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Wednesday, August 28, 2002

A Clean, Well-Lit Place

And the food ain’t bad--and beer, did I mention that they have beer?)

If you read a lot then you are, by nature, an anti-social creature. At least you are anti-social while you are reading. To read you have to close all of the other windows in your life, or most of them, anyway. I sometimes read stuff out loud (I like women that like being read to) but most of my reading has been done for private consumption.

I have periods in which I tend to go overboard on a lot of things that make up my life: work, exercise, piano, social life, and reading. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to go overboard on all of these positive things at the same time so a period of intense piano practice coincides with doldrums in my work-out schedule. It’s like I am juggling these things and one or more of them is on the floor while the others are being tossed around.

I’ve never been much of a juggler thus my ascension to Renaissance man status will be done in the matter that I seem to do everything else: half-assed and drastically behind schedule.

I’m a public reader. I like to read in cafes and bars. One place I gravitate towards--if it is late enough in the day for me to feel comfortable having a drink--is The Two Bells Tavern in the Belltown section of Seattle. It is the perfect neighborhood pub for reading: good light, not too crowded, nice tables near the windows, and the food and drink are good.

I have been on a bit of a reading bender lately. Yesterday I don’t think I talked to a single person all day long except in the course of a business transaction. I stopped by Two Bells at around six and took a table by the window. I ordered an amber ale and put on my dorky reading glasses. I only wear them if I am going to be reading for an hour or more. I have not needed glasses until last year. They’re a complete pain in the ass but if you have had your nose in a book your entire life your eyes are going to go sooner or later.

For me I find it necessary to combine the anti-social pursuit of reading with the social medium of public areas. Sitting in a café helps to alleviate the solitary confinement aspect of staring into a book. Not that I find the prospect of solitary confinement to be a total horror. I am fascinated by writing about prison, both fictional accounts and memoirs. I would suspect that a lot of compulsive readers have fantasized about being stuck in a cell with nothing to do but read.

My apartment isn’t much bigger than a prison cell, at least compared with a suburban McMansion. If I could only take one of my books and one of my CD’s with me when they drag me off to prison for a life sentence which ones would I choose? I have thought about this quite a bit for someone who has never committed a felony. What book and record would you choose?

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