Posts Tagged ‘family and friends’

gogirl: eartha kitt

This year’s Christmas was cause for celebration, yet many fans mourned upon learning that one of showbiz’s most enduring performers, Miss Eartha Kitt, died on that day at 81 of colon cancer.

Born in poverty in South Carolina, she was the daughter of a white father, a cotton farmer, and a black-Cherokee mother. As a mixed-race child during the first few decades of the century, she endured racism, neglect, and rejection.

For a while she attended the New York School of Performing Arts, but dropped out to take various odd jobs. In the mid-40s, she auditioned for the Katharine Dunham dance troupe and earned a place, performing in the Broadway production “Bal Negre” as one of the San Souci singers.

Orson Welles once called Eartha “The most exciting woman in the world.” She spent much of her life single. She married Bill McDonald in 1960 but divorced him after the birth of their daughter Kitt.

Her experiences with the troupe led to other opportunities in dance, singing, and acting.

As “Catwoman” from 1967-68 in the “Batman” television series, replacing Julie Newmar, she filled out the prescribed catsuit with her svelte 35-23-35 (inches) figure, making her one of the sexiest villains to purr her way around the small screen.


Eartha as “Catwoman” in the “Batman” episode “Dressed to Kill”

She traveled the world and learned to perform in more than ten languages. She performed exclusively overseas after her anti-Vietnam War activism led to her investigation by the FBI and the CIA.

Upon returning to the US, she was cast in many Broadway roles. In 2000, she was tapped to be the voice of the villainess “Yzma” in Disney’s cartoon “The Emperor’s New Groove”, bringing her more fans from the younger generation.

She was also a published author who wrote three autobiographies and, in 2001, Rejuvenate, a guide to staying physically fit.

In her six-decade career, she was still performing well into her late 70s, and maintained the curvaceous figure that made her famous.

Her life was a celebration of beauty, joy, and art. While she wasn’t always happy, she made the most of what she had to carve out her own niche in the world that no one else can fill. There are many lessons to be learned from her life – of strength, perseverance, and endurance. She makes our list as a certified Gogirl, an icon of feminism, grace, and style.


The incomparable Eartha Kitt.

17 January 1927 – 25 December 2008.

Personal footnote:

Eartha’s deep back bends remind me of the ones which made our very own Pilita Corrales, “Asia’s Queen of Song”, famous as a performer.


Eartha_kitt_perrinpost_2 Eartha-kitt-lg-0807 Kitt-cp-3614983

Eartha_bend_santa Eartha-kitt-2

Eartha’s images from various points in her career (from all over the ‘Net).

…and Pilita.


Pilita on a concert program from 1973 (

My father, who was a fascinating raconteur, often told a story of taking me with him to work one day at the ABS-CBN broadcast network studio where he was a newscaster and we ran into Pilita. I must have been all of four years old. Upon seeing her, my dad said, I immediately went into a backbend, holding an imaginary microphone to my lips. The good-natured Cebuana songstress laughed.

I don’t know if this story is true. This was told, after all, by the man who assured me in all seriousness that on days when the sun is shining at the same time it’s raining, somewhere in the world it’s a gorilla’s birthday. Go figure.

taste more:

the significance of trees

The Christmas tree is a ubiquitous and uber-commercialized symbol of the holiday, yet the etymology of its use could hearken back to old animistic practices. In many ancient religions, trees were worshipped as sacred, held to be the homes of gods or spirits, or believed to be capable of bestowing enlightenment on mortals.

My aunt Nana Barcelona’s tree, decorated with ornaments collected through the years. The hand-painted eggs are actual eggs from Chechoslovakia; the gilded glass spheres, Philippine-made.

In today’s context - festooned with winking lights, laden with colorful ornaments, circled by wrapped presents – a Christmas tree certainly has the power to bring smiles to children’s faces.


Ik’s wide grin makes all the preparations worth it!

Even a “sign” (in the Jungian sense) that consists of electric lights strung together in an elongated pyramid formation and decorated with various ornaments can symbolize a Christmas tree, which in turn symbolizes the holiday and all its attendant shared meanings and associations.


A tree made of lights and ornaments greets all comers to our barangay (neighborhood community) in Makati City.


A closeup of some of the ornaments decorating our neighborhood tree.

taste more:

“friends forever…”

The Philippines, according to Wikipedia, is said to observe the longest Christmas season in the world.

