The painful practice of counting pages

Posted by on February 14, 2011 at 2:45 am.

So much of my my life is about making things fit.

As a page designer, I must take pictures and words and display type and get everything in it’s place so that is equal parts pretty and readable. And my job, though it certainly does require a level of creativity, is not strictly creative. Instead, because we work on 35ish editions a week, I consider my job to be more production-oriented.

This is not always true — I have opportunities to use my visual creativity every day, but it is not my primary focus. It reminds me a lot of how the world seems to be settling around me. We are expected to read so much and to see so much and to hear so much that we will never have a chance to truly catch up.

In the work place, it never bothers me. Whenever I have to redo something because of a lack of communication or have to fix something that I did not mess up, I simply remind myself that I am paid hourly and get back to it. The frustrations that come with employment are to be expected and tolerated as far as I am concerned.

Where this effort to make everything fit, to rush through one thing so that I can take in the next, bothers me is in my reading. I have always like to read and got in more trouble for reading when I wasn’t supposed to as a kid than for anything else. Even through the busiest of my college semesters, I always managed to read something for pleasure because I refused to live my life any other way.

But I notice myself keeping track of how many pages I am into something and how many pages are left, and it bothers me. I’ve always checked number of pages in a chapter before I started it, especially if I knew I should be sleeping or leaving the throne room, but this is different. It’s a kind of wanting something to be over without really experiencing it.

And it’s not just with books either. I often find myself checking how many minutes are left on a movie playing on my computer or DVD player. And for some reason trying to predict how long I’ll spend talking to a friend on the phone. I’m not just talking about when I have places to be or go, there is always going to be counting when you are squeezing these pleasures in between items, what bothers me is counting when it doesn’t matter.

But it does make me appreciate the times I’m not counting even more. Nothing compares to the joy of reading through something and never checking the page number. I do it more often than I’d probably admit, but that’s probably because I spend so much time rushing to get through the reading I “have” to do so that I can read something that I really want to.

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