Day 300. Goodreads

Sharan called me tonight to tell a happy library story about the children’s librarian at her public library.  Librarians are all goddesses and gods (this means you Katherine Nuss and Carol Sinwell).

Sharan is in the throes of writing a children’s book, so she’s researching other children’s books, and on this trip, I gathered, looking at some old favorites.  She mentioned Charlotte’s Web, which took me on a (another) brief mental holiday.  I traveled clear back to 1970, to a winter Sunday when I was in first grade.  That day, I checked myself into the pink sheets of my bed for the whole day and read Charlotte’s Web cover to cover.  I picked it up after breakfast for what I thought would be a chapter or two, and for the very first time, for a long book like that at least, I couldn’t put it down.  I had a vice grip on it that would not release until I was utterly devastated the end when [GREAT BIG SPOILER ALERT] Charlotte dies at the fair.  And even then, I still loved the book and would have begun reading all over again at the first page, had it not been time for dinner.  We all know I have never been one to miss a meal.  Besides, my next book, The Trumpet of the Swan, awaited me, so I knew it was time to move on.

Since I was four I have been a good, fast reader.  Books, as they say, are my friends.  Or they have been, until I got sick.  As those aneurysms started growing—long before I knew they were there—it seems like someone poured rubber cement in my brain.  So the thoughts are a bit sticky.  The reading device has become slow, glue-y.  My memory?  Oh just forget it.  I don’t mean to be funny.  When the aneurysm ruptured and I had all the anesthesia—twice—well, the rubber cement turned into, I don’t know what, tar, maybe.  Thought processes drag along like mud.

However, because they are plodingly slow, I still have something called metacognition.  I can still think about what I am thinking about and learning. In other words, I still have my smarts about me. Metacognition might be compared to a ladder that I can use to climb my way out of the goop, even if it is slowly.  That’s the plan, anyway.

That means I can think about how little I can read—but, I have found, I am starting to be able to think more about what I have read.  Metacognition is helping me build ladders up and around my thinking and memory problems.  Slowly.  Frustratingly.  But it is working.

So many times I drew a picture for a student with learning disabilities and said, “This is your brain, and this is another learner’s brain.  In his brain, learning makes a straight line from point A here to point B here. In your brain, if we start at point A, there may be too many mountains for the information to get to point B via a straight line, so your brain has to find different pathways.  It will take longer for you to make the trip, maybe for a few months, maybe forever.  But you CAN do it.

Hmmm….it never occurred to me that I might offer this pep talk to myself.  In fact, let me register that I hate giving this pep talk to myself…except that it works.

Thus, I just signed up on to read 20 books in 2012.  That is laughable.  Hah!  Scott, in particular, will cackle at that number, and if it were only a lifetime ago, Carlos and I would have cackled evilly at the puny number that poor Heidi was reading, particularly since I have nothing but free time!  But there it is…and I feel terribly stressed at the commitment:  Holy shit.  That’s almost two books a month.  And I’ve also committed myself to three journal entries a week, two blog entries, and one art project, as well as one finished writing project a month.  This is a LOT, people.  Well, I guess you never know what you can do until you try, and even if you fail miserably, do it with style (I don’t mean this.  I hate failure.  I will die trying).

Today I did read probably around twenty pages of prose from the book Liz gave me for Christmas, The Cookbook Collector, (only one of about ten fantastic gifts, including, incidentally, a Cary Grant film box set, which I have yet to watch…any takers for a film fest?). But twenty pages is the far reaches of my ability to read at one sitting.

There are not words to describe the loss I feel about my ability to jam through a novel in two days, or even read a magazine in a single sitting–kind of like a death in the family.  At the same time, how great is this?  I’m on a reading marathon.

How much are you reading?  What are you reading?