Too Busy Feeding Unicorns

My attitude about books has changed drastically over the past year. Or, more specifically, e-readers.

I had long lamented the rise of the Kindle and other e-readers. “They’re too impersonal,” I said. “There’s nothing like feeling the weight of a book in your hands, smelling the musty pages, immersing yourself in the realm of print.”

Said the guy who had never actually used an e-reader.

I attribute my bias to the fact that I’m an author. As such, I long for physical evidence of my legacy. I want to see people with my book in their hands or on their shelves, not buried away in a stream of computer code on somebody’s password-protected digital device. There’s a certain pride in a well-designed cover, a byline, individual pages. Books, I surmised, felt real in a way that electronic readers never could.

And then I got a Kindle for Christmas, and everything changed. I LOVE my Kindle. You can’t beat the convenience, or the portability. I love having a virtual bookstore with millions of titles just a click away, and I appreciate features that allow me to change the font size, spacing, etc. It’s so reader-friendly it’s ridiculous.

Still, there are certain occasions in which a book is preferred. When Doctor Sleep – Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining – came out in September,  I wanted to buy a hardcover version to add to our library. So I made a special trip to Powell’s, plunked down twenty-two dollars (ouch), and couldn’t wait to tear into it.

Only once I tore, I wasn’t so enamored. Not because of the writing or plot or anything silly like that. It’s just that the book was so heavy. I had to turn the light on at night in order to read it, since it didn’t have a backlit screen like my Kindle. And I couldn’t bring it to the gym to read while I worked out on the treadmill, because it was big and bulky and I had to forever manually turn pages and then hope they’d stay turned. Don’t get me wrong, the book looks nice on our bookshelf, but it was kind of a pain in the ass to read. “I wish I’d bought this for the Kindle instead,” I said one day, and surprised myself with that sentiment. Just for fun I looked it up on Amazon, and found the Kindle version available for $7. What the hell. I downloaded it, and have been making great progress in the past few days, whereas the big, clunky hard cover version had been sitting on my nightstand mostly just gathering dust.

(Which means I spent $29 to read Doctor Sleep. Whoa. But, lesson learned. And if you happen to unwrap a hardcover copy of that book this Christmas, just forget you ever read this blog post, okay? *whistles innocently and walks away*).

I’m not saying the Kindle is perfect. It’s hard to judge how long a book is, for one thing, even with a handy “8 hours 31 minutes left until you finish” counter. You can’t loan books, or check them out from the library. Still, the pros definitely outweigh the cons. I turned a corner last week when I made that purchase. Henceforth, I can’t really see buying a traditional book again, which is really going to put a damper on my Powell’s trips. At least not something bulky and hefty that costs a small fortune.

Talk About Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Yesterday, my car started acting funny. I don’t mean it put on horned rimmed glasses with a big nose and fake mustache and started telling jokes about airplane food; instead, it wasn’t starting right. When I turned the key, the engine took an extra second or two to catch. Nothing real drastic, and probably unnoticeable to most, but when you’ve been driving the same vehicle for 11+ years, you get to know her intimately. The slightest deviation from normal raises your hackles. I immediately suspected my battery was going. It hadn’t been replaced in several years, and the same symptoms had popped up once before, followed by a dead battery. I told Tara it looked like I’d be replacing it soon. And then, this morning, things were worse. She was taking a good three or four seconds to “wake up,” and the dashboard lights were dimming in the process. Definitely not good. I had a couple of errands to run in the morning, and was worried each time that my car wouldn’t start afterwards. It did on both occasions, but reluctantly. So I decided to drive to Jiffy Lube on my lunch. For one thing, I was in need of an oil change. For another, I figured they could check the battery and let me know if my suspicions were correct. So I got it there, told the mechanic I was having starting issues, and turned off the engine, per their request.

When they went to move my car into the service bay, the engine wouldn’t start.

Talk about being in the right place at the right time! How fortunate that I hadn’t driven home on my lunch, as I normally would have. Or been caught somewhere inconvenient. Next in line at an auto mechanic is probably the best possible place to be when your battery dies.

