to meet our special attendees. There they were, on their best behavior, waiting to come inside and start. The program I was assisting with is called “Paws to Read.” Little children come and read to service dogs. Can you even imagine how adorable this is?
Things have come full circle. The choices have changed but the symmetry remains.
My cell phone rang as I was picking up books the other day and the librarian said, “Shhhhhhh.”
My stack of books to read keeps growing.
That should be the worst problem I encounter in 2015.
May your year be filled with choices you enjoy and changes you choose!
And as 2016 ends I find myself the volunteer coordinator for this wonderful library.
Instead of contestants on game shows I find volunteers for wonderful programs at the library. The first volunteer I found replaced me at “Paws to Read.” Today I brought two library books I’d bought at the Friends of the Library Book sale to our adorable young neighbors. I told them about “Paws to Read” and we made a date to meet there in January.
As I said two years ago….the choices change but the symmetry remains.
As does the pile of books waiting to be read.