My Tumultuous Relationship With the Public Library

The relationship between myself and the public library has been a somewhat tumultuous one over the years, with many more negatives than positives, although this has been entirely my fault, and like a bad couple who seem to keep breaking up and getting back together, so it is with me and the library, thinking each new time will be different, but so far that has never been the case. There was the Little Rock Public library, the one I grew up visiting, a relationship that started off great as I spent summers throughout childhood checking out as many books as they would allow and returning back countless times for more, but as I got older things changed. I would check out books that seemed interesting at the time and then more often than not I would get distracted with something else and end up not reading them, which wouldn’t have been a problem at all had I remembered to return the books. By the time I left Arkansas to go to college in Minnesota I had racked up over seventy dollars in fees from the library, but my mom bailed me out, giving me a fresh start when I decided to venture into the world of checking out books again.

I stayed away from the library for a few years until I moved to Florida, but the allure of unlimited books drew me back in and I fell into my old habits once again. I didn’t accrue as many fines for not returning books, the total being less than five dollars, and I really did intend on doing the right and responsible thing of paying for my transgressions, but as it turned out, the Fort Pierce library didn’t accept debit cards, they were cash only, which posed a problem for me as I have never been one in adulthood to carry cash on me. A kind stranger overheard the dilemma as I stood at the counter explaining to the librarian that I would have to return to pay my fines after visiting an ATM, and the stranger intervened saying she would pay the fine for me. I had hit rock bottom. I tried to dissuade the generous woman from freeing me from my debt, but she wouldn’t hear of it, no matter how much I pleaded, and eventually, against my will, paid my fine. It was at that moment that I decided I was done with the public library system, preferring instead to purchase books so that I could read what I wanted on my own time, building a personal library that would allow me to choose whatever book interested me as soon as I was ready to read something new. Then I moved to Memphis and the library bug bit me again.

Within the first month of living here I got a library card, you know, just to have one, but I stuck to my guns and for more than a year I didn’t check out a single book. I had all but forgotten about my library card, that is until today. The bank I work at can be pretty slow in the middle of the week with the higher traffic days being Monday and Friday, so to pass the time I will often read until a customer enters the branch, which is what I was doing today, but unfortunately I finished my current book with more than five hours left in my shift, and the temptation to check out a book became to much to resist, so on my lunch break I walked across the parking lot to the library and began browsing the infinite selection of books. I did check out a book, but at least it was only one, telling myself that I would read it, then immediately return it before checking out another. Hopefully this time around I’ll be more responsible and my relationship with the public library will be better than ever before. Only time will tell.

March Goals

March has come and gone and with the passing of another month it’s time for my obligatory blog post about how I did last month in sticking to the goals I made on New Year’s day. The easiest one has still been writing a blog every day, although I’m not really in the mood to write one at the moment. It’s been a long week and I have to work tomorrow and just want to relax and watch the Grizzlies basketball or Cardinals baseball game, which I’m sure I’ll do as soon as I finish doing what I have to do. In writing daily sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say and other times I feel like I can’t stop talking, so hopefully going forward I will have more of the latter than the former.

In the first month of the year I was a stud (or a nerd) when it came to reading and I read ten books, easily surpassing my goal of reading one per week, however I fell off in February and didn’t finish a single book. In March I did a little better, finishing two books, and although I didn’t read a book every week, I am still on pace to average a book per week throughout the year so I guess that’s good. The first book I read was “Room” by Emma Donoghue and it was definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. I dedicated a whole blog to it earlier last month so feel free to check it out if you want. I definitely would highly recommend you checking that one out. The other book I read in March was “Pet Semetary” by Stephen King. I hadn’t read any King novels before last year because I was kind of turned off by a short story of his I read years earlier, but in an attempt to see if a book could actually scare me I decided to read “The Shining.” It didn’t scare me in the least but it was pretty good, so this year I read my second Stephen King novel.

I enjoyed “Pet Semetary” more than I did “The Shining” but I wouldn’t recommend it. It was good, but it’s not like a life changing book or anything, it’s just a good story that takes a while to read. I place the full blame of not reading more than two books last month solely on the back of “Pet Semetary” the five hundred plus page novel that took me a couple of weeks to get through. My other goal that I’m still trying to stick with is working on writing my book every day, and for the first time since I made the goal, I’m proud to say that I’m actually doing it. I’ve got into a nice routine of writing my book, which I think might have something to do with me not being as enthusiastic about writing the blog all the time, because in all honesty I’ve found the story that I’m writing to be so much more fun than the blog. In terms of sticking to my goals, March has by far been my best so far, but I’m not all that confident that I can keep it up. Check back next month to see if I’ve gone back to being a failure, and check back every day to find an original blog, written by me, that may or may not entertain you.

