Skip to content

irony sucks.

I’ve always tried to make it a point to never start a blog post with an excuse for why I haven’t been blogging often. I have no excuses because, for the most part, it was a conscious decision. While it’s true that being a mom and running my own business don’t leave me with much free time, I have enough that I could still blog regularly if I wanted to do so. I just don’t need to anymore. I started this blog before “social media” was a phrase everyone knew, while living far away from all my friends and family.

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point since college I realized that I don’t ever actually want to be a writer. If I did, I would be leading a very different life. Once I embraced that, and now that the entire known world is on Facebook, blogging seemed unnecessary. Besides, we have the blog for Jack and he’s all I’d really want to write about anyway. As I get older, I want to put less of myself out into the world. Pictures of a daily outing on Facebook are fine, but a blog–at least this one–requires that I open up and tell people how I feel. I’m not interested in doing that anymore. The more other people know about me, the more I end up discussing things that I should just let go. Also, I’ve come to appreciate privacy in a way I didn’t before.


Having said all that, some things have happened this week that I’d feel guilty not blogging about. First, I ordered a book truck for myself. Secondly, I found out one of the stores where I used to work is closing next month.

My book truck arrived the morning after I found out about the closing store. Here is this huge, physical expression–indeed, a declaration of self–of my store, myself, the career I’ve chosen, arriving the day after such sad news. If my career were a house, it’s pretty common knowledge at this point that I didn’t build it on a firm foundation. The shifting sands of the book world, especially independent bookstores, are uncertain at best. While I do remain optimistic, it doesn’t keep my from getting depressed. I think that’s all I really needed to say.

fat in the fifties.

I’ve been cataloguing used books a lot this month. Really, I feel like I’ve been doing it a lot for the past year, but it’s really gotten crazy in the last month. I got 20 boxes from someone’s private library. Someone smart. Like, a whole family of smart people. The books are things like Walden and gardening books and cool old pulp novels and at least two to three boxes of old books. As in, published in 1950 back to 1889, I think.

Clean, research, price

Clean, research, price

One of the books I put into the system this week was a little gem called Teen-Age Glamor by Adah Broadbent, with illustrations by Anna Marie Magagna. It was the illustrations that really drew me in. And once I was there, I didn’t want to be.

Looking through it, I thought it was archaic, but sort of cute. Until I came to the chapter on “Dangerous Curves.” In the index, if you look up “overweight,” it redirects you to “plump figures.” Holy crap, am I glad we don’t use the word “plump” anymore. I think I actually prefer “fat.”

Sad little girl

The tiny girl by the giant ice cream sundae looks so sad.

Here’s the first two paragraphs of that chapter:

You can have dimples and your eyelashes my curl from here to yon, but if you are a fatty, you aren’t a beau-catcher. It’s a family trait to be overweight? Don’t be ridiculous. You aren’t the petite type, but those extra pounds are no help. It’s time to use will power and here’s the way to start.

Stand in front of a full-length mirror without your clothes. What do you think of that fat tummy, those padded legs, and balloon arms? Under that layer of fat is a beautiful slender body which is yours. Never will you see it unless you want it. You say, “Of course, I do.” Honestly, do you? Think it over, the decision is yours.

Eloise grew up.

This is what Eloise looked like after 16 years of room service. Isn't she ashamed?

I think I would’ve been disturbed anyway, but the illustration of this not-so-fat girl looking in the mirror is heartbreaking.

There’s something about the question, “Honestly, do you?” that really makes me doubt myself. As if I’ve never had a strong conviction about anything.

A list of things I think are more deserving of the title “the world’s best daily luxury” than my Bath & Body Works shower gel

-Indoor plumbing.

my busy, busy brain.

I’m the kind of person that needs to be doing something all the time. That  doesn’t mean I clean like I should or that I can’t enjoy a day of doing nothing. In fact, it most often means of have half-finished craft/sewing projects and partially read books littering up the house and “doing nothing” means watching TV, reading blogs or looking stuff up online, keeping an eye on Jack, and sometimes eating…all at the same time. I like to do things. My brain is active, even if my feet aren’t.