This is true. Malls put up Christmas trees and play carols as early as September. Homes are festooned with lights in November. I was aghast to learn that a cousin in the US bought her tree only a week ago; I had ours up and flashing by November 3, right after hundas or the local Dia del Muerte observances.

By the first week of December, restaurants and bars are fully booked for the seemingly endless rounds of parties. For the average employed Filipino adult, there are at least two that one can count on being invited to – the office party and the barkada get-together. The entire month is one big party, and everyone’s invited!

Work and office planning is hardly done around this time – “Magpa-Pasko na (Christmas is coming), you should’ve done that in October or November,” is something heard frequently. Most activities are postponed. “After Christmas na ‘yan, ha.” Work slows. Shopping speeds up. Stores are full of people, pockets bulging with their thirteenth-month pay and bonuses, eager to spend it all on gifts for family and friends. Employers nod indulgently as employees take two-hour lunches and return laden with shopping bags. They themselves leave early for corporate holiday affairs, golf tournaments in Baguio, and out-of-the-country vacations.

With pressure easing  on all sides, a sense of relaxation pervades. This makes the holidays a perfect time for renewing friendships. Last Friday, I met up with one of my best friends, Adelle Chua, opinion editor of Manila Standard-Today, where I am a horseracing columnist. We see each other perhaps three to four times a  year. We eat, catch up on the latest, eat, share feminist philosophies, eat. We did all our eating at the Racks’ in El Pueblo (Ortigas), where the succulent and tender sweet baby back ribs and side dishes keep us coming back for more.

After dinner, we went for dessert and coffee next door, to San Francisco Coffee Co. Die-hard Starbucks habitues, we were thinking of walking to the one at Emerald Avenue. But SFCC had an interesting sign – “Free WiFi.” We swung the glass doors open and walked in.

Not that we were able to try out the wi-fi. A delicious smell of syrup and coffee wafted us into our seats. Comfortably ensconced with coffee in mugs and an oatmeal bar in front of us, we chatted the night away. We must have covered a dozen topics, ranging from parents and parenting, DNA testing, and religion to fountain pens, the effects of aging on interpersonal relationships, and inner-spring mattresses.

Adelle and I are both writers. Bound by our common love of language, we deplored the declining standards of grammar, spelling, and technical proficiency. We drowned our sorrows over the fall of belles lettres in large mugs of our favorite brew.


I love San Francisco Coffee’s Raspberry Mocha. The best talaga, ever!


This is a nice, quiet place with very good coffee and pleasant, accommodating baristas who let us stay a little past closing and said not a word, letting us leave when we were ready. I wish they had more branches around the city.


After Adelle and I exchanged goodbyes and promises to meet again soon, I trekked to Metrowalk for another reunion – this time with batchmates from the Ateneo de Manila University Regis MBA program. The invitation came from Atty. Natus Rodriguez, Atty. Noel de Leon, and Major Edmar de la Torre. How could I say no to two lawyers and a cop?

The venue was Aruba, a trendy bar-cum-dance club part-owned by Natus. It’s a terrific place that plays ’80s music, both live and canned.  The crowd is upscale. Meaning they can headbang and respect personal space at the same time.


Natus ordered our party of ten his favorite drink. I forget what it’s called, but it’s served in shot glasses. A brown fluid lurks at the bottom while a milky liquid floats on top. Then it’s set on fire. Straws are handed round, the drink is sucked up, everyone applauds. It goes straight to your brain.

This time around, there isn’t much conversation, what with the loud music, dancing, and flaming drinks. Yet just seeing each other there was enough. Communication was achieved, the message being, “I cared enough to invite you/ I cared enough to come. We’re still friends.” We whisper into each other’s ears, catch up a bit, exchange phone numbers, find out how we can help each other.

But don’t wait until the holidays to refresh your relationships with your friends. Just like a plant, friendships can wither and die if not fed often with communication. Stay in touch. Make that your New Year’s resolution.

taste more:

is letter-writing passe?

Before email and text messaging, people kept in touch through letters. Penpals waited months to hear from correspondents around the world. When the letters finally arrived, they were opened like little treasures. The stamps were carefully inspected, as were the handwriting (or typewriting, but this was seldom), envelopes, and stationery. Relatives abroad sent missives scrawled on thin aeropost paper that folded over to make its own envelopes. Everyone was a handwriting expert and puzzle decoder, the skill gained from deciphering the chicken tracks sketched by friends and family.

