June 19, 2009

And a Rock Feels No Pain

For most of my college years, I was able to set up my schedule of classes so I started in the morning, had a few short breaks in between and was done by 3 or 4pm. There was one semester, however, where this sort of schedule proved impossible. I ended up starting in the morning, but having 2 or 3 hour breaks in between. At this point, I didn't live close enough to campus to go home (and If I left I would lose the decent parking space I had managed to find). Most of my classes were art related and any work was usually done in class, so I didn't have any homework to keep me busy. There was always the crossword puzzle in the school paper, but it didn't keep me occupied for all that long. It became that clear I needed to find something else to entertain myself.

One afternoon in a book store, I came across a copy of Infinite Jest. I had remembered my step-dad reading it and liking it. Also, it was enormous, even in paperback form. I picked it up and read all the reviews on the back, and eventually decided that it would be the perfect thing to occupy the expanses of time between my classes.

I started lugging it to school with me, and I would sit in the quad and read it during my breaks. Sometimes I'd stop to chat with fellow classmates, and the funniest thing would happen:

Classmate (noticing gianormous paperback on a bench next to me): Wow! What's that book?
Me: Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace
Classmate: Are you reading it?
Me: I am.
Classmate: What class is it for?

Because I couldn't POSSIBLY be reading a book of that size BY CHOICE.

As much as I wanted to keep reading it, I got about 100 pages in and hit a wall. Yes, checking the footnotes was a bit tedious, but I don't think it was that. Actually, I'm not sure what it was. My step-dad assured me I should just keep going, that eventually I would get past that wall, and I wouldn't be able to put it down. I'm absolutely positive he was right, but I never managed to pick it up again. I've moved five times since then, and usually do a book purge every time, but Infinite Jest has never made it to the Goodwill pile. I kept telling myself that someday I would pick it up and read it again.

Well, that someday is coming...I've decided to participate in Infinite Summer. I've been wanting to attempt reading it again, especially since David Foster Wallace is no longer with us. It's the perfect motivation for me to finally pull the damn thing off my bookshelf and just do it. Though I may need a bigger bag if I'm going to be lugging it around with me again (also, perfect excuse to go shopping for a new bag).

Totally unrelated: For those of you wondering (and who don't follow my twitter), I did not get "kicked off the island". Yesterday was stressful and sad, and I'm relieved it's over. I can't remember the last time I've looked this forward to the weekend.



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© Whitney Brandt-Hiatt: All writing, images, and photogrpahy are the property of Whitney Brandt-Hiatt unless otherwise noted.