Still, even for me, I’ve been too busy lately. I go and go and never seem to rest. This summer, I’ve doubled the number of books I read a month. I rarely seem to spend my day off at home. For the store last week, I produced a newsletter, created a DVD section, and reorganized the children’s section. I tend to thrive on this sort of thing, but not so much anymore.

Jack is still nursing, so part of my energy goes into doing that. Even when he was a newborn, I always forgot to factor that in to my exhaustion and he doesn’t nurse very often at all anymore, compared to then. I could stand to lose some weight, of course (what else is new?), and I’m sure the food I eat isn’t giving me the energy I need. But the real thing that seems to be bringing me down is that I haven’t had a vacation in forever. I took off a couple of Saturdays in July, but I haven’t been anywhere since before I knew I was pregnant. And even at that, the last time we “went somewhere” it was only to Atlanta. Not that I don’t like Atlanta, I do–I’d love to go back again soon–but it isn’t the vacation I need.

I want to be in a car seeing things I’ve never seen before. Sometimes I just need to feel the road moving beneath me, to feel the scenery fall behind me.

Life is pretty stressful right now.

Here are the fortunes we got in our fortune cookies when we had Chinese food last night:

Mine
Time heals all wounds. Keep your chin up.

John’s
You discover treasures where others see nothing unusual.

Jack’s
Linger over dinner discussions this week for much needed advice.

Jack wasn’t able to eat his cookie, since his little teeth couldn’t quite handle anything that hard, but the waitress there always remembers us and she and Jack are great friends, so she gave him one. (I believe that you must eat the cookie before reading your fortune in order for it to come true, so John and I shared Jack’s.) I love Jack’s especially because we’ve only recently gotten a high chair and started eating our meals at the table together. Before, when it was just the two of us, John and I always had our dinner with a movie. The change feels very “atomic family.” I love it.

jack and i are friends again. i think.

Jack is asleep in my lap, having just survived the disaster of the day. He usually gets his bath with John in the shower, but tonight I washed him in his little tub, during which he totally freaked out. It was traumatizing for both of us. Last time I bathed him in his little tub (which is adorable, by the way, and looks like a whale), it went fine. So, when I put him in the water with his squeaky little duckies and he started clawing at me and screaming, I was completely surprised. The look he gave me!  Like I was abandoning him. Like he’d never forgive me. He was so relieved when I picked him up that he wouldn’t let me put him down without freaking out all over again.

So, here I am, sleeping babe curled in my lap, watching “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and wishing John didn’t have to be gone tonight.

I finished reading The Road today. It was well written and I can sort of understand why it got so much attention, but it left me with a lot of questions. Plus, it was just generally unpleasant. When I finish a book, I update my profiles on LibraryThing, GoodReads, Shelfari, and Living Social. I rated this book a 2 out of 5. I wish there was a button to push or a way to modify your rating to say something to the effect of “I think it’s a good book, but I wish I hadn’t read it” or “no amount of good writing is worth having to think about such awful things.” There’s no such button. I guess that would just be my review of the book as a whole. It felt a lot like The Old Man and the Sea, except that the boy got to go along, the old man never caught anything, and there was no hope of him catching anything again ever because all the fish, people, and plants were dead.

is it june yet?

We’ve cut off our satellite TV service. The leaves are back on the trees, blocking our dish from all the satellites floating around out there, so we weren’t getting any stations anymore anyway. We’ve started streaming Netflix with our Wii though, so I feel better about cutting off the satellite only about a month after buying a new, too-big-for-the-room TV. Not all the movies on Netflix are available for streaming, but apparently a good deal of lame to mediocre sci-fi movies are very much available.

At the moment, Godzilla seems to be fighting Mothra and something called Battra. Seriously, Battra?

I have a ton of Hitchcock movies lined up for future viewing and have been enjoying Mystery Science Theater with John, when I can manage to stay awake.

