I recently came across a Facebook link to a List Challenges article entitled “The BBC Believes You Only Read 6 of These Books”, followed by a list of 100 so-called “best-loved” novels, many of them considered classics. (I wasn’t going to take the click bait, but come on. It’s catnip for those of my ilk, and they know it.) As it turns out, I have read 24 of the books listed, not that that means anything. I’ve always bristled at the notion of “important” or “must-read” books, and have refused to read some simply because I rebelled at having them shoved down my throat as some kind of necessary literary medicine. By the time a book has been repeatedly touted as brilliant, stunning, an instant classic, genius, a sprawling epic, educational, or deeply enriching, I have completely lost interest in it. I know this means I could be missing out on some work I’d enjoy, but I’m fine with that. When I see these lists, I feel like I’m right back in school again and some purse-lipped old bat is lit-splaining to me about what this Very Important Book Means to Our Culture and exactly how I should feel about it. It sucks the joy of discovery out of it for me. I’ve read plenty of books that no one’s ever heard of, that I’ve enjoyed the heck out of and that have perfectly fit the bill of a good novel—they made me think, they’ve made me feel, and they provided me with escape and entertainment, the latter of which is the only criteria I have any more for a book. I already have a job. I don’t want my leisure reading to be work, and I certainly don’t want to subject myself to literary tedium just because some distant authority has deemed it “good for me.” An inordinate number of quote marks were employed in this paragraph, and I’m not sorry.
The wrenching situation with my family member continues, and with it, my disgust at the shape of health care in this country. Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much of a solution to it. Profit has been woven so indelibly into the fabric of health care that at this point, it would be impossible to untangle those threads. I’m afraid we’re doomed to live with the ruthless and broken system we’ve created. Every now and then, I come across a well-reasoned article about the value of preventative medicine, harm reduction, or the fact that perhaps doctors are over-treating, but those authors inevitably get shouted down as hippy quacks. The fact is, prevention isn’t profitable. I don’t trust my body to any doctors because I have good insurance, which ironically means that I simply can’t trust them to make decisions in my best interest. (I remember one doctor I went to a few years ago for a strained anterior tibialis insisted that it was gout, and wanted me to get a pricey test for it. I didn’t. I was fine after a few days of icing and rest, and the pain never came back. Gout, indeed. Do I look like a rich fat man from a Dickens novel?) My “health care” plan is to exercise reasonably, limit the amount of crap I eat, and avoid the sun. Also, to get my Advanced Directive sorted out stat. That having been said, I’m incredibly grateful for the space-age surgery technology that kept my dad alive recently, and I think that emergency medicine in this country is the best in the world. See, I’m not totally bitter. Just ninety-eight percent bitter.
Buddy has been coming home with little brown dirt-socks on his white paws. We have no idea what he’s getting into. It looks like he’s wading in a filth-pool. We keep debating whether or not we should give him a bath. We’ve have two cats who thought water was nothing less than death-acid, and one who’s favorite activity was playing under a running faucet. Buddy seems indifferent to water. He doesn’t seek it out, but he doesn’t bolt in abject horror when subjected to it. So maybe we will try a Buddy-bath soon and see how that works out. I’ll post pictures of the claw marks if it doesn’t go.