Another Month, Another Failure

At the very beginning of this year, January 1st to be exact, I publicly made four resolutions here on the blog, and I promised at the end of each month to give an update on home I’m doing, in theory to hold myself accountable and to keep me motivated, but as it turns out it hasn’t really worked out. At the end of January I had already failed two of my four goals in a pretty spectacular fashion, but I thought the two I’d still kept up with would be the easiest moving forward, but unfortunately it is with utter regret that I tell you that another of my resolutions has fallen victim to my lazy nonchalance. Last month I wrote a blog all about the books I read in January; my goal was to read one a week, but I managed to read ten, the overachiever that I am, and I waltzed into February, confident that I would keep my good pace going forward, but then for a myriad of reasons which I will give in the form of excuses, prevented me from reaching my goal of reading four books last month.

I guess the most obvious excuse for my lack of reading in February would be the Playstation 4 that I got early in the month. I think I’ve played it every single day since I got it, so it was a good investment, but terrible for my productivity. It’s so much easier and requires very little thought to play a video game rather than to read a novel and exercise your mind, which is unfortunately the trap I have fallen into. I had this same problem last year with television where I would turn on the tv at night rather than reading a book, but I cut way back on that at the beginning of the year and found that I actually feel happier and more fulfilled when I am reading more often. The other reason I failed my goal this month is because of a book called “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh”, written by Michael Chabon. I picked up a copy at a used bookstore in January and was really looking forward to reading what was called a prolific novel written by an acclaimed author, the perfect start to February. The only problem is that the book just wasn’t all that good in my opinion. It wasn’t downright terrible or anything, but it was just okay, which is why that is the only book I read last month and I didn’t even finish it. I wish it would have been terrible, then I could’ve given up on it weeks ago, but since it was just okay I stuck around, not even mildly curious about what was going to happen next. Guess what, when you don’t care what happens next, if a book doesn’t draw you in and compel you to keep turning the pages, yearning for answers, you in turn won’t be compelled to open the book in the first place.

The other goal I had kept was writing a blog every single day, and today I almost failed that one too. Sometimes I get the feeling that my writing the blog is useless, more trouble than it’s worth. Some blogs that I write and feel absolutely great about once I’m finished, get very few views, and I know I shouldn’t care about that, but it does bother me sometimes. It is a lot to expect of readers to come to my site and read what I’ve written every day of the week, but I’ve had whole weeks that have been way down in traffic and today I really thought about not writing anything, but fortunately for the three people that click on this blog, you have something to read today and I truly hope you enjoy it. Since I read ten books last month I’m still on pace to hit my 52 for the year, and I think I might shelve Chabon’s book for now and sink my teeth into something more fulfilling, and as for the blog, I think I can commit to another month of writing daily. Thanks for reading.

My Biggest Failure of the Year…So Far

So it’s the first day of February, one month has gone by in 2017 and as promised I am here to reflect on my new year’s resolutions to help hold myself accountable. I had four goals coming into the new year and I have stuck with two of them, and failed rather spectacularly on the other two. They may sound terrible but I honestly don’t know a year where I’ve kept any of my resolutions for more than a month, so I feel good about where I’m at now. Let’s start off positive, with the things I have done so far before we get into my failures. I said that I was going to write a blog every single day this year, and so far I have. I’ve been doing this for a little more than five months now so you may think it has become pretty easy for me to do, and while that is the case on some days, on others it’s incredibly challenging, and I can’t think of anything at all to write about. You may be thinking to yourself that perhaps this is why I’m writing a post reflecting on my resolutions but I assure you this was the plan all along.

The second goal that I’ve stuck with to this point is reading at least one book every week. I’ve actually been averaging about two and it’s been a lot of fun. I find that I enjoy my evenings more when I am reading rather than sitting in front of the TV, plus I’ve read some incredible stories that I was definitely missing out on by not having read them. I’m not going to re-list everything I’ve read this month but you can go back and find my list along with some recommendations on the blog from three days ago. So far, reading more has been the most fulfilling of the two resolutions I stuck with.

Let’s move on to where I failed, shall we? Okay I said I was going to write 1,000 words in my book every single day and guess how many days that lasted? Two. It was far too ambitious of a goal and while I haven’t completely given up on it, I am revamping it starting tomorrow and will be writing 500 words per day, Monday thru Friday. I get an hour lunch break at work, which is unnecessarily long given I usually don’t go anywhere, so I figured I could use the back half of my break to do my writing, something I’ve already done a few times already. If you think that sticking with this resolution for only two days was my biggest failure of the year so far, then you are sadly mistaken. I vowed to only drink water, tea, and coffee this year. January 2nd I bought a soda and haven’t looked back. I now drink a Sprite zero every day at lunch, and while I’m giving up on the resolution to completely cut out soda, I am drinking it more moderately. If messing up this resolution on January 2nd is my biggest failure of the year, 2017 is going to be pretty awesome.