The advances in technology have nearly killed off letter-writing. True, it is now more convenient than ever to communicate with people, yet there is a touch of soul and heart missing in the disturbed electrons that dance across a computer or mobile phone screen.

Interior decoratrix and lifestyle guru Alexandra Stoddard attempts to reverse this trend by waxing lyrical about the art of letter-writing in her book Gift of a Letter (1991).

She tells of her love of stationery, fountain pens, and sealing wax – interests I share – and how she uses these objects to pen handwritten notes to connect to people in an intimate and special way.

She makes clear, though, that you don’t need fancy pens or paper to drop your friends a line. What is important is sending something tangible – a piece of yourself that they can read over and over again, and tuck away in a box to read again later. Telephone conversations and text messages do serve the purpose of keeping people in touch, yet these methods of communication are ephemeral. They travel over the ether and vanish, leaving you with a dim memory of someone’s voice or a shared sentence or two.

Among the things I keep in my “memory box” are letters from my aunt, Araceli “Cely” Ortuoste, our clan matriarch. Her letters share stories about her parents and grandparents whom I never met.  When I visited her in her home in California some years ago, she told me the same stories. Yet the details of our conversations are forgotten; the letters, though, will always be there to remind me. My mother sends greeting cards from the Bay Area; her hand cramps and it’s difficult for her to curl her fingers around a pen, yet she manages to scribble a line or two in inks of different colors. I run my hands over the ridges on the paper and feel her with me, although it has been seven years since we last saw each other.

A letter shows that you cared enough to exert the effort of picking up a pen, writing a few lines with your recipient in mind, and mailing it. Use whatever’s at hand. A stray pentel and a page torn from a notebook are materials enough.

If you don’t like writing, why not send a little gift? A UK-based friend, Annie Merginio-Murgatroyd, mailed Ty Beanie Babies for my daughters; I sent her a signed mini-quilt. No words need be shared; the mere act of sending something that can be touched speaks volumes.

Vita is brevis. Let’s not take anyone or anything for granted. Think of the people you hold dear, and send them a little bit of your heart.

taste more:

why a high-fiber diet is good for you

Six months ago, Ik asked if I could teach her to knit.

“I’m sorry, babe,” I apologized. “I’d like to, but I don’t know how.”

I can cross-stitch and embroider on Aida, linen, and other materials; quilt at the intermediate level (drafting, rotary-cutting, machine- and hand-piecing, applique, setting, machine- and hand-quilting, binding, the works); and do paper crafts – collage, decoupage, origami.

But mastering the art of twisting and winding yarn with long sticks or short hooks has eluded me. I can crochet a chain, but that’s it for that. Knitting I never learned. So when I recently re-connected with Mona, a friend from college and fellow University of the Philippines Journalism Club and Fountain Pen Network Philippines member, I was intrigued to learn that she’s a knitter, and asked her where in Manila one could buy supplies.

Mona told me about Dreams in Glorietta 2 (Quad side), Ayala Center, Makati. “Look for the owner, Mrs. Lilli de Leon,” she urged. “She gives lessons, too.”

I knew about Dreams and used to buy cross-stitch patterns and embroidery floss there years ago. I didn’t know they carry other things now. I took Alex with me there last Friday, and was glad to see that they have nearly everything one might need by way of needlework supplies.

For Ik’s Christmas present, we decided to get her a complete beginner’s kit. Upon Ms. Lilli’s recommendation, I bought a pair of 4mm Lion brand knitting needles in lavender plastic; two balls of lightweight Red Heart yarn, one in pastel stripes and the other plain pink; and a book, “I Can’t Believe I’m Knitting” (Leisure Arts).

When Alex and I got home, I wrapped the presents. Ik’s suspense was torture – for me. She kept asking questions and we kept giving her clues, until we decided to let her open the kit. She was excited. The next day, we went back to Dreams for Ik’s first knitting lesson.

Dreams is indeed a “shop of dreams” for needleworkers. Knitting needles hang from the wall, along with scissors, rulers, other supplies. Bins against the wall are stuffed with yarn – acrylic, wool, silk-tweed blend, mohair. Shelves and racks hold crochet thread, hooks, patterns, books, thread, needles, bag clasps, and other interesting things.


