May 13th, 2020

NCC-1701 Nebula 1

Something else not for now

Walking while reading: I'm good at it. I'm practiced at it. Go outside, walk for a while, and have a book I can dip into, alternating between reading the words and looking around at the scenery — it's been a habit during my time in Portland and, occasionally, before.* It's good to have situational awareness while doing so: you don't want to walk into someone or walk into traffic or stumble on a sidewalk crack while your nose is buried in a book, or in your phone. Use your peripheral vision, but also read words: I'm glad I learned to do so.

It's something that, right now, I'm less likely to do. And I miss it.

If I head out, wearing a mask as strongly suggested (by the way, reminder: KEEP WEARING MASKS OUTSIDE AND KEEP SOCIAL-DISTANCING, THIS PANDEMIC ISN'T OVER), I'm making sure to have less stuff with me that I'd bring back into the house afterward, because what might be contaminated with COVID-19? I don't want to worry about virus riding on the book I'm reading, possibly getting on me or getting back on me.

Wearing a mask is awkward for that and for other things: the cloth masks I've improvised are fairly large, and stick out enough just below my eyes that a chunk of my peripheral vision is blocked. Meaning, the lower part. It's less easy for me to see the sidewalk right in front of me unless I look down, so I look down more to watch for uneven pavement or broken glass or dog crap or whatever could be in the way.

And since right now I'm much more likely to be reading ebooks on my tablet, I'm definitely not walking while tablet-reading. Years ago, I actually tried that, and that's awkward and challenging even in non-pandemic conditions. I don't want to drop or smash my iPad while reading something. That would be bad.

So. I can wait to read until I'm home, like right now. But walking and reading, instead of just walking, is one of the things I miss right now. And, maybe, honestly, this is one reason I've been less likely to go on long walks. (I'm also less likely to hop on a bus, go to some neighborhood, and walk around it for a while, because I want to limit my transit travel. I haven't been on TriMet since Tuesday, March 17th, nearly two months ago. SAVES ON FARE, but...but...)

Ah. Yet another something I'm missing. To misquote My Chemical Romance, welcome to the Lack Parade.

* If I remember correctly, I became more likely to walk and read after reading Stephen King's On Writing: a memoir of the craft in 2000. King said it had been a habit of his since the 1970s to do long walks (not Long Walk long walks) and have a book or magazine handy. He talked more broadly about giving yourself chances to dip into books, grabbing time to read a few pages while, say, waiting in a checkout line or sitting at dinner while other people finish eating. It helps him find time to read the 70 to 80 books a year he'd manage to get through. He didn't let nearly getting killed on one of those walks by that distracted driver stop him from doing so...