9 comments

Jan 02, 2021

Holiday Funny

I beat my head irritably against the headrest of my recliner. I need to finish reading this book, but only three hours remain. I take a deep breath. Hopefully that will be enough time to read the final chapter. 

I log in to my computer and as I wait for the loading circle, I ponder my current dilemma. Where did it all go wrong? I was ahead of schedule every step of the way, but here I sit, three hours remaining and I must watch my hard work spiral down the drain. 

My goal for twenty-twenty was to read thirty books. Not too difficult. And if I was serious about this goal, I would have finished in early December and rode out the remainder of the year feeling good about myself. But I have waited until the last minute to complete my goal. Ridiculous though it may be, all I need to do is read is one final chapter. However, until I can summon the want-to, that single chapter had might as be written in Braille. 

But... I can't give up without a fight.

The computer prompts me to enable a software update, during which my laptop will reboot. Ugh! I delay the update until later. I am notified that the system will update outside 'active hours.' Fine, do that! That out of the way, it is finally time to read.

I reach toward my nightstand, grasping for my drink, but my hand finds nothing but air. I take another deep breath, again in irritation. I've left my Red Bull in the fridge. There is only one thing that can be done. I sit my laptop aside, as I am unequipped for this undertaking.

It is an hour later before I open the Kindle app. I'm running behind, but it was unavoidable. Red Bulls necessitate a Youtube binge. Plus, I was giving the caffeine and taurine time to kick in. 

Finally I read a few paragraphs. Then I stop to count the number of pages remaining. Not many. I can wrap this up in only a few minutes.  

Therefore, I open the Word document where I record all of my 'read' books for the year and consider logging this current book as completed. I decide against it. But, since I have goals on the brain, I open a new Word document and begin planning out my goals for next year. I set my book reading goal at forty—thirty is too easy. I also take the time to add my other goals, which seem to roll over from year to year without much change: get into shape, decide what I want to do with my life, master the bottle flip—among other pivotal determinants for a happy life. 

I switch back to reading, and skim several pages. I yawn, losing interest. I am reading this final chapter cold after all, having finished the first eighteen chapters a week ago. When I love a story, the only way to let it go is to give myself time to forget. This only applies to initial readings though. With re-readings the last chapter of a good story always loops me back to chapter one. 

Re-readings! I look at my goals. Technically!... Technically, I have already read fifty books this year if I include favorites that I re-read in audio format. The discovery of Audible was the highlight of my year, and my binge was only cut short due to funding.  

I face a dilemma: do I count re-readings or don't I? Normally I don't... but it hasn't been a normal year. I ponder this argument as it seems to have merit. Jim Dale does sound completely different than my inner narrator, but... Harry still defeats Voldemort in the end. Ugh, I decide that re-readings don't count. I will finish reading the final chapter.  

However, there is time to spare, and I'm still needing motivation. I pull up the live stream in Times Square, where the camera pans revealing nearly vacant streets due to social distancing. I connect just in time; the ball begins to drop. In one minute it will reach the bottom and twenty-twenty will be gone. Like a guillotine, it will finish off twenty-twenty for good. And, while the year doesn't deserve a quick and painless end, the sooner it is gone the better. 

As I watch the ball drop, I think of all the goals that I've failed this year. I got off to a hot start like always but ran out of gas at the end. The most frustrating thing is that this year seems to have lasted a decade, not a mere three-hundred sixty-six days. It has crawled along like a tortoise. Yet, somehow, with all that time, there is only a single goal on my list that I am close to accomplishing. 

The ball reaches the bottom and confetti explodes everywhere. It is now twenty-twenty-one.

I shut off the live stream and can feel my heart racing. I can still do it! I will definitely accomplish one goal this year! 

It is sad that I'm often forced to motivate myself in such ways, but this is my go-to. I am a junkie addicted to the rush. My drugs of choice are: caffeine, and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. I look at my clock; it reads eleven, as I live in the Central time zone. Enough procrastination, it's time to knock out this goal. 

I get up and go quickly to the bathroom. I want to complete this goal with time to spare, but the Red Bull from earlier has run its course necessitating a more immediate goal. 

When I get back, I crack my knuckles then plop back into my recliner. I will knock this out in ten minu—

Before me is a blue screen—my computer is updating. I suddenly remember that my 'active hours' end at eleven o'clock! How could I have forgotten? 

I rock back and forth, trying to wait patiently, but I know that it is pointless. My computer is trash, and updates take forever, always getting hung at ninety-nine percent. I've seen it stuck at that percentage for hours at a time. It's infuriating! How can this piece of junk update ninety-nine percent in three minutes, but spend the next three hours on the last step?

