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January 7th, 2018

As I've done since sometime in 2004, I'm keeping track of the books (and book-length works) I read, always with the overarching goal of averaging a book a week so that I can have read at least 52 books in a year. I can have other goals within each year; in 2017 I wanted to make up for my much slower 2016 reading pace, but the bigger goal I had last year (which I met) was to read more works written by women. I expanded that to reading more female poets because a conversation back in September made me realize I, a person who's worked on poetry, had not read nearly enough poetry by women — I haven't even read Sylvia Plath yet, and saying Dorothy Parker or Sappho is almost too easy — so I've dived into Mary Oliver and Wisława Szymborska, and I've just borrowed a Maya Angelou collection. More to come.

The thing is, which "more"? A day or so ago I was thinking about what I hoped to read in 2018, and for a moment I felt a little at sea: I could picture dozens of slots that I hadn't yet filled and worried I'd fill those slots haphazardly. It was like I was preemptively disappointed in myself with what I will have chosen to read. (SYNTAX INTENTIONAL. Heh.)

Then I realized I was overthinking it. I can keep reading, and figure out the direction of my reading as I go on. I don't have to have 12 months plotted out; I haven't before. What I'm doing? I'm headed in a good direction doing it. And this give me room to stumble onto stuff that makes me go Oh, yeah! I had wanted to read that, and here it is! That happened yesterday at the library when I found Robert Bloch's 1959 novel Psycho on the shelf. There. Next novel. After that? Something. Lots of somethings.


The most me I've ever been

One time in the Nineties, I visited my parents at their home in a lovely, wooded part of Dundee, Oregon. (OK, most of Dundee, much of Yamhill County in fact, is lovely and wooded, but I'm setting the scene here.) The day was bright, sunny and warm, and I was feeling good and glad to be there. I went out on the deck and looked out over the backyard with its sloping lawn, the tall trees, the swing set, and the decorative bushes. I saw a bright object hanging in one of the trees nearby. Nice, I thought, a hummingbird feeder!

Then I realized it was a yellow jacket trap.

Why am I mentioning this? Because I'm reminding myself:

I never want to be the person who looks at a hummingbird feeder and thinks it's a yellow jacket trap.