Gone Girl

It was late at night, in the early months of last year, and I was flipping through channels on TV, unable to sleep and looking for something to occupy me until I felt tired enough for bed, when I came across a movie that looked interesting on HBO. It was called “Gone Girl” and was just about to start, so I decided to check it out. It was one of the most suspenseful and thrilling movies that I’d ever seen, and when it was over I felt a sense of disappointment even though it was great, because that’s when I realized that it was based on a book. I hate seeing movies before I read the book because it distorts my imagination and takes away the surprise and suspense that comes from experiencing a story for the first time. I made the mistake with “The DaVinci Code” and now I’d done the same thing with “Gone Girl.” I’m such an idiot.

I finally read the book last week and despite knowing the story already, “Gone Girl” captivated me in a way that few books have before. Every spare moment I had was spent reading the book and I finished it in three days, not bad for four hundred plus pages. It was so suspenseful that I literally did not want to put the book down because I NEEDED to see what would happen next. It’s the story of a married couple that begins on their five year anniversary. The wife disappears and the search is on to figure out what happened to her in this high profile news story. The story is told from two different perspectives, each chapter alternating between the husband writing in the present and the wife’s diary entries of the past. This is one of the only books I’ve ever read that left me feeling a little bit frightened when I turned the lights off at night, an incredibly eerie feeling that doesn’t often come from reading words on a page, but a feeling that I really enjoyed.

I recommend “Gone Girl” very highly, more so than other books I’ve written about on the blog, because while the other books were good, this one was elevated to another level by the suspense and mystery contained within the pages. Gillian Flynn has previously written a couple other books that I have added to my reading list and am looking forward to checking out as I eagerly await the possibility of a new novel, one that I will read before the movie comes out. I’m giving “Gone Girl” a 5 out of 5 rating, a must read for anyone who enjoys great writing and a thrilling story. For the past year and a half, “Disclaimer”, by Rennee Knight has been my go-to book recommendation when anyone asks, but I’m going to replace it with “Gone Girl.” It’s only the second week in January which means you can still amend your New Year’s Resolutions (you have until the 21st), so do yourself a favor and add “Read Gone Girl” to your list of goals, and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

New Year’s Resolutions and All That Crap

There is something beautiful about a blank page, pristinely white and unblemished, it’s blank face staring back at you, daring you to break the silence and write something, possibilities endless. Today, a lot of people see a blank page, the start of the new year, leave all the negative and unachieved dreams behind because there’s no room for that here, in the year where anything is possible. For me personally, I love all that crap about using this blank page of sorts to make improvements in my life or achieve goals that are important to me, and although I can’t recall a time that I’ve actually stuck to all my new year’s resolutions, that hasn’t diminished my hope, but rather that failure is what has me feeling more determined and hopeful than is generally the case on the first day of January.

If you read my blog yesterday, you know that one of my goals in 2016 was to read at least one book each week over the course of the year, totaling at least 52. I failed, and did so miserably, having only read 21, but I’m not going to let that discourage me, and am adding that first on my list of resolutions this year. Reading is very important to me not only because of the endless number of great books in the world that I must try to read before I die, but because I’m writing a book, and as the old adage goes, to be a great writer you must be a great reader. As far as writing goes, I have two resolutions this year; one, I will write a blog every single day, and two, I will write at least 1,000 words each day in my novel, until such a time arrives that I am satisfied with the work and feel that the story is complete.

Doing the blog each day should be the easier of the two goals as I’ve been doing it for about three months now, but it is still something that I have to work at and can’t let myself fall victim to laziness at any point. I think like the blog, hitting a daily word count for my book will become second nature once it’s part of my daily routine, so the first month or so will be crucial to achieving this goal. I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, so I think it’s about time I quit just wanting it, and get on doing something about making it happen.

My fourth and final resolution steps away from literary goals I have and focuses on my overall health. I am resolving to only drink water based drinks; water, tea (unsweet), and coffee for the entirety of the year. I don’t need soda or sugary drinks, in fact, I prefer tea over everything else, as evidenced by my ordering habits every time I’m out to dinner. The only exception I will make is allowing myself to drink skim milk at breakfast. I don’t know how this goal will impact my overall health but I’ve got to believe that there will be at least some kind of improvement gained by cutting all of those chemicals and sugar out of my life. Mine is a pretty modest list this year, much leaner than in years past, but these are four things that I really want to do this year and it might benefit my focus and dedication to only have a few resolutions to work on. I will keep you updated at least once a month in the daily blog which you can follow at kendallcurtisblog.wordpress.com. If you have your own list of resolutions, please share them in the comments below. Good luck to everyone trying to better their lives, and happy new year to all!