Saturday, July 28, 2007

"If You like To Read, You'll Never Be Lonely."

This is the advice my mother gave to my elder niece, after the niece informed my mother she didn't like to read.

"It's killing me," my mother said to me over the phone. "How can she be part of this family and not like to read?"

"Her father is my brother," I replied.

Don't get me wrong; I love my brother, and he has a lot of good qualities. But as a scholar, well, he was a classic slide-by-academically jock.

All of my mother's side are avid readers. I learned to love the crossword from sitting next to my grandmother in her kitchen. She did the crossword in pen, so that's how I grew up doing it. Still do. I make mistakes sometimes, but using a pen on a crossword is the closest I've ever come to being comfortable with commitment.

But back to the reading as loneliness bane. I can't say that's been true for me; I'd say it's more a response to aloneness. Having a book going is like a security blanket; currently I'm walking around with East of Eden, and John Steinbeck is feeling like a comrade. I spent another Saturday night going to a movie by myself. For fun, I pick out a fun dress (in this case, a lime-green stretch-velvet Betsey Johnson dress I got 10 years ago at Buffalo Exchange in San Francisco); matched with fun earrings, a little hair product, and I was off. No need to avoid dressing up just because my only date is a dead man I carry around in paperback.

I saw "Once," and highly recommend it, but not if you're feeling melancholy. I left feeling hugely satisfied by the movie, but also kind of heavy inside.

Lately I've been in a slump, and realized I haven't been feeding my soul: my job is about the only thing taking my attention lately. So I'm going to sign up for some art classes. They won't start for a month or so, but it will be something nice and different and creative. It's amazing how things can sneak up on you: One day you realize you're not taking pleasure in anything, and when you examine it, it's because you've let your life become predictable and routine.

The good news is that you can change this, so that's the goal: do some different things, take some chances. Voila. Kicking my own ass is a good exercise.

One note, however to all you non-single women out there: I love it when you get in touch, but really, it would be nice if it happened when you were not looking for an outlet for some crisis in your day. When you didn't need my clear, direct response to your relationship issues, when your partner is not busy, when you don't want to go to IKEA and need someone with a car. Not that I don't care about your problems, but the thing is, once you've talked and vented, and feel better, you go away. And I go to the movies every weekend alone.

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