I can't do things in moderation.
I possess a particular enthusiasm that, in certain circumstances, renders temperance an afterthought. I read a book the other day that quoted St. Augustine as saying "Complete abstinence is easier than perfect moderation" and I highlighted the quote. Twice. Then I dog-eared the page.
Most of the time, the results of my temperament are relatively benign. Like when my boyfriend asked me if maybe we shouldn't find a planner to coordinate our schedules. Three days later, I posted on my fridge a 16-month Shutterfly calendar comprised of pictures of the two of us on our adventures, carefully coded with eight different colors. And in the dregs of winter, I succumbed to the heady mania of purchasing books and my bank account was suffering.
Of course I hit rock bottom. It was a Friday. I purchased three copies of the same book in one day. Granted, one was the audio version and one was for my mom. But those are not the actions of a sane purchaser of books. Not to mention that, in the process, I also bought six other books. From three bookstores. In one day. And uploaded two others onto my tablet. And this was the third time I'd bought books that week.
Since I knew with intrinsic certainty that telling myself I'd stop buying so many books was mere placation, I resolved to stop buying books for 100 days. People in stunt-memoirs always seem to do things for one year: My Year of Happiness or My Year or Living Biblically or My Year of Knitting Dangerously (that one's real). I can't even conceive of refraining from purchasing books for a year- especially without a book deal at the end of in which I chronicle my Odyssean journey. It wasn't until after I'd told all of my friends about my commitment that I realized 100 days ended in May. It was barely February.
I've gone through the typical Kubler-Ross stages of grief:
Denial: I can handle this. I have plenty to keep me satiated. No big deal.
Anger: This involved lots of rage-crying.
Bargaining: This stage reared its ugly head at the Lincoln Museum gift shop where I cajoled my boyfriend into buying me a biography portraying the Lincolns' marriage. But hey, he got a really nice map out of the deal. And I technically didn't break any rules. Right? I mean, right?
Depression: If I temper this one down, I've definitely felt frustrated that I can't buy Jeanette Winterson's new memoir. I am, however, excepting gifts. Have I mentioned that? Okay, maybe I'm still in bargaining.
Acceptance: This is how I feel most of the time. In psychology classes, professors teach you that people fluctuate through stages. That's true even for lesser life changes like not buying books for a couple months.
I think the best thing I've gotten from this experience is the knowledge that most of the books I buy on impulse are the ones that languish on my shelves. My "Books I Can Buy After 100 Days" shelf on Goodreads has been an interesting creation and editing process. Some of the books that I feel sure I will purchase on That Day look confusing and unappealing three days later. Even the ones with staying power lose their sense of urgency. Not overnight. But eventually.
I'm thinking about establishing a "cooling off" period, in which I refrain from buying books for 48 hours to see if I still want them. Like a literary handgun.
On Writing- Stephen King
Connectome: How the Brain's Wiring Makes Us Who We Are- Sebastian Seung
Sarah's Key- Tatiana de Rosnay