Saturday, June 30, 2007

Crack is Whack

How do you know when its time to check into rehab? I mean, outside of a court order or an intervention hosted by Courtney Love, when does a sane person look at their life and say, yes, I have a problem? I only ask because I think I may have a teeny little problem.

I helped my friend Camie move today, and after all of her truckload(s) of junk had been safely deposited in her new apartment and I'd eaten my fill of McDonalds I made to leave. Ever the smartass, Camie said, "Yes, because you've probably got reading to do." And we all had a good laugh and I gave her the finger.

For your information, I only had three things to do today, and reading wasn't necessarily included. 1) I needed to help Camie move. (Successfully completed). 2) I desperately needed to go to the grocery store. All I have left in my house to eat is some leftover water crackers, and if I didn't go to the store today it would be water crackers all weekend long. 3)And since the gym is right next door to the grocery store it only makes sense to go to the gym too. All pretty normal Saturday activities, and all completely do-able.

But here's where my fatal mistake came in. When I got home from Camie's I decided I'd pour myself a big glass of water to rehydrate (moving in June is sweaty work) and while I'm doing that, why not do a bit of reading? It's probably no surprise to anyone that I never made it to the grocery store let alone the gym. It's also probably no surprise that I never even made it off of the couch. Instead I ate those crackers and finished off a book. A book that I'd started last night. A book that I'd started after finishing another book earlier in the evening. Two books. Two days.

I should probably have realized that it was possible that I might have a problem a few weeks ago when I was traveling to Phoenix. I started a book just before boarding in Washington, and by the time I landed in Minneapolis for my connection I was deeply immersed. I stumbled up the jetway, (trying to simultaneously read and walk) and out to the monitors. I was pretty bleary-eyed and thought that it said "Phoenix G9". So off I went to G9, where I plunked myself down to keep reading; nevermind that the gate information at G9 said Atlanta. I figured they were just running late, and my flight to Phoenix would be coming right up. So I resumed reading. And I kept on reading, and kept on reading, and kept on reading. Finally it occurred to me that my layover was really only supposed to be 25 minutes or something, and since I'd been sitting there for about an hour maybe I should check that they didn't change the gate. Turns out that I shouldn't have been waiting at gate G9 at all, I should have been at G19. And no, they didn't change it, I should have always been at gate G19. But I was too interested in getting back to my book to bother focusing my eyes when checking the monitor. By the time I arrived gasping at G19, the gate agent took one look at me and before I could even squeak out a word said with mixture of disdain and exasperation, "Gretchen Hanson? It's long gone. You're not getting out of here until tomorrow." And he grinned an evil grin.

The saddest part of this story is that I then proceeded to the nearest La Quinta Inn, where I was secretly glad (despite not having any toothpaste or clean underwear) to have some peace and quite to finish my book.

Is that rock bottom? Is missing a flight or dooming yourself to a weekend of eating crackers because you're too busy reading a sign that things have gone too far? That perhaps this isn't a healthy hobby any longer?

I sort of wish I was addicted to something that gave some clearer warning signs. Like if I were lohaning all over the place or drinking rubbing alcohol. At least then people would look at me and say, "Dude, lay off the smack! You've got a problem. Here's a nice brochure we think you should read." No one is ever going to haul me into an intervention for hanging outside of a Borders waiting for it to open. (Unless I'm rifling through the trash or something. But I think that's a different issue). People aren't going to look at my bloodshot eyes and whisper to each other, "Poor thing, obviously too much Dickens. Doesn't she realize she's killing herself with that stuff?" Nor do they say, "Reading? That's a disgusting habit." It just doesn't happen.

And that's the problem, essentially it's not a morally crippling addiction. It's not like I'm slipping Gothic novels to kids on the playground. Or hanging outside the library trying to score some free books. (Although, I guess now that I think about it I did go to that miserable library conference for the sole purpose of getting free books.) But, like all addictions, it appears to be getting in the way of normal activity. There's no chance that I'll give up reading cold turkey (since technically that's called illiteracy), but I need to find a pastime that will help dilute the reading time to a normal level.

So here it is, my cry for help. I need a new hobby. If you've got hobby suggestions ... let me hear them. And just so you know, I can't garden because I live in a balcony-less apartment; Cooking's out too; I'm a little worried about photography because I'll feel like a voyeur/tourist; I'm pretty uncoordinated so dancing or sports isn't a good option; and I'm not very crafty. About the only thing I've been able to come up with is getting a job that requires me to work 80+ hours a week, and I'm not sure I'm prepared to do that. You see my predicament. Help? Please??


Camie said...

As long as your reading doesn't interfere when I want to do something with you I think it's fine. I actually wish I wanted to stay home and read books for hours a day. Sorry for the smartass remark, but it's what I do. And thanks so much for the help today. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it.

erin said...

i'm eagerly awaiting comments on this post as i, too, am in search of new hobbies. hmmm, maybe we could do one together?

babygonzo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
babygonzo said...

As a recovering reader, let me offer my support. I once missed my bus stop (as a kid) 3 days in a row due to reading. Too embarrassed to admit my problem, i was forced to walk over a mile and a half home in the phoenix heat in may--reading the whole time, of course. In fact, I was so immersed in my book that I tripped and bloodied my knees the first day and still limped home, nose in book.

my road to recovery? grad school and teaching...nothing like forced reading and paper grading to wean you off the books

Michael said...

I don't think you should change at all. I mean you misreading the sign doesn't mean you should stop reading your book. You should just be more careful reading the signs.

And who says there is anything wrong with eating crackers all weekend. You can eat later. It isn't like you are going to die.

Harry Potter kept me from doing much of anything this last week but the last thing I am going to do is stop reading. I think you are going about this all wrong.

Michael said...

If you really need a new hobby you could start gaming. It would take about as much time and money as books and you could impress the guys you date by giving them Halo stats. (I reference the perfect man post)

Gretchen said...

@ babygonzo: Thanks for the support. It's good to know I'm not alone. But I'm not sure I can face going back to school.

@ Michael: You might be a genius! Do you need hand-eye coordination to be a gamer? If so, I might be out of luck. But I can give it a try anyway. And your right, eating is totally overrated. Especially when you've got a good book in hand! I hope you've pre-ordered your Harry Potter 7!