Thursday, June 30, 2011

Part 3 The Nature of Books and Business - A Tour of the Books In My Bedroom -

Preface: This one took a while both because it is long and I couldn't find a way to make it shorter, and because it is possibly the most personal set of things I have ever put on the internet and I struggled with that.

Ostensibly, this experiment is to use the books in my bedroom to explore the meaning and relationships of books, reading and content through the experience of one person and the differences that occur when electronically based reading becomes not just present, but actually usable to a reader.

I should not be surprised that describing the books in my personal setting honestly, requires the examination of things that were truly personal. Books have meaning, the content of the books has meaning, the room that is one's bedroom has meaning, so of course if you are describing those things, if they are meaningful at all there is no surprise that the writing (if honest) will expose those things. Yet, I am still surprised.

Many people are gloriously open on their blogs with many personal details and I admire those people and their writing greatly, I tend to cover my trail a bit with metaphor and allegory. But here with the books this will be different, because otherwise it's not really an experiment at all.
Names, as always, are obfuscated to protect the un-innocent, but there is no way to talk about the books in my bedroom without talking about bedrooms gone by, so with apologies I will steal from a far, far better writer and label the contents as follows: Warning; Contains Me.

Plus it's long - I've broken it up into sections again.

Today's Tour of The Books in my bedroom will focus on The Stack of Books in Front of the Window.

This stack of books is on the Stage Right Side of the Armoire shown in Part 2.

Section 1 - Recap for those just joining the tour:

I am writing about books and my changing relationship to them both in terms of physical space and emotional resonance. I have a lot of books but my use of ebooks, while all "early adapter" was present for the last year or so the addition of a tablet based e-reader has changed my physical relationship to books. Books are ridiculously important to me so the change has meaning.

I explain the background and outline the experiement here in Part 1.

I begin the tour that actually starts with The Books That Became Decor here in Part 2.

This entry will focus more on the emotional attachment and meaning of the books and my personal history with them in relation to my bedroom.

This is Part 3, which should really be titled: when Good Systems Go Bad. Or if this were a horror movie the title would be "OVERFLOW"

Section 2 - The way it was supposed to work . . .

In a perfect world, in my mostly clean bedroom there would be no television, the clothes would be in the hamper and the closet would have shoes in slight disarray kicked into them as soon as I got home. The paper in the room would be a small stack of mail being reviewed before being tossed/acted upon/and filed. There would only be a small stack of books at each night table. 3 or 4 at most, consisting of the "current read" and the "to be read next" books. There would be a stack of catalogues because there is always a stack of catalogues, however it would not involve more than say . . . . 20 of them.

That's the perfect world. Of course part of that is because I didn't list the comics. I'll get to the comics later.

Section 3 - Computers and Books and Bulletin Boards . . . oh my?

The truth is that there is a television in the bedroom. It's behind the doors of the armoire, it doesn't actually get a TV signal, nor is it connected to cable. Our friends who do have televisions in all the pertinent rooms in their houses tell me that it's not like having a TV at all. It is connected to a PS2 because a PS2 also plays dvds. When The Children who aren't really childish anymore were actually children, they were different genders and 5.5 years apart. I had a very strict no-TVs-in-bedrooms-or-living-room policies. There was one TV in the Family Room. The problem with this arrangement was disagreements and one child or another being frozen out of the room if their sibling had friends over. It is unfair to make five year olds tolerate 11 year olds and vice versa as the odd person out. It become more unfair to force 8 year old boys and 14 year old girls to always have to interact with each other in the only public space. Thus, the compromise was to put a TV and the extra PS2 that came with marrying The Perfectly Normal Husband into the bedroom, so the PS2 in my room was the escape hatch for the sibling surrounded by the other sibling's social circle.

A TV in the bedroom means you don't have to leave the room much. The last time there was a TV in my bedroom I was recovering from a back injury that laid me up for 3 months. Never again. But I could rationalize that this didn't count and it was enclosed in furniture so I didn't see it, and the Children could co-exist peacefully. Most of the time the three of them played multi-player together anyway.

Now with the ages in late teens and early twenties their social circles interact and overlap. The Armoir is almost never opened except to vacuum out dust - and that doesn't happen nearly as often as it should.

