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Pickle Me This

June 4, 2006

The Ideal Occupation

Of note, I made a brilliant salad for dinner with feta, watermelon and pumpkin seeds. We were dubious, but it turned out to be a taste explosion. Oishi desu! Also, I bought a new CD today for the first time in ages. I bought the new Zero 7 album, and it’s wonderful wonderful good. I bought their “Simple Things” back when we lived in England, and it’s one of the few albums we play absolutely regularly. Their new CD “the garden” has met all my expectations and then some. It’s different from “Simple Things”, a little less chilled out, with more a sense of humour. They’re a collective and listening to their stuff is like listening to a variety show, especially with the new album. It got a fairly favourable review in The Globe yesterday, though they didn’t like it as much as I do.

I spent a wonderful day with two of my oldest and dearest friends today, cruising a rainsoaked Queen Street. Consumerism will be the death of me. Lately I’ve been mad about cake stands. And I am obsessed with pickled beetroot.

I’ve enjoyed reading about the Book a Day Challenge in the Globe, and particularly appreciated John Allemang’s reflections of his endeavour at one hundred books. Though no book-a-dayer myself, I did embark upon my own reading marathon this year. Initially, I just wanted to keep a list of my reading, which was inspired by Annie Dillard’s own “Books I’ve Read Since 1966”. However quantifying my reading got me ambitious. I decided to read 200 books this year, though it looks like I will only get to about 160. (Full time work interferes with my leisure time in a way I never thought was possible). I’m currently reading my 71st book, and it’s been a bit of a ride (as much as reading can be considered a ride. I need to get out more). I particularly liked these lines from Allemang’s article:

Now, I have to admit that if you devote yourself wholeheartedly to reading, an occupation that was held up as an ideal when I was at school, you end up losing contact with humanity — but only the living and breathing version. There isn’t a day when I don’t feel immersed in the world, reading about the search for a lost Caravaggio in the wilds of Italy, or the desperate struggles of the Impressionists in Paris, or what it was like to grow up in backwoods Texas, or do battle in Algiers, or be Catherine Deneuve.


My interpersonal skills, a bit dubious at the best of times, have certainly not improved. The general verdict around the house is that while the gentle art of reading has calmed the road-rage side of my temper, it’s given me a lot less to say in response to the question, “So how was your day?” Of course we readers find that sort of thing a little too banal anyway. After you’ve read Intuition, Allegra Goodman’s novel about the inner workings of a cancer-research lab, small talk seems even smaller — and not many table companions want to hear about John Daly’s four wives.

Ivor Tossell wrote a great article on MySpace (the ugliest thing to ever happen to The Internet). I enjoyed The Missionary Position in The Nation, by Laila Lalami of Moorish Girl, a Muslim woman on Muslim women. Another marathon reader, Jane Smiley in The Observer.

One thought on “The Ideal Occupation”

  1. PatrickMH says:

    Read the myspace article. Two lines in particular caught my eye: “It’s doubly awkward because it makes public what should be private. MySpace doesn’t just create social networks, it anatomizes them.”

    What should be private? Sexual stuff? Emotional stuff?

    I’m not familiar with MySpace, but I’ve seen LiveJournal create lively, nurturing communal networks (the key is to get involved in the discussion groups; there are many, many book discussion groups on LJ). I particularly enjoy seeing people just appear out of the blue on someone’s site, and say they just had to introduce themselves cause they’d enjoyed reading the entries so much.
    (Now I will choose an identity, login and publish!–how cool is that!) yeuzeczs

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