My Convertible Life

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Saturday WSJ: On Why We Need Books


During the week, my husband gets the Wall Street Journal delivered to his office. On Saturdays, it comes directly to our house.

I never have time to read all of it -- and honestly I probably don't have the attention span for all of it anyway. But I love skimming through the "Review" and "Off Duty" sections for a glimpse into the life I don't lead. Complicated recipes with ingredients I've never heard of, raincoats that cost thousands of dollars, high speed cars with no room for booster seats, and luxurious travels to faraway lands.

I also really love the writing in the Saturday WSJ -- seems there's always some article that makes me interrupt whatever my husband is doing to read a passage out loud to him. Sometimes it's a clever car review, a couple weeks ago it was a review of an Xbox360 game, occasionally it's about a trip maybe we could one day make together.

So I've decided I'll try to share a passage with you each week -- a snippet of a favorite something from that Saturday's paper. Think of it as a virtual clipping sent in the mail.

Here's this week's excerpt from "My 6,128 Favorite Books" by Joe Queenan (emphasis mine):

Books as physical objects matter to me, because they evoke the past. A M├ętro ticket falls out of a book I bought 40 years ago, and I am transported back to the Rue Saint-Jacques on Sept. 12, 1972, where I am waiting for someone named Annie LeCombe. A telephone message from a friend who died too young falls out of a book, and I find myself back in the Chateau Marmont on a balmy September day in 1995. A note I scribbled to myself in "Homage to Catalonia" in 1973 when I was in Granada reminds me to learn Spanish, which I have not yet done, and to go back to Granada.

None of this will work with a Kindle. People who need to possess the physical copy of a book, not merely an electronic version, believe that the objects themselves are sacred. Some people may find this attitude baffling, arguing that books are merely objects that take up space. This is true, but so are Prague and your kids and the Sistine Chapel. Think it through, bozos.

The world is changing, but I am not changing with it. There is no e-reader or Kindle in my future. My philosophy is simple: Certain things are perfect the way they are. The sky, the Pacific Ocean, procreation and the Goldberg Variations all fit this bill, and so do books. Books are sublimely visceral, emotionally evocative objects that constitute a perfect delivery system.

Electronic books are ideal for people who value the information contained in them, or who have vision problems, or who have clutter issues, or who don't want other people to see that they are reading books about parallel universes where nine-eyed sea serpents and blind marsupials join forces with deaf Valkyries to rescue high-strung albino virgins from the clutches of hermaphrodite centaurs, but they are useless for people engaged in an intense, lifelong love affair with books. Books that we can touch; books that we can smell; books that we can depend on. Books that make us believe, for however short a time, that we shall all live happily ever after.

—Adapted from "One for the Books" by Joe Queenan, to be published Thursday. 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Catching Up

Hey friends... still here. Hope you are, too.

I have about 427 posts rattling around in my head and enough time to sit down and write about none of them. This makes me sad, except that I guess it's a good to thing to have a paying job, a freelance gig, two active children, a fabulous husband and a neighborhood full of awesome that are all keeping me busy.

So I figure I'll try to get back into a blogging rhythm by catching you up on some of the latest developments from recent posts at my convertible life...

  1. Winners! Thanks to all of you who voted (or tried to vote) for our Instagram photo in the Thomasville Furniture Facebook contest. Courtesy of your clicks and my husband's genius, we won! Now we have to figure out which of the fantastic sectional sofas they're offering will actually fit in our strangely long and narrow family room. Will invite you all over for a sit once we get it in the house.
  2. Calming down. After lots of reading and conversation, I've talked myself off the ledge following the superintendent's firing. I still think it was really poor timing and very poorly executed, but I'm willing to accept that there were real problems that we didn't see from the outside (interesting article here) . I've still got a lot of questions -- just hoping that the school board gets themselves together quickly. Bob Geary at The Independent said it all better than I can.
  3. Assignment 2.1. Post-firing, the school board found itself a miracle -- agreement on student assignment. Okay, not all of student assignment, but at least agreement that they needed to revert to the previous base school assignments instead of the new proposed ones. It actually didn't change anything much for my house, but it made a big difference for most of my neighborhood.
  4. Remodeling genius. I don't really know how this started, but I've had thousands of hits on this post over the past month via Pinterest. The post, which is almost a year old, includes a photo of how we (and by "we" I mean "our fantastic finish carpenter") built a corner separation using molding between the family room and the kitchen. Apparently there are a LOT of people who needed this tip. And you're welcome.
And now I'm out of time again. 

Just know that I miss y'all and our virtual conversations. Thanks for hanging in there with me.