Manager's Special

I read books. I talk about books. I manage a book store. It all ties together in the end, somehow.

Dragons, and elves. A recipe for my perfect sunday.

Dragons of Autumn Twilight - Tracy Hickman, Margaret Weis

I finished a really great book last night as I stood in line at Target (we only buy one thing on black friday; pillows.  it's been the only tradition me and my better half have stuck to for our entire relationship.  there's no rhyme or reason as to why we buy pillows on black friday, but we always do.)  This is a book that I once picked up in fifth grade, but I was still stuck on Goosebumps, and thus I never got terribly into it.


It is called Dragons Of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis, and Tracy Hickman.  The first in an incredibly long series (The Dragonlance Series), it begins the adventures of a group of fantasy warriors as they face seemingly insurmountable odds on a quest to rid the world of the evil Draconian army. 


This is high fantasy at its best, you guys.  The main character, and arguably the hero, of the story is Tanis Half-Elven, a (quelle surprise) half-elf ranger (which is a race and class that I am intimately familiar with, having played one for, oh, 20 years. Trivia that is only interesting to me; Tanis' elven name is "Tanthalas".  My half-elfs elven name is "Ralanthalas")  Tanis leads a group comprised of Raistlin and Caramon, twin brothers, respectively a mysterious and morbid sorceror, and a stout and trustworthy fighter, Tasslehof, a halfling thief, Sturm, a noble knight from an old order, Flint, a dwarven warrior, as well as two members of a dead barbarian tribe, Riverwind the fighter, and Goldmoon, the cleric.  Just the list of primary antagonists is more fantasy than most people I know can handle.  At this point, we haven't even gotten to the dragons yet.


I couldn't put this book down.  I absolutely loved the characters, even the bad guys are interesting, with depth and motivation.  Nobody is underdeveloped (except for one character, introduced in the last few pages, who I'm assuming will go on to play a fairly large role in at least one of the 200+ books that exist in the same shared universe.  The action is intense, and even when there are eight people fighting against another ten foes, it never gets bogged down..everything is cohesive, and flows. 


And there are also dragons in it.  Intelligent dragons, who speak, and plot, and scheme.  My favorite kind of dragon.


Needless to say, if you are a fantasy reader, and for some reason you haven't gotten to Dragonlance yet (like myself), make it a point to read this book.  It's delightful from beginning to end.  I'm already eagerly devouring the second book in the trilogy.


The Last &

So, I'm the first one in again, with the quiet and the window growing snow. When I hear the furnace rouse itself from its slumber, somehow suddenly I know, as my eye stops on one curled up in my lesson plan that I'm just your little ampersand.

When your voice springs from the intercom with announcements, and reminders, and a prayer, I remember how you made me feel. I was funny, I was thoughtful, I was rare. But like the jokes about my figure kids think that I don't understand I know I'm just your little ampersand.

After Christmas holiday you never asked to drive me home again. Sometimes in the staff room I catch your eye with "why'd it have to end?" But I know from how you worry at your wedding band that I'm just your little ampersand.

At the last conjunction after every other and I was just your little ampersand.

The aptly named "Sir not appearing in this film" ((or)) Arthur King

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo - J.R.R. Tolkien Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Neil D. Isaacs, Unknown, Burton Raffel

So I've been on this huge King Arthur kick lately.  I've mentioned it a few times.  I don't know what started it (aside from King Arthur and the Arthurian legend being just fantastic.) but I have amassed a large collection of Arthur and Camelot books that I am beginning to get through finally.  I started with Thomas Mallory Le Morte D'arthur, which I loved, but full disclosure, I picked through a lot and skipped a good portion of the exposition throughout.  After that I went all the way through T.H. White's The Once And Future King, which was excellent, but not as gritty as Le Morte D'Arthur (TOaFK would be the Adam West Batman, to Le Morte D'Arthur's Christopher Nolan Batman.) 


I'm reading through a few different translations of Sir Gawain and The Green Knight right now.  I'm enjoying the Armitage version, but I have yet to get to the Tolkien version (which is kind of a cool idea.)


I feel like I'm going to end up reading a lot ABOUT King Arthur stories rather than reading the stories themselves.  I'm itching for some good non fic.



One of these days, I'll put these ridiculous books to good use. ((or)) Have two wheels, will travel

Suzuki VS700-800 Intruder, 1986-97: Clymer Workshop Manual - Randy Stephens

Probably the weirdest thing I collect (now that I've gotten rid of my four hundred Gideon's bibles that I accumulated over ten years of travel.  funny story, that.) is old motorcycle maintenance and repair manuals.


I don't even own a motorcycle.


I don't even have a driver's license.


But I have dozens of these.


