07 February 2007

Carrying books, scribbling stuff in notebooks

Between being knocked down and slapped hard by a nasty flu bug and near chaos at work as a big project nears its end, I haven't found much time for reading, excluding tech books which do not in any way count in my opinion. In scarce reading times, I enjoy catching a few minutes of reading short pieces -- essays, good magazine or journal articles, short stories, poems.

As I finished packing yesterday morning (or was it still Monday night -- it was still hours before daylight in most timezones), I had to make a decision about what books to stow in my suitcase. I always like to travel with little baggage -- in theory, anyway, able to carryon or gatecheck everything. That means one small rollerbag and the laptop case filled to the brim with books stuffed in around laptop, power cables, and presentation materials. And this is the problem: books are heavy and there is little space left after packing the necessities (although that forgotten tube of toothpaste didn't leave noticeable extra space -- what is the hotel going to charge me for that little tube?) .

Or is the problem really that I can never decide which one book to pack? Limiting to one book is tough. Maybe I'll be too tired to read something serious? Maybe the new book that I bought will be a real stinker and I'll have nothing else to read? Maybe I shouldn't bring that book I need to read because I committed to reviewing it; what if I would leave it on the plane? How would I right the review then? Somehow I managed to pack one non-fiction book I've been reading for a few weeks (Sach's The End of Poverty), a book of essays (2006 Best American Essays), and a novel I'm about 1/2 way through (P.D. James' Children of Men). I checked my bag yesterday, so I didnt' have anything but tech manuals on board. Flight time needed to be prep time. But when I finally arrived at the hotel after dinner last night, what did I read? Are you kidding? I fell asleep with the tv on and didn't wake up until the wakeup call this morning. Will I read anything on this trip? Maybe while waiting for my flight home Friday, a flight that has a ridiculous ranking like 20% on time. If I don't, can I consider it exercise having lugged back & forth across the country a few extra pounds in reading material?

Even if I don't read anything, I usually make lots of scribblings in my notebooks when I travel. Mostly observations. Sometimes things to write about here. It's about the only time that I write personal things in my work notebooks. Nothing is ever flushed out; just writing prompts for the future. Here is an example from yesterday:

As the sun rises and the earth lightens, the ground appears grey,
like a moonscape in some B sci-fi movie. As it gets lighter, I can
ell that it is snow. Looks like the color of the giant
frozen ice piles in the plowed mall parking lot 2 weeks after a
snowfall. Looking east, the light at the horizon is gorgeous, like a
watercolor by a madman. Not pastel, but on fire.
Firelight. Different than dawn when flying over the ocean.

How I wish I could really write about how wonderful the eastern light looked before the sun was on the horizon. Chances are, the above snippet is all that I'll write about it. But maybe one day it will show up in a poem or story.

Here is another scribbling from yesterday, this one more intentional, based on an actual work-related list I had been compiling:

A 2-Do List Jotted on an East Bound Plane

Jotted in my Notebook,
which is smooth black leather
with grey gridlined pages and
gives me much pleasure to use;
might as well be nice since
it is a necessity.

1. Email D re: schedules
2. Find a fix for brkn phone.
3. Email R suggestion for disc grp
4. Mail book to D.
5. Create outline for presentation.
6. Procur projector.
7. Watch jet streams swim by in early morning wake.
8. Be aware/at the ready for the moment light changes
enough to see snow covered ground.
9. Edit spreadsheet. Recalc budget numbers.
10.Worry teenager will not have coat in snowstorm at home. Worry about
the icy roads.
11. Rescheduled conf call.
12. Watch amazing orangered firelight on horizon. Be amazed.
13. Be awed. Be grateful.
14. Land safely (assign to pilot).
15. Be joyous.
16. Sleep.


Courtney said...

Oh, I love your list - yes, DO remember to remain joyous, above all else. I hope you have very safe travels. I rarely read on business trips and generally cave to bad television so don't worry if you can' t read much this week - business trips are creatures unto themselves!

Imani said...

I can never carry only one book with me. I like to have at least three so that I'm able to go with my mood rather than be limited by lack of options. Half the time I never read them much but their presence is reassuring: I could pick up one if I'd like to.

Carl V. said...

I liked your observations, well written!

I make alot of lists if only I'd remember where they were and work to cross things off once in awhile!!!

Emily Barton said...

Oh, this packing exercise sounds so much like me: must be able to carry it on, must get all these seemingly HUGE necessities in (aren't those laptop cables such a pain?), must take as many books as feasibly possible. Then, I get to my destination and either pick up new books to read or spend a total of about an hour during my 3-4-day trip reading for pleasure, since business trips almost always mean late-night business dinners that leave one completely exhausted, unable to hold up even the lightest paperback.

Dorothy W. said...

I have to take multiple books on trips too -- no way I'd take just one! What if I finish it or hate it? And I often don't end up reading all that much on trips, but I need the books there anyway -- they are comforting.

(un)relaxeddad said...

Great list! I always end up taking way more books than I can ever read and up to three different notebooks each fuzzily but definitely defined as covering a specific area. In fact, there've been times when books have occupied most of my packing (the easy-to-read book, the technical book, the poetry book, the spiritual book, the heavy-going book, the book I have two chapters to finish of but can't bear to leave behind

chiefbiscuit said...

I do like how your life spills over into all the different areas and how you have portrayed this via notebook, as it is happening. I believe only a woman would have written those notes!

bloglily said...

That list is poetry! Be amazed/be awed/be grateful...

It makes me reconsider ever list I've ever made.