SOL2015 March 2 -Reading In The Waiting Room

I had a doctor’s appointment today. I have developed my own personal plan for visiting the doctor. I always take my own book to read. The selection of magazines in medical waiting rooms has little appeal to this pernickety reader. Annie Dillard’s words resonate in my head each time I enter the waiting zone- ‘Be careful what you read, for that is what you’ll write.’ With those critical words ringing in my ears, I avoid the trash mags, Field and Gun, 50 Ways With Avocado, Health Warning magazines, and those dog eared out of date travel magazines.  When my doctor greets me, the question often gets asked, ‘What are you reading?’ and the conversation between two readers flows naturally from that point.

People in a waiting room often sit in what the late Warren Zevon referred to as, ‘splendid isolation.’ We are seemingly like silos, content to sit in silence until  we hear our name called. I am part of that silent majority. Book in hand, I quietly took a seat.

As I sat reading my pre-selected book,  -a well marked copy of Ralph Fletcher’s ‘Breathing In, Breathing  Out –Keeping A Writer’s Notebook, I realized how often I return to this special little book. It is all the more special to me, given that Ralph indulged me with a signature when we met up in Darwin last July. I reference this book frequently  when introducing teachers and students to the idea of writer’s notebooks. It’s a favourite. It’s a gold mine.

At one point in the book Ralph has documented odds and ends- entries that defy description. One of his entries states,

 ‘In the 50’s if you saw a car with one headlight missing you reached over and kissed your girlfriend.’

As I read this, I suddenly recalled my final year of high school.  A classmate of mine, U.S exchange student, Janet Gale, informed me one evening as we drove through Sherbrooke Forest, ‘If you see a car with one headlight, you have to say ‘fididdly’ and kiss the nearest girl,’

And then, just as I was beginning to ruminate on this dredged up memory, so splendidly sparked by Ralph Fletcher’s words, the doctor called my name and my reading and reminiscing came to a sudden halt.

But fididdly had re-emerged in my conscious mind and that’s why you’re reading about it now. If you carry a book with you, random magic can happen.


Comments

  1. It is the seemingly bits of random recall that best triggers writing for me as well. Enjoyed the post. Thanks.

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  2. I was introduced to writer's notebooks in a writing course last term - that book seems very useful! I kept the Lucy Calkins writer's guide and plan to review it. I'll probably take a look at your recommendation as well, thanks!

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  3. Books are the best way to pass the time when waiting. It is amazing how quickly a line in a book can take you to a new place (or a long forgotten memory). Ralph Fletcher is such an inspiration to me as well.

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  4. Books are the best way to pass the time when waiting. It is amazing how quickly a line in a book can take you to a new place (or a long forgotten memory). Ralph Fletcher is such an inspiration to me as well.

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  5. Random magic... I love how this piece ends. Fletcher's book is a favorite of mine too.

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  6. I always carry a book with me because you never know if you will end up waiting for something!

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  7. I love your intention about what you spend your time reading. And the result it created benefitted all of us.
    ~Deborah

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  8. 'Be careful what you read, for that is what you’ll write.’ Those words will now ring in my head for eternity. Love the happenstance of the entry and your memory.

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  9. Random magic - love that. I also have Fletcher's book and have many things tagged and marked. Where I come from, we call the missing headlight a perdittle - I have no idea if that is spelled right but that is how it is pronounced.

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  10. I love the advice you quoted: "Be careful what you read, for that is what you’ll write." I too carry at least one book with me wherever I go, so I never have a boring moment (unless you count monitoring or admining a test...). Since I usually have my phone or iPad with me, I can carry dozens of books, and pick which ever one suits my fancy. That said, I really need to start carrying a writer's notebook. I make use of Evernotes on my phone...

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  11. I love reading your posts, Alan! I love the quotes you share, especially Annie Dillard's and I love the books you read. I have written posts about waiting rooms as well, focusing on the magazines that they all seem to have--how about the cooking magazines with the best recipes ripped out?!

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  12. Interestingly I read your post yesterday in a waiting room. I forgot my book but read slices instead. Loved the random magic you described so well.

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