Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Slogging through my alternate-universe questionnaire, let’s move on to question #4, shall we?

What is the book (or books) you keep trying to finish but haven’t done so far?

The more accurate question for me would be “what books have you finished?” It seems I read a heck of a lot more as a civilian than I do now. Could it be that deep down, I find reading to be yet another indication that I have a innate fondness for shoving crumpled kleenex up my sleeve while hunched over a computer terminal reading discussions about the Death of LC Subject Headings? But that’s to be agonized over later.

The book? To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I’ve started it at least five times and each time I never get past the first chapter. It’s maddening because Mrs. Dalloway, the first (and only) book I’ve read by Woolf, has a very special place in my heart. Why?

Because I read it while I was taking care of my mother during the final stages of cancer. And it was one of the few things that kept me sane.

Looking back, it’s apropos that Mrs. Dalloway entered my life: like my mother, I was living moment to moment: overseeing her medication; combing her hair or fussing over blankets in the middle of a San Diego summer. We lived in a peculiar world, a life so distant from the endless blaring of Regis and Kathie Lee or People’s Court, passive attempts at not thinking about the inevitable.

After a few weeks I realized the daily jog around the senior condominium complex my parents lived wasn’t going to keep me whole. That’s when I began to sneak off to CVS Pharmacy, spending hours scrutinizing the 99-cent samples and nail polish–I needed something to remind me I still belonged to the outside world. But after a while even the thought of going somewhere to stare at little pots of lip gloss under fluorescent lights was a reminder of what has going to happen. So on impulse, I bought a copy of Mrs. Dalloway, the only non-self-help book I could find in the corporate mini-bookstore at the mall.

(To be continued….)

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