I'm not holier than thou about electronics, it's just our focus is different. Each child had a computer, a handheld game and a large bookshelf in their rooms. They got their own computers around the age of 8. Much to the dismay of my peergroup of Luddite Suburban parents.

They shouldn't have wasted their time clucking at me. I have more spyware on our network than a data-entry sweatshop, so the Children know that I know every keystroke they type. They had been sharing my computer with supervision for years prior to their independent access, they also had limited access due to parental controls and me blocking access at the network level based on their passwords. All of that was basically training wheels.

I believe as a city kid that you don't protect your children from dangers, you take them out with you and teach them how to protect themselves and be aware of, and assess dangers. The internet looks just like riding the buses or crossing the street to me. Teach them the dangers of the forests, arm them, let them make short trips until they are ready. Then at around 11 years old after three years of close supervision the deal is I keep the spyware up but loosen up the parental controls. Don't type or visit anything you don't want your mother to know.

It probably sucks to have a mom who uses the tech before you do. Or maybe not. I kept waiting for one of the kids to hack the system. When The Boy finally did it was to fix a problem with his school computer to reclaim their admin password that they had forgotten which locked up his school based computer. I was so proud, but a little concerned, it's a little weird for kids not to rebel against control. The Boy explained he never really did anything that he wouldn't admit to anyway. There was very little point. The House exists under a very laid back liberal environment with strict authoritarian control.

He primarily used his computer to go to Japanese websites to read Manga, most of which didn't make it over here or took months to get to. The computer has always been an extension of reading, even though The Boy has difficulty reading in general if the words are in mixed media, the difficulty disappears. Words along flick across his long term memory like ninjas on rooftops, Memory knows they are there, but cannot catch and keep them. However with sounds or words Memory can catch them.

The Boy has books, and many of them have pictures. The Girl's computer is there primarily to make pictures, view and share pictures, and connect with her friends. The world of Harry Potter led to tiny pre-teen fanfic and shared BBS worlds of unofficial roleplaying games. She learned more tech setting up websites and making art banners and character sketches than she did in anything that tried to orient her that way in school. Words in books sink into The Girl's Memories like a laser carving the Rosetta Stone into the moon, everything stays. Forever.

When The Girl loves a book or a book series it is best for me to re-read it. Her memory is insanely detailed and occasionally her love for something where I am ambivalent at best becomes akin to having a pop quiz during most conversations. Thus, her deep, deep love of Lord of the Rings meant that I actually had to finish the series. Yes, that's right - I don't automatically adore all things Tolkien. Mea Culpa.

I loved the Hobbit. The Hobbit and Narnia started my reading of Fantasy which led to books I did love with the same passion that many save for Tolkien. I liked Fellowship but I never got past The Two Towers for years and years and years. Until I had a Rings-Mad child. Then I forced myself through it. A different story, for a different subject.

This is about computers, bedrooms and books and business.

So the computers and books were connected for the children from the very beginning. When they were done with their books they would frequently be next to their computers as they looked things up. Finished books went on their shelves but frequently came down.Where my friends and I would create worlds and new stories based on what we read in Brian Saunder's backyard ( he had the only one big enough to play in ), my children found online communities and played let's-pretend with kids all over the world. It was the same, but different.

Which all leads back to the reason there was no tech in my bedroom.

Section 4 - When the Computers Took Over

Before The House there had been a computer in my bedroom for a good portion of my adult life because my bedroom usually functioned as the non-shared space I wrote in.

When I ran the magazine, initially I lived in a place where I had a separate office and there was simply one baby. Bedrooms were for sleeping and collapsing in. One reads for pleasure, or reads in comfort in the bedroom. Work was in the office. But video games started sneaking in on the single TV. So if the house had a family room, the TV was there, if the house only had a living room then the TV was in the living room instead. Generally if there was no office the computer lived where the TV was.

That arrangement lasted until the second baby arrived and the grownups stopped sharing a computer - trust me, it's generally better that way. I can share sinks, closets, drawers, books but sharing a computer leads to all sorts of dynamics I'd rather avoid. When that step happened the "second computer" ended up in the master bedroom and the main computer eventually migrated there too when it's space needed to be used for a play area. This led to people in the bedroom being up all night with the computer in the early internet era. The future of the Children and words, and books didn't exist yet. Computers and books were separate things. The computer was work, entertainment and games. And if one partner is up all night in a room with a glowing screen and the other isn't, I can promise it leads to a disconnect if there are already underlying fissures.