I should be reading, but I’m trying (and failing) not to think about the store or its book club or other events tonight. I’ve been knee-deep in used books for weeks and weeks, trying to get them all into our computer system and onto our shelves. And then today, out of the clear blue, a got a great offer to for a whole bunch more…which I couldn’t ignore. I don’t know how I’m going to get them all to the store, where we’ll put them, when I’ll have time to do anything with them, or if we have enough shelving to accomodate them all.

I’ve started having dreams that I’m drowning. I need a vacation.

goodbye, blogger.

I’ve just converted from blogger, which decided not to support ftp publishing anymore, to wordpress, which is way cooler anyway. My site had gotten hacked and was hosting malware, but it’s clean and tidy now…but I lost all my images in the process. I may add them back in later, but I’m swamped at work right now and fixing the blog portion was a major accomplishment. More to come…

a good book and a dead book.

I finished up another book by Per Petterson last night. In the Wake was the first of Petterson’s novels to be published in the US, though I managed to miss out on it until he’d had two more released here. This one was just as well written as Out Stealing Horses (my favorite book ever, I think) and To Siberia, but still wasn’t quite as good. I think it suffered because my reading of it was so fragmented, reading 20 to 40 pages then not being able to pick it up again for another week or so…and it’s only 202 pages long. Petterson’s fluid writing is simply fantastic though and that was still easy to see. I get completely caught up in it.

After I added In the Wake to my LibraryThing library, I looked at the list of recommendations they’ve assembled based on my entire library. One of the suggested books on the list was Wendy McClure’s weight loss memoir I’m Not the New Me. I remember this book very vividly now, but I had totally forgotten about it. We had it when I worked at Dutton’s and I remember it had these awesomely terrible Weight Watchers recipe cards from the 70′s with commentary about how awful they are. Those are actually online here at Wendy McClure’s website. Anyway, I read the title and instantly remembered the book and thought, “Oh, I have to get that for the store!” I was so sad when I looked it up and found out it has gone out of print! It was just published in 2005 and it’s already dead. And I never bought it! Poor little book. It’s easy to find a used one online, but I don’t really need it…and I feel stupid buying a book elsewhere when I own a bookstore.

adventures in bookselling.

Earlier this week, while waiting for a movie, John and I killed time in a Barnes and Noble to sort of check out the competition and get ideas for things I might want to stock in my store. It was a little overwhelming, seeing all those books…that we don’t carry. John ended up pulling me out of there before I got really depressed.

Then, last night, I had a dream about the bookstore down the street. It has lots of gifts, since it’s also a Hallmark. I don’t want to sound catty, but it’s mostly a Hallmark store. Anyway, last night, a had this dream that they had a sidewalk sale (or something else that would require outdoor shelves) and I happened to walk by (I never, ever walk by there, since they’re at the end of the block and not even the same block we’re on) and see all these fantastic kids books and I nearly hyperventilated right there on the street. I have the feeling most of the books were real, which is the first weird thing. The second weird thing is that the first thing I did when I woke up this morning was pull out my laptop and try to look them up.

I felt a little rattled, a little shaken up. The first call of the morning though, after I opened, was a repeat customer looking for two books that had been recommended to her and we had them both in stock! Not only did we have them in stock, I knew what they both were and was able to tell her the name of one of the authors. I felt like a rock star! Just a minute ago, a guy was in, and asked for help picking out a Faulkner book. Fantastic! I know about that! I want all further transactions to proceed in kind.

Meanwhile, I’m researching some more stock for a possible new section. I watched this video about an author who has a new book coming out this month and he starts out by saying he was raised in the jungles of Indonesia with cannibals. It was then that my eyes glazed over and I stopped paying attention. I mean, seriously, if that’s your opener, when your book is not a memoir, but a novel that’s not about a jungle, Indonesia, or cannibalism, where could you possibly be going with that line of thought?

crisis, shmisis. let’s have a baby!

Last Sunday, John and I started officially telling people that we’re expecting a new addition. Usually, when I say things like that, it means that we have a new game system, such as our much-loved yet under-used Wii, or a fantastic toy, like the vintage tie fighter I gave John for his birthday a couple years back. But no. Now that we can’t really afford to buy a new game system or a vintage Star Wars thing, we’re having a baby! Because they’re like, cheap, right?

