What To Do With My Free Time: A Mystery Wrapped in an Enigma

I thought when I left my job more than six months ago, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. Um, not so much. As my friend, Linda B. said, “Looks like you’re having fun!”

Work is overrated. A regular paycheck definitely has its benefits, but there are way more valuable assets than money. One of which is time. I have had time, especially recently to visit with old friends.

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On one of these scorching hot days, we walked the High Line, the public park converted from railroad tracks. After walking this path from 30th street for a mile and a quarter down into NYC’s trendiest neighborhood, MeaPa, (the meat packing district), we stopped for brunch.
The flowers on the High Line are lovely.
The flowers on the High Line are lovely.

Besides time with friends, there’s something I’ve come to treasure lately: time alone — to read and paint.

Book club seems to be on a summer hiatus. I’m a huge Kindle fan, but I’ve rediscovered the joy of books: all kinds of books (don’t judge me): feminist, erotic, non-fiction, self help.

I started these three. And I started the Pulitzer Prize winner, Middlesex by Eugenides too.
These three books are on my bedside. And I started the Pulitzer Prize winner, Middlesex by Eugenides too. (Lest you think I’ve lost my literary bent.)

I love to make collage art and book journals.

I started taking class again at Art Students League. You receive very little instruction, but you get a ton of inspiration. Here’s a little project I worked on.

I collaged two small boxes to send to my darling girls at camp.
I collaged two small boxes to send to my darling girls at camp.

And then of course, I work on my biz, Boot Camp for Writers, teaching memoir writing workshops. I love teaching and writing. It’s really all I want to do. Well, that and walk the High Line, visit friends, make art, go to the theater, perform improv, make short films, and read books. That’s all.

Here’s the latest offering for the writing workshop biz: An afternoon memoir workshop and an evening salon in the Adirondacks – August 29, Thursday, 2-9, $25, dinner on your own.

This post was inspired by the daily post: a mystery

The Other Way To Read

I forgot how to read a real book. I am reading “The Other,” by David Guterson. I bought the real book, not the e-book book. (Thanks, Dad, for the bookstore gift certificate!)

And when I got to the end of an early chapter, I closed the book, and reminded myself to remember that I’d stopped there. On an e-book, there’s no need for book marks or reminders to yourself. The e-book remembers for you. You turn it on and voila, you’re right at your stopping-off point.

So back to my paperback book, a day later, I opened “The Other,” and started at Chapter 3 which seemed right, until the end of chapter. The narrator referred to a character as if I, the reader, should already know who she was. But I was yet to be introduced. Yes, I flipped back and realized I’d completely skipped Chapter 2.

I have become so used to reading on an e-book that I’ve lost my knack for reading a real book. It is taking me a moment to relearn, but I will get there. I’m smart like that.

Reading is one of my life rules, my routes to sanity — My Rule #2 is escape through literature. https://mbcoudal.wordpress.com/2011/02/19/rule-2-escape-through-literature/


Fondle My Kindle

With all the hype today about the iPad, the Apple tablet, I want to tell you about my love for my Kindle.

I’m on my second one because my first was stolen about a month ago at “Once Upon A Tart” in SoHo. Cute place, literary thief. Of course, I should never have left my purse hanging over the back of my chair.

Any way, about the Kindle, when you read on it, the words and meaning still penetrate, though perhaps not as deeply. But these days, who wants to go deep? Better that words, like ink, should float on the surface.

I wonder how writers will write differently knowing that a majority of their readers will be reading on an eBook.

I am always in the middle of writing a book. The heft, the immortality, the importance, the perfection, the editor who corrects my problems with sentence fragments and too many dashes — Brilliant!

I still want to write a book, but now I want to write an eBook.

I’m falling out of love with the printed word. It’s been a great ride, books, magazines, newspapers, but farewell. I’m moving on.

Except, of course, for longhand. Every morning I still write my three pages, longhand. And after a couple of months, when the journal’s filled, I throw the journal up to the top shelf of my closet and then I duck. Because sometimes the journal doesn’t land on the shelf — but hits me on the back of my head and conks me out and I die (just kidding about the dying part!) But in all seriousness, notebooks falling from a few feet high can really hurt! Words can hurt, just so you know!

I wonder how my writing will be different if I writing my Great American Novel for the Kindle instead of for the hardcover, Booker Prize. (I may have to be English to be eligible for the Booker Prize, but I do love the name of that prize. What better name for a book prize than the Booker Prize?)

Writing for the web has changed my style — shorter, sassier, punchier at the beginning — more fragmented and boring the more you scroll down. Because, really, most people don’t read any more, they skim. And they don’t mind sentence fragments either. Not at all.

Another important question — what about the trees? All those books = all that paper = all those dead trees. Yes, the Kindle requires a little zap of electricity now and then and that can’t be good for the environment either.

Random question — Do words from the Kindle go to another part of the brain than printed words? Have scientists done those pretty fluorescent MRI scans — like a Peter Max poster — to show which areas of the brain light up when reading a book versus the areas lit when reading from a screen?

Random point — I love the feeling of reading the Kindle on the subway when people look at me enviously. (I should’ve known my first would get stolen.)

Some smart-looking guy on the subway invariably asks, “Is that a Kindle? I want one!” I gush, “Yes, look at how you can change the font size. Listen to this ‘text to speech’ feature. One of my nine-year olds is reading The Mysterious Benedict Society, and I’m reading — well, I do hate to admit it, “Dumas Key” by Stephen King. And I’ve downloaded “White Tiger.” And you can have like 200 books on the Kindle. And you don’t go by page numbers, you go by percentage read.” But by the time I’ve finished my little sales pitch, that handsome guy on the subway and I have both missed our stop at 116th Street. We’re too busy fondling my Kindle.

Okay, honestly? Most of the time, no one notices my Kindle. I get lost in reading. That’s why I miss my stop and land in Harlem at 125th Street. Because, hey, no matter the conduit, the story’s still the thing.

For they record, my Kindle wasn’t stolen in Harlem, it was SoHo.