Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Was it the smell of pretzels that saved me?

Is it cheating to listen to a book on tape rather than reading it? I read this article and it seems like the consensus is yes.

I don't actually listen to many books on tape. The only ones I've listened to all the way through are books that I've already read. The only new book I tried to listen to nearly killed me. I was driving out to Phoenix to visit Cynde and Ryan and I thought I would pick up a book on tape to occupy the many, many hours it takes to get there. The drive to Phoenix is like a drive to the other end of the galaxy. It only takes 5 hours but I guarantee that even at light speed it would still feel like 10. Have you done it? Don't. Seriously. It's bad. I was doing this particular drive at night which changes the view from Hadley's-Palm Springs-brown-brown-brown-brown-Colorado River-brown-brown-brown-Phoenix to black-black-black-black-I think I may be in Arizona but I can't be sure because it's so black-black-black-black like Satan's heart-black-that pretzel shop that bakes at night and smells like butter-black-Phoenix. Notice that the nighttime trip is longer than the daytime trip. You have to add an additional hour because of all the demons you have to fight off as you peer deep into your lonely, shattered soul. I should not drive to Phoenix at night.

Before this I had only done the drive during daylight hours so I wasn't exactly thinking about the effect my choice of a book on tape would have. Had I thought about it for just a minute I probably would have determined that The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion was not the best choice. Do you know what that book is about? Death. Her husband died suddenly one night before dinner and her daughter died a year later and the book is all about her feelings on the matter. You don't need to be Dr. Phil to imagine what those feelings were. When I saw it at the library I picked it up immediately because I had been wanting to read the book for a while. I like Joan Didion's writing and I had read an excerpt from it a month earlier and it was beautiful and made me cry. (Side note: If I judged everything strictly on it's ability to make me cry Encino Man would be a 4 star movie. What are you looking at? Yes, I cried at Encino Man. Leave me alone!). Plus, I had just spent 5 hours trying to locate a shop that sold tires that actually fit my midget car and I was grouchy and wanted to get on the road. It seemed like a good choice.

Once I lost the last remaining radio signal I popped in the first disc. It did not take long before I realized that I had made a tragic decision. When you're driving in the dark desert, counting the dashes of the dividing line as they zip passed you while you listen to the mellow sounds of death, suicide seems to be your only viable option. "Um, Rachel, " you may ask, "why didn't you just turn it off?" Good question, you who do not know me. I would have turned it off except that it had the same draw that those St. Jude Hospital for Dying Cancer Kids commercials have on me. I could be knee deep in a pool of my own tears and I still wouldn't change the channel because I'm so stuck on the story. Same sitch here. I couldn't stop listening to it. Whenever St. Jude had me in its clutches, weeping over the swollen bald boy with a tumor, I normally had to wait until Amanda would catch me and make me stop watching. With Joan Didion, I didn't have Amanda so I had to wait for the first disc to end. It was a long hour. When it ended I popped the disc out and put in some music. I shimmied and thumb-mic-ed my way through the Best of Neil Diamond and by the time I got to Phoenix I felt like I could live another day.

Do you know what could have helped pull me out of the funk? Miracle toast.



Oh, and my opinion? Nothing compares to actually reading a book. You can get the story but you miss out on the snuggling down into bed and falling asleep with your head on top of it. I won't think less of you though if you listen to a book rather than read it. We're friends, remember?




10 comments:

Amanda said...

Rachel, I feel like I've failed you. I was not there for you when you needed me to pull you away from the despair that was that book. I do like your miracle toast though. Well done. I do feel like it is kind of a cheat to say 'I read Girl with a Pearl Earring' which is the only book I have ever listened to on tape. It's kind of like listening to the scriptures on tape. Does that count the same? Hmm...

Mz. Liz said...

Rachel, I just want you to know that I have been giggling about this masterpiece of a blog since I read it. Mostly because I have done that drive both during the day and at night (do you ever wonder why we don't say at day?). black-black-black as Satan's heart black. I'm glad you had your holy toast.

Liz W. said...

Rachel, can I just say how glad I am to be your friend. This post, once again, made me laugh out loud in my office, which then made my office mate speak to me,which I hate. But, I was willing to sacrifice a trite conversation with said office mate, just to vocalize my joy over your post.

And you're right about the drive to Arizona. It's like driving through Hell's alley way.

And you're also right about the book. I LOVE that book, but it would be a death wish (literally) on the drive to Arizona.

And I feel books on tape only count if you're blind, or not a reader (in which case, I'd rather them listen, then nothing).

And, I'm sorry about the "ands."

Liz W. said...

Oh, and I'm really serious for an invite for some Holy toast.

Amanda said...

Liz W- I feel like I just listened to one of your voicemail messages with all the ands. Don't apologize, it was cute. I always got a good chuckle when you would call me. Have I ever mentioned that I starte leaving messages like that? Only about 3/4 the way through do you realize you should just hang up, but then it is too late. Shouldn't you call me? I promise not to answer. :)

Rachel said...

Come on over tonight for Holy Toast! I've got bread.

Heather said...

when are we gonna start our "The Office" nights? cause I really miss you! ...and what time is it on?

Heather said...

I dont know about anyone else, but I dont get the full experience by listening, so I say listening doesnt count unless you are incapable of reading the book.
...although I'm just a really bad listener and I usually end up zoning out...so maybe my opinion doesnt count...

Heather said...

I just wanted to share with you all that I have experienced the wonder that is Holy Toast...and I Love it--I'm a convert!!!

Mz. Liz said...

*feeling left out of the Holy Toast circle of awesomeness*