Monday, July 25, 2016

When A Crisis Isn’t A Crisis Is A Crisis

When A Crisis Isn’t A Crisis Is A Crisis
            Back when people first began using e-books, I guess that is what one calls them, my daughter, Shea, said, “Mom, you are such a voracious reader. You should get one of these. You’d like it.”

            “And lose the visceral pleasure of a book made from trees? The thickness of the cover, whether hard or soft? The texture of the pages? The smell of ink? The smell of a new book? Or old? The satisfaction of physically turning the pages? Being able to write in the margins should I choose? Lose the sacredness of a book?

            No, thank you. I can’t imagine life without real books.”

            Then one day I moved to Mexico, left behind my extensive library, and bought a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, in reverse order.

            I read a lot. Not a day goes by without reading. Reading is a piece of who I am and always has been. I remember sitting on the floor at my Dad’s feet with the Sunday “funnies”, picking out the words (I especially liked Pogo), long before I started school.

            By the time I was a sophomore I’d read everything in the school library. Then I discovered the tiny but crammed city library, up narrow stairs above the old Civic Center building in Harlem. Wherever I lived, I had the library.

            My children listened to me read stories while they nursed. Now and then, once they were older, we all sat at the dinner table with a book in hand while we ate. Those were special times, separate but together, bonded with our individual passions. 

            Morning coffee tastes better with a book. I water my plants, then sit and read a half hour. Trim and prune and plant, stop and read. Hang laundry, mop the floor, get in a few more chapters. So goes my day.            

            When I made the switch from paper, it took about three days for me to get used to my Kindle reader, to make it an extension of my skin. I still love books made from trees and occasionally read one, but the Kindle is so handy. So easy to use, so lightweight, so portable, so easy on my eyes. I named him “Kin”. We became, well, intimate.

            One day last week Kin up and died, gave up the electronic ghost, expired, bit the dust, bought the farm, went West, kicked the bucket, assumed room temperature and closed the book.

            I knew Kin wasn’t well. He seemed to suffer a general feeling of malaise. He became sluggish, difficult to open, paused overlong before turning a page. He didn’t respond to electronic CPR. His condition quickly accelerated. Kin refused to open at the last page read but insisted on reading over two previous chapters while at the same time refusing to go beyond a certain page. E-book Alzheimer’s. Finally, he simply refused to open at all. The End.

            I had logged a lot of hours with my friend, my constant companion, my solace in times of trouble. May he rest in peace.

            I did what any self-respecting reader would do. Panicked.

            Once I got my breathing, pulse, heart rate, blood pressure and imagination under control, I ordered a new reader, he whom I shall call Kin II.

I tried to ship Kin II to friends in British Columbia who are arriving in Etzatlan in a few days. Turns out I can only have it shipped to the States. I knew that. Ordering from another country is complicated. So I shipped it to my daughter, Dee Dee, post haste, spare no expense. Time is crunched, remember.

“Daughter, I have an emergency.” I explained, asked her to relay it on to my friends the moment the package showed up in her rural eastern Montana mailbox. “Send it express.”

Meanwhile my Canadian friends sold their home, frantically packed and moved to temporary digs in preparation for their eventual move to Mexico but that is a year in the future. Meanwhile, their address is no longer their address. “Send it to Richard’s office,” directed Kathy. “If the package is delayed, we’ll pick it up on our way to the airport.”  Best case scenario, right?

We all are laughing at me. I know full well this is not a real crisis. It’s a small inconvenience.

Meanwhile I am re-reading a few favorites in old-fashioned paper book form, the few real books I brought with me.

When I meet my friends at the airport in Guadalajara, I shall rip Kin II out of Kathy’s clutches and embrace him like a lover.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

June 16, 2016

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