I'm out of time, only a handful of minutes remain. 

I decide to use my phone to read the final chapter. One problem, I don't have the Kindle app on my phone. Damn! I open the app store to download it. I am prompted to enter my Apple ID. Damn! All my account passwords are saved in a file on my PC. I frantically begin to guess at possible passwords. IronMan99. Wrong! IronMan999. Wrong! I know that it went something like this, but I rapidly fail several more times, then am locked out for one minute before being allowed to guess again. I look at the clock; it reads eleven forty-five. 

I guess my password on the first try of my second round. Shawarma!999. Sweet, I'm in! I quickly download the Kindle app. I know that this is going to be a close one, but I open the app with ten minutes to go. I can skim read if I need to. 

I am prompted to enter my Amazon password, to sync with my PC. Shit! I hesitate for a moment, then fist-pump. Sometimes carelessness pays off. Shawarma!999. Yes, I'm in!

I quickly download the book, and begin reading. Ten pages...nine pages...eight pages…

Beep! Beep! Beep! The alarm goes off telling me that twenty-twenty has come to an end, and three pages still remain. I curse myself for playing fair, and actually reading the pages instead of skimming them. I have failed. 

I lean hard against the headrest of my recliner and stare blankly at the page. What was the point of all this? I know that I should be happy. I read twenty-nine books and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. I grind my teeth. But failure is failure. I was complacent and this damn year beat me to the finish line. 

I ponder cheating in various ways, after all who is going to know—or care. This was a personal goal after all. I could give myself ten extra minutes. Or, why not simply say that I live in the Mountain time zone? Would it really make a difference? Ugh! It would. It would be cheating, and it wouldn't feel like a win. 

I laugh at my own misery, then move the cursor to exit the Kindle app. I suddenly notice something and feel my heart clench. The Table of Contents tool bar on the left side of the page says that I am currently reading the 'Epilogue!' 

I am struck dumb, hardly able to believe it. I've done it! I've read thirty books in twenty-twenty and accomplished my goal. The real story actually ended with chapter eighteen. Everyone knows that an Epilogue isn't a real chapter, and doesn't count!

"Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!" I burst into a fit of manic laughter. 

I open the Word document where I log my 'read' books and record my work in progress as completed. The elation is overwhelming. So much so that I open my goals for twenty-twenty-one and decide that I will read fifty books this year!

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9 comments

Jennifer Young
21:00 Jan 08, 2021

Oh man, is this relatable! You sort of made it feel like we were all procrastinating as we read about the narrator procrastinating --- there was this urge to yell "hurry up"! I'm wondering if it would have been more or less infuriating if this were written more like an inner monologue. That probably would have made it hit too close for comfort, lol

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Ben Franklin
05:18 Jan 09, 2021

Haha, tricked you into procrastinating XD Thank you so much for the comment!

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Orenda .
05:30 Jan 07, 2021

okay, this was really humorous. All bookworms can relate to this one. I giggled a lot at the part where the narrator was getting distracted by other things rather than just sitting down to complete reading his book. Hella fun. I went through your profile (don't ask me why) and you have a few comedies, so I'm going to try and read one or two because I like your comic voice and I'm in the mood to devour comedies. Great job! 😚

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Ben Franklin
22:10 Jan 07, 2021

Thank you so much! Glad you liked it :)

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Orenda .
03:10 Jan 08, 2021

of course! :-)

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Bianka Nova
14:15 Jan 03, 2021

Haha, it did made me chuckle several times. Especially when he got to the passwords. Priceless! I can't comment anything more really. I think your goal here was accomplished. Fits the prompt - check! Makes you laugh - check! Feels relatable to all book nerds - check! :) On a separate note, Epilogues are totally a part of the book :P

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Ben Franklin
18:56 Jan 03, 2021

I'm glad you liked it! I seriously considered adding a creative nonfiction tag to this one XD Haha, yeah epilogues are legit chapters. But my powers of justification are uncanny sometimes.

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Bianka Nova
19:26 Jan 03, 2021

Ah, yeah... the lengths we'd go to convince ourselves we did our job and it's fine :))) You're right. Creative nonfiction is not far from it. But as far as I'm concerned, in order to avoid the whole situation, I don't get into deadlines like that (just work-related). Reading should be fun! ;)

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Ben Franklin
01:37 Jan 04, 2021

Yeah, no deadlines would be the ideal way to go about it. I normally only include deadlines if I have non-fiction reading in the mix. Basically have to treat myself like a kid, where I can't eat cake until I've cleared the veggies from my plate :)

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