Embroidery floss in many colors reminds me of the stash of thread I amassed as a cross-stitcher. I resolve to bring them out of boxes, check if the tapestry needles are still bright and shiny, the tiny steel-and-goldplated crane scissors sharp. Now where is the alphabet cross-stitch sampler I began eight years ago? It was my first attempt to embroider on linen; I had even added my own embellishments with Kreinik gold metallic and pearl thread.


My excuse for not finishing that piece back then was, “Life got in the way.” But as I’ve come to realize, hobbies and other creative activities are life.


As Ik and Ms. Lilli go through their knitting lesson, I read a beginner’s book on crocheting and study the diagrams for the single-crochet stitch. I weave the hook in and out the loops of variegated yarn, coaxing  stitches into straight rows.


The swatch grows; if I keep at it, I’ll soon have enough for a bookmark.


I stuff Ik’s knitting bag with yarn in rainbow shades. But I admit, it’s more for my pleasure than hers. Color makes me happy. That’s why I collect floss, fabric, and fountain pen ink in as many hues as I can.

Yarn is new to me. I wish I had been introduced to it sooner. It’s soft and warm, and if you squeeze a hank it springs back into shape, like a heart that keeps on loving and forgiving no matter how many times it’s broken.


With cold and impersonal technology so much a part of daily life, people are reacting – perhaps subconsciously – by turning towards crafts and other hobbies with tactile aspects. Knitting, quilting, and cross-stitch are now billion-dollar industries, a trend that began in the 1980s. John Naisbitt’s concept of the dichotomy of “high-tech/high touch” in his 1982 bestseller Megatrends first pointed this out.

He develops this idea further in his 1999 work High Tech, High Touch: Technology and Our Search for Meaning. Many of us, he says, live in a “technologically intoxicated zone” where we are drowning in stimuli from TV, cellphones, the Internet. Struggling to be free of it, people turn to religion, self-help books, Prozac, hobbies. Naisbitt’s solution is simple. Switch off your electronic devices, and spend time with friends and family.

Our “real life”, awash in technology, professional concerns, and other pursuits, is no excuse to put off or set aside the simple pleasures that can lift your spirits and bring you even a few moments’ comfort. This is real life, the only one we have. Once you understand that you don’t need to wait for happiness to come to you, rather it is wherever you find it, then you’ve discovered the secret for a wonderful life.

Ik starts another swatch of knitting, to show Ms. Lilli her progress at her next lesson. Using the English method, which suits her southpaw orientation, she winds pumpkin orange yarn around the needles, casting on stitches. I take up my crochet hook again; my bookmark will be finished soon.

taste more:

an unusual sheaffer

In the beginning was the box.

And the box was good.

Lo, inside the box was yet another box.


And within the second box reposed a thing of surpassing beauty.


Verily, verily, I say unto thee, mine eyes have not beheld such in this lifetime, yet perhaps in the ages to come, shall another come forth to amaze and astound.

Of exceedingly rare and wondrous beauty it is, its outer skin of silver like the burnished wings of a dove, likewise patterned intricately in gilt, its point of gold.

Yea, unless mine eyes deceive me or my knowledge be false, its sharp nib is of the type named Triumph by its makers, created of the finest fourteen-karat gold, encircled by a band of azure, its section of ebony black, marked with mysterious symbols that none but the enlightened or adept may comprehend.


And it came to pass that it was delivered into mine hands by a man enamoured of horse racing, Jowell Tan, as an heirloom of his house, to cherish and uphold as a singular specimen of its kind. Unto him I give thanks and unceasing gratitude, and so wilt my descendants unto the tenth generation.

Yet its true name is unknown. Unless one shall step forth and say “It is called thus,” or another, “Nay, this is the name and provenance of it,” I shall call it after the style proposed by mine wise and venerable teacher, the Rabbi Butch, who bestowed upon it the name ”the fishscale Sheaffer”.


Though the mountains fall, and seas rise, and heavens crumble, my tongue shall declare to all its fairness; for it hath no blemish, from the tip of its cap to the tassie at the bottom.


Not only shall its comeliness be praised, but its usefulness withal, for it writeth exceedingly fine, and taketh ink without leaks, and performeth as well as it looketh.

And therefore hath the Rabbi Butch proclaimed its condition “mint”.

Yea, verily it shall be my mainstay and my delight, and assist me in my tasks as a scribe. And success and impressive penmanship will follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in joy and continued employment forever.

taste more:

vintage pen case is…way cool.

