"I'll just stay addicted and hope I can endure..."
~from Hooked On A Feeling
performed by B.J. Thomas, written by Mark James
Like most addicts, I've had nagging doubts about my ability to control my urges when it came to my drug of choice, but it wasn't until this week that I was forced to admit my life had become unmanageable in the face of my addiction. I have joked about it, minimized it, hidden it and even, sometimes, boasted about it in what I see now was a desperate attempt to cover up the devastating extent of my disease.
All that's over now--the protective armor of my deep denial was shattered this past week when I found myself standing in the rain at 11:14 p.m. in the parking lot behind the library with my right arm up to my shoulder in the mouth of the after-hours book drop.
After work Wednesday night, I had a pile of books on my front seat that I casually (but gently) tossed into the book drop on my way home from work. It wasn't until I started to get out of the van at home that I realized that the book I was in the middle of reading--Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire--was not where I had left it.
Of course, I had left it on the front seat of the van and when I'd gotten into the van at work, I'd reached into the back seat to grab the return pile to move them up front--my oh-so-clever attempt to not forget to drop them off--setting them on top of Out of Oz.
So that, rather than forgetting to return the books needing returned, I flippin' returned a book I not only wanted, but, in my humbly addicted opinion, desperately needed.
In hopes that the non-addicts among you may at least partially understand the depth of my distress at having accidentally returned this book, a few facts:
1. I am such a fan of the Wicked Years series, that when I unexpectedly found the third book (A Lion Among Men) on the shelf at the library (I'd had no "warning" it was coming out), I literally jumped up and down at the sight of it.
2. I have been eagerly (and impatiently) awaiting this fourth (and final) volume since I closed the third book in 2008--and even more impatiently since I found out the release date (Nov 1) a few months ago.
3. I was about fifty pages from the end of the (500+ page) book and all kinds of things were going on. I fully expected to finish that evening and was greatly looking forward to doing so.
4. At the time that I got the book, the library here in town didn't yet have a copy so it was ordered through the interloan system. If the book was actually removed from my account and sent back into the system, it could be a week or more before I could get the book back--longer if there were other patrons waiting for it. A week or more, people, of not knowing what the hell was happening to Rain and her cohorts. Simply unbearable.
So, for these reasons, when I realized I had inadvertently returned the book, I absolutely panicked. I immediately drove back to the library to see if it was possible to retrieve the book from the book drop.* I looked into the maw of the terrible beast and saw only darkness--and a metal grate that looked maybe a little like teeth. The grate was tilted toward the back of the book drop to ease the books gently into the bin at the back.
If I could just get my arm to the back of the grate, maybe my books were high enough up for me to reach a corner of Out of Oz. Maybe...(reach)...maybe...(stretch)...maybe...(ouch!)...
Maybe this manufactured emergency was about to become an actual emergency. Maybe I not only wasn't going to get the book back, maybe I wasn't even going to get my arm back...After the physics defying act of rotating my elbow in one direction while rotating my shoulder in another, I popped free and started to realize the wisdom of accepting what I clearly could not change.
If I couldn't get the book back right now, maybe I could stick a note in the book drop and ask the nice Library Ladies not to "return" it so I could pick it up in the morning. So I penned a quick note full of desperation and dropped it into the box, being careful to remove my arm as quickly as possible.
I am not sure what happened to the note--the Library Ladies never saw it, and it may still be hung up somewhere on the innards of the book drop monster. Regardless, the book was returned into the interloan wilderness sometime before the library opened at 10 the next morning.
Through a miracle of timing, though, I got a copy of the book back the next morning anyway because our library had gotten its own copy that very day and the fantastic Library Lady who answered my frantic call (two minutes after they opened) took sympathy upon me and set it aside for me to pick up.
But, you know, none of this means I have a problem, really. I mean, I can quit anytime I want.
Besides, what options do I really have? A twelve-step program? Where do you think all those steps come from?
That's right, a Big Book.
*I am not at liberty to explain why I know this, but it was possible to retrieve some books from the former book drop system--which was a little hatch in the front door of the library that dropped into a cart with a spring-loaded bottom that fell further as it got fuller. So, if your arm was long enough and your book hadn't slid too far down or back (or if, for a purely hypothetical scenario, the snow brush from your car was long enough to nudge a too-far-back book forward into arm's reach), it could be gotten back. Hypothetically. Ahem.