Several weeks ago after a much-needed-healthy visit to the Colorado Rockies, I came back home and made a conscious decision to have my television turned off. It was time to give up my rather mindless addiction to vacuous fluff, time to unplug from morning noon and night screens and get back in touch with the left side of my brain. Time to simplify and start living my life again, I thought! (And yes, it’s almost embarrassing to admit just how many hours of my life I have in the recent past, wasted watching trash TV, but I will never ever judge anyone else who loves the way I do, all those junky TV shows… trust me, I get it.) It was hard to give up the T.V. My H.D. 34″ flat screen TV now sits unplugged. It’s still situated on the credenza across from the couch, but now sits silenced like a darkened shrine, or a quiet ode to the countless evenings of the past that I lost to the likes of Pat Sajak, Alex Trebek, Nancy Grace, the King of Queens, Andy Cohen, and Jon Stewart to name a few in between. But like many of us, I still have a “screen addiction,” so what next? I turned to my laptop! To heck with the TV, I still have a screen I can turn to. Facebook, CNN News online, Candy Crush Saga, You Tube, and Stumbleupon.com here I come!
But wait, what about my promise to read more and reheat the imaginative fires of my left brain? And then…. I remembered the Kindle my sister gave me as a gift last year that has been sitting idle in the kitchen drawer? Ah, with it’s sweet little 7″ screen… and so, with a click of a button I began ordering and immediately receiving all the books I’ve been meaning to read. Instant gratification! Then, every night for the next week, I curled up with my cute little Kindle and began reading. Since then, my dreams have been more vivid and I sleep much better than I have in years.
Now… I promise I’m not going to take on the whole argument on a real book vs. a book on a tablet, because most of you already know the pros and cons of that story, but suffice to say, a good book in any format is a good thing when you are weaning off of a serious television addiction. And so, comfortable with my Kindle, I began to read and read and read. In my imagination, through the books I’ve been devouring, I have been transported everywhere from the California Coast to the Andes mountains in South America, from Cherokee Lake Tennessee to the Palestine desert, from Frankfurt to Amsterdam, and all with the help of a tiny little 7″ screen.
Then, early one morning last week I got out of bed to reach for my iPhone as it buzzed and vibrated from across the room with an incoming call, flashing an unknown number on my “life-line to the outside world” screen. In a pre-first cup of coffee haze, I leapt for that sexy little gadget and accidentally stepped on my Kindle, which I had apparently dropped on the floor next to the bed as I read myself to sleep the night before. The crunching sound that the weight of my foot made as it crushed the life out of that poor little tablet told me I had, in an instant, killed my Kindle. Ah, my beloved Kindle. Drat! and I was in the middle of a really good read! Now what, I thought? I’m just not ready to go totally screen free. And so, with a heavy sigh, I called Amazon. ( The early morning call I was reaching for when I stepped on the Kindle, was, it turns out, a wrong number.) Such injustice in the world! Not to worry, the customer service person at Amazon was great. He immediately offered me a discount on a replacement Kindle. So true to my screen addiction, I took up his offer and even upgraded to the Kindle Fire HD. Being too cheap to pay for Amazon Prime, I waited 4 long days days for my new discounted upgraded Kindle to arrive in the mail. In the interim, since I was not in possession of ” hard copy” of the book I was reading on that fateful morning, I finished it on the Amazon cloud on my laptop. Reading on the cloud is okay in a pinch, but it’s all too easy to mistakenly tap the cursor and jump pages and lose your place. There is something about a real book, with a real cover, real pages and whatever I am using for a bookmark at the time ( I don’t dog-ear books), that I find makes my reading experience much more tactile and intimate. I don’t really even need the bookmark because with a real book I have more visual cues that remind me where I left off.
I now have my new Kindle Fire HD sitting next to the bed on top of a stack of real books that I plan on reading over this labor day weekend. It looks impressive and I’ve already downloaded my email and FB accounts to it, and I have several new books queued up on the device waiting to be read. For some reason however, my attention is now turned to the stack of real books that my new Kindle is resting on top of. It’s a three-day weekend, I’ve got a collection of short stories, The Afterlife Road by Brice Austin, which I am already half way through, a copy of Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg (with an introduction by William Carlos Williams that I’ve been for some time meaning to reread), and Helen Schulman’s This Beautiful Life. I can’t say it will be an entirely screen-free weekend, but it’s Labor Day weekend, time for all of us to unplug. The kind of weekend when you tell yourself, sometimes you just have to go acoustic!
Owl Canyon Hoots wishes you a splendid holiday and wants to know WHO and what will you be reading on this glorious Labor Day weekend?
PS:Seamus Heaney, the 1995 Nobel laureate in Literature who was often described as the greatest Irish poet since Yeats, died on Friday in Dublin. He was 74. Rest in Peace Mr. Heaney.