Time for coffee now. ((or)) Glaringly positive

Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said - Philip K. Dick

I have misplaced my copy of Interview With The Vampire.  I think I left it at the warehouse last week, which means it's probably either gone, or sitting on the horror shelf there.  It's a bad idea to bring ones own books to a warehouse filled with books. 


So instead of reading that this morning, I started reading Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, by Philip K. Dick.  This is not my first time with this book, it was literally just the first thing my hand touched as I was running out the door.  Had I been an inch in either direction, we would be talking about Edmond Dantes instead.


I really love this book.  It's decidedly science fiction, but it reads like noir.  I guess that's by design.  It makes me want to read Hammett.  Which I probably will at some point in the near future.


Oh, I finished The Martian.  It was great!  Which is...succinct.  But it really was great!  I don't have much negative to say about it.  That's not to say I have nothing...near the end, I felt like there was never really any danger.  Once the big plan was in place to save Mark Watney, it seemed to go off without a hitch;  I never felt any tension at the climax of this book.  But that being said, I felt satisfied with the way it ended.  I liked Mark, from the first page.  From the first line.  I found him to be charming, and funny.  I was happy to see it all work out for him.  There are some tense moments, but they are almost the forgettable parts of this book.  The more memorable parts are Mark's small triumphs.  As I'm sure it's meant to, this reads like a "sailor adrift at sea" story, which I was really in to for a while recently.  And it didn't disappoint in that regard.  Overall, it was really a solid read.  I tore through it in a couple good reading days, it's not a difficult book at all.  I'm anxious now to see the movie.



Can I get a little fiction with my science? ((or)) I can't trust what anyone says about any book ever.

The Martian - Andy Weir

I wish I had more time to read.  I wish I had more time to write, too.


The Martian - Andy Weir


I'm currently reading The Martian.  Has anyone read this already?  I got two kind of mixed reviews about it, but I'm about halfway through it, and man, I love it. 


One of the complaints I heard was that there was too much "science" in it.  but...I's science-fiction.  It's about an astronaut.  There's not really such a thing as too much science in science fiction about astronauts.  And that being said, there isn't even a lot of science. 


The other complaint i heard was that the main character (Mark) sometimes came off as patronizing.  But once again, I don't get that from him.  He's a funny guy. 


I'm about 179 pages into it, which is straddling the middle of the book.  I'll be done with it by tomorrow if I'm awake enough to read after work.  After I've finished it, we'll really delve deep into my lingering existential dread regarding space, and science fiction.  It's kind of a doozy.


Then, it's on the Interview With The Vampire for October book club.





Gin giblet ((or)) The Children's Crusade

Seven Years in Tibet - Heinrich Harrer Hokkaido Popsicle - Isaac Adamson Tokyo Suckerpunch - Isaac Adamson Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J.K. Rowling, Mary GrandPré The Familiar, Volume 1: One Rainy Day in May - Mark Z. Danielewski

I am hungover like a 22 year old.  I've been sitting in my office, reading Seven Years In Tibet for an hour.  We went out to an Alice in Wonderland themed bar last night, and their drinks were well received, by me.  Which I am sort of mildly paying for this morning. 


I haven't really been doing a lot of reading lately.  I'm reading this book because it was within arms reach when I sat down, which is a problem I sometimes have.  I'll read the first two or three chapters of whatever book is within grasp, then put it down and forget about t entirely for weeks, until it's been so long that I can't even continue where I left off anymore.  So I get stuck in this vicious cycle or re-reading the first act of the same book over and over again. 


There are a few books I'd like to sit down and finally finish:


1. Hokkaido Popsicle by Isaac Adamson.  I started this book immediately after I finished Adamson's first book Tokyo Suckerpunch.  That is one of my favorite books.  But I got caught up in something or other at work, and never ended up finishing it. 


2. The Familiar, volume 1: One Rainy Day In May   by Mark Z. Danielewski.  This is just a tough book.  But I'm going to slowly start picking away at it.  What I've read so far (which is only about 30 pages) is marvelous.  I even have a copy signed by the author, thanks to my little brother, who also happens to work in a different book store.


3. Harry Potter and the...something...something.  I seriously blew through the first three HP books, and loved them.  Much like everything else I need to finish, I just sort of forgot about the next book.  I think I'm on the 4th...I'm not sure.  Maybe I should just read the first three again to be certain...


Disjointed ((or)) Early morning

The Story of Civilization - Will Durant, Ariel Durant

I'm very slowly picking my way through The Story Of Civilization, by Will and Ariel Durant.  I don't know what compelled me to read these books.  Probably because I found a whole set of them, and they've been sitting on my desk for three weeks.  I can't let a book sit that close to me every day and not read at least some of it.  My goal is to finish this entire eleven volume set.  I don't have a time frame because then it becomes homework, but man, I sure would love to actually get through it all.




