holy roller

The 1997 Toyota Corolla has never failed me. I believe in that car like I believe in breakfast. It has been faithful to me, enabling me to flee, find, and roam since my junior year of high school. It often pops up in my personal essays and short stories as an instrument of freedom. I wouldn’t say driving it is a sacrament, but through it I do experience a kind of grace that says you did not design me, build me, buy me nor pay for the gas that is inside of me, but I will go because you say “go” and I will stop because you say “stop” and I will heat you when you are cold and cool you when you are hot, bring you news when you are detached from the world and sing to you when you are sad. The word “love” means many things in the English language. I think it would accurately describe the appreciation I have for the Corolla.

The neighbors across the street love their cars, too. When my family moved to Michigan, we were quite impressed by the intimacy our neighbors share with their automobiles. They know everything about their cars’ inner workings and how to fix them when they fail. I, on the other hand, know nothing about what goes on inside the Corolla. I know how to put gas in it, which is more than I can say for most of my friends from Oregon, and I know how to pop open the hood—what the British call the “brassiere,” according to one of my middle school teachers. (I had to google “brassiere” in order to spell it properly. Lord have mercy.) Once the brassiere has been popped open, I know how to stare at its contents while looking completely lost and confused. I’m an English major.

It was this car that I drove to my orthodontist appointment yesterday. The lovely ortho people sent me a postcard last summer telling me that I really should come in just to make sure that my mouth hadn’t imploded or something since my last checkup. I didn’t go. But a month and a half ago, while in Seattle, one of my permanent retainers popped off. I figured I should have it looked at.
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white and yellow

I lusted after my father’s Kindle since he bought it a year or two ago.  Whenever I flew home or flew to school or did any sort of traveling in general, I entertained the exciting delusion that I could read five books by the time the trip was over.  Whether it was a daylong plane ride or a weeklong road trip, I crammed my backpack with many unhappy books that know they’re nothing more than dead weight.  But if I had a Kindle, I would’ve had room for other things in my backpack.  Things like toothpaste.

I now have a Kindle.  A Kindle Paperwhite.  I pre-ordered it a month or so ago.  The week after it arrived, I carried it with me everywhere, as you do with a new instrument of technology.  But as my dad says, they’re only good for reading books.  I felt rather silly opening the Kindle during dinner at the mess hall to realize there was no reason it should be there with me.

After the initial excitement wore down, I actually began to read on it.  Nothing for school, because I already had the physical books—weird phrase—and they are better for quick referencing.  Several texts found themselves sucked out of the proverbial cloud into my little friend.  Poetry by Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, and John Donne, the ESV Bible, some Nietzsche, Dickens, and sets of essays by David Hume, Mark Twain, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Those are just the freebies.  I bought Ron Hansen’s Mariette in Ecstasy, which was only three bucks, and just an hour ago the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation of the Brother’s Karamazov.  For a romantic like me, the possibilities are endless.  I could be reading Nietzsche right now!