hiatus, part 2

January 20, 2008

Heidi is reading. Or trying to read, which is the same thing, really. Trying is succeeding in itself, someone once said. Heidi is trying to concentrate on reading, because reading is both entertaining and educational. Reading is fundamental. Heidi is trying to read because reading is important, fundamental, entertaining, and educational. Heidi is trying to read. It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. Now her phone is ringing, but Heidi is ignoring it because she is trying very hard to finish a sentence and she’s been trying very hard for a while to finish a sentence because of all the distractions and now she’s going to finish the sentence except she answers the phone because what else is she going to do.

On the phone is her mom.
Hey sweetie, what are you doing? her mom asks.
I’m reading, Heidi says.
What are you reading?
A book.
Well, gosh, I guessed that, Heidi, her mom says. What book is it? Whatsit about?
It’s about a lot of things, Mom, Heidi says. Listen, I’m trying to read, is it something important?
I just wanted to know if you were watching Idol, her mom says. There’s some really funny people-
No mom, I’m reading, Heidi says. I love you, I’ll talk to you later.
Okay, it’s back on, bye, love you, her mom says. Her mom cuts the call off in the middle of the you, so it sound more like “love y-.”

Heidi puts her phone on silent. Then she puts it on vibrate, because what if someone called about something important. Then she thinks who is really going to call besides Spencer or her mom or Brent, and Spencer is in the living room and her mom just called, so she puts it on silent. She picks up her book, but then puts it down again and puts the phone on vibrate, just to be safe.

Heidi doesn’t watch American Idol. At family gatherings in Colorado, like barbecues and picnics and stuff, she sings for her family. When she was a little girl they called these “Heidi’s performances” and the other kids did them too, like tap dancing or telling knock knock jokes, but now it’s just her and it’s just “Heidi’s gonna sing something for us” or somebody will ask, like her grandma, “Heidi, won’t you sing something for us? So she will always sing “Amazing Grace” or “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” both of which she has practiced a lot, both of which she is good at singing in both pitch and intonation and phrasing. She will sing her song and her voice will ring out over the Rockies, or at least she likes to think about it like that because it sound poetic, like an ad for spring water, but really it just rings out over the picnic tables. After she finishes and everybody hoots and she sits back on the wooden bench, redfaced, an uncle or aunt or little cousin with a mouthful of hamburger bun will say “Gosh, you’re so good, Heidi, you should be on American Idol,” and Heidi will smile and say “Aww, thanks” or “You guys!”

But Heidi doesn’t want to be on American Idol. She wants to be a real professional singer and she doesn’t think the best way to do that is to be on a TV show first. Because sometimes if you are on a TV show first, people think that you don’t have good talent or that you just want to be famous instead of wanting to be good and talented at something. Which is stupid, because the reason you usually get on a TV show for something is if you are good at it or at least if you are unique and interesting and have talents that may not have shown themselves yet but will surely show themselves in the future. But then when people are on TV shows to show off their talents, other people laugh at them and say they are not really talented, they are just TV talented, like they are just doing it because they like to be on a show. Heidi imagines herself in a gold lame dress and spotlights are catching on the dress and making it look like “The Wizard of Oz.” She knows that she can sing like shining gold.

In the other room, the television is on. The television is always on. Spencer loves the television, his television. Of course he doesn’t call it a television, unless he’s making fun of her, he calls it a TV or sometimes he calls it “the plasma” or “the Bravia” and when he calls it “the Bravia” he points at the tiny embossed logo at the bottom lip of the screen and says, in a movie announcer baritone, “the BRAVIA.”

Heidi calls it a television, not a TV, because that’s the proper word to call it, that’s what it is. When you have a word and an abbreviation, it’s more proper to use the word. She doesn’t know exactly why, but it makes her feel smarter and better and cleaner to use the word “television” than to to use the abbreviation “TV.” She thinks of sample sentences using both words. “Spencer watches pro wrestling on TV.” “Spencer stares at porno on TV.” “Heidi learns to cook a new dish from a food television show.” “Heidi is moved deeply by watching British plays on television.” Heidi thinks maybe she should have used “theatre” instead of “plays” because that sound more fancy and is a British spelling. She wonders if there is a British spelling of plays, like “playes.”

When they were moving into the condo, Heidi was carrying a big box of her boots so she couldn’t see where she was going and she bumped into the hand truck that was holding Spencer’s television and it fell over and it smashed on the ground and there was glass everywhere and Heidi felt so bad. She was already emotional about the move, because of Lauren and everything, and she was also kind of scared and nervous, because of Spencer and everything, and then she broke the television and it was just too much. What is that expression, the thing that broke the camel’s back? It was like that, it was like back-breaking, she felt paralyzed.

Spencer came into the room and Heidi tried to look at him but couldn’t even really see him because of all the tears in her eyes and the way she was shaking and also the large box of boots she was still holding. But Spencer, he was so sweet like always and he took the box of boots from her and put it down and put his hands on both sides of her face so that her hearing was blocked, so that inside her head sounded like listening to a seashell and she was really reading his lips when he said that everything was okay. “TVs grow on trees,” he said, when he had taken his hands off her ears. That afternoon they went to Best Buy and Spencer was so happy, walking through the rows of shining televisions, that she thought maybe it was a good thing, like a sign, like a symbol, like a theme, like a metaphor. Like that old television was something from Spencer’s old life, with the Playboy girls and going out all the time, and it broke, shattered, and now they were getting a new television and it was going to be theirs, for their condo. Together.

The television is on. It’s kind of loud, but she doesn’t feel like asking him to turn it down because then he’ll make some kind of remark or face or something and she’ll have to kind of apologize but not totally and it will take up more of her reading time. So instead it’s just another distraction that she has to live with, something else that is keeping her from her true purpose, from attaining her potential. “Attain” was a word on her Word of the Day calendar at work a few weeks ago – it means “to reach” or “to gain.”

Heidi’s eyes refocus on the book. Heidi is supposed to be reading. This is the hour she has set aside for reading today. She wrote it in and underlined it and starred it on her day planner and also set an alarm on her phone. Reading time, 8:00. One problem was that she actually started reading at about 7:52 because she got out of work early and then when the alarm went off at 8:00, it distracted her from her reading. This was really annoying because she was in the middle of a sentence. It is 8:24. Heidi goes back to reading. She looks around for the sentence she had stopped in the middle of, which is hard because when you stop in the middle of a thought or a sentence and then try to come back to it later, it’s hard to remember what you were thinking or reading. It’s kind of like that book “Blink,” which was on the New York Times Best Seller list for a long time and a lot of people said was really perceptive. She finds the sentence or thinks that she has found it, at least. 8:25. She has 35 minutes left until reading time is over.

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