November 3rd, 2003

Fishy Circumstances


In the last week, two people I didn't know well enough died.

Hal Clement, hard SF writer and ardent convention goer, passed away. The Penneys sent the news around, and paladyn posted a memoriam for him. He was a familiar face from all sorts of conventions in the greater New England area, giving talks on scientific topics, usually astronomic or physics-related. Kuomori admired him greatly. It's thanks to her that I first really noticed his presence at conventions.

This morning, I learned that Erica Schmitt (Smith '99) died in a car crash on Friday night. darktouch wondered at his somewhat flighty friend's absence from his wedding, but the reality made it all clear in retrospect. As proof that I never knew her well enough, I offer the fact that I can't remember if I knew her from my house or SSFFS, but I'm certain it was one of the two. Regardless, it put a shadow on my morning.
Fishy Circumstances


Sometime in the last few months, I forgot that I liked to read. Oh, intellectually I knew it's been a major hobby of mine ever since I learned how to do it in the first place. I'd forgotten what a pleasure it is to have peace, comfort, and quiet and a book worth reading. What made it particularly gratifying was that I was reading an academic book, a book I need to read, but I had the time to properly read it, entire chapters at a time, and in sequence.

Perhaps two years ago, I finally confronted the depressing fact that reading fiction was a distraction. When I'm in the middle of a fiction book, I can't concentrate on academic ones, on the things I really need to do for my job, for teaching, for my dissertation. I drifted out of the habit of reading. I still bought and enjoyed the series and authors I follow most closely, but little else. In the past two years, I've read more on airplanes and when travelling than when at home. It's a sad state of affairs for someone for whom this used to be a primary hobby.

On the bright side, this tactic largely seems to have worked. It made reading for my dissertation slightly more chore-like, but it did reduce that category of distractions at least, not that I wasn't quite capable of finding other distractions to replace them. It also doesn't help that C. likes playing background music. I know, I know, he's always willing to turn it off so that I can read, but once there's music, and someone else has turned it on, it's easier to allow it to keep going.

Today, it rained all day. I came home with a backpack full of books and wrote up a draft of my lecture for tomorrow. There was still some sunlight out. I curled up in the comfy chair with a blanket and read one of the books on the lecture material. The book wasn't overly compelling, but it was interesting. The lull of the rain's falling was calmingly vague background noise. I was warm and comfortable. It was good to read.

I've borrowed Robin McKinley's latest book, Sunshine from aerinah. I can't allow myself to read it until this coming weekend, when academic reading doesn't loom urgently over me, but I'm looking forward to reading an author whose work I enjoy, in a comfy chair, with quiet all around me.