Sunday, November 27, 2011

Everything In Moderation?

On Thanksgiving day, I glanced at my partially eaten dinner and groaned to Hubby, "I think I may have put too much food on my plate."

Hubby rolled his eyes. "That's never happened before."

I protested, "You know I'm the very picture of moderation in all areas of my life."

I may have overstated my case slightly, but I really believe there are only two areas of my life where moderation continues to elude me.1 One is food. The other, of course, is books.

When I was a kid, my grandmother would watch what I piled on my plate and say, "I think your eyes are bigger than your stomach." For some reason, I loved hearing that--visualizing eyes literally larger than a stomach and speculating about exactly how they might've gotten that way.

Of course, Nan meant that I had taken more than I could possibly2 consume. She was almost always wrong and, alas, to this day, my eyes rarely issue a challenge my stomach fails to meet. Why my eyes have such an insatiable appetite and so little control over themselves remains a mystery.

My other uncontrollable appetite is for books--and not just books but the written word in general. I will feast upon print anywhere it will stand still long enough for me to take it in. I've got it so bad that for a long time, I was trying to figure out a way to build a shower reader--a waterproof device in which to place a book. It would have some sort of lever system to turn pages and would also be adjustable to fit different sized books.

I don't spend much time thinking about that anymore. I figure at this point, it's only a matter of time before the eReader people and the shower radio people combine technologies. You can be forgiven for thinking that only a fanatic would even think about reading in the shower. You would be right--only a fanatic would be thinking about reading in the shower and that fanatic would be me.

Books and other printed matter can be found on virtually every flat surface in my house. The only reason they are not currently on literally every flat surface in my house is that we tidied up for Thanksgiving company. This has not resulted in less printed matter strewn about, but only in higher stacks on fewer surfaces. 

With the exception of the bounty from birthday gifts of Barnes & Noble cards, this wretched excess is almost all from the library so it is not a financially costly addiction. But it takes its toll in other ways. It eats up a ridiculous amount of my "free" time, for one thing. And for another, I feel a certain amount of (self-imposed) pressure to get through it all before it has to be returned. If I run out of renewals before I have finished--or even started--a book it creates the completely unfounded anxiety that I will now never be able to read the book--as though getting the book out again after it's returned is not an option.

For these reasons and a few others, I have repeatedly vowed to go to the library with a list and not to get anything "extra." I did this again on Friday afternoon. I had three books to get for Hubby and that was all I was going to get.

My resolve lasted until I was three steps inside the door where I was led astray by a title on the new non-fiction table.

"That's it. No more," I told myself--in much the same way I have to tell myself not to stick my hand back into the package of cupcakes.

I grabbed the books for Hubby and set my stack of four books on the front desk. The librarian leaned across the pile and said, "You know, if you get a fifth book, you can be entered into a raffle for a free Kindle."

It's true what they say: the road to excess is paved with the Library Lady's good intentions. Better yet, when I returned with my fifth book, she told me that two interloan books I had requested were in.

I left the library with seven books. Seven--instead of three.

So, about that expression "Everything in moderation." Is it just me or is that "everything" in there a bit excessive, a tad immoderate? If moderation is good, then what could be better than being moderate about our moderation?

1. Two, if you don't count self-delusion, which I suspect I practice with great abandon, but I cannot be entirely sure. Delusions tend to keep to themselves and not stand around waiting to be counted.
2. Let us here acknowledge the difference between "possibly" and "comfortably." It is vast.


  1. Thank you so much for coming over to visit my blog and leaving such a lovely comment, Masked Mum! Much appreciated. Livvy

  2. Pet Peeve alert! "Everything in moderation" is one of those head nodding, smug smiling bits of "wisdom" that makes no sense. One should be completely immoderate in some things (love, books, laughter) and even moderation in some things is not a good thing (meth, murder, thievery). Read on, Masked Mom! May those printed surfaces swell!

  3. I'm so glad our library now has a hold for your holds. When I go on vacation I've always been so worried my books would come in while I was gone. Now I can freeze my holds and worry about more important things: like did I pack enough socks?