023 // The Reading Ritual

I’m so proud of myself for knocking 5 books off my 2019 reading challenge and I’m powering through the 6th as we speak. Of course, two were already half started, two were graphic novels, and one was the easiest read ever, but still, five books already! I’ve never read so much, so consistently, for so long before. All my other resolutions might be in the toilet but on this one, I have exceeded all my expectations, so far.


Whenever I start a new book, I go through this weird little ritual. I sharpen a new pencil (henceforth be known as my “book pencil”) to take notes in the margins, underline my favorite passages, and to circle names or other items to research later.

I choose a bookmark that “feels right” from my drawer of brightly colored postcards, stickers, scrap paper and tags I’ve saved for this purpose. I get a sticky note out and place it at the “endnotes” or wherever I can stop reading, which is often many, many pages before the last page. Then I do a bit of math.

I calculate how many total pages there in the main text to read (minus those endnotes, or the sample of the author’s next book, or whatever else is tacked on at the end) and divide that by how quickly I’d like to finish the book, usually between 7 and 10 days. The answer is how many pages I plan to read per day. I get another sticky note out to mark this page daily so I can read without thinking about it.

I mark the book as “currently reading” on Goodreads just before I start so that every night when I put the book down I can update the app with my progress. Then and only then can I begin reading and always with the introduction, the preface, the forward, or any notes from the author first before the main text. I do not consider those parts to be “skippable”.

It’s a lot, I know, and I know it’s weird, but sometimes a book is a conversation and like any other between two people you both have to be open and ready to interact, share ideas, and even disagree. This process allows me to establish a strong and immediate connection to every book I pick up. The ritual gives me permission to take every book I read very seriously and facilitates an easier immersion into the author’s world and mind.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

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020 // Decisions and Doubt

Book shopping day! The sun was out, and the air warmed enough to persuade me to get out of the house. I gathered up the gift cards I’ve been hoarding since Christmas and went to my favorite place, the bookstore. I got the two newest volumes of Saga, One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, and Notes from Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky. I’m excited to read them all, but more excited for the book shopping I’ll get to do again once I finish these.


I’m nervous about tomorrow.  We’re heading out early to look at a wedding venue. It’s going to be a long drive there, and a long drive back, and in between a long talk and a hard choice. Wedding planning isn’t fun, I’ve learned that.

The money, the time, the endless decisions and doubt. Not about our life together but about what you have to do to begin it. Our future began a long, long time ago and paradoxically the more that time has diminished our need for a wedding the more we feel the need to have it and the grander our day needs to be.

So, tomorrow we may have one step settled but then the other dominos will need to fall into place quickly. It’s all very scary, and hard, but the sooner it’s done the better and I’m sure, once we find our groove and get over enough humps, we’ll find the fun in it.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

If We Were Having Coffee // Strong Enough to Examine, and Change

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday and welcome. Thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

Waking up was a little easier today than most Sundays. I think knowing that I have an extra day away from work tomorrow makes it easier for me to get this day going. A three-day weekend really makes it clear how much a four-day work week would do for the human psyche and soul.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. The sun is shining and the temperatures are rising fast. It’s going to be the warmest week of the day and I plan to get out and soak up the sun while I can. So, quickly now, let’s talk about last week.

“Presently the small of coffee began to fill the room. This was morning’s hallowed moment. In such a fragrance the perversity of the world is forgotten, and the soul is inspired with faith in the future…”

Halldór Laxness, Independent People

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that last week was good, I think. It was certainly not bad, but it was long and tiring. I’m beginning to believe the problem is with me and not with work or the world. I’ve been feeling especially tired for weeks now and as someone who has a chronic illness, I have learned to pay attention to my body and to take action when something is wrong. Better to make a few appointments and run a few tests now before things get bad.

I’m at the halfway point between last months infusion day and next month’s. I’ve had a theory now that my infusion days are set too far apart and that I would do better at six-week intervals rather than eight. This month I’m tracking my symptoms and energy levels so I can present my case to the powers that be and get my treatment plan revised.

In the meantime, I’m taking one day every week to simply rest. I got the idea last week from Eclectic Alli’s Weekend Coffee Share post and gave it a try myself yesterday. I talked about it a bit last night already but I want to say again to anyone that needs to hear it, acknowledging that you need to rest, giving yourself permission to do so, and even seeking a little reassurance from loved ones as I did with my fiance, can really go a long way.

