I finally did it.
I finally hid away in my turquoise colored bedroom, wrapped myself in my fluffy burgundy blanket, propped myself up on my pile of pillows and read for an entire 24 hours.
Give or take a few brakes and stalled moments at the kitchen sink as I read.
My ability to actually do this had been lacking for some time, because as I have gotten older it has become a test of will to make myself sit still long enough to read a chapter; Or ever sit through a one hour television show.
But it has finally happened.
Thanks to John Steinbeck.
Thanks to his vision and his ability to create nail biting conflict in life situations that I would never see with my ordinary eyes. Though in reality, they are there staring you in the face.
Steinbeck did not have ordinary vision.
His stories so effectively reflect the everyday human condition, I wonder, when reading his creations, how he knew that something like that happened in my family?
And he got me to leave the dishes in the sink for over two days. The sun rising and setting on them, cluttering up the kitchen, with my thoughts occasionally drifting back to the "responsibility" of keeping the kitchen clean and the little voice in my head screaming at me "put the book down," and get busy with what you are supposed to be doing, the book will wait.
But it wouldn't.
I only took brakes to go to the bathroom or get something cold to drink; dragging my blanket along behind me like "Pigpen" in the Charley Brown cartoon, dust cloud and all.
And I kept on reading, standing there in the kitchen window, wrapped in my blanket, holding my breath as the characters in "The Pearl" struggle with the Evil that has crept upon their family. The Evil that forced them out of their village, into the night, into hiding in the mountains, dragging with them anger and regret and animal instinct for survival ... and returning, still carrying with them their great regret and a new, terrible heart braking loss. I will end there ... I don't want to ruin it for someone who hasn't read it and might decide to.
It was 24 hours of emotions that I wish I could put down on my own piece of paper.
It was 24 hours where the cat was lucky he got fed or recognized even with his excessive meowing; And the dog was lucky she got put out to take a pee and kick up some dirt. They were reluctant brakes to say the least, and they were few and far between.
It was 24 hours of letting the dishes stay dirty, the cloths remain in the dryer, the floor remain un-swept and myself un-showered, with my main source of food PBJ's and coffee.
Hard crust on my PBJ.
My blanket still trailing behind me as I made my way back into my bedroom, wrapped in my fuzzy blanket, onto my pillows that covered my bed remaining continuously hooked into The Pearl.
A book that made me forsake my tidy house and all that it is made of.
And I don't regret one minute of those 24 hours.
Steinbeck has become my most favorite author of late. Well, of ever, I suppose. I have never had a favorite author, they all seem to be random depending on the book; but this time, this time I am hooked. He is like a drug that gets me to turn the television off. I forget about food and drink and caring for animals or other people for that matter. I submerge myself into a world of characters and conflicts that cause one to say to themselves; "Now why didn't I think of that?" And you begin to plot the next great American Novel...and then you hear that little voice saying, "Good luck with that."
When I finished it was early evening and the sun was just setting. The dust was in the air from moving through the kitchen and back to my room and back to the kitchen; It could be seen in the streams of light beaming through the dirty windows I had planned to wash the day I picked up the book. The sunlight illuminating not only the dust in the air but the pile of dishes that needed to be cleaned.
"All in good time," I said to myself, because I can honestly say I didn't care.
Now I have some seed to propagate my own imagination, my own Great American Novel.
Those 24 hours made me realize that its OK the indulge in guilty pleasure, though I am sure most wouldn't consider a full 24 hours of reading an indulgence. For me it was like being set free from a prison of everyday, boring, "they will be there when you get back" chores.
To have allowed myself that much time to enjoy something I find satisfying had been a long time coming; And it makes cleaning up the clutter that much more satisfying.
And the next 24 hours of reading a pleasure I am looking forward to with great anticipation.