The Return of the Story

2010 was a hard year.

Its true I was diagnosed with a chronic illness in 2009 but it was the tail end of 2009, almost 2010 and its true that I could have chosen to let 2010 be a new year and forget about the baggage that came with the illness, lose the weight, and move on with my life and be stronger.

but I didn’t.

in 2010 I did things that made the people who care about me worry. I stuffed all the food I could get my hands on in my mouth, I invented excuses not to leave the house, I quit working at my job and later quit my job…I started listening to country music and abandoned all the music I used to listen to …and most shockingly I stopped reading and caring about stories.

My attention span is massive, and always has been. At 11 I started reading Classic science fiction by the likes of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Isaac Asimov. I plowed through the Barsoom series by ERB (about Mars) and decimated the Hitchhiker’s Guide series by Douglas Adams (which you can do if you have even a small attention span), the Dune Series by Frank Herbert and many others. I couldn’t understand why people in my 11 year old world wanted to read stuff like the Baby Sitter’s Club (I read all that at 7) or the newly released Harry Potter books when I and my massive attention span were off reading great works of science fiction.

My attention span and my books carried me through elementary school, to middle school, through high school and eventually through powering through college in three years.

until eventually I coudn’t read anymore.

Anything.

I would sit down to read a book and flip to the end or sit down to watch a complicated movie and wonder when it would be over, and I’d turn on the radio for noise, not for any kind of entertainment.

It wasn’t like I was doing this because I was bored, but because I couldn’t focus.

All I heard all day every day was static.

Like flipping through the stations on a radio, all I heard was static and interference. I couldn’t concentrate on anything and I found myself growing more and more upset because if I couldn’t focus…how was I ever going to get my life back?

The medication I took put me in a haze, but without the medication I was a lot worse…so what was I to do?

I did what I’m good at…

I fought.

I started off reading kids books, things I had neglected in favor of more complicated plotlines. I didn’t read Twilight (GOD NO!) but I started with easy stuff and moved on to more challenging books, but all stuff that was interesting. I read Inspirational Romances that made my younger self gag while comfortably repressed down in my subconscious.

When I moved to Lexington I spent a lot of time alone and in that loneliness I started to peruse my bookshelf and look at the great works I once read. I didn’t pick them up and read them again but I thought long and hard about them. I also started reading at work on my breaks.

Reading is an addiction, most definitely. I love to peruse books and I love to hear a good story. I bought tickets for my family to see A Prairie Home Companion and sat back in my seat and listened to all the stories on the show, I’m watching This American Life as I write this, and I keep looking up , absorbed in the stories.

A lot of people like stories because it helps them escape from their life – but I like stories because they remind me that I have a life worth living.

I sat at Starbucks on Saturday and wrote out my new years resolutions. This year I didn’t put weight loss on this year’s list – I know I still need to lose weight, but I really need to stop beating the dead horse and promising to do it…and I need to get off my ass and do it.

but one resolution I came up with is I made the decision to read 201 books in 2011.

I’ve already read two, and its the third day of the year, so if I keep up this pace I’ll accomplish this goal in no time.

My resolutions don’t say anything about getting better, or striving to be a size 10 by the end of the year, but I decided I’m going to live a healthy life – to eat good food, to exercise, and to enjoy my life. I may have an illness, and my life may suck sometimes…but for the most part its awesome…and I’m going to get out there and start living it.

and read books.

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