Section 5 - The Way We Were

But when the underlying fissures became the faultlines complete with earthquakes and landmasses sinking into the ocean, I still had a computer in my bedroom. Unfortunately, now it was mine. I was getting a degree in Multimedia. I was working, going to school being the single mom with the help of my very good friends and then finishing all those MM projects so now I was the on with the screen glowing all night.

It was stressful, the computer was a big reminder of my workload, I had two giant metal laboratory bookshelves filled with my books. My books being nearby had always given me comfort, they were there, they looked good and full and brought my worlds with me whereever I happened to land. But in the giant gray metal shelves on either side of the computer desk from staples with a mattress and box spring on the floor and a second computer desk and computer where perhaps a dresser should have been, I was no longer comforted by the books alone. I was depressed and stressed at how little my life and my space reflected anything like my taste, or my desire for peace, or even just being a grown up.

Also I found other people in the room playing Everquest was really, really, irritating while I was working. I had a new partner. His relationship to the computer superseded all other forms of interaction. He was very visual and interactive. He had books and loved them, but his first love was video games closely followed by television. With his arrival, cable TV also came into the house. None of us were used to that level of media consumption in that manner. Books at that point were a refuge from screens, and quite honestly a way not to see what my room had become.

When my dresser had to be replaced, I realized I had never bought furniture for myself as an adult person. The dresser was actually my nursery furniture which had been my Travelin' Grandma's furniture. Everything in my room was donated by family members or a found object. As a parent, as a wife and now as a student/girlfriend/mom, I always took care of designing the bedroom - MY bedroom last. I was in my early 30's and had never owned a brand new piece of furniture in the place that was supposed to be my personal space. It was nice, but it was all arranged from happenstance rather than taste, the only thing in my bedroom that was mine alone were my books. It was shocking. I'd never really thought of myself as the self erasing type, but when the veneers came off all of the relationships around me I realized that I was pretty damn close. But not in the disappearing way, in the "Don't worry about me - I can take care of myself" way. And I could. I just did it last. Which means I never got around to doing it.

Well, that sucked. It covered up a bunch of other stuff too. No matter what the house, the children, the marriage looked like, no matter how strong, or balanced or personality based things seemed to be, the reality was in that bedroom. I never got around to doing it well because I was the lowest priority, and I pretended it was OK because I did that on purpose. However I did it on purpose for close to a decade. At that point, you have to admit that you are not your own priority.

So I bought a dresser, real nightstands and a bedframe.

And eventually I bought a house - the one that we now refer to as the House. I had moved every year and half in my first marriage and had never lived anywhere for more than 4 years growing up- pretty impressive for someone who isn't an army brat. I never moved because I wanted to, it was always in reaction to something or someone else.

I'm not moving again. Maybe if I get rich I'll buy additional houses but not leave this one ever, ever again. I'll be the grumpy old guy in UP. I have friends that are physicists and engineers, we'll get it to fly if we have to.

The computers were killing the relationship between that partner and I. Truth is computers played a supporting role in the destruction that came with the marriage that preceeded it.

On reflection perhaps I should be more ambivalent about computers. Or at least more cautious about the men who love them.

When I bought The House, I did not know for sure that this person would be moving with us. He said he couldn't live with us. I agreed that he'd be happier living on his own. He was a little confused when I asked if that meant he wanted to break up. I guess he thought it was a given once he said that. What was important wasn't location but our relationships to things and environments were very, very different. He did not buy The House with me - but when I was looking at houses I was looking for a place to make sure that there was a place for computers to be out of the bedroom and away from other people in the house.

The partner did indeed move with me after all but then earned his nickname "The Bridge Troll". He was a very nice troll, he was only cranky sometimes, but one of the things discovered when the computers moved into spaces of their own was that The Bridge Troll moved to where the computer was and the rest of the household never really saw him again unless we pushed very, very hard to ask him to come with us.

