Columns

2006.07.12 She's fortunate in both friends and fiber

on . Posted in Midnight Musings

By COLLEEN LEDDY

I’ve had a string of good luck lately—in both selecting books to read and hitching up with old friends. That’s encouraging. I was beginning to think I had a cloud hanging over my head. The recent flood of good balances out the string of bad luck I’ve had in obtaining freebies for the Nuts About Nature summer reading program at the library. It seems every road I’ve turned down has had a roadblock.

The most disappointing was the snazzy flask-shaped water bottle people who replied with a curt, “I regret to inform you that we cannot honor your request at this time.”

I don’t recall how the water tasted, besides expensive, but it was contained in the most unique rectangular bottle that holds a manageable 11.2 fluid ounces with a sports bottle cap and a sturdy plastic clip that attaches easily to your pants. We’ve been reusing them since April and I thought they’d make a perfect give-away for the kids to take on nature hikes.

Maddie and I found the bottled water on a trip to New York while visiting the cafeteria at the Fashion Institute of Technology. As an upcoming high school senior, she doesn’t have a clue what she wants to study in college, but when someone asked what stimulates her intellectually and she said, “I just want to wear pretty clothes and live in New York,” I thought FIT might be a good fit for her. So far it’s just a good source for unique bottled water—only not for free.

For a seed mosaic project, I tried to get a wide variety of unique seeds from a mail-order company my food co-op does business with—no response. Same with an incredibly cute and inventive lightning bug flashlight, and a sheet of beautiful flower stickers.

But when one arena of my life is down in the dumps it’s so nice when it’s balanced out by good in other areas—and right now that’s good books and old buddies.

A lot of books are forgettable—kind of like junk food that fails to nourish. Eat an outstanding meal, whether at a fancy, expensive restaurant or a humble gathering of good friends, and the memory stays with you. It’s real and it’s good and it’s meaningful, especially when surrounded by people you love.

Because my life falls apart when I become immersed in a good book, I have to limit my selections and choose wisely. If I’m going to be a book slut I want to be doing it for a good cause, not a dose of Doritos. I don’t have time to read everything I want so I like to make what I read count. Oh, I read marshmallow fluff every now and then, just like I eat Cheetoes and too much chocolate, but I don’t feel so good afterward.

But the books I’ve read recently are substantial, full of fiber and flavor.

I think the latest string started off with Steve Amick’s “The Lake, the River and the Other Lake” and has continued with The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (reminiscent of Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes and The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr).

“The Glass Castle” was so good, I read way into the night, unable to put it down until David banged on the floor at 4 a.m. He made such a clamor I thought he fell out of bed, so I ran upstairs to check on him and decided I might as well go to bed since I was upstairs anyway.

And just last week, I finished “Luncheonette” by Steven Sorrentino, a memoir that takes place in New Jersey, but it's very New York and ethnic and has the funniest character, Dolores, a waitress at the luncheonette.

It was so good I didn't want to return to reality after reading it so I dilly dallied over the acknowledgments in the back of the book. It was the Fourth of July and I was being a book slut. I should have been making food for a potluck party and I should have been proofreading Observer copy, but it was such a good book I had to finish it.

Midway through the acknowledgments, all of a sudden I’m reading, "I am so grateful to Stuart Krichevsky, my agent...."  “Stuart Krichevsky!” I yell out loud and nearly fall off the couch. How many Stuart Krichevskys can there be, I wonder. My google search produces photos that could obviously be the grown-up version of the Stuart Krichevsky I went to high school with. What a hoot! So I email him off his website and he writes back, happy that I've written him since he's not really kept in contact with anybody from high school.

And it’s not just the unexpected blast from the past of Stuart. In April I saw Stuart’s best buddy, Steve, in June I bumped into Richard, an old college boyfriend. Last week, college friends Pam and Merle stopped by and this weekend I’ll be meeting up with my high school friend Sondra, who will be in Michigan for a wedding.

But connecting with Stuart tops all. It’s like a reward for being a book slut and a validation of the line I’ve quoted before: Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

Now, if I could parlay that “good book and old buddy” encounter into getting some kind of freebie for the summer reading program, I’d really know my luck as changed.

  - July 12, 2006

 

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