When I was a kid, I read constantly — on the family room couch, in bed before (and after) lights out, in the car on trips of any length whatsoever. My brother got carsick. My mother couldn’t read in cars (but didn’t otherwise get carsick). I couldn’t begin to understand what was wrong with them.
Flash forward mumble-mumble years. When I used to commute downtown to work (which I haven’t done in the six years since I started writing full-time), I almost always stood in the full subway cars, reading a book and enjoying the uninterrupted book time. I had my preferred reading spots, of course, and I sometimes chose books based on their dimensions and weight, but I got a lot of reading done on the subway.
About five years ago, there was a horrible crash on the subway and some people died. The investigating authorities concluded that the crash was caused by an automatic braking system that didn’t, and all trains were immediately set to run on driver-applied braking. To this day, the hand-braking continues.
The vast majority of drivers are *terrible* at controlled braking — they accelerate and decelerate multiple times, and they frequently jerk in an out of stations. For the past few years, I haven’t been able to read a word on a subway train (including the ads in the trains — just studying them makes me ill). Sometimes, I become nauseated just sitting there, with my eyes closed, and it’s not unusual for me to exit a subway station and take half an hour or longer before I feel tummy-steady again (an annoyance because most of the time that I take the subway, I’m going to meet someone for a meal!)
A few weeks ago, I had a particularly rough ride home. Mark was with me, and he was a champion as I sobbed out my frustration and misery.
And the next day, I decided things had to change. I won’t take drugs — they’d take too long to take effect and they’d linger too long after an at-most 30-minute ride.
But I remembered those anti-nausea bracelets many of my friends wore when they were pregnant. I stopped at CVS and bought a pair. (They’re elastic bands with plastic buttons sewn in; they work by holding the button against an acupressure point in the wearer’s wrist, where the point triggers an anti-nausea … reaction.)
And reader, I was converted.
I slipped the bands on for my next ride downtown, and I took out my book, and I read. I could feel the train lurching and swaying. I could feel the motions that would have left me miserable just a day before. But I could read without any problem at all.
I’ve now worn the bands half a dozen times. Once, on a very long, very rough ride, I had to stop reading. But the overall improvement has been astonishing. I’m buying extra pairs to keep around so that I’m never without them. I am converted.
(And, as a bonus extra, I’m reading a bit more!)