While we never had any stupid misconceptions such as that, we have already made the first payment on said baby. It sounds ridiculous when I say it like that. We’re not buying the baby…we’re just buying the chance to have it “get born” in an actual hospital with actual doctors and nurses. My understanding of how health insurance works, no matter how many times various people have tried to explain it to me, is about as extensive as my knowledge of the history of Laos. (I know nothing.) So when John and I got this letter about how much it costs to have the baby, we both read it completely backwards. We’re off to a smashing start! What we thought the letter was saying the insurance company was going to pay was actually what WE are responsible for paying. Ha!

I’m paranoid about what things can go wrong during a pregnancy. Not to the point where I’m worried or lose sleep, but I do think about these things. And it feels more than a little like a jinx to start paying for the birth when I’m only in week 14. Of 40.

Nevertheless, I’m excited. John and I kept waiting for a good time to have a baby. Well, that time was nowhere in sight, so, we’re having a baby in the middle of a global economic crisis. I opened a business in the middle of a “downturn” which turned into a global economic crisis. And I understand all of it about as much as I understand insurance.

I’m not especially worried about the store or the baby. I want the store to be a success, I really do, but…if it doesn’t work, it just doesn’t. Since the move, our sales have improved greatly and I’m optimistic. But I’m also realistic. If things go south, as they sometimes do with young start-ups, then we’ll deal. I have this view of the store like it’s someone I like but don’t trust to be there for me when I’m in need. I’m not worried about becoming a mom, even though I’m not especially maternal or even all that patient. Nothing annoys me more than women who already have kids giving me the “wait till it’s your turn” speech, which is always accompanied by a condenscending smile or laugh that makes me want to slap their dumb little mommy faces. Well, soon it will be my turn. And I watch women with their kids all the time now. Every time a woman brings kids into the store, I watch. I look at the things she says and does and how the kids respond and what things, if I did or said them, would I be proud of or embarrassed by if I could watch myself as a detached third party. Some are horrifying, some are awe-inspiring.

For a while, I wasn’t sure if we would end up having kids. I had this weird thing with cysts in my ovaries that scared me to death. Then, even when that was being cleared up, I started to wonder if being a mom was actually something I wanted to do. John and I have been married for 5 years now and they’ve been 5 fantastic years. We’ve travelled and had weird/cool jobs and awful jobs and bad apartments and big adventures from coast to coast. My life has been full and satisfying. But then sometimes I’d think about how life could be even more full and even more satisfying. In LA, we used to go to the zoo a lot and John and I would just hang out and he’d draw the animals. It wasn’t hard to imagine having a little person with us that we could talk about the animals to and explain things, like how the cassowary is so obviously a dinosaur. Sometimes I think about what our home life might be like, reading books and coloring and covering pinecones with glue and glitter, but mostly I think about the places I want to go. The day trips to the zoo or ice skating at the SportsPlex and feeding the ducks in Centennial Park. I like babies, and I’m already totally in love with mine, but it’s the pre-school and early elementary school years I look forward to most. I’m sure rocking a baby is just grand and fantastic for bonding, but I want the kid to talk to me. I’m not impatient. I’ll enjoy the process, the way there. Right now, I’d just be happy to feel a kick to justify how often I have to get up in the night to pee.

John’s family is over the moon and so sweet. Several of John’s cousins on both sides of his family have really young kids and two of Mickey’s stepdaughters have kids under 2, so it’ll be really fun to see them all grow up together. When John made the announcement at church last Sunday, the whole place errupted. It was very surprising and kinda spectacular. I thought maybe people would go “aww” for a second and that would be that, but everyone gasped and clapped. We’re the first of all our TN friends to have a kid and they’re all excited and even a couple of their parents are excited. The kid is going to have a huge family, spread out all over the country, from my friend Anna in Florida to all mom’s peeps on the west coast and several states in between. So, yeah, I’m excited. And not very worried.