When writer and university professor Dr. Jose “Butch” Y. Dalisay Jr. and his wife, artist June Poticar-Dalisay, came to watch the races at Santa Ana Park last Sunday, sir Butch brought this vintage leather pen case for me to keep my collection in. (Thanks so much, sir!)

It’s stamped “Sheaffer” on the lower right-hand corner, in gold foil that has dimmed through the years. The chocolate-colored leather is still shiny; the stitching, perfect. It could have been a salesman’s sample case.

Inside, it’s lined with glossy tan silk. On the left side of the case is a pocket – for price lists? Inventory? I’ll be keeping a list and description of the pens here. The other side is a silk flap that secures to the spine with Velcro tape.


The flap opens to reveal elastics to hold sixteen pens.


L-R, top row: All Sheaffers – Carmine Striated Balance petite refillable pencil (it has a matching fountain pen which I am using daily); 1920s hard-rubber ringtop from sir Butch; 1930s and ’40s celluloid Lifetime Black and Pearl, Lifetime Marine Green, mid-size Brown Striated, lady Jet Black (from sir Butch), junior Ebonized Pearl, and petite Black and Pearl. The last one – maroon with metal cap – is a 1940s Tuckaway with a Triumph point.

Bottom row: two Parker Vacumatics, green and gray; Jade Green Wahl Eversharp with a manifold (very stiff) nib; red Esterbrook; Pilot 77 (from Luis Store, Escolta); and, from Leigh, two circa-’70s long-shorts, from Sailor and Platinum (“Iris”).

taste more:

bedside reading

Whenever I’m asked, “What are you reading now?”, I’m sometimes hard pressed to answer. I do read one book at time, but there’s always a stack or two of volumes beside my bed,  some of which I’ve read, the others newly acquired and next in line for reading.

My tastes are eclectic. There are marketing and business books, holdovers from my MBA days – Marketing Gurus, all the Franklin Covey books. Lately I’m into memoirs – Matthew Polly’s hilarious American Shaolin, A. J. Jacob’s tongue-in-cheek The Year of Living Biblically, Laura Shaine Cunningham’s poignant and brave A Place in the Country.

Near the top, where I can easily reach them, are the latest thoroughbred catalogues from Australia’s Magic Millions and Keeneland in Kentucky. Keeneland’s November 2008 sale catalogues are the more interesting. It is a set of eight thick books, the information on weanlings and other bloodstock printed on thin paper. I open to the Index to Sires and roll their names in my mouth like candy – Cryptoclearance, Langfuhr, Star de Naskra.

Somewhere in those stacks are the latest edition of Strunk and White, my style manual ever since it was introduced to me in my freshman English class at the University of the Philippines; a Dummies guide to Adobe InDesign for print publication layouting; and three volumes of the Plaridel journal, the academic publication of the UP College of Mass Communication.

And at the bottom of the shorter pile is Julie Morgenstern’s Organizing from the Inside-Out – probably not the best place for it to be, if I want it to be of any help.

Any house I live in will be filled with books. It’s almost a psychological given; a house is not a home for me unless there are many books in it, spilling from shelves, stacked against the wall, piled on the coffee table.

My love for books stems from childhood. My mother raised me on science fiction and fantasy. This is a woman who kept her Lord of the Rings trilogy on the shelf below the TV set in her room, while all the other books were kept in the living room. This was back in the early ’80s, before fantasy became fashionable and when all of Tolkien’s books were out of print. Her copies, which she bought as a teenager at Lopue’s and China Rose in Bacolod City, were printed in the ’60s, before “acid-free” was heard of, and the pages were yellowed and crumbled at a touch. The spines were battered and mended many times with tape, which had also discolored to a color like weak tea.

In the tall wicker bookshelves in the sala she kept cookbooks. One of them was a ’50s hardbound Betty Crocker cookbook from her nanny who migrated to the United States. I have it now, and treat it as an heirloom. Others were cookbooks from the ’70s; those were filled with recipes for fondue, which seemed to me to be highly impractical since you needed a fondue burner.

That didn’t faze my mother. She improvised with a miniature saucepan on the stove. We gathered in the kitchen, dipping cubes of Kraft cheddar cheese in beaten egg, then breadcrumbs, then plunging them in hot oil till toasty brown.

