Thursday, February 5, 2009

Book Learnin'

There was a time in my life when I didn't read at all for pleasure. I refer to that period of my life as "High School". Even less than reading for pleasure, I rarely read the mountain of garbage that the school system forced on me, hence my extended high school career. I'm not sure if I suffered from a reading disorder or a disdain of being told what I should enjoy reading. Shakespeare? Really? You can't possible tell me a) I should be enjoying this and b) this will somehow provide me some long term value. I think it was a combination of both as I'm pretty sure words aren't supposed to bounce around on the page, but I've learned to deal with it over the years. I am also the product of a French Immersion education that has made me illiterate in 2 languages. Boy those 11 years of French are really paying dividends in Central Texas aren't they. My early exposure to reading had made me none-too-keen on all that book learnin'.

Later, in my late teens and early 20s, I had a girlfriend who was really into true crime novels. A natural osmosis occurred during that time and I soon found myself reading those books too. I was reading maybe 2 books a week and by the time our relationship ended, I had amassed quite the collection of serial killer paperbacks from Ted Bundy to John Wayne Gacy. I thoroughly enjoyed reading at that point in my life. Twisted? Morbid? Sure, whatever, but who the hell isn't fucked up when they are 20 anyways (and for all you criminal profilers out there, no I don't masturbate to fire and torture animals...I love animals)

Along comes college where I was trained to read like a technician. Determine facts, isolate declarative sentences, categorize, store, retrieve, and repeat. Definitely left brain activities. I'm sure I learned something along the way, but much of that was purged when I left the exam hall.

The real irony in all this was that my career path would be set not by my understanding of finite state machines or recursive descent parsers but rather my fascination with true crime, more specifically serial crime. My college buddy was working his internship with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and mentioned to his Sergeant that I was working a mind-numbing co-op placement with Revenue Canada, and because of my interest in serial killers, that I may be a suitable hire to implement an up and coming crime database. That moment, coupled with the proper alignment of the stars and Linda's (my girlfriend at the time) ability to support my sorry ass both emotionally and financially led to my current career.

That was over 15 years ago. How much do I read for pleasure today? Zero. Who the hell has time to read? I have audio books in the car, 500 channels of TV, and reams of internet minutiae (my secret shame is an affection for tabloid magazines...People, US, OK...all that crap...yes I put it out there...cast your stones). Despite being inundated with information, the vast majority of that stuff doesn't seem to stick. I can remember the vivid detail of an Ann Rule crime scene description that I read 20 years ago yet I can't even remember what I watched on Nova on Tuesday (seriously...and it's friggin' Wednesday today!). There is something about the printed page that makes it stick. A friend of mine, who is about 10 years older, once told me "John, there comes a time when you'll have forgotten more shit than you remember". Wiser words were never spoken.

So what does this have to do with breast cancer? Absolutely nothing, and believe me, it feels great not to write about it. I picked up a book tonight and read 1/4 the way through it. I probably could of gone the audio book route, but I figured I'd see if I could stimulate some of those neglected neurons. After about 2 hours, those words on the page were jumping like crazy and I had to put it down. It's a start and we'll see where it goes. Good book.

I still can't sleep so here I am writing this blog at 2am...had I read that much in high school, I'd be fast asleep.


John said...

Funny, my daughter saw the book on my bedside table this morning and asked "Is that *your* book Daddy?". Guess it has been a while.

Jude said...

Now I can't help but wonder if it was a "certain someone I know" who was the old girlfriend into crime stories. LOL

I read every night when I go to bed, it's what makes my eyes sleepy and gets my mind on the story when I'm falling asleep instead of the day's events etc. that would keep me awake.

John, have a go at crossword puzzles! :-)

John said...

LOL...your assumption would be correct.

I am infinitely amazed at all the events in my life, and the people I have met and that if you changed just one minor detail, I wouldn't be typing this blog comment. Hell, I may not even exist. My mother forgot her purse on the way to a dance and instead of going to the dance she wanted to, she went to the "free" dance. She met my father there. The rest, as they say, is history. The billions of events that occurred prior to that forgotten purse and the billions of ripple effect events after that are incomprehensible (but that doesn't stop me from thinking about it).

And, through our common friend, I meet you only to find out a few months later that your sister has breast cancer. The odds are astronomical, yet here we are.

So when I say I wouldn't change a thing, I really mean it. Why would I?

Jude said...

So it was her! LOL

I agree! I was widowed almost 14 years ago and didn't think I could survive that loss. I've met so many people and found so much spiritual goodness on that life path that I couldn't honestly say I'd want to change anything either. There have been times I've thanked my late husband for all he's given me, even in his passing. I have a feeling that will make sense to you John.

And I know there are positive reasons for Linda and Brenda's fights with breast cancer too. At the time it sure doesn't feel like it though.

Get some sleep!

Jude said...

Oh and I forgot to say.....

My aunt (Mom's sister) was supposed to go to a dance on a blind date, and at the last minute she chickened out. She convinced my Mom to go instead, and she did. That was in Borden, Ontario, and that blind date was my Dad. :-)

John said...

Jude, I am inspired by your spirituality. I hope someday to have that level of peace, but I'm sure it doesn't just show up overnight. I'm working on it :)

As always thanks for reading.