Saturday, November 10, 2007

Grant Searching. . .

. . .I've decided that I need a grant to cover me for a year of reading. Yup, just reading. Well, I'd maybe knit while I read if the book stayed open just right and my project was straightforward. But mostly, I want to read.

I used to read for long chunks of time. Growing up in rural Maine in a TV-free family, it's what we did--my mom found it as hard to pry us away from our books as other moms found it to break their kids away from cartoons. It was clearly a form of escapism, of family and chore avoidance, of sheer drunkenness. I remember doing my chores (Saturday mornings were for the family, but after lunch we were free), eating lunch (we could read during lunch, but not during any other meal), and then walking down the hill to our little local library, The Alvin Bolster Ricker Memorial Library and Community House, and loading up for the week. Four, six, seven. . . I'd tote 'em home and be back the next week.

Once I hit college, reading became business, and it took a while to get the magic back. I can still remember the day it returned. As a dorm parent and English teacher at a boarding school, I'd ordered a bunch of books for a buck from QPBC, and returned to my apartment to find the box there. I picked up one of the books, lay down on the couch, and the next thing I knew, it was 8 pm and I'd been gone, swept away to another time and place entirely. Reading, deeply, wholy, intensely, was back in my life.

Then kids came along, and another teaching job, and certainly when the boys were little, I read while nursing, while being the voice of the witch or Sir Topham Hatt, or the doorbell. However, as time went on, things started to intervene: knitting. More demanding interactions with the boys. Naps! Gardening. Time with my husband. Also, less elevated concerns: wireless internet access and a school-provided lap top meant websurfing became a reality and a real timesucker.

When I recently realized how much time I was losing, I made an effort to read books I wanted to read rather than browsing magazines or the multitudes of catalogs that appear in our mailbox on a regular basis. Still, the pile of "I really want to read this" books continues to grow. In my study, on my bedside table, the bookshelf by my desk at school, the bottom of my school bag: the piles loom and hulk, enticing, colorful, exciting. I just don't have time as job and life intervene.

So: I am looking for a grant to pay me to read for a year. Not to reivew, not to evaluate (more than I, 20 year English teacher and writer, already do), not to write about (though I know I will at least keep a list), but to read. I will need to exercise, do my family stuff, stay on my committees, live my life, but I'd love to have the weight of my professional responsibility shift to reading for one year.

Any ideas? Bill and Melinda? Steven and Tabitha? Ford Foundation? I'm ready and waiting--and so are the books.

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