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Budding Guru, DC Life, the Unusual

Confessions of a Raging Biblioholic

“If you go home with somebody and they don’t have any books, don’t fuck ’em!”

-John Waters

Learn it, love it, live it. You hear me, readers? I know you agree with me, because your idea of procrastination is to read this blog, and not more inane pop-culture, like watching President Obama singing ‘Call Me Maybe’ on YouTube for what is probably the 36th time (don’t lie, you know you’ve watched it).

The esteemed and ever-wise Mr. Waters also said, “Being rich is not about how much money you have, or how many homes you own; it’s the freedom to buy any book you want without looking at the price and wondering if you can afford it.” With that wisdom in mind, I can tell you right now, I’m tired of being broke. I can’t really afford proper groceries most weeks, let alone something as luxurious as a new book with that delicious, musty smell. But thank Seuss, the internet goes above and beyond altruistic leanings by granting me the intellectual riches of potentially illegal e-books [via onread.com].

I’m Grace O’Malley, and “X” marks a mountain of leaked manuscripts

A part of me feels a bit rotten over reading online for free, manifested via the angel on my left side scolding that I’m stealing away countless authors’ just desserts. [When I’m finally published, I damn well better get my royalties, since I bank on them paying off the debt I’m currently accruing while writing in the first place.] But then the sneaky literature ninja on my other shoulder pipes up about the potential hell of not having anything to read if I stop. The debate promptly fizzles out. All parties console themselves with digging up something new to read, and dig our collective moral grave a few books deeper. It doesn’t weigh too heavy when the voices all “ARRR” like the literature pirates they are, and continue consuming volumes like barrels of written rum at an alarming rate. Does that make me a raging biblioholic, rather your general library-variety bibliophile? Discuss.

Anyway, I tend to embody Waters’ attitude quite thoroughly. I understand that not everyone likes to read, and certainly not all the same genres. But I’m an equal-opportunity biblioholic, as well as dater, so I should have something in common to discuss with most random strangers on the street.

This makes the warm-fuzzies in my tummy explode like a well-shaken bottle of champagne.

Case in point: I was waiting for the bus two months ago, and one of the older men that hang around Columbia Heights came over to wait near me. After discussing my ancestral background, because he and his buddies had a running debate every time they saw me and evidently liked how pale my skin is compared to their varied shades of brown [they had narrowed it down to Ireland, Scotland, and, oddly, Ukraine], he got really excited. Apparently his bet had correctly been on Ireland, and he asked, “So, do you like to read? Since you’re Irish, you must like James Joyce! He is one of my favorites.”

I have to admit now that I recognized the gentleman from outside the health clinic on 14th, and in his ratty clothes and a seeming lack of income, I figured he was unemployed and/or homeless. And asked me if I like James Joyce. What?? After an astonishing discussion of how much more he liked Dubliners than Ulysses, my bus came to take me away. I told him that I usually keep a book on me, so he should come up next time he sees me go by and I’ll lend whatever I have to him. I would gladly play the mobile library for someone like him. I haven’t seen him since, but it’s still one of my favorite DC stories.

So I take literature as a pretty serious part of my identity. Ever since I was a wee munchkin and exhausted my elementary school library’s collection on mythology and practically everything else, I’ve been titled the family bookworm. Doesn’t matter that my two sisters read nearly-if-as-much. My aunts and uncles know they can still fall back on an Amazon gift card, and I’ll be a happy camper. My idea of an ideal afternoon date would be going to a bookstore. Seriously. One of my To-Do List Dates is to spend a few hours in Second Story Books in Dupont and salivate over all the rare tomes I could never afford. [A girl’s gotta dream, right?]

And here in DC? Everyone is well-read. I’m in heaven. It’s gotten to the point where stating that you love Douglas Adams, Robert Caro, and Gabriel Garcia Marques is just redundant. You’re in Washington: of course you’ve read Life of Pi. So, being the absurdly ambitious Washingtonians most of us are, it becomes a competition. “Well, if you like him, then you’ve gotta love *name drop stupidly obscure title here*… Oh, you don’t know that one? Yea, it’s twelve times better, I swear. I’ll bet you an *equally uncommon beer* on it.”

I would’ve gotten laid a lot more in college if you’d been allowed to dress like that in the library.

It’s all a factor of DC’s special brand of geek chic. And while the Preening Peacock Syndrome (PPS) typically pissed me off, it manages to make the cut when exercised in reference to literary endeavors. Want to talk about the brilliance of Dante’s Inferno? It’s going to be done over martinis, because we’re going out. You had to prioritize books over clothes on your cross-country move to DC and decided wardrobe replacements would be cheaper? Better cancel any plans for the night, we’re going to be here awhile. The best proof of this is in my current dating interest.

The Classicist is one well-read guy, and it’s totally suckered me. On our first date, we ended up in a discussion on how the mistranslations of the Bible have fucked up the world. The chemistry was explosive. Date two consisted of trading our favorite poets and how we want to read them in their original language. It was even better than date one. We’ve been seeing each other for about a month now, and our version of pillow-talk is arguing over the proper usage of transliteration and how much we adore Michael Moore’s Lamb. He leant me a Tom Robbins, and I’ve been laughing like I’m crazy on the bus for the past week. He gets it when I make some dork reference to Dune in casual conversation, and makes me light up with his plans to recreate classics for the modern-day.

Bottom line: he fascinates me. And that ain’t easy, folks. We all know about my RADD lifestyle, and how most love interests have a rapidly approaching expiration date. But this one– my Classicist– he’s an intriguing individual, and potentially my intellectual counterpart. We’ve a solid shared foundation, and complement each other elsewhere. I know Socrates and Plato, but his Master’s-level knowledge of the Greeks offers whole new avenues of thought. He understands the Middle East and developing world as much as any average Washingtonian, but still has questions to ask me. We never run out of something to talk about. My Classicist and I trade book titles like baseball cards, and are still mutually captivated. It’s fantastic; there’s still so much to share. We’re open books, but are enjoying the process of taking our time to read each chapter thoroughly.

And his bedroom is chock-full of books, so you know what that means.

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