Monday, June 16, 2008

Wild Nights and Wasted Hours

I'm having one of those "spin-y0ur-wheels-in-place days" today. That happens to me when I can least afford to have it happen, of course, right when I am so overwhelmed with things needing to be done in the next week that I can't focus on any one of them long enough to make any real progress on the list.

In the early morning hours of June 25, I am hitting the road for Owensboro, Kentucky, for what has become an annual event for me. It is time for the three-day music festival that the International Bluegrass Museum hosts there every year at the end of June, something I usually start looking forward to around early January. This is a 2200-mile round trip drive for me and, despite the price of gasoline, I'm finding that it is still cheaper (and a lot more fun) to drive to Owensboro than it is to fly there via Louisville or Nashville.

In the meantime, I have to get as much as possible done at the office during the next six work days so that I don't find myself sleeping there when I go back to work on July 1. And since I usually drive back from Kentucky in one very long day of about 20 hours, I won't be in great shape when I show up at my desk that first morning.

I also have a slew of library books that are not renewable because they have been requested by other patrons, and there's no way that I can read them all (or even most of them) before I leave. You wouldn't believe how long I've waited for some of those books to become available and, of course, they all show up at the same time. That would have been bad enough even here at home, but hitting the road means that I'll have to return most of them and go back to the end of the line again.

And then there's all the special packing I need to do: dozens of CDs to bring to a friend who runs an internet radio station, extra batteries, memory cards for cameras and sound recorders, books on CD for the trip, real books for meal breaks and late at night when I find myself wide awake in some strange hotel bed, etc. In addition, I need to make sure that my laptop is working correctly and has all the software on it that I'll need for picture and sound editing and for keeping in touch here on the blog. I still need to clear the memory cards of past concerts I haven't edited yet so that I'll have space for the performances I am going to record in Kentucky; that's another time-consuming little job because I don't want to lose anything in the process of moving things from drive-to-drive.

So after a weekend spent at the ballpark watching my Astros get absolutely trounced by the New York Yankees and a long Monday in the office running as fast as I can run, here I am: trying to stay awake in my desk chair, doing nothing of consequence except for this bit of nonsense.

Oh well, I think I'm going to pick up a book and lose myself in that for the evening. I started Wild Nights by Joyce Carol Oates yesterday and I am absolutely loving it so far. It's a book of "short stories," I suppose you'd call them, that imagine the last days of a few of America's literary giants. I've read the one on Poe and I'm almost done with the one on Emily Dickinson (can't get that one off my mind). The Dickinson piece is pure science fiction at its best and I find it fascinating. Imagine a future in which lifelike robotic replicas of famous historical characters can be brought into the home, and that they are programmed with the personality, talents, and memories of the real people. And, most importantly, that they are completely lifelike except for the lack of digestive system and sex organs. The very weirdness of this whole idea really has me thinking about just which person from the past I would choose to live with if it were possible.

So I'm off to find out how the story ends...not well for Emily's owners, I suspect.


  1. Hey Sam, I can totally relate with you on all the books coming in from the library at the same time. I often have to keep myself from requesting too much because that's exactly what will happen to me as well.

    Have a great time at your Bluegrass event. I'm sure all the pre-event craziness will definitely be worth it in the end.

    And I think I'm going to have to add Wild Nights to my "to read" list. I can't resist anything having to do with our American literary giants, that's for sure!


  2. Oh, I can't wait to get my hands on Wild Nights!. The last time I went to buy it, it was either that or The Plague of Doves. I ended up buying The Plague

  3. I picked up Wild Nights! about a week ago and haven't had time to crack it open. If you get a chance to post more extensive comments on individuals stories, I'd love to hear what you think about each.

  4. That's the way library books always show up for me too. Oh well. Have fun at the Bluegrass festival!

    Wild Nights might wind up in my TR pile.

  5. Jen, that library thing seems to happen to me several times a year...and today I received four review copies in the mail, all excellent books that I can't wait to open. Too much of a good thing...

  6. J.S., I'm loving "Wild Nights" more every story. I've read Poe, Dickinson and Twain now and each is memorable in an entirely different way and for different reasons. Oates is a master.

  7. J.D., I have two stories to go and then I'll do my usual 500-word review. I can tell you right now, though, that this is looking like a 5-star book to me.