Books are life rafts.  I climb into them to keep moving forward…

Books are life rafts.  I climb into them to keep moving forward when life seems in limbo and my energy is fully depleted.  Here is a sampling of those I return to repeatedly.

I return to this quote to address my subject of research and remind myself why:

A cheap Saturday night took you down.  You died stupidly and harshly and without the means to hold your own life dear.  

Your run to safety was a brief reprieve.  You brought me into hiding as your good-luck charm.  I failed you as a talisman– so I stand now as your witness.

Your death defines my life.  I want to find the love we never had and explicate it in your name.

I want to take your secrets public.  I want to burn down the distance between us.

I want to give you breath. 

– James Ellroy, My Dark Places

I return to this quote to trust and let go of attachment to outcome:

As I’ve said, falling for a suspect is a lot like the first surge of blind love in a relationship.  Focus narrows to a single face.  The world and its practical sounds are a wan soundtrack to the powerful silent biopic you’re editing in your mind at all times.  No amount of information on the object of your obsession is enough.  You crave more.  Always more…

The feast of data means there are more circumstances to bend and connect.  You’re tempted to build your villain with the abundance of pieces.  It’s understandable.  We’re pattern seekers, all of us.  We glimpse the rough outline of what we seek and we get snagged on it, sometimes remaining stuck when we could get free and move on.

– Michelle McNamara, I’ll be gone in the dark- one woman’s obsessive search for the Golden State killer

I return to this quote as a goal:

Writing a book is a strange job.

“Here you go,” a publisher says at the outset, handing you a salary of sorts, and a deadline, “we’ll see you in two years.”  And there you go indeed, in a state of high alarm, without any day-to-day ballast– no appointments, no tasks assigned each morning, no office colleagues to act as sounding boards, no clue as to what you are doing” equipped solely with a single idea, which you cling to like driftwood in a great, dark sea.”

Patricia Pearson, When she was bad: how and why women get away with murder

I promised myself a library…

When I turned 10, my parents gave me this book– Hans Christian Anderson Fairy Tales illustrated by Jiří Trnka (published by Hamlyn Publishing Group Ltd, ©1959, 1972).  My father had purchased it at the Vancouver Airport.  I remember so clearly being woken up, with breakfast on a tray and receiving the book.  The $4.95 in pencil marked on the inside.  It smelled of that glorious new book smell.

I loved (and still love) this book so much– so enthralled by the stories and the illustrations.  The book was not my first, but it is my most memorable.  I promised myself  on my 10th birthday that I would collect myself a library.  My parents were always so supportive of the love of reading and never said no to book shopping.

And so, after multiple moves across the Atlantic back and forth, multiple homes, multiple life challenges, multiple spaces, multiple bookshelves… I kept my promise and still live surrounded by my beloved growing library of books.

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. – Jorge Luis Borges

Books permit us to voyage through time, to tap the wisdom of our ancestors. The library connects us with the insight and knowledge, painfully extracted from Nature, of the greatest minds that ever were, with the best teachers, drawn from the entire planet and from all our history, to instruct us without tiring, and to inspire us to make our own contribution to the collective knowledge of the human species. – Carl Sagan

I know each and everyone of them, read or not.

Check out:

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Is this where they’ll find me?

ophelia

Is this where they’ll find me?  In the tub, laying back, my neck resting on the edge, my face covered with a book?

Is this where they’ll find me? Seemingly asleep, one hand holding tight the book that covers my face, hiding the cheap reading glasses that have slipped a little, eyes closed, the mouth slightly open?  The other hand, dangling over the edge?

Will they find me in a tub of cold water, a cold cup of coffee on the edge beside a large bottle of bubble bath with its $2.99 sales sticker, the tap drip dripping that one drop every twenty seconds.

Will they find the parrot, seemingly asleep, but oh so still, eyes closed, head resting against my fingertips that hangs over the ledge, his claws clutching tight the edge of the laundry basket that has been placed next to the tub?

Will they stand, gloved hands on hips, furrowed brows, scanning the small bathroom, the dollar store shower curtain, the child’s plastic tea set strewn on the floor under the parrot, the PineSol in the toilet, three rolls of toilet paper at various sizes, the quiet stillness of the body in the bath, the silent little bird on the ledge, the dripping tap.

Is she dead?

Looks like it.

Call it in.

The curious, mindful, insightful one will pry the book from her stiff fingers.  And he’ll see the indent from her nose, and read out loud…

At last I’m with you again.

And he replied: 

“Keep a good hold round my neck, my flower.”

“Yes,” she whispered.  “Always– as long as I live.  Your one flower.  The flower of your life.  And I shan’t die awhile yet; no, not for a long while yet.”

Then they went on their way. *

Is this where they’ll find me?  In the tub, laying back, my neck resting on the edge, my nose literally buried a book?  Content to die from the artistry of words.  Breathless.

*

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Books as life rafts.

For fun, I just did the Holmes and Rahe Stress Test and my result was: You have a high or very high risk of becoming ill in the near future.  Duh.  Doh.  Funsies.  How do I deal with stress?  Acknowledge it.  Use books.

I was just digging through my book pile and I realize there are certain books I need with me to quell the stress during those epic life stressors and the books become life rafts.  Afterwards, Imay never look at them again.  But in the moment, they mean EVERYTHING to me.

When I was going through the heart-attack of my ex-husband’s infidelity, I could only read Anatomy of the Spirit, recommended over the phone by my best friend in Sweden, as she coached me through endless panic attacks.

 

I underlined the entire book.  Now I don’t even own a copy.

When my mother went through her last year and I stayed by her side through appointments and treatments, the only book I could read while in waiting rooms was Crazy Sexy Cancer Survivor as it was exactly what I needed in that moment.

 

I still clutch to it.

After my mom passed away, I was replaying the pain and the beauty of her last breath and her last heart beat, over and over– recalling the love that enveloped us as my brother held mom’s face and helped her let go.  After that, I need to read the last pages in The Death of Ivan Ilyich over and over again.

 

Now, as Dad faces a new chapter in his life and as we work on the book together, I find myself digesting A Journey Round My Skull.

 

Books.  I love you.

Surround yourself with books… #creativeinput

I have a thousand + books in my tiny apartment.  Here are some I can reach from my bed while still lying down.  I sometimes just look at them as they sit in the shelf.  Visual inspiration!  We need that!  Or at least I do.  I have been described as a hoarder.  When I’m anxious, I agree.  When I feel good, I call myself a librarian and a curator.

When you are old and gray and full of sleep, and nodding by the fire, take down this book and slowly read, and dream of the soft look your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep. – Yeats