Friday, March 16, 2012


Enter the nemesis.

This is my guilt pile. It used to be much larger but these are the survivors of the move. The others are tucked away in a box somewhere in the United States. I've always had a bad habit of lugging study material around, thinking it will get used. Some people take clothes, I take heavy books. Every trip to Central America was accompanied by a Spanish grammar book and the best of intentions. Sometimes I'd get in a halfhearted afternoon study session or two before giving up and hitting the beach. In Alaska every short trip to visit D's parents involved an extra bag of study material. Even a 5-day Hawaiian vacation two years ago included a book of logic puzzles I'd been meaning to finish since 2003. (And still haven't.)

Part of me nowadays is tired of this weight. Part of me wants to make a clean start. There are so many free and weightless ways to learn things: searching the internet, listening and watching the environment around you, borrowing, etc. This is definitely the last time I need to haul pieces of paper around the world. That practice dates a person as so-last-century. Now there are smart phones, Kindle, touch pads, all kinds of technology that will let you carry and access more data than you could ever sift through....and they fit in your pocket! My old soul still prefers paper, of course: dictionaries and planners just aren't the same in an electronic format, but I'm willing to give up some luxury in exchange for some lightness of luggage.

That's one part of me.

The other part of me feels a commitment to these things. It's the old you-must-eat-everything-on-your-plate syndrome. Such a shame to throw away a perfectly good thing. I bought these books for one reason: to transfer their contents to my head. It's sad that this hasn't happened yet. It should happen, it still could happen, and I guess that's why I'm hanging on to them.

Like I mentioned before, we're probably going to stay here in Kharkov a little longer, but the mere thought of having to pack soon and drag these things somewhere new threw me into a panic. I'm determined to use them up (once the knowledge is in my head, the book is used up). I'd be a richer person by a thousand if, when leaving Kharkov, I take a gift for a friend or an extra souvenir or just savour a lighter suitcase....instead of packing these books again.

It is a tall order to try to finish all of these books soon. Even if I knew I had an entire year it would still be a challenge to absorb them while continuing other projects as usual. Maybe I'll end up having to abandon or alter these plans, but I'm at least going to start. All that knowledge doesn't do any good when it's just sitting in a closed book. For now I've made a note in my planner and every time I open a book from this pile, a little x gets made in my planner. It's motivating to watch the x's add up and, just like exercise, once you start studying it's easier to keep going a little further. So here I go!


  1. Did you think about obtaining these (or similar) books in electronic form? They will weigh a lot less, you know :)

    1. Yeah, I considered it... but for now I still find it easier to use reference books and workbooks when they're full-size and paper. Plus since I already had these books it felt like a waste to buy them electronically a second time. In the future I hope to switch over completely to e-books. What about you? Do you do most of your reading electronically or on paper? I see a lot of people here in Kharkov switching to e-readers.

    2. 1. Now I read mostly electronically - world news, tech guides, fora, short stories, &c. However, I don't use e-reader for all this.
      Occasionally, it happens to read some interesting book or newspaper. And helping my eldest daughter in school is also done with paper books! :)
      2. What I'm not sure in is that it might be pretty legal to use scanned book if you own its paper original.
      AFAIK it's OK to use DVD/CD image on your, say, laptop if you own the original disc.