In the world outside the office, I had bought myself real and grown up furniture (and a headboard!) and was planning on finishing the set in my new space. My bedroom here in the House is smaller than the master bedroom suite in the rental I was in before, but the Children's rooms are larger and the office is slightly down the hall and away. Bookshelves went into every room in the house. Every room except my bedroom.

The Children didn't realize we shared a bedroom, the Bridge Troll and I, because he was never in it when I was. Perhaps they thought we took turns. Perhaps because we did. The virtual world was where he wanted to be, and the portal to it was in the office. And therefore so was he.

When we helped him move out - we made sure that the place where his computer was had lots of natural light and helped him decorate so that when he left his virtual bridge he didn't become overwhelmed with the haphazard collection of things that had depressed me so completely before The House. It didn't work out between the Bridge Troll and I because I'm a little too interested in being here in the world and he was barely intersted in that at all. But when you love someone, just because they stop being good for you and you stop being good for them, doesn't mean that you have to let go of caring about them. So we cared about where he lived when he came visit the world we were in, and helped make it pleasant, but elsewhere.
Not in the House.

Now finally grownup in every way and self-supporting, I got to have my books displayed in places where they served a purpose, looked good and were still mine. I didn't need them in my bedroom like protective insulation of the self. They could simply be read, enjoyed and then become part of the House, another tiny bit of treasure or a feather in the nest.

But until writing this series it never occured to me that the reason I kept the bookshelves out of this room might be because I had to keep the bookshelves in my room before. Like I might lose me altogether if I didn't see my books, and I was finally able to just be in my room. Just a few books were enough to make sure the room was still true, but after moving every year or so I was finally home, I wouldn't have to move, the books all had a place of their own because the place was mine.

The Children had their books and computers integrated by this point, but I finally had myself, my books and my living space integrated. I still interacted with books like I always had, but the Internet cut down on my need for magazines so there were no new subscriptions.

Computers quietly had already supplanted some of my casual reading materials for news, gossip and journalism. I was willing to pay for subscriptions just not paper ones.

Section 6 - So here in the imperfect world . . .

Well now what have we got? We have the history of books in Drinne's Bedroom. Before the Perfectly Normal Husband joined the House, my bedroom here worked really, really close to the Perfect World scenario because I had a ton of book storage space in the basement. Also, while almost every other roommate and sig other left their books, when they left, the Bridge Troll took most of his books with him. It wasn't all that many books, just about two or three boxes - one decent bookshelf's worth.

But one of the things that made the Perfectly Normal Husband attractive enough for me to even think about risking the idea of marriage again was his lovely, lovely collection of books. And he even came with his own quality-grade bookshelves! He had the perfect mix of enough familiar books that we shared reading tastes and enough different books that he had practically a whole new library for me to read!

The Basement-Family Room easily absorbed his books and bookshelves and our books are now quite the collection of his/hers/ours because we have been together for some time now. Just at the point where we were starting to worry about storage (Remember when I explained how we shopped for book as a family?) we discussed the idea of giving away or selling off duplicates.

This was a big step. When the Bridge Troll wanted to get rid of duplicates - he wanted to keep his copies and get rid of mine. This included gaming books. I said "no" flat out to the gaming books. Several people reference game rules at the same time. I'd been running since I was 12. The only way you can have too many rules reference books is if you have more copies than people in your group. We did not.

I did actually ask him what would happen if we broke up. His lack of a clear answer led to me keeping all of my books. Even if his answer was - "if you get rid of the extra books to make space and we break up, I'll buy new ones or will buy new ones for you"- I would have gone along with it, but there was nothing except a denial we would ever break up ( this is not a convincing line to a person who has already survived a divorce) and a lack of empathy or reassurance. More than clothes, jewlery, pictures, my books are what shows a reflection of me, my family, things we've done, vacations, life events . . . my bookshelves are a scrapbook of our lives. I don't have many pictures on the walls. I do think my books serve the same purpose that photo albums and all those incessant videos of life events serve for non-reading people.

The Bridge Troll was asking me to take the chance that he would leave with copies of books that he had not been around for. And he was not offering to replace them. I don't need the original physical object, the story by itself was sufficient, but I didn't want the expense of replacing things I already owned simply to satisfy his need for minimalism. Certainly not without him at least understanding what he was really asking.

