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Monday, October 15, 2007

Scratch that Itch

When I was younger, I indulged in lakes of alcohol and the occasional dip into something less than legal. As I’ve grown older, my drinking has tapered off a good bit (although I’ve lost none of my taste for good liquor) and my “other” has disappeared entirely. I indulge now in the written word.

My habit peaks--or, at least, the expenses peak--right before a vacation. I have to have a few books and a short ton of periodicals to read on the airplane and in the hotel at night. If there is a beach involved, the habit swells to something that any of the members of Def Leppard would instinctively understand (although they might be confused at the delivery device). I’m leaving for a vacation in just over a week and a series of packages arrived for me at work today that will carry me through my vacation and a bit beyond.

My exclamation of joy was met with giggles by my office mates--and then eyes cocked in confusion at the source of my joy. Books. Beautiful book with that sweet, earthy smell of paper and ink. Just as beautiful, the words inside.

“Watching him swinging on his hammock, like a big fish in a net, I was reminded of his nickname.”

“They took Sam down and buried him where he had fallen.”

“Thousands of our countrymen are dead: we accept that the world can never be quite what it was.”

The miracle of books--of well written words--is the drug that sustains me these days. Reading the thoughts, poetry, and creations of others (and, of course, wishing that I had their skill) is a happiness that I’ve always enjoyed in life, but now seem to crave.

While my coworkers don’t understand me, I’m betting that some of you will. Maybe you’ll even be a bit sympathetic.

The books? Paul Theroux’s On the Edge of the Great Rift and Hotel Honolulu; Victor David Hanson’s An Autumn of War, Between War and Peace, and Wars of the Ancient Greeks; Robert A. Heinlein’s To the Stars (a hardback containing Between Planets, The Rolling Stones, Starman Jones, and The Star Beast); The InDesign Idea Book; and John Bowker’s Beliefs that Changed the World: The History of Ideas of the Great Religions.

I think I’ll need a little more time off than I happen to have available…

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