I’m Not All Rainbows and Sunshine

I got the following reply to a comment I left on somebody’s blog:

I’m always surprised by evidence that you’re into paranormal / horror / gothic stuff … your blog is so beautifully grounded in Portland and Tara and food and fun. (In other words, it’s cheerful.) When I find out that you’ve already adopted something that I consider dark and obscure, I’m a little startled.

This made me laugh. It’s true, what she says. I keep this blog pretty lighthearted because friends and family read it. Plus, it’s way too easy to find online, and you never know when a professional is going to come a-callin’. Are there times I wish I could delve deeper into darker areas? For sure, yo. But prudence dictates otherwise.

Damn you, Prudence.

So I talk about Kindles and dead car batteries. I just try to do so in as entertaining a manner as possible.

I’ve encountered this my whole life, by the way. I guess I have one of those faces that is friendly and trusting. People think I’m this unassuming guy who’s pretty straitlaced.

Until they see my dungeon.

Now THAT'S pretty dark...
Now THAT’S pretty dark…

I kid, I kid. But I’ve long thought I’d make the perfect serial killer. Which is, admittedly, a pretty dark statement to make. Step aside, Prudence! Just for a sec. I never would, of course. For one thing, I practically faint at the sight of blood. If I so much as nick myself shaving, I’m rummaging through drawers looking for a bandaid and imagining I’m growing more and more lightheaded by the second. And, I’d probably throw out my back if I tried to dig a ditch. Then I’d have Tara in my ear reminding me, “the body’s not going to bury itself, dear.” Who needs that kind of pressure? I’m just saying, I’m kind of like a Ted Bundy figure. Smart, polite, and charming. People like me, and they trust me. I could probably use that to my advantage…

…buuuuut, I’m too busy feeding unicorns! Relax, my friends. I might kill a six-pack (of Lime-A-Ritas, of course), but that’s as far as I’ll go.

Still. I bet you’re wondering what prompted that comment above.




Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

21 thoughts on “Too Busy Feeding Unicorns

  1. I didn’t expect to love having a Kindle, and like you, I do. (Except when they make me power it off during take-off and landing. Or when my batteries go out.)


  2. ” Next in line at an auto mechanic is probably the best possible place to be when your battery dies.”

    You said it, Mark! And kudos to you for being in the right place at the right time because when I still had my car, the times my battery died were ALWAYS either on my way to work in the morning and the car wouldn’t start, OR when I was coming out of work and discovered that my battery was dead 😦

    And on the reply to your comment…

    “When I find out that you’ve already adopted something that I consider dark and obscure, I’m a little startled.”

    I think we are ALL composed of dark and light, it’s just that some people (like you and I) don’t have any reservation talking or sharing about it. And it’s because of that, we see the light side as well.

    Without light there wouldn’t be dark.
    And without dark there wouldn’t be light.

    So keep sharing, Mark. I like your dark side.


    1. “I think we are ALL composed of dark and light.” I couldn’t agree more, Ron! Wasn’t it The Shadow who said, “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” Indeed. Glad you like the occasional walk on the dark side yourself!


  3. Ok. So THAT was startling 🙂

    I’m totally with you on this: “If I so much as nick myself shaving, I’m rummaging through drawers looking for a bandaid and imagining I’m growing more and more lightheaded by the second.”

    And I completely believe this would happen: “I’d have Tara in my ear reminding me,
    ‘the body’s not going to bury itself, dear.’”


  4. Yah, kindles aren’t so bad. I appreciate having them when traveling and their multi-function, since I’ve got the kindle fire and can reply to blog comments or check facebook as well. And the reading in bed thing is nice too. Welcome to the dark side, where e-readers rule and unicorns gorge themselves on the blood of stuffed animals…or something like that. 😛


    1. In looking for an image for this post, I was surprised to see so many dark and twisted depictions of unicorns, some of them not fit for my audience’s eyes. Having said that, I’d kind of like to find that stuffed killer unicorn posted above, for real. Talk about a great stocking stuffer!


  5. Don’t we all have a dark side? Especially as writers? In order to write well, sometimes we have to project very dark characteristics on some of our characters. How would we do it if we didn’t have a dark side of our own?


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