Now in the light of hindsight, I realize he knew exactly what he was asking. He was asking me for permanence, he knew if I took his copies and got rid of mine I would be saying that we were truly together for all time. That I expected us to make it. But he was asking me too soon, and he didn't know or understand enough to offer me a saftey net in return. Now in this light my reaction looks kind of cruel, and perhaps it was, but you shouldn't corner wounded animals and I certainly qualified.

So six years later I am discussing getting rid of duplicates with the Perfectly Normal Husband. There is not a care in the world, we'll simply take the one that is in better condition and get rid of the other (or others). It was like walking through an shift in time. I suddenly saw clearly how little trust I'd had in other relationships. Not that they'd all asked me to get rid of duplicate books, the reality was most of the books were mine so it was almost never that specific issue until the Bridge Troll. But except for that first time, I had never expected anyone to stay. Ever.

Not family, not friends, only the one husband, that first time and when that proved so incredibly untrue, I figured that category of partner permanence was also not something that happened in real life. You are supposed to leave your parents, your children are supposed to leave you. Life may keep your friends around you virtually, but not physically. Everything changes, everyone can go. Except the books, they stay, you can't take them away from me.

It's OK. but it's one of those moments, planning this winnowing of duplicates that I realized how much I'd healed. I still don't trust anything to stay, except him. Not even him really, life happens, I'm difficult. Healthcare is not subsidized and I've seen people have to divorce or move away because of needing healthcare. He can have my books, because even if anything happens and we can't be together, he knows what they mean. Even if he takes them with him he'll know what they mean, so it would be OK as long as he's the one that has them.

Even if he gives them away it will be OK because he's the one giving them.

That's how much I love him.

And besides, we needed room for new books.

But just at this epic point in personal development a wrench was thrown into the works - The Girl discovered reading for pleasure in a really big way. And what she was reading was all the stuff we had read. But the girl loves her books like the Velveteen Rabbit got loved, and she sometimes misplaces them. Whereas the Perfectly Normal Husband and I barely break the spine, The Girl gives the meaning to the phrase "Dog Eared". She carries her books like pets. They get into scrapes just like pets.

New Plan. We keep duplicates and give the disposable copies to The Girl, which saved us replacement money. But the backlog then began.

Section 7 - Perhaps we could build an Aztek Pyramid out of them?

The Perfectly Normal Husband reads and subscribes to magazines and comics, in his field of history and, well just comics. He also gets Amazing and Analog and a few other magazines. There are three 2ft stacks around his night-table. He packs them up and puts them in archival boxes in the attic every now and then, but he switched jobs and hasn't had nearly as much time.

We receive books for the holidays and they land in the bedroom first. The become the "to be read pile" There is usually a difficulty because these are beautiful books that we like to look at, that should have a place of pride on a shelf, so they don't go down to the basement because they would be stuffed in willy-nilly. There is a 1.5 ft stack of books on one side of his lamp and a very impressive jenga like structure of books measuring about 17 inches long by 30 inches high on the other side.

Poor Perfectly Normal Husband no longer knows how much of that pile is read vs. unread. I will not take pictures - I don't want to embarrass him, it's not really his fault, it's because we have more books than shelves and any attempts to fix it without suddenly pitching the house into looking like a dorm room are insuffecient without really addressing the basement - which became the new "Do it last" room when working on home improvement.

The area around his night table are his personal books. The area around mine suffers from catalogues - but I have the option of throwing them out, and I do frequently. I used to have books around mine but when I got a laptop I found that I used it more like a magazine and not so much like a work item. When the laptop was in the bedroom, I wrote letters(email) to friends and family and read magazines in their online format. The computer once it was not attached to the desk started just being a magic book I could read anything at any time. I hate reading long things on my desktop but I was fine reading long form on the laptop because I could lay in bed be comfy and all of a sudden it was more like reading for pleasure.

Instead of a pile of books I had my laptop tucked into a charger at the side of my bed. The first change in my attitude towards electronic reading was the ability to change the environment of where I was reading. That made me the one who brought the computer back into the bedroom. But I was using it like a Victorian Ladies Writing Desk and an infinite magazine. I did not do any kind of actual work on the laptop.

