Mansfield Opinion

Too much to do to sit and read

Phew, Christmas 2013 is over, just a distant memory, as are my New Year’s resolutions. Got that behind me so I can focus on something else. Like reading. Like a book. From start to finish. Unlike Mr. Reads-a-lot, I can’t seem to find a book that will hold my attention so I can finish it in one sitting. My husband prefers a hard copy. I like my Kindle. He dog ears his pages. I use whatever’s on the table, a credit card receipt, a photo, an envelope, a bill or part of the bag from take out. And yes, I have book marks but they’re all holding my place in other books. Hence, the Kindle.

For me, however, there are distractions.

“I’m too busy,” I answer to my husband’s, “why not? Stop what you’re doing and just sit.”

He devours the things. Me, I hear the dryer buzz and have to take the clothes out before they wrinkle. I want to relax and be entertained for hours without falling asleep. I like to daydream, visualize the setting, get nervous at the bloody scene about to take place or make lists, clean out drawers or play a game on the computer. I need to get into the story. Who’s got time?

If I pause, sip a beverage and look at the bookshelf, I’ve got to take down the Christmas cards. If I take down the Christmas cards, I have to re-read their yearly accomplishments from the enclosed letters.

Come on! That’s all you did? I went on three vacations, started 22 books, lost an earring, broke every nail I have and found a key to a jewelry box I threw out four years ago. It’s short, but that was my year.

“How can you just sit there?” I ask.

“I’m reading,” he says without glancing up.

I have to color my hair in the middle of Chapter 3, check my phone for messages, vacuum (just kidding), make eye appointments, look in the refrigerator for something to eat, iron a couple of his dress shirts that he’s been waiting on since his last birthday, watch a cooking show on TV for laughs and get a pedicure.

“Here,” that thoughtful guy says, handing me a fresh cup of coffee and my glasses. “Just sit.”

“Just sit?” I say. “With all this work to be done? Who’s going to go through my pile of papers on the kitchen table? I can’t keep putting them in the oven. And what about dinner?” Scratch that, I gave up cooking. I have to return phone calls, wonder what I’m going to wear to church Sunday or rearrange the living room. OK, I’ve not moved that furniture in 15 years. So what? I could! Men, they don’t understand.

He can listen to the stock report. I have to start over because I can’t remember if Meg is the sheriff or the seductress. He can get up and remember who killed who. He can make out a grocery list while I’m still looking under the sink in the bathroom to see if we need more toilet paper. He can make up a weekly menu while I am surveying the pantry.

“We don’t talk anymore,” I pout.

“Yes, we do,” he says, turning a page. “Your coffee is getting cold,” he reminds me.

I can’t. I just did my nails and they are still wet. I sit in the living room blowing on the polish and gingerly pick up one of the old books I’ve been saving.

Chapter One – “Ishmael Beah was born in Sierra Leon in 1980.” That sounds vaguely familiar. Wait, there’s a photo of my grandson marking my place on page 152. Oh yeah, I remember this one. Let me wait until I’m in a really good mood so I can be thrown into a deep depression.

“Finished,” the lump at the kitchen table says. “Here, read this. It’s pretty good.” He tosses the tome on top of my iPod, awaiting warmer weather when her master attempts gardening, plucking the dead plants to make space for something more colorful than crispy brown. She holds my books on tape.

I look at the 606-page paperback and put it on the book shelf. I’ve read nothing but the Mansfield News-Mirror so far this year. Let me check my stash. Here we go. Death, Taxes and Mistletoe Mayhem. It’s 84 pages. I can do this, right after I watch Downton Abbey.