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Location: California

I love paper. Books printed on acid-free paper and bound in cloth turn me on. I'm crazy about bookmarks, and I buy too many stickers. I could spend hours in the build-your-own-greeting card section of my neighborhood craft store. My favorite thing to eat is bread, and my second favorite is fruit. (Mm, pineapple.) I read too much and too fast, and I watch too many food shows (two ways of looking at gluttony). Gloomy, rainy weather calms me and so I can't wait to move out of California, which will happen, sadly, too many years from now to count. I'm vegan, though I haven't managed to eliminate honey from my diet yet. I practice yoga; it's the only way I can keep fit. I have a better life than I ever imagined I would (or deserve to) have, but I do my best to enjoy it rather than feel guilty about it. That's my daily struggle -- and also to be thoughtful and observant and honest with myself.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Grateful Friday

This is a particularly difficult Friday to be grateful on. I had a bad week. There was that troublesome time of the month, when the mature, rational me gets locked up in a closet, and my emotional, irritable, snappish self takes over. There was a rejection letter I got for a story I submitted to a magazine. And there was the realization, which hit me like a bolt out of the blue, that it's April -- April! -- when to me it doesn't feel as if even February has passed. I felt so resentful about how quickly time flies, how it slips through my fingers like water, that all I could do was just to sit there and stare at my empty hands.

I wasn't able to read any of the three books I have going (War and Peace, the stories of Katherine Mansfield, and my book club novel). I'd open them and this feeling of nausea would rise in my throat. I couldn't write anything, not the simplest of sentences. I sat in front of the empty screen of my computer wringing my hands and shouting expletives at myself in my head. I lay in bed during hot afternoons and stared at the ceiling. At night I lay awake and listened to the creaking and banging in the walls of the bedroom. I had no idea what to do with myself. I felt sick, just sick with this whole ridiculous endeavor of being human.

It gets pretty bad for me when I can't even read; many times reading has got me out of desperate times. And then, last night, it occurred to me: "I should read The Hobbit." I pulled out from my bookshelf the crumbling torn copy I read for the first time many years ago, and that I bought for fifty cents at a City of Anaheim library sale. I had never heard of the book when I first saw it. Blocking the traffic at the front of the library, I opened the book and read the first sentence and hurried to pay two quarters to the librarian. This book hasn't failed me once. It's not failing me this time around. It makes me laugh when nothing else can; it restores my faith and pleasure in the simple things of life, like a good breakfast or a sunny morning; it gives me a little bit of courage to go back to the too hard adventure that is my life, not to give up on it quite yet.

I know that it's an unoriginal thing to be grateful for, but here it is: The Hobbit by Tolkien.

I'm not sure I'm on the mend yet, but there has been another good sign this morning: rain. The sound and smell of it revived me a little. There is nothing to do at times like this other than wait as quietly as you can for the darkness to pass. And it passes so slowly; times stops when you least want it to. But here I am, waiting.


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