And there were still books. Shortly after the laptop started changing my habits, I became irritated and exhausted by the basement and the stacks of books in the bedroom. We gathered all the "extra" books finished and unfinished and separated them into hardcovers and paperbacks so we could see how much more shelving we would need and look into some sort of discreete transitional shelving that wouldn't overpower the room.

The hardcover books from that exercise are what is in the pile that is neatly infront of the window.

In this stack are the following:

  1. A Guide to Jewish Religous Practice by Issaac Klein
  2. 1635 : The Dreeson Incident Eric Fling and Virginia De Marce
  3. Spinoza A Life - Nadler
  4. American Shaolin - Matthew Polly
  5. Team of Rivals - The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln( We had it years before Obama's administration made it a household name)
  6. Watchman - Alan Moore
  7. Jewish Wisdom - Rabbi Joseph Telushikin (This is an awesome book - it's historical while illustrating things that became part of spiritual practice - so it's not all "do this" it more like "think about this and this is where it came from" proving that people did most of the religion making not God but that doesn't mean it's not spiritual)
  8. The Book of Ballads - Charles Vess with - lots and lots of cool people
  9. Reserved for the Cat - Mercedes Lackey
  10. The Everyday Guide to Wine Course Guidebook - Jennifer Simonetti Bryan
  11. Modern Philosophy of Language - edited by Maria Baghramian
  12. The Jewish Book of Why - Alfred J. Kolatch
  13. 1634: The Ram Rebellion - Eric Flint with Virginia DeMarche
  14. Mirror Mirror - Gregory Maguire (The cover I have is better I never would have picked the book up with the new cover)
  15. 1634: The Baltic War - David Weber & Eric Flint
  16. The Grantville Gazettte IV Eric Flint
  17. 1634: The Barvarian Crisis - Eric Flint and Virginia DeMarce
  18. Liberty Medows Cold, Cold Heart - Frank Cho
  19. Girl Genius - Volumes 6 & more - Phil and Kaja Foglio
  20. Buffy Omnibus 2
  21. The Yiddish Policeman's Union - Michale Chabon
  22. Consuming Habits: Drugs in History and Anthropology - edited by Jordon Goodman et al.
  23. JPS Hebrew -English Tanakah ( this is the Jewish Bible, direct translation with original hebrew next to it - no rabbinic commentary)
  24. Venus vs. Virus
  25. French Women don't get Fat - Mirelle Guilani
  26. The Salmon of Doubt - Douglas Adams
  27. The Hidden World - Paul Park
  28. Buffy the Vampire Slayer the Roleplaying game

Hmmn that's a lot of books.

They're stacked neatly on another item of imminent home improvement - the custom glass tile that needs to go into the backsplash in the kitchen. We needed to hire a tile specialist and ran out of time then had time but ran out of money. If it ever gets finished ( it will I swear Fantastic Artist Who Made the Tiles!) I will blog about it then, but right now the box is in safe and plain view and protected by the books in this stack.

Section 8 - Would E-Books Have Made Any Difference to this Stack?

The 1634 Books are books that get re-read when the newest one in the series comes out that's why there are several. For a long time we couldn't wait for the year delay until the paperback came out so we bought the hardcover, right up until the Dreeson Incident. 1634 is a shared writing environment and I really cared about the characters but when they shared it out to so many writers they put down a fiat - write about the everyday people, not the main characters of the original story. Which is all well and good for a bit but then there were way too many characters and I wanted to get back to the main characters of the original story and thus found my enthusiasm waning. The Dreeson Incident was bought on release, but I couldn't quite muster the desire to open it up, the world was drowning in details, all side dishes and no main course anymore.

I haven't actually bought a new Ring of Fire book since. They were early adapters of electronic formats though and I subscribed to the Grantville Gazette. Once again short stories worked well on the computer, but not full books. If I could have purchased The Dreeson Incident on my iPad and not have it reside accusingly next to my armoire I probably would have bought the subsequent books figuring I could get to them with fresh eyes at some future point. Interestingly when I realized how long I had but haven't read the book, I went to look for it on kindle. It isn't available.

