Cheating, Excuses and Justifications

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Photo Credit: Me — Changing Hands Bookstore located in Tempe, Arizona

This story isn’t about an adulterous hot steamy sex (not love) affair because let’s be real, people. If you’re cheating on your spouse it has nothing to do with love. So if you’re expecting tons of seductive scenes I’ll spare you the next 798 words. It ain’t happening. I’m not that kind of girl.

This is a story about cheating on myself and having so many excuses and justifications to prove what I’m doing is acceptable, and maybe it really is or maybe it’s just bullshit.

I set a goal for 2018. I made a commitment to myself not to purchase anymore books until I’ve read all the books I already own, which is a lot. I haven’t counted but if I had to guesstimate by eye I’d say well into the hundreds.

At first I was convinced I would conquer this goal with grace. I’d imagine it’s a similar feeling to what every other human addicted to something feels until the euphoric motivation dies down and you’re left wondering WTF do I do now?

The addiction slowly creeps its way back in and you become powerless.

For me it started when I caught myself purchasing magazines. Not smutty celebrity trash or over priced, overrated fashion magazines. National Geographic, Time and Life. Magazines based on true journalism, educational resources. This is what I tell myself and because I can spin it this way it’s completely justified.

At first it was no big thing. A magazine here, another there. What’s four magazines, really?

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I’m learning super cool things, necessary things. Who wouldn’t want to know what it’s like inside the mind of a spy? Who doesn’t love Audrey Hepburn? Who isn’t considering the pros and cons of smoking weed?

I want to learn more about my personality. One question I have is why do I continue to purchase more to read than I could possibly ever find the time to read? Somehow, someway it must relate to my personality, right?

As I was packing my bag to head across the country I put National Geographic’s, Your Personality Explained in my backpack to read on the plane. I’m not sure what or how it happened but somewhere between the Iowa airport and the chair I’m sitting in right now in Arizona one magazine multiplied.

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What’s another four more magazines, really? Hey, before I read Time’s, The Science of Marriage I just assumed if you didn’t kill each other your marriage would be a success. I will admit, I’m a bit disappointed they associate success and money with marriage and happiness.

I would have never known that however, if I didn’t purchase and read the magazine and I’m learning about what makes birds smart. Darwin based his Survival of the Fittest theory on species of birds. Who wouldn’t want to be as smart as birds are?

Next, the excuses and these come a dime a dozen.

It’s subzero temperature in Iowa and in the 80’s in Arizona. Of course I’m going to be out walking every day while I’m here and it’s not my fault people have Little Free Libraries. There are 14 located in the neighborhood I’m staying in.

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I didn’t go seeking them out. They found me. I was merely walking down the street and stumbled upon a burst of bright colors against the desert landscape, and I’m addicted to reading and hoarding books. Like, that’s what they’re there for, to read and technically I didn’t purchase seven books, I borrowed seven books.

It’s a perfectly sound and understandable excuse. It’s logical. I’m being logical.

Then there’s my old stomping ground, Changing Hands Bookstore. I’m unsure why I would use that phrase. I didn’t stomp. It’s a bookstore. I was always quiet and in deep thought and thoroughly annoyed by people chatting on their cellphones.

As my Instagram post shows, it’s true. I was there just yesterday. It’s the nostalgia that tugged, pulled and lured me there. You can’t shop at the same bookstore for over two decades and then not check it out when you’re in town for a visit. It feels wrong and rude not to. I mean, it’s the bazillion of dollars I’d spent there over the years that have helped keep them in business. I should at least see how they’re doing.

An hour and $110 later my obligation was fulfilled. Okay, so I did purchase books but in my defense I purchased them for other people. Does that count as cheating myself from success of accomplishing my 2018 goal? Well, no because what better gift is there than the gift of a book, the gift of a story, knowledge and- or adventure?

I know I have an issue and awareness is half the battle, so I’ve heard. Rome wasn’t built in a day the same as the human mind wasn’t designed to change habits overnight. I already knew I was struggling but I hadn’t realized the extent of my addiction until I found myself formulating justifications and excuses.

As I write this 1500 miles away from home in a guest room now complete with a pile of magazines and a stack of books I’m not sure if it’s you or me I’m trying to convince.

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Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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