With or Without the Cigarettes

Sort of an intense little morning here.

Some sad and very stressful stuff going on with my stepmom (she’s been immobilized in a nursing home for 11 years due to MS). And my friend who works for NASA who is dealing with advanced cancer finished his chemo and radiation treatments yesterday, so now we wait to find out if it was effective or not. I also have personal things on my mind that I don’t want to blog about (if you can even imagine me not wanting to blog about something personal).

Anyway. It’s getting me off to a slow crawl around here today, even though I’ve been awake for hours already.

Yesterday, though, I took another stab at some of those TV shows that I wish I could learn to like — Mrs. Maisel and Good Omens, specifically. But I’m still not connecting. However, I jumped in at Season 2 of Fleabag and I loved it. So I’m just going to bypass the rest of Season 1 because, for whatever reason, I wasn’t connecting to it, even though I really wanted to. But I’ve already watched most of Season 2 already — it’s just great.

I also bought a copy of Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens because everyone in America seems to have read it or is currently reading it and saying it is the best book they’ve read, ever, and that it is painfully beautiful. (God knows, I need a whole lot more beautiful pain in my life, but anyway.) So that arrived and I read the first page, but am not connecting yet because I have the revisions of Tell My Bones at the forefront of my brain right now. Plus, I’m still in the middle of reading my friend’s travel book about the Netherlands.

The new book has come to rest on my kitchen table for now. But this morning, as I was passing through the family room with my cup of coffee, one of the bookshelves in there caught my attention. And like a little light leaping out from a familiar dimension far, far away, Thoughts Without Cigarettes caught my eye.

Thoughts Without Cigarettes is the 3rd book from the left there. The red and black one.

I’ve read all the books in this particular row except that one. It is Oscar Hijuelos’ memoir. I have all of his books. I adore his writing style, his eye for passion and detail. (He died rather suddenly in 2013 at the age of 62.)

When I bought Thoughts Without Cigarettes, I was in Divinity School and could not make any headway in the book because I had to write so many papers every week for school. I usually had to write 4 or 5 intense academic papers a week, literally. Every week. Except for when I was taking that dreadful math class that I barely managed to get a low “B” grade in. During that class, I would spend each week trying not to shoot myself. Otherwise, though, Divinity School was all about writing papers (and reading a ton of academic books about the Old and New Testaments, Christian ethics, faith, devotion, Discipleship, etc., in order to write the papers). And I wanted to really just take my time and enjoy Oscar’s memoir, so I set it aside, waiting for the perfect time.

I have always had this dream that one day, I would have the perfect reclining chair, and the best reading lamp known to man, and I would have time to just sit there and read. Maybe even have a working fireplace, but that’s low down on the list.

For whatever reason, though, I have terrible lighting in this house. And no comfortable chairs at all. I either read at the kitchen table or  upstairs on my bed, because both rooms have a lot of windows so there’s plenty of natural light — which also means that reading at night is really hard on my eyes.

So, even though I love books and I love to read — this dream of me and simple, joyful reading becomes so elusive. Also, when you factor in my dysfunctional relationship with Time itself…

Well, as I was passing through the family room before, I stopped and stared at the spine of Thoughts Without Cigarettes and I remembered how much I wanted to read that memoir. And yet here it is, years later, plus I’ve also gone and bought yet another book.

Plus, I had made this weird sort of sudden and inexplicable vow to myself that during the holidays, I was going to finally read Bertram Cope’s Year. (Published in 1919 and written by Henry Blake Fuller. A hundred years seems long enough to wait to read a book…)

I shouldn’t make these weird vows to myself, though. It just adds more pressure, right? Of course I did not read it. I seem to recall being very busy angsting all through the holidays, or something like that. I don’t know. (And, yes, “angst” is an active verb for me.)

But me and books. Aaaarrrrgh.

And now I have this vow for 2020 wherein I’m trying to have at least some sort of new inflow of ideas into my brain. Or perhaps “culturally current” is more the idea I’m aiming at. So here I am again, with limited time and at the crossroads of new vs. not-so-new: Thoughts without Cigarettes (2011); Bertram Cope’s Year (1919) — vs. the Crawdad one, which has already been out since 2018 but counts as culturally current because everyone is still reading it.

Well, I don’t know. I guess we’ll just be like Enya and see what Time eventually tells us about where we’re going and everything else under the sun. (Actually, I can remember clearly, walking home along Broadway on the Upper West Side of Manhattan one chilly & grey afternoon, back when that Enya song was popular, and it was going over and over in my head, and I was thinking how much I really wanted a divorce and I didn’t know what I was going to do about that. Well, Time has indeed told us what I did about that, now that it’s 20 years later…)

But on that note, let me add — I am really loving Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary. (2008).  But each episode is nearly 2 hours long, so I can’t exactly binge watch it. It’s going to take me a while to get through it. But it’s so interesting.

Okay. I’m gonna scoot and get this day underway over here. Have a great Wednesday, wherever you are in the world and to wherever the day takes you. It’s a strange sort of foggy, chilly day here. A good day for feeling moody and  creative. (But keep in mind that it’s “Only Time” and it sure does gallop away.) Thanks for visiting, gang! I love you guys. See ya.

“Only Time”

Who can say where the road goes?
Where the day flows?
Only time.
And who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose?
Only time.

Who can say why your heart sighs
As your love flies?
Only time.
And who can say why your heart cries
When your love lies?
Only time.

Who can say when the roads meet
That love might be in your heart?
And who can say when the day sleeps
If the night keeps all your heart,
Night keeps all your heart?

Who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose?
Only time.
And who can say where the road goes?
Where the day flows?
Only time.

Who knows? Only time.
Who knows? Only time.

c – 2000 Enya

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