Sorry guys, I love everyone good and bad in Grantville, but unless I get an actual book with Mike and Rebecca as the main characters again I'm just not invested in keeping up anymore.

You lost me with Spinoza.

The other books in the pile are art, non-fiction, and religious books and what I would call deep pleasure reading. The would probably all still be physical books - only the Ring of Fire books would change to electronic format, and even then it would be on a trial basis. When I do like them they are good reading and I tend to read them on trains and vacations. I almost feel like the fault is mine for being put off of them. Like I'm guilty of betraying them.

The upshot is that about 25 of those books would still be in the House regardless of the availability of electronic books. Because of them being gifts or containing high quality art content.

And of course the comics. I'm still not sure what to do about those.

The yellow bag is full of them. They are mostly mine. What they are is irrelevant. I enjoy them immensely and love the art and don't want to see them on a computer but wish to the heavens above that they were on my tablet instead. Waiting for them to be graphic novels worked well but I would pay for them to be virtual instead of physical - I have no sentimental attachment to the physical object of a comic at all, even though comics have been part of my life as long as books have. Webcomics like Looking for Group and Girl Genius show that full page comics work well as a computer format, if I could just have an e-version of the physical comics I'd be perfectly happy.

So the conclusion is that if I could get my hardcopy comics electronically on my tablet ( but not on my computer) I would. I don't know what would happen to get Ring of Fire books on my tablet instead of my floor - but it's possible that one of the turn offs was the amount of physical space they were taking up.

But now knowing just what physical books meant to me and how they kept peices of me intact through scary times, knowing that asking me for my books has such emotional impact let's look at what that would have meant during the crisis points in past bedrooms.

If the Bridge Troll wanted to get rid of physical duplicates and I had electronic copies would I have said no?

I would have gotten rid of the duplicates, I would never have reacted to the underlying signals that he couldn't read my needs or that he was passive aggressively trying to push me into defining our relationship on terms I wasn't willing to accept. There wouldn't have been any tension, but there wouldn't have been any insight either.

On the other hand, if I was the one who was lying in bed with a small portable computer and the sig others who brought the computers into the bedroom started using computers in relationship damaging ways, would I have ever brought it up?

No, I lose a sort of moral high ground, I brought the computer in, I'm laying in bed looking at a tiny computer, I would never have been able to say "please stop sitting at the desk playing Everquest" because the legitimate answer would have been, "Well you're using a screen too!" and I would have conceded the point.

Once the Perfectly Normal Husband received an Ipod Touch from Anti Claus and All of Us, he stopped playing so many "sit in front of the large screen" games and we have a tendency to sit in the living room together, or lay in bed next to each other and read, it's just on screen, but the behavior is book-like even when we are actually playing games. The form factor changed the interaction. We can hand the other person the amusing thing or the picture we are looking at. We share interesting quotes or sentences, just like when we are reading.

The house looks almost the same as when there were nothing but books, but where even laptops took a lot of space and form limitations still dictated locations, tablets and smart phones made us revert to our natural physical behavior with books. So if you took a picture of us in our quiet everyday downtime say 18 years ago and took the same picture now, it would only look like what we were reading on changed, but if you took a picture anytime between those two pictures the snapshot would show us at desks, in rooms isolated from other people or gathered together around a screen watching the same thing.

What happens moving forward as more books go on my tablet? Ironically too many books in my bedroom makes me feel like something is broken now instead of making me feel whole, but the idea of no more physical books feel like staring into a vortex.

It took all that time for technology to behave like a book behaves in your life.

But what would I have had in all of the bygone bedrooms when the books were the only thing I had that really belonged to me?

If it were just the stories, and not the books, would they really belong to me at all?


Anonymous said...


I know for a fact that I have indeed read all of the books on the lefthand side of the night table.

To quote Opus, "Pthbtttttt!"

The right hand side too,(except for the top inch of my magazine subscriptions).


Kelly said...

This post was very revealing and deep, but in true Drinne fashion. Even I learned things about you that I never knew. I like it when you write.

I love the dynamic of your family. It is beautiful and rich.

I am impressed with your introspection, too, regarding your need for the bookshelves to be outside of your room once you had the House. Or your decision to keep the duplicates.

You live a full life, Drinne.