Saturday, February 16, 2008

A bad habit (newly formed) / Portland travelogue Part 1

First, let me say how much I can't stand the sound of screaming children. Particularly on airplanes. Or in Target. I can at least choose not to shop at Target (which I do -- as in, I do choose to avoid the place as if it's an epicenter for airborne cancer). But I must use air travel services if I want to quickly arrive at a far-off destination. And I unfortunately do not pull in the kind of cash that would allow me to charter a private jet. So commercial airlines shall remain the way to go for little bearded me.

Strangely, after I wrote the first two sentences of this petty rant, the kid who prompted my wholly unnecessary intro paragraph clammed up real good. Meanwhile, some non-commotion ensued over the guy next to me having settled into the wrong seat here on United flight 522. He was in 9B, but his ticket was for 8B. Fortunately for this visually challenged passenger, people in the Bay area aren't terribly picky about such details, and the misplaced man's fellow passengers stepped up to assure the flight attendant, who was twitching over the fact that the flight was 100% full, that it was all good. Seemingly upset that the fight he tried to pick was instantaneously quashed by good will, he turned to his female co-attendant and sarcastically remarked, "are we on Southwest or United?"

But oh yes... the bad habit (newly formed) that this trip reminded me of, which was what prompted me to put pen to paper (literally -- this is an after-the-fact transcription).

So I'm about to hop on a flight to Portland, using some miles I had accumulated via the generous folks at United Airlines, and I had it in mind that I should pick up a bottle of wine for my friend Chris and his wife, who both graciously invited me to visit. While scouting around for a place in the labirynth that is San Francisco International Airport where I could purchase some kind of zin or syrrah, I gave in to the temptation to stop at Compass Books. Never mind the fact that I had intentionally left behind my half-read copy of Dan Matovina's Without You: The Tragic Story of Badfinger specifically so I would be forced to write, rather than read, while in transit. Granted, I'm writing now, but still, I'm not writing what I had intended to write (as in, the next batch of reviews I have due). And what I'm writing now is partially inspired by (or in response to) (or not) what I ended up buying at Compass (thanks a lot, Chuck Klosterman)!

So now, by my count, I have started reading five different books, and that's not counting the used copy of one of a handful of Bob Dylan tomes I bought last Fall that I have yet to start, nor the book on vampires of New England written by an ex-girlfriend's father that I got halfway through before my Halloween spirit started to evaporate. I swear I will finish it once that urge to tramp through graveyards in search of ghosts returns. And mark my words, it will return, because it happened once, and that in turn means I will want to revisit it again, because anything I find pleasurable can't happen only once. It's the law. Or "a" law.

But anyway, the fact that I have not finished reading six different books does not make me proud. It's not "me" to leave a book unfinished, or a drink, or food. I won't even watch a movie halfway (unless someone else is in control of the DVD player) or listen to an album halfway (unless I've heard it all the way through at least once and I really need to watch my time). And yet, I can't seem to help myself. It's like a private rebellion against myself (or against the idea of another ex-girlfriend so proudly proclaiming that she always finished everything she started, so it's like I'm creating a reason to justify the fact that we're no longer together since it makes more sense to me than the real reasons behind the split. Or not.) to indulge in that gross form of American excess where we can just take a bite of, say, a donut, toss the rest, and then start munching on a cheesecake, toss that, and then wash it down with some diet cola. I hate living that way. It makes me sick just to watch people who indulge in wasteful and unhealthy habits, especially if they can't really afford to do it but insist anyway out of some sense of either entitlement or having to keep up with the SUV-driving beyond-their-means mortgage holders living next door. And to be honest, my newly formed habit of not finishing things is really only limited to books at this point (and songs too -- I make Axl Rose look prolific, since I've never released an album in my life). I simply do not have it in me to leave any morsel of food and drink undigested, except for that awful bottle of pinot grigio sitting in my fridge thath I probably won't even cook with since there are so many pieces of cork floating in it. Nope, it's just books for now. And that includes the one I started writing. I got to page 10 and I ran out of writing vibes. Someday I'll finish it. I hope. But not this week. Or month. Or year. Not that I'm giving up. I have other things to write. Reviews, mostly. And I will finish reading the Badfinger book first because there's an artist guide riding on its completion. Actually, I could write the artist guide right now, without having to finish the book, since I know Badfinger's catalog front to back and have enough of their history up in my head to make for a decent guide. But I've convinced myself that reading this book first -- which I should have bought and read seven years ago -- will enable me to write a better guide. And for that reason, all the other books I started shall remain untouched for a while, in hopes that new distractions do not cause me to forget that I own them once the Badfinger dust settles.

And by the way, I'm done.

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