Monday, June 23, 2014

Climbing Mount Guilt (Books)

Sometimes you can measure guilt.  

This particular stack of guilt is eight point three feet high.

Let's try a different perspective.

This is a stack of all of the books that I've bought that I have not finished.  About a quarter of them haven't been started.  

The books in the shelves have been read, and so have the books in the shelves in my bedroom.  Not to mention many, many books that have been read and donated to the library or the thrift store. 

I tell myself that this is not a horrible thing.  But like any unfinished thing, they sort of nag at me.  "You meant to read me," they say.  "It's not like reading is a hard thing."

They're each one more unfinished thing that implies that I'm the sort of person who doesn't finish things.  Well, I may not have read them, but I've used them, now.  I have the photo to prove it.  They were, for a few hours, an art installation.  For a few hours, they were a homage to my guilt.  True, I had to add four books that I'd actually read to make it high enough to touch the ceiling, which was necessary in order to keep it from falling.  But eight point three feet of it is solid guilt.

(You'd think books would be steadier in a stack, but without the pressure of the ceiling, it wouldn't have stayed up for five seconds.  One of the minions had to steady the stack while I added the cappers.  Even then, the top third came down in the night.  It didn't wake me.)

While they were stacked, and half-stacked, I took advantage of the space and cleared the last of the plaster dust and hunks off of the bedroom shelves.  So that's another success.  (The plaster was from when we replaced my bedroom window, going to double-paned from feel the breeze - another success.  I could feel guilty about clearing the plaster three weeks after the window replacement, but I won't.  We also replaced the siding on that side of the house, and there have been other things I've been doing to clear out the debris from that.  Including buying a trap and trapping a cat that had crawled under the house while the siding was off.)

But let's look at the books again.  You'd think that stacking them up like that would make them more intimidating, but it doesn't.  When they were salted through the rest of the books, they nagged at me a lot.  Now I've seen them in their entirety.  I've seen the actual magnitude.  And you know what?  I can deal with them.

They now have a seven foot long shelf in my bedroom all to themselves.  A few of them are in the shelves you see by the desk.  And the rest are, um, still in a stack.  But it's tucked beside the desk shelves, where it isn't in the way.

Why are they stacked on the floor?  Because they're part of an art installation, for one.  I like having one.  For another, I like having usable space in the second set of shelves by my desk.  It helps me keep my desk clear.  It looks airier when it's not filled with books, and I can use the look of open space.  

The remainder stack is maybe three feet tall.  I can deal with that.  And with everything in order, I've started reading - - a new book that my daughter-in-law sent me.  It's Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded by John Scalzi, and I'm loving it.  Hey, I am not going to be controlled by an art installation.