Also on the shelves were my stepfather’s encyclopedias and his mother’s collection of children’s “two-in-one” hardbound classics. For instance, one side was Grimm’s Fairy Tales; flip the book and you got Hans Christian Andersen’s stories. My mother also had a good collection of adult classics – Aldous Huxley, Jonathan Swift, Charles Dickens, the Brontes. I wore out Bullfinch’s Mythology, though I later lost that particular copy.

My mother also possessed nearly all the Edgar Rice Burroughs books – my favorites being the Tarzan series (no, there wasn’t a “Cheeta” in the books) and the Mars series. The latter starred skimpily-clad Martian princess Dejah Thoris, who was constantly being saved by her husband, the manly Earthling John Carter, from predatory villains and robots controlled by evil scientists.


Fanart depiction of Barsoom (Mars); in the center, Dejah Thoris and John Carter face a myriad perils

Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” stories were also well-represented. H. Rider Haggard and his endless yarns of hunter Allan Quatermain’s adventures in lost cities in Africa? Check. Jules Verne and H. G. Wells classics? Yes, there too, as well as L. Frank Baum’s “Oz” books, many of them with the original John R. Neill art nouveau illustrations.

Neill’s drawings of Ozma’s hair – confined at the forehead by a thin diadem, tresses curling in whiplash tendrils – and her gauzy draperies, floating cloudlike around her slim body – captured my young imagination, representing an aesthetic that was otherworldly and unreachable. To this day, it is one of my favorite genres of art.


A Neill watercolor of Dorothy, Glinda, and Ozma of Oz.

Knowing of my insatiable – and indiscriminate – appetite for books, my mother kept those she felt inappropriate for my age in her closet, which we children never opened. When I was in college, she brought the books down, the ban lifted. One of them was Stephen King’s Dark Forces, a collection of horror and SF works by various writers. My mother probably didn’t object to the storylines but rather to King’s salty language.

In any case, it was just more grist for my mill, along with her more spinechilling H. P. Lovecraft books. The cover of one was horrifying - a worm snaked through the empty eye-socket of a half-decayed skull which bore clumps of matted hair and rodent-like teeth. I averted my eyes from that awful artwork whenever I opened that book to read about the Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, Nyarlathotep.

At the mere thought of that macabre painting, an involuntary shudder shakes my frame as chills riff up and down my spine. Uncannily, this is my exact same reaction when my eyes or fingers travel over the few old college mathematics and physics textbooks unexpurgated from my shelves. Cthulhu ftaghn!

My father was yet another heavy reader, but his tastes ran more to W. Somerset Maugham, John O’ Hara, Norman Mailer, Sholom Aleichem, Truman Capote, biographies. Pops lived in California for five years in the ’80s, and while there wrote me excitedly when he began Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,  Dee Brown’s novel on native American history. He wasn’t into science fiction; the most that he got into that genre was Ray Bradbury – I Sing the Body Electric, Something Wicked This Way Comes.

I usually finish what I start. The exception is one book that I bought at a secondhand bookstall in Morayta in the late ’80s, set aside because its dense language put me to sleep although its ideas were interesting; a paradox in its rules of engagement. It was Marshall McLuhan’s 1964 work Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. This groundbreaking book had a profound impact on mass communication and media studies. As a mass comm major, I felt duty bound to read it. It’s one of the books by my bed. Sometimes I feel I keep it around not so much because I plan to finish reading it, but as a talisman to keep me focused on the particular discipline that is my life’s work.

Let me see – it’s in the taller stack, under the used copy of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast that I found a couple of years ago at Booksale for P45. It’s the second in the “Titus Groan” trilogy. I got the first book in the late ’80s, also at Morayta, deep in the University Belt in the heart of Manila. I’m still looking to complete the set. Perhaps twenty years from now, in another serendipitous moment, I’ll stumble upon a copy of Titus Alone and I will add it, yet another block in the tower of books by my bed.

People come into my house, find piles of books stacked chest-high against the walls and two- or three-deep in bookcases, and ask, “Have you read all those?” The answer is, yes, except for that darn McLuhan.

And often, “Why do you like reading so much?” and at that I am rendered inarticulate. It is difficult to explain to people who do not read, who do not relish the sensation of eyes tracking words across a page to be immersed in a story, momentarily losing touch of reality.

My own habit of reading is a result of childhood influence and a desire to escape. I lose myself in forests of words and in thickets of concepts, drown in rivers of language, wander through time and space. The volumes by my bed embody different worlds where I may go freely, through the simple expedient of cracking open a book and reading.

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