|The boys loved putting on the "bobbies" hats when we had our own little mystery: who had robbed our flat while we were all sightseeing?|
This is a totally new me I don't recognize. I don't like it at all and, frankly, I'm beginning to fear it. Heavens, no matter how ill I've ever been, I've always been able to read. Granted, I did get to the point in my deteriorating health where I was strict with myself and forced myself to read at all times, for fear of losing the ability to do so. And I reluctantly admit to reading some of the most awful junk on my really bad days (no titles from me on this count - I still have a bit of pride left!) when I had such extreme concentration problems. Yes siree, I've read awful, flinching stuff when all is said and done, all in the name of keeping my brain from completely atrophying from this DD.
Forget the memory problems (pun: groan!). I signed the terms to the surrender of that battle a long time ago and made extremely difficult concessions to the agreement, that of having to read a book in a day or in a single "sitting."
"Sitting"? And how wrong is THAT word since I can basically only read lying down and only on my right side at that, in bed, no other way as long as I can remember? Ha! Given that I remember HOW much (?), I'm not sure how convincing that statement is. But rest assured, it was my middle child, who's always had a knack for noticing the oddest things, who pointed it out to me back when he was about eight years old and he was absolutely right. And I DO remember my mom being upset with me even when I was growing up, that I wasn't able to read from a sitting position. I'm a bit of an odd duck, aren't I?
There's yet another reason that I'm afraid and upset about this inability to read. Just as I've always used my "Russian-ness" as an identity that made me different from others as I was growing up and allowed me, I strongly feel, to avoid an "identity crisis" in college when EVERYONE was going through their "identity crises," (it WAS the 70's!) so, too, has "bookworm" been an integral part of my identity.
I've lost so much to this stinking disease, this CFIDS/ME and fibromyalgia, not to mention the migraines, the pain, the God-awful fatigue that makes you want to flow down the drain with the water as the bathtub empties. I'm no longer able to garden like I love to, cook and bake like I yearn to, on a regular basis. The couple of times I can do so a year, if I'm lucky, are an exception to the rule. I long ago gave up on photography (or picture-taking!), swimming, visiting with friends. I've not been to the movies since 1997 when "Titanic" swept the Oscar's, this a person as a member of a family that would often go to see three movies right in a row on a single Saturday or Sunday. I no longer go to church. I cannot clean, iron...tasks I used to love to do because of the sense of accomplishment I always felt afterwards, if for nothing else.
As I torture myself trying to analyze what the heck is happening to me, I realize that in the last twenty years I've become more and more drawn to mysteries, and series at that, and have wondered why? It took me a while to realize that the mystery aspect was enticing and appealing because it sharpened my deductive reasoning skills - a fancy way to say that I needed to think like a detective as I've tried to figure out my biggest mystery: what the heck was going on with, to and in my body, as well as my brain?
And why in the world the love of series? Well, because it was so much easier to read a novel where I knew all the players and their histories and didn't have to kill off precious brain cells in trying to learn new people and places and their back stories. There's not much I dislike more than beginning a book because it's just so hard to figure out what the heck is going on. Lordy, even the font that changes from book to book throws me off my game. All of this is so weird since that means that as I was reading 400 plus books a year in the last few years (I kept a journal of titles, that's how I know!) that's an awful lot of unpleasant feelings at least once every single day. Was/am I a masochist? Coupled with how much time I would spend each day wandering the house trying to find a book to read, was in the "mood" to read (code word alert!), and given how much I was reading, I marvel at how quickly I must have been flying through those books! And it's no wonder hubby had such mixed feelings about hitting up our libraries, hauling books home by the bagfuls, hoping he'd hit a home run with at least a couple of those books every few days.
A funny memory of my kids' childhoods. At night when they would finally be ready for bed, once I got to the point where I couldn't always put them to bed anymore but hubby had to as often as not, the kids would run to my bed, attack and jump all over me vying for my attention, hyped up as usual from just being three rambunctious children, and demand to know what I was reading and how far along I was into the book. In the morning, when they would see that I'd had yet another sleepless night, they'd again invade my bed and want to know what I was NOW reading. Their biggest delight: if I had finished the book I was reading when they went to sleep, read another book as they slept and was into book #3 when they woke up. OK, I never said my kids were NORMAL!
I'm trying every mind game I can think of and I still can't get into reading, this to a person who would walk down stairs reading, wash my hands in the sink while reading, brush my teeth while reading...the list goes on and on. In fact, I often tricked myself into doing a chore my body couldn't handle by reading and doing that chore at the same time. I'm not saying I remembered anything I read while doing these things. It was a bit like a roller coaster ride, fun while doing it but almost immediately forgotten. And it got the job done.
Just as a smell can trigger the most deep-seeded memory and bring it it the foreground, I remember where I was or what my interests in life were back then, and I recall what crisis, happiness, indeed every twist and turn of our family's history at any given moment, all from just seeing a book cover. Books are my history.
And the joke and anecdotes surrounding my reading are many. We were on our first trip to London, the entire family! The oldest was ten (trip first described in the post on 2/26). We stopped at the bookstore at the airport (oh how I love to look at walls and tables at a bookstore and laugh when I see that I've read at least 75% of the books I see). The gentleman remarked on how wonderful it was to see my kids zeroing in with excitement towards the books instead of the toys sold there too.
Before you get to "Oh, how sick can she be if she's flying to London, for heaven's sake!" Wait!
I held up a book that had caught my interest, but feeling very guilty about the bloody fortune we were spending on this vacation, plus so exhausted from the packing and planning, I was definitely not in peak shape even for my low standards. I help up a book and asked the seller, "does this come in paperback?" The man looked at hubby and hubby looked at clerk and I had no answer to my seemingly simple question. I repeated, holding the book up even higher, a bit annoyed since my upper body strength has never been the greatest, I was exhausted, I was sure my makeup was rolling to my neck down from my face, I was sweating, I was becoming nauseated, my hair was getting wet from the exhaustion and all I wanted was an answer to a very easy question. Griding my teeth behind what I'm sure was a very fake smile, I repeated, "DOES THIS BOOK COME IN PAPERBACK," a bit more slowly than called for.
The looks going back and forth were quickly getting on my nerves when hubby gingerly replied, "Uh, Irene...you ARE holding the book in paperback."
My brains was so slow that it took me a full minute of staring at the darn thing to finally understand what he meant.
Some days you just can't win.
In the meanwhile, I'll continue reading samples of books from my Kindle. Something has to finally kick in.
Reading, like I said, is me.