On the John
Originally published in the Indiana Daily Student on March 25, 2004
Yeah, you know me!
(That was fun. OK, moving on.)
Many years ago, I enjoyed reading. As a child, I would often go to the library with my parents, pick out a few books and quietly read while nestled in the little fort my brother Mike and I had in the back of our old house. The fort was a small Anne Frankish spot beneath a trap door and above a rarely-used concrete stairwell which led to the cellar.
When Mike and I found it, we originally envisioned it as a place to hang out and watch TV with the guys, so we gathered some markers and paper and produced a handy “No Girls Allowed” sign. Like all young boys, we knew a day would come when girls were allowed – not just allowed, but in power – and we sensed our time together as guys was running out. Most guys sense this at some point, which is why we invented sports bars and basements.
Anyhow, with the addition of some duct tape for the sign, our fort was nearly complete, but our dream of the all-male TV fort died when we discovered both my brother and I had poor wiring skills. Unable to unhook a TV from the house and rehook it in the fort, we decided the dream would have to wait. Television watching was relegated to the TV room in the house, and in an effort to maximize the fort’s usefulness, it became a cozy reading nook.
And a cozy reading nook it remained, until one day when I was about 11 and could no longer comfortably fit inside. I looked for many moons, but was never able to find a suitable replacement nook, and so my indoor idle time was filled exclusively by television and television-related activities.
Since then, I’ve grown further and further away from reading books for fun. Is it unfair of me to blame my disinterest in reading on the world’s surprising lack of nooks? Probably. That is a childish response. The truth of the matter is watching TV is a lot easier than reading. Plus, let’s face it. I love TV. Why not watch it?
Sure, there’s something appealing about spending my free time reading. I would love to start and finish a book in a few sittings, wake up before noon, not save homework till the night before, eat right, keep the living room clean, study a little bit every day so I don’t have to cram, back up my computer files on a disk, exercise, take “initiative,” eat all the bread before it goes bad, learn how to spell the word “convenient” without having to use spell check, enjoy L371, have abs, appreciate serious art … but these actions are not a reality.
The point is, you make choices and you live with them. I like sleeping in, so instead of being upset I’ve “wasted the day away,” I am thrilled I got to sleep. I like procrastinating, so instead of being angry at 9 a.m. when I have a 15-page paper due at noon, I reflect on all of the good times I had while not writing the paper. Same goes with not reading for fun. I’m sure one day I’ll come around and change some of my unproductive habits, but that change will come naturally, or when I find a new nook.
ADVICE FROM THE JOHN: A110 Intro to Computers is a useful and easy class. But beware: there is no attendance policy. Just show up, and you’ll do fine. You don’t want to take it twice. Trust me.
Copyright 2004, jm silverstein