I've been at the bookstore since 6 am, which I'm not bothered by, because I love the bookstore.  I'm bothered that I was supposed to be here at 7:30 to allow maintenance access to something or other, and they didn't roll up until 8:20.  And then rudely walked into my back room and used my staff restroom without saying a word to me.  That's rude, right?  Maybe I'm just sensitive because every other time I've dealt with any of the maintenance for this place it's been a shitshow.


So I used my spare time to clean up my office, and reorganize some shit that has been bothersome to me since I took over this job.  There's still too much clutter all over the place, but it's a little better now. 


So I'm spending today writing emails that I...don't really know how to write.  It's all marketing and while I was really into marketing and advertising for a while, I was always a creative type, and not really an implementation kind of guy.  So I'm sort of floundering in my current task.  Which is why I am aimlessly typing away on here.  Thank god I have an opener coming in an hour so I can focus up and get some work done.  As it stands right now, I'm already running on empty today. 


Collapse ((or)) Goodbye Blue Monday

Well, today is Wednesday, which means it's warehouse day!


I sound more excited than I actually am.  A has been sick with some sort of throat thing, and I feel it creeping up on me.  I've done well this year of avoiding disease, but I am not sure if I can escape this one.  That's what you get when you share a bed with a school teacher.  Kid germs.  So anyhow, I am too tired, and too cranky to be that excited about the warehouse today.


In addition to that, my bookstores roof partially caved in yesterday.  Luckily all that was lost was general fiction, E-F and mystery/thriller A-B.  The maintenance at my store is kind of notoriously bad, so there's no telling when I'll see a solution to this.  Of course this happens on my day off (as problems usually do), so I'm going by this morning to sort of assess the damage.  Hopefully the hole is patched in the roof, and there's no more leakage.  For that, though, we'd have to see more rain here in Southern California, and I don't think that's supposed to happen. 


I'm actually really procrastinating this morning.  I should be dressed, and heading out the door in a few minutes, instead of sitting in my shorts trying to muster up the energy to drink some grape juice.  Alas.




I'm so in to model planes right now, guys.  Yesterday I finally finished the P-61 Black Widow, which was kind of intense and huge.  And I built a Sukhoi SU-25 in the time it took me to watch Jeopardy. 


I think a helicopter might be next...




Still haven't started Kavalier and Clay.  I can't even find my copy of it right now.  This is a curse that I always deal with; losing the book I'm supposed to be reading, and then reading Jennifer Government twice in a row because I picked it up off of a shelf, while looking for a different book. 


Wish I had more time to spend here today.




The first time I saw The Marin, it was from a distance, through binoculars.  I was working freelance, as a photographer, for an independent detective agency in a small town between Chicago, and Milwaukee.  I didn't have an office, because I was really a glorified intern, but my boss did.  He was a detective named Able, and HIS office overlooked Lake Michigan.  As I was getting ready to leave one evening, I walked in on him standing in the dark, peering through his office window, onto the beach below, through a pair of binoculars.  About a quarter mile down the beach (close enough to not really need binoculars), The Marin sat on the hood of a navy blue sedan, while two men and a woman spoke, gesturing to the statuette, in front of a burgundy four door, parked end to end with the sedan.  The Marin was basically just a silhouette against the sun, lowering behind the green water of the lake.  But Able seemed more interested in the foot tall bronze piece than he did in any of the three people who still feverishly discussed it.  I should have taken more notes on that first night, as I'm sure it would have saved me a lot of trouble in the coming week.  But...even seen from a distance, through unnecessary binoculars, at dusk, from above a lake, The Marin (at the time) was all either of us could focus on.

The Marin ((or)) I'm half crazy

Had a day off today, which is nice.  Did a little shopping, and I'm having dinner tonight. 


I bought a bunch of kyanite.  I'm kind of into kyanite, I don't really know why.  But it's definitely my favorite stone.  I'm laden with blue kyanite blades, and I was able to find a black kyanite fan, a green kyanite blade, and a small orange kyanite sliver too.  Also got some candles to burn for various things, as I've been out of candles for a while.   So I moved my altar, cleaned it up, arranged my stones, and I've got a general "good fortune in the coming week" candle going. 


I also got a new pair of shoes, which is a big deal because I have massive shoe anxiety, and it takes me way too long to buy shoes. 




I really have to start reading Kavalier and Clay.  This month is flying by, and I haven't even started it yet.  I finished The Night Buffalo and as I usually do when I finish that book, had a brief emotional snap.  But it's tucked away on the personal selection shelf behind my altar, where it will rest for a year or so before I read it again, and have another brief emotional snap. 


