Sacred Potato Productions
Published Tuesday, September 11, 2018 at 10:34pm
Last week "back to the salt mines!" (a favorite phrase of my grandfather's) popped into my mind in conjunction with John Linnell of They Might Be Giants. Took me a minute to remember the connection, but after a little Googling I discovered that it came from a no-longer-available NY Press feature from 2008 in which various New Yorkers—including Linnell—briefly detail how they've spent their summer. Here's how I would answer that question:
One of the nice things about working in downtown Madison, Wisconsin is that the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center is a short walk from my office. The convention center, which overlooks Lake Monona, opened in 1997 and I had the pleasure of singing at the Grand Opening with one of the choral groups to which I belonged in high school. I had no intention of including that fact in this post, but I just remembered it as I was typing this. I can't remember what we sang, and I'm not 100% sure which group it was—either the Madrigal Singers or the Men's Ensemble.
Anyway, I've only been inside Monona Terrace a couple of times, but I spend as many lunchbreaks there as I can during the temperate months of the year. The rooftop has a large seating area and a promenade facing the lake. I usually eschew the tables and chairs for the little garden area on the west end of the roof where I sit DIRECTLY ON THE GRASS to the horror of out-of-towners who have come to look out across the lake and snap pictures that they will never look at again. I'm not the only person who does this, and it's extremely annoying when I round the corner only to find somebody else reading or doing yoga or just sprawled out on the grass sleeping. How dare they!
Usually I go to read. Sometimes I grab a coffee or a sandwich, or if it's Wednesday I'll spend too much money on cheese curds at the farmer's market. I'm pretty happy with my reading progress over the summer; I've probably read an average number of books, but I'm trying to get through my backlog of physical books as opposed to reading them on my Kindle (which is what I usually do). The act of finishing one volume and starting another feels productive. It takes me too long to read novels because I only typically read during my ten-minute commute and on my lunchbreaks, and I'm sure that I actually read faster when I can see the end of the book approaching. It's certainly more satisfying than gauging it as a percentage. Here's an incomplete list of my summer reading, in the order I consumed them:
Sooner or later Monona Terrace will close for the fall and winter months during which time I will read less and less because sitting in the break room always makes me feel like I should be working.
* * *
"Are you done?" my editor would say.
"I asked you for a paragraph of text, not an autobiography."
"You know what? It's fine. I'm an editor. This is what I do. 'I wasted all summer reading books at Monona Terrace.' Good enough."
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