Friends, I apologize for being away from ConsterNation for so long. Hard to believe I’ve not posted since the end of April.
What happened? Long story short, I got a job. I continue to make time for reading. Later in this post, I’ll talk briefly about “My Antonia,” by Willa Cather, and “Babbit,” by Sinclair Lewis. Started May 2, working 40 hours a week, four evening shifts and one overnight shift. The work is usually pleasant, taking reservations and checking in guests at a beach motel. About once a week, it gets stressful. Some people spend their time at the beach drinking, and I have to provide behavioral counseling. Usually, the police come to participate in the counseling sessions. Nothing more serious than a broken window, so far. All’s well that ends well. More or less.
The hourly rate is low, but better than the exploited immigrants and college-educated interns can expect, in a business environment that increasingly seeks not just cheap labor, but also shamelessly solicits free labor. The regular paycheck supplements Social Security, and makes paying the bills less of a juggling act.
At my age and energy level, work leaves little time for anything besides sleep and chores. I am struck anew with a familiar riddle: “There must be more to life than working, sleeping, and paying bills.” Actually, there is more.
I don’t read primarily for entertainment. For me, reading is an escape from drudgery and loneliness. Also a search for relevance, which is often rewarded.
In recent weeks, I’ve read three books. Two novels from bygone America, “Babbit,” by Sinclair Lewis, 1922, a story of social, business, and family life in an American city during the Prohibition era of the early 1920s; and “My Antonia,” by Willa Cather, 1918, a story of the pioneers who settled the land and broke the sod on the Great Plains in the 1880s.
“Babbit” is informative and interesting, but required a little effort to slog through. “My Antonia” is masterfully written, effortless to read. It’s a wonderful story of people you’d like to know. But it’s tinged with sadness.
Cather’s theme is “Optima dies . . . prima fugit” (The best days are the first to flee.) H.L. Mencken wrote:
“No romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as My Antonia.”
My third book of recent weeks is current nonfiction, “Lonely: Learning to Live with Solitude,” by Emily White, 2010. About “Lonely,” I will have more to say.
— John Hayden
Quick take rating for this post: Approx 399 words.
- On Willa Cather (litlove.wordpress.com)