I have been avoiding doing one of these for months now, for several reasons, the most obvious and compelling being that I never end up reading what I’m supposed to be reading. I tend to want to read things to expand my mind, to further my knowledge, to learn something, to meet my goals for courses I’m taking, etc ad nauseam. Then I feel guilty when I end up throwing it all on the ground, kicking it under the bed and reading a novel I’ve read many times before. Any “pleasure reading” is usually done right before bed, as a way to relax and unwind. Maybe that’s why I so often turn to Stephen King books I’ve already read; there’s something comforting about reading out of habit, and reading the same types of things over and over somehow makes me feel even more relaxed. I mean, I definitely don’t find myself relaxed when I’m reading some shit about the history of architecture in this province, though it interests me. And yet somehow Cujo disemboweling people soothes my soul.
Also, no one cares what I am reading and also I started feeling like it was maybe pretentious to announce my stupid reading goals to the internet. Like, “guys, guys, I READ. BOOKS. INTELLECTUAL SHIT. No chick lit or fashion magazines here!” In reality I actually love fashion magazines because they help me not look like I just wandered out of a gas station bathroom in the 90s. In terms of entertainment, I find that my tastes have mellowed since my “intellectual” university years. My activities usually include some sort of Buzzfeed quiz that involves 37 pictures of cats. So I suppose whole “what I’m reading” thing is really a way to try and obligate myself to read something more mentally stimulating and refreshing and Relevant To My Interests. In theory, announcing it means I will hold myself accountable to it. In reality, zero people care, including me.
Enter: Kitimat! It’s home, in a sense, although I’ve never have had an actual address there. But I find it so intriguing. A planned community, this town is shaped like a weird brain from the air due to it’s looping, interconnected subdivisions, walking paths, and numerous small parks. It was specifically built to accommodate workers for the new aluminum smelter, and was apparently specially designed by city planners, psychologists and sociologists in the 1950s to stimulate happiness, contentment, and productivity. Creepy.
The Kitimat Museum has a lot of information about the first generation of workers, who came from all over the world to work in the plant. But as you know, my interest is not so much in the workers being happy and working, but in what happens when industry fails in a single-industry town. I have some anecdotes from a couple of lifelong Kitimat residents that allow me to get a vague picture of what Kitimat has been like in the past few decades, but not much more. Alcan still runs, but the paper mill and the ammonia plant shut down, and the town began to crumble. But now, the proposed LNG pipeline is all anyone’s talking about… people are far more interested in Kitimat’s future than in the dead years of Kitimat’s recent past.
A few months ago, I read in the local paper (“local” in this case means the entire North Coast and also certain inland communities) that a book about the history of Kitimat had recently been published and was for sale at the Kitimat museum. I have been looking for this very thing online, and had come up empty, so I was pretty psyched to read about it. I managed to get to the Kitimat museum the other day to pick up a copy. And some souvenirs with snowflakes on them.
It turns out that Kitimat Chronicles by Walter Thorne and Dirk Mendel is actually in two volumes. The first volume is 58 pages. The second is 71 pages. Who thinks I can easily crush 129 pages over the next three weeks? I do! Then I will come back and tell you everything I learn about Kitimat. There you have it: personally relevant AND educational.
Fun fact: Mount Elizabeth is named after the first white baby to be born in Kitimat. Somehow, that fact made me significantly less enthused about that mountain. When I’m finished the books, I’ll let you know if anyone named anything in town after any specific Haisla babies.
Oh, and while we’re talking about reading… I finally jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon with a heroic leap. That is, I spontaneously bought the entire series in a box set because I was stranded at Walmart in a blizzard and it was 40% off. Now I’ll finally have something to talk to my brother about.