I was able to rest without anxiety and without guilt. I was able to really rest.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this week was an okay writing week. It was better than last week, but I’m still struggling to finish the drafts I start and I still haven’t begun work on my larger projects. This coming week I’m going to keep on doing what I am doing and trusting that I will keep getting better as long as I keep stringing words together either on the screen or on the page. I have to trust in the long run and broaden my focus from the day-to-day.

I’m not really disappointed though because even though it might have been a less than ideal writing week, it was a stellar reading week! I finished both Homer’s The Iliad and On the Genealogy of Moral by Friedrich Nietzsche, two books I had failed for months to get through in 2018. I started The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It’s very different from my last two reads but I think that is how I proceed best through books by jumping from one genre or time period to another radically different.

Next, I’ve got The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, then a couple of volumes of Saga comics, and then The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson.


If we were having coffee I would tell you that we’re over halfway through Dry January and I am finally seeing some benefits. I’ve lost weight, a surprising amount of weight and I do feel like I am sleeping better through the night than I have in a long, long time.

I’m starting to think now of if, and how, I will return to alcohol once the month is over. I’ve broken my dependence on the need for alcohol to trigger a relaxing response after a hard or frustrating day at work. I no longer need to come home and pour a glass of wine or make a margarita on those especially hard days. I no longer feel that social gatherings or events require alcohol to be fun. I feel like I have a little more choice about when I drink, and I don’t want to lose that.

Going forward, I will regulate alcohol to the realm of “special occasion”. It will be a once a week or less indulgence. When I purchase alcohol I will buy in smaller quantities so that I don’t have so much to “get through”.

Drinking alcohol isn’t inherently a bad thing, and while I did indulge regularly, I didn’t and still do not, consider my relationship to alcohol to be problematic. It’s like sugar or fast food, or coffee even, it just became a habit and I want for all my habits to be a little less automatic. I’m proud of myself for being strong enough to examine and change.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that as much as I enjoy chatting with you the morning is moving on toward midday and I’ve got shopping to do and maybe a lunch date with my lady if I can leave soon enough.

I hope you had a wonderful week. I hope you made some progress and if you experienced any setbacks; I hope you know you can start again as many times as you need. Get out and see the sun if you can, and rest without one iota of guilt if you can’t, okay?

Until next time.


Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

016//365

I finished The Iliad today. I’ve been reading it for months and as excited as was to get through the tome, I felt right away like something in my life was missing after I finally turned the last page.

It’s like I had made a friend, an interesting and beautiful friend that frustrated me to no end but taught me so much. And now, suddenly, after all we had been through, and just as we had really begun to find our groove and understand one another, that friend has to go away.

We’ve come to the end of our time together though when I am ready I may walk the same path with them again and look and learn again with them if I choose. Sadly, though our time was certainly eye-opening and moving, I know I will not be able to put myself through the great task of loving them again for a long time.

I am grieving for sure, but I’m more anxious than ever to make a new friend of another tale. I had planned to pick up The Alchemist tonight, but I remembered I had 100 or so pages left of Nietzsche’s On the Geneology of Morals. Better to finish it and leave all my reading failures firmly behind.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren

008//365

The day flew by just fast enough. I enjoyed all the good parts and the bad parts were over quickly and with little complaint. Through it all, some words managed to get written and others were read.

I had forgotten just how beautiful The Iliad is. Today I began Book XVI: The Death of Patroclus and lines 184-192 struck me particularly:

“Meanwhile, Achilles strode mid the shelters, giving all
Of his Myrmidons orders to arm, after which they rushed out
Like so many flesh-rending wolves, great beasts unspeakably
Savage—wolves that have killed a huge horned stag
In the mountains and gorged themselves on his flesh till the jaws
Of all were dripping with blood, and off the pack runs
To lap with their slender lean tongues from a spring of dark water,
Belching up scarlet gore and still quite ferocious,
Though now their bellies are bulging.

Every time I read passages like this I’m forced to stop reading for a time. This is why it’s taking me so long to get through the book. I read things like the words above and I just can’t let them go. I can’t move on. I have to let the words roll over and allow my imagination to have its way.

I’ll try to pick it back up tomorrow (I’m reluctant because I know what awaits poor Patroclus and Achilles) and to face my own words again too.


These entries are inspired by the journal posts of Thord D. Hedengren