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I could hear the thunder rumbling in the distance as I packed boxes of books — as I climbed on the stool, and stretched my fingers to bring that last stack closer to the edge, the room went black. So, clutching a stack of books, balanced precariously in the dark, there I was — let’s call it a life metaphor or it could be an insurance claim….

Injury, if not insult, when the lights flickered on and I clamored down — several of the books plunged from the shelf, tumbling past my head and shoulders in their eagerness to join their fellows on the floor. Little did they realize that was the horrid place where they would be judged “transportable,” or “storage.”

As long as I can remember — my spaces have been defined by the books in them. My first apartment was a two bedroom just so I could have shelves of books in that second room. I tutored, and freelanced which made it have a certain logic… though paying the rent each month, I often wondered if Jane Austen wanted a second career to finance her lodging. Now my closet has a giant bookcase and a small one, because in general, I’d rather buy books than clothes…

Despite the random/creative placement of bookshelves, there will still have to be, the dreaded “books in storage,” There are worse problems, and I read about them everyday — but oh my goodness, sorting a stack of books into ‘worthy’ to move and ‘pack it up’ is horrid. I spent several hours feeling I should apologize or commiserate with authors and their works. One can’t live in a home without Anne of Green Gables, and if one has the first book shouldn’t you keep all the way to Rilla and the World War 1 stories of LM Montgomery? I would argue yes, absolutely. So then, the Ingalls girls and Martha Grimes’ criminal world are relegated to the boxes. If I desparately need to know how to make a hoecake or my bed is way too empty without Detective Inspector Richard Jury or his green-eyed pal, Melrose Plant (Jury is all dark & broody, but you could have a darn good conversation & a little Old Peculiar with Melrose — ah, choices!) — those boxes are far from my reach!

Needless to say, I spent the storm on the the floor of my office, surrounded by small mountains of books. Do inanimate objects hear your apologies? Ok, I set aside the Parsons and kept the Durkheim.Weber and Simmel were no brainers, but god, putting Barbara Tuchman in a box was hideous… I felt that Distant Mirror and March of Folly were going to broker an alliance with Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickled & Dimed to protest unjust storage parameters. I kept a biography of Henry Knox, but boxed a couple of Jeffersons…  What about Daddy’s collection of Zane Grey novels — he and I read the western plains together — braving vigilantes, consumption and the advent of encroaching civilization taming our wild freedom…. stuffed in a box — dear Lord, there are howls from Dodge City to Canberra….

Boxes marked “to bring,” or “storage,” circled what had been my library/office like dusty sentinels reminding me my time was done… and as I stepped outside into the rain, I raised my face to clear away the book dust, and the traces of memory that marked my cheeks. Books, one discovers listening in  quiet rooms, are like families — they shift, stack and move to accommodate changing circumstance. Yet, in the end, they fit where they are placed and bring new discoveries to those surrounding them.

 

on the page:

  • All the words  (the Bridges) — cool little folk rock band with a Rocky Mount connection… country-ish without being clichéd …
  • I’m gonna sit right down & write myself a letter (Madeleine Peyroux) — while Nat Cole’s version is utter perfection, Madeleine’s jazzy, throaty vocals make you want….
  • Lady Writer (Dire Straits) — every time I push my hair from my face when I’m writing, it reminds me, “another time, another place”
  • The last word (Mary Chapin Carpenter) — “it won’t matter what you’re saying when the damage has all been done,” — sometimes, you can wait too long.. seeing her live is a fantastic event!
  • I write sins not tragedies (Panic at the Disco) — don’t think I’ve ever seen the description of a band as “Vaudevillian pop punk” — there minor, angst-ridden rant just feels happy….
  • If you could read my mind (Gordon Lightfoot) — Hmmm, James Joyce unfiltered…. imagine, every flittering thought accessible to someone else — how many blushes can you spare?
  • I could write a book (Pal Joey) — OK, the library lady has a weakness for a literary love song — Frankie’s version is spectacular, but I have a soft spot for Harry Connick singing it to me…
  • My Little brown book (Duke Ellington & John Coltrane) — while feeling all swoony, throw in an incredible jazz collaboration between the Duke and ‘Trane — maybe a little wine, heck, if we’re playing a fireplace flickering light on the scene…
  • No Words (Wings) — sometimes though, neglecting to speak just means the silent type is silent and alone….
  • The book I read (Talking Heads) — something about the lyrics and the melody make me remember al those favorite volumes and how they should never end.
  • Paperback Writer (Beatles) — they could and did write songs about anything… and then juxtaposed a melody that transfigured
  • Write your own songs (Willie Nelson)..advice from the King of doing just that — your story follows the song you write… simple? not always….
  • Those Sweet Words (Norah Jones) — she smoothes out the complications — and reminds you the simplest, most direct words are best — omg, Norah Jones is Hemingway!! 🙂
  • Wanted to Write a love song (the Cat empire) — they are a ska & jazz band from Australia — and some of their material is just delicious!!
  • Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word (Ray Charles & Elton John) — and yet stories die without it — love this duet version!
  • Words (BeeGees) — I know it’s the BeeGees, but this song just makes me happy — the lyrics are fantastic —
  • Read it in Books (Echo & the Bunnymen) — such a rhythmic song that is perfect for a bibliophile, who believes most of life has an answer if you find the right tome…
  • Sustained Silent Reading (Motorcycle Industry) — a short-lived alt band from Brooklyn that re-defined angst with witty melodies and stream of consciousness lyrics..
  • Kiss Me Slowly (Parachute) — not a song about writing, but maybe a story to be written — the visuals in the lyrics are awesome….

A book, too, can be a star, ‘explosive material, capable of stirring up fresh life endlessly,’ a living fire to lighten the darkness, leading out into the expanding universe.–> Madeleine L’Engle

Take care,
Aly

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2 thoughts on “Reading & Writing: tumbling down

  1. Probably you never thought I would visit the blog find it insightful and inspirational any only for the shrinking few who do not understand there is no real plan for what is around until the last chapter . Keep turning the pages

    • Realistically, turning the pages is the only thing to do — it’s what you take from the pages past that move the story forward… and how you flick the pages counts for something too… whether eager to see what comes next or reluctantly re-reading past pages…. glad you found the page

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