Sunday, September 22, 2013

Down in the tub, man, you know who you are

"You know what I like most about this city?"

"What?" Will asked.

"The tubs," Flats said.

"The tubs?" said Kelly.

"Yeah, the bathtubs," said Flats. "See, when I was growing up down South, we didn't have any kind of proper tub or shower or bathroom, we were, you know, what's the word for it?"

"Poor," said Red.

"That's right. That's the word. Flats smiled. "We were poor. Dirt poor. So I won't even tell you how we washed up back then. But in the army, they put us in those big shower rooms with all the other men. It was all right, but it was the military, so how good could it be? But now, here, in my little flat, I have got this white Parisian-style tub, and I tell you it fits me like a glove. I dig getting in there, crouching down and scrubbing in all my nooks and whatnot. I tell you, it keeps me familiar and intimate with every bit of myself. You take a shower, your head is up, far away from everything, lost in the clouds, but down in the tub, man, you know who you are."

— from Babayaga, by Toby Barlow.

I read about a book a week. Compared to many book bloggers, that's not a lot. But given that I am not involved with the book publishing industry in a professional capacity, many people, namely several of my coworkers, are blown away by the volume of books I consume.

But let's take a page average: say, 350 pages a novel. That's 50 pages a day. I manage maybe 10 pages per commute — I have a relatively short commute, but factor in a couple minutes of platform waiting. Another 10 pages in the morning, relaxing with coffee or while waiting for coffee (why would I choose instead to confront the news of the day, reality, bleary-eyed?; I have the rest of the day for that), or in the bathroom (gasp!). Some 20 pages in bed before I drop of to sleep.

Weekends take away commute reading, but allow for a little bit of lying in. Also, reading while waiting for the laundry cycle to end, or while supper simmers. Rainy days are even better, allowing for longer guilt-free stretches of reading.

And I have recently rediscovered the joys of the bubble bath. More time to read, of course.

I have a family. I even have a social life, occasionally, though a quiet one (let's say that for the most part, my family is my social life; I like hanging out with them). I still watch television and movies, maybe a little less than some people. The time I spend online is fairly limited and controlled (that is, I don't surf randomly; I have particular destinations in mind).

Yes, I consume books at such a rate that sometimes I don't retain plots beyond a few days. Sometimes books are a simple entertainment. But for this, I have time.

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