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Bookshelves 


Monday, October 11, 2004

A month ago I went for a follow-up with tea cup fortune-teller Bekka. She remembered me sort of. This year my cup told her I should leave. I have no future in Canada. I should get out in the fall of this year, next January at the latest.

"And don't buy any furniture," she warned. "Invest in a camera. And a laptop. Then get out of the country."

An old country is where I should go. China. I've been to China and don't plan on any more time in Asia. I let Bekka talk away. Luckily she did mention New York was an option so I am not condemned to another lifetime in the Far East. And a boat: I will get there in a boat.

Then she repeated her injunction against furniture. She assured me that in old age I won't lack anything so I don't have to prepare now. No furniture. Get out now. A camera. A laptop.

Every day for months I have been dreaming of new bookshelves. Despite my moratorium on book-buying - except cheap art books and classics such as Raise Earthworms for Fun and Profit - my collection of new books overflowed onto the living room floor. I must buy matching bookshelves now, before Ikea stops selling my matching pine bookshelves. There is this interior design fantasy I have, of Viennese wall-to-wall bookshelves. Me, on my chaise longue, holding court with the wits of the kingdom, my imposing towers of books ready to topple in and destroy us all in a scholarly death. Me, scorning the companionship of the television for the langurous affairs with the most loquacious of Victorian writers. A paradise of knowledge within our provincial town.

Daydreams of these bookshelves tumble into insecurities about Bekka's warning. She said I should leave. She said I should not buy any new furniture.

At other people's houses, like a starved python, I leer lustfully at their bookshelves. Their books are so organized. Mine are not even in piles according to genre. I must buy bookshelves.

I've talked to myself logically. Even just three more bookshelves would cost me half of what my wisdom tooth surgery will cost. I must put my health ahead of my library. The dissenting voice pipes up too. Matching bookshelves. A good-looking apartment with uniformity in its furniture. Act now before Ikea debuts a new design in bookshelves.

Bekka's advice is there as well, nagging at the back. Get out. Get out. Get out.

Whither shall I go, Bekka? You never answered that satisfactorily. Just let me know and I can disengage from the dream of the bookshelves.

And I forgot to ask you when I'll marry.

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