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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 28, 2006

Grateful Friday

I learned very young, from my father, the habit of always looking unknown words up in the dictionary. In Romania I had a very large and heavy dictionary with lime-green cloth covers. I loved it and I am sorry to this day that I didn't bring it with me when we moved here. (It's an awful thing to have to decide which parts of your life to take with you when you move to a different country, and which to leave behind -- especially when you are allowed only a certain number of pounds per person. One thing that I did bring and I think now was simply absurd, was my first Barbie doll. I've refused for years to think about the implications of that choice.) I bought many dictionaries when I made some money of my own here in America: English ones, and Latin-English and Greek-English (both languages that I wanted to learn and didn't). I spent long blissful minutes in front of those giant dictionaries on pedestals they have at libraries here. I mooned over the twenty-something volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary and marvelled that such a thing should even exist.

When I worked an assistant for a teacher of English as a second language I discovered electronic dictionaries. Almost all Asian students in the class owned one. I disliked the device; it seemed too modern, too cold, too mechanical. But I loved the way that a voice pronounced a word at the push of a button. And I liked that you could carry it in your bag wherever you went, a treasure deceptively light.

A few years ago I invested in one of my own. I didn't like the way it looked, but I was sold on all the things it could do. It even had games -- word games! (I can't count how many times I played Hangman on it.) I paid for it what for me, at the time, was a small fortune: one hundred dollars. But I never regretted it. My electronic Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (Mr. E.) has become one of the best extravagant purchases I've made, up there with my Wusthoff knife and the Josef Seibel clogs that are the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned. What I'm grateful today is for the courage to pay a lot of money for a thing that was worth it, for being able to give up the virtuous feeling that being stingy still gives me in order to enjoy a useful thing that has made my life easier and better.

So here is to you, Mr. E.

3 Comments:

Blogger Rebel Girl said...

"What I'm grateful today is for the courage to pay a lot of money for a thing that was worth it, for being able to give up the virtuous feeling that being stingy still gives me in order to enjoy a useful thing that has made my life easier and better."

YES.

More power to you.

April 28, 2006  
Blogger Marigoldie said...

This is always a fine line, isn't it? I have deep buyer's remorse sometimes after buying "good" things. And of course there's a certain joy in passing something by and doing fine without it. But I wish I could occasionally make a big purchase, enjoy it, and feel good about it later. I did it once in New York: I bought a long red vintage coat with white vinyl buttons, collar and cuffs.

April 30, 2006  
Blogger madness rivera said...

I have a little crush on Mr. E.

May 01, 2006  

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