Monday, August 1, 2011
Those Little Addictions
Deborah Crombie: Don't worry, I'm not talking about Twelve Step stuff
here, but about the little things that creep into our lives. The things we take for granted, then assume we can't do without.
Not that there aren't little addictions that we consciously deem necessary--I confess, mine is tea. I did go without tea once, when I was pregnant with my daughter. I swore I'd never do it again, and I
still stand by my resolution. Well, I probably could write without tea, but it wouldn't be nearly as much fun. . .
But I recently discovered that something I'd thought a necessity was surprisingly easy to give up--the daily newspaper. I grew up in a household where my parents read both the local paper, the Dallas Morning News, and the Wall Street Journal, so newspapers had been a part of my life for as long as I could remember. And I'd subscribed to the Dallas Morning News for, well, most of my adult life. It was such a part of my morning routine: flipping through the sections to find the ones I liked, perusing them over breakfast and then another cup or two of tea.
But the paper got smaller and smaller, the subscription price didn't go down, and I found I was getting most of my news online. So at the beginning of the summer, after a lot of agonizing over the decision, I went cold turkey. No "Just the Sunday edition." No paper, period.
And what I've found is that I don't miss it at all. Not the least little bit. In fact, it's been liberating. I can read a book while I eat my toast. Or listen to a book. Or make notes for my own book. Or--the best thing--stare out the kitchen window at the hummingbirds zipping around the feeder. Quiet time.
I am not advocating or applauding the slow decline of print newspapers, by the way. I am as distressed as anyone over the demise of many of the best book review sections, and perhaps if the DMNs hadn't become a shade of its former self, I'd have found the parting harder. But for me giving up the paper has been a welcome bit of simplification.
What about you, Jungle Reds? Are there any little things that steal your time that you might find you could do without?
ROSEMARY HARRIS: It's hardly original to say that the computer is stealing my time - but that doesn't make it any less true. One thing I've done to fight back is to turn off the sound notifying me that I have a new email. I felt like a complete dope for never having done it before. And I suppose I could live without watching the early rounds of a tennis tournament - do I really need to see Rafa Nadal humiliate some poor guy from Uzbekistan?
What I can't do without are my periodic walks around my garden. A few times a day I feel the need to "walk the back 40" as I refer to it. I prune, I plan, I think, I chill. Then I come back and sometimes check emails.
LUCY BURDETTE: (AKA Roberta) We get the NEW YORK TIMES delivered daily. There are plenty of days that I can't get through all of it, but I nibble on it across the day--a little at breakfast, a little at lunch, and then maybe a bit more while making a cup of coffee. And Sundays, forget about it. I would HATE to give up the real estate and style sections. Not that I'll ever own a place in New York, but I love reading about the hunt for the right apartment. And the food section on Wednesday, of course. No not giving those up Debs!
DEBS: Okay, I have to confess. I do miss the food section. My friend usually saves it for me, but I have about three weeks worth of those I haven't read (maybe partly because it's too hot to even think about cooking here.) And you are talking about The New York Times, which I think would a little harder to part with . . .
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Yes, we do "the back forty" too--every night when we get home from work. Lovely, and now the dahlias are starting. But--my addictions have to do with food, too. And they're like--serial addictions. For awhile, a few years ago, I was craving toasted sesame bagels with strawberry jam. I mean--I loved them, wanted them, had them every day. I could have lived on only that.
Before that, it was-and you can tell it was when I was single--baked potatoes with sour cream and broccoli. Honestly, I would start thinking about it on the subway on the way home from work ,and I just could not wait to have that for dinner. I bet--I had it for a year.
And then, just like the strawberry jam bagels--there comes a moment when I think--ACCK! Never never never again.
And Debs, we've gotta talk. You can't give up the newspaper. Gosh, I really couldn't. If I don't read the papers in the morning, I feel like--I'm missing something. And Sundays? Ritual.
RHYS BOWEN: My kids have always told me that I'm addicted to tea at tea time. Have to have my cup on the dot of 4 p.m. On the beach in Hawaii I'd suddenly leap up and start looking for a tea shop while the kids teased me.
Facebook--I'm on the way to becoming addicted. Project Runway for a while. Now I've taken the twelve step and I'm over that. I wish I had a garden to walk around--I'm on a hill so steep that only the deer can walk without slipping.
I could watch tennis non-stop every day--even Raffa against a guy from Uzbekistan. And I'm thrilled to say I have two days of tennis next year at the Olympics. Yeah!
HALLIE EPHRON: Say it ain't so, Debs - you gave up the NEWSPAPER?! Sure, there are "little things that steal [my] time that [I] might find [I] could do without, but my morning paper isn't one of them. I get up and write; and after a few hours the paper is my reward. The real on paper paper -- reading it online is so not the same experience, don't ask me why.
What I wish I could do without: blow drying my hair.
And I so agree with Ro - the big time sink is the computer -- specifically the Internet. On a good day I disconnect from the network when I start to write.
DEBS: Hallie, there wasn't much left to read in the Dallas Morning News. Funny, I read more than one paper every day obsessively when I'm in the UK. But you are all right about the internet. I think I'm going to have to start going somewhere without wi-fi to write, and turn off my phone. Don't get me wrong, I love my phone, but with smart phones you NEVER get away from it.
Unless, of course, you can go somewhere like the Reading Room in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, which is not only my fantasy work space, but a little tease for the upcoming week.
Later this week we have Susan Conant chatting about her new Holly Winter book, Emily Arsenault on In Search of the Rose Notes, and on Friday, Deborah Harkness will be here to tell us some unexpected things about one of this year's publishing sensations, A Discovery of Witches.
So, JR readers, are there things you could give up that would make your lives a wee bit simpler? (And that would not include BOOKS.)