or, Don't Honk Us, We'll Honk You
Not a lot of traffic jams around here, but I found myself in one this week.
Eventually it started to subside.
Finally the street cleared out and I could go.
Some of you will know that this week is a reference to Make Way for Ducklings, a children’s book so beloved in Boston there’s actually a set of statutes honoring the book:
I didn’t read Make Way for Ducklings myself until I was in my 30s. I was just never aware of it. I didn’t know about any statues or anything like that.
Why did I read it when I did? It was on a reading list of mine, received in the mail my freshman year of college. The list is entitled DAN’S LIST OF EVERYTHING WORTH READING and it helpfully notes: You should read all this shit and then maybe you can call yourself educated.
Alas, I have not read everything on the list. I’ve read most of it. But I guess I still need to read me some William Saroyan and Sylvia Plath.
Over time, this list became the basis of a more thorough list of things to read. Year over year I probably add more to the list than I read off of it. Alas, as my wise friend Charlie advises, you’ll NEVER read all of the books you want to read.
Or will I?
Well, I probably won’t.
I maintain the list now using an app called Airtable. I maintain four similar lists, actually: Reading List, Dining List, Listening List, Viewing List.
Reading List is just much too long. There’s about 100 books on the list, and that mostly doesn’t include the unread books I’ve got around the house as is.
Dining List is horribly out of date. It’s a list of restaurants to check out. A number of them simply don’t exist anymore, and since we don’t live in Chicago proper, it’s unlikely we’re going to go to any of these any time soon. I don’t even remember a lot of this stuff. There’s apparently a place in Hyde Park called Rajun Cajun which is a hybrid Indian and Cajun restaurant, which kind of sounds like where I should be living. Well, it’s probably been on the list for a decade. So it goes.
Listening List is shorter, it’s stuff I read about it that I want to give a listen to, and most of it I actually did at some point. A lot of it looks like it’s somewhere in the alt-country vein. It also seems like it’s mostly a decade old.
Viewing List, eh. I never get around to movies at home. Some of this stuff does look interesting but I pretty much always forget the existence of anything here. I mean, there’s two Danish movies. There’s a Hungarian movie.
Point is, I used to do a lot more of this kind of list making. It’s actually fallen off in the last few years. I do still log a lot of things - I have a Reading Log, a Concert Log, etc. I seriously used to try and get my wife to go to at least one new restaurant a month, used to pick random things off the Reading List all the time… it doesn’t work quite like that now.
I’ve shared this before, but I’m sharing it again, because it’s one of those lines that always comes back around. This time from a live version:
I can’t relax ‘cause I haven’t done a thing
And I can’t do a thing ‘cause I can’t relax
I don’t think it was quite like this a few years ago, but I now find that I settle at this time of year right into finding basketball or baseball or soccer to keep me… both distracted and relaxed? It’s a fine line. As I wrote last week I’m tired of being distracted, but then again, I’m also tired and need a distraction or six.
The year is trending like last year. I read a lot of books through March, but now I get after 7:00 and I’m not thinking about books, I’m thinking about watching a game or whatever. And trying not to be working at the same time. That last one is hard to pull off sometimes.
It’s all a very fine line. I need to keep myself active, but that takes time. I need to keep moving, but I get worn out. I want to do things, but I need to relax. Some days there’s no conflict to any of this. Often the only way I can get out of it is by engaging in something that’s a certain kind of mindless, like a chess game - I have to think but I only have to think in certain ways. I don’t have to negotiate with the day to figure out where to move my knight.
But sometimes all of this gets blown up. Sometimes it’s not about plotting another move. Sometimes, whatever is happening, it just has to be put on hold.
Sometimes you just have to make way for goslings.