I cleaned up my book area a little.  I mean, there's not much I can do, seeing as I have no shelf space left, and yet I still keep bringing home books.  The best I can do is make my piles neater.


Pardon my unvaccuumed carpet.  I just...don't want to deal with that.


Also, the statuette of horse and rider that sits on top of my bookshelf on the right is a pretty interesting piece of work, that has caused me a world of trouble (there's gunplay, and foot chases involved in the story of how I acquired that statue).  But now it sits quietly on top of my books, waiting patiently for someone to come knocking on my door with a pistol, looking to take it back from me. 


My emerald girl is waiting for me. Throttling like an F-16. ((or)) I should spend more time thinking about books.

I left off on The Night Buffalo with about 20 pages to go yesterday.  I do most of my reading as I commute from home to work (which is about an hour ride), and I always start to feel anxiety when I've got less than twenty pages left to read, but my bus stop is a quarter mile down the road.  There are times when I feel like I just want to stay seated, and finish my book while my stop disappears behind me, and I venture forth towards the vasty nothingness of the far end of the San Fernando Valley.  But then when I think about it, there's less adventure in the unknown valley than there is in the confines of my bookstore.  So I'm left with just a few pages to read at the beginning of today, and then I'll finally start on The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay


Even when I pick the book club book, I still struggle to read it in a timely manner; it feels like homework, and I was never one of those kids who did homework.  I've heard that this one is a quick, easy, and fun read.  So I'm hoping to power through it pretty quickly so I can jump into...something else.  Who knows what's next.




Today at the bookstore...I'm not sure.  I feel like as the store manager I should go into every day with a plan.  But I just don't work like that.  I can't make a plan until I'm in the store, with my eyes on everything that needs to be done. 


There's a lot more decorating to do.  We have to turn out kids section into a pirate ship (which is a hassle for me.  I hate the kids section more than anything.  It's difficult to maintain, it's constantly messy, and there's nothing to tie it all together, it's just a hodgepodge of books.  I guess that's why we're doing a theme.) I'm not exactly sure how one turns a kids section into a pirate ship, but that's why I have an assistant manager who doubles as my creative leader.  I also have to cut out 30 two foot autumn leaves to put on my enormous front window to stop the sun from burning through them at midday (we have an western exposure, and at about 3 pm, the sun crests over the top of our building, and shines like a laser beam into the store.  It heats that place up like a pizza oven.)  I also have to figure out what I'm supposed to do for Hobbit day.  I'm not really the worlds biggest fan of The Hobbit (I like it and all, I'm just not rabid about it) and I have until the 22nd to come up with...something. 


And on top of all that, I have schedules to make (the single most stressful part of my job) books to sell, books to buy, emails to send, and I'm pretty sure I have a student interview scheduled at some point today.  I was supposed to have one yesterday, but it didn't work out (mostly because the student was asking me questions that I had no answers to regarding out merchant services and the way we process credit card transactions?  It was a weird thing to ask at a bookstore.  I know nothing about any of that, man, I just swipe the card, and that's that.)


So anyhow, lots of work to do today.  But I always have lots of work to do.  BEST PART.  It's totally payday, the best day of the bi-weekly period.  I'm in the process of paying off the very small amount of debt that I've accrued over the past 30 years (I owe about 1100 dollars in total to various organizations that I apparently financially wronged at some point in my life.) So this paycheck, plus the next one in two weeks will officially bring me up to zero.  Looking forward to that.  I'm torn over the idea of banking, though.  The bulk of what I owe is to a bank who kind of screwed me over as a kid (when I was 22, I was still a kid.) and it's been dangling over my head ever since.  I don't really believe in the concept of banking; I like to deal in tangibles.  Ones, fives, tens, twenties.  I hate the idea of my money being under another persons watch while I use a little piece of plastic instead.  It makes no sense to me.  I don't get how people who have much more money than I do feel comfortable with that.  I mean, at that point it isn't even really your money anymore, is it?  When an organization can impose a limit on how much of my cash I can take out of an ATM per day, I instantly no longer trust that organization.  Why can't I have all of my money all at once, ATM?  Why is there a 400 dollar limit per day, ATM?  It makes zero sense to me.  I just take all of my cash, roll it up into a tight little money cigar, and stash it in a hollow book on one of my bookshelves.  That's not even a joke.  I tell people at the bank that every time they ask if I want to open an account, or who I bank with already, and they always laugh and assume I'm kidding.  I'm not.  There are hundreds of dollars in a hollow book on my bookshelf, that you would never be able to pick out if you were searching for it.  And you know what?  When I need it, I take it.  I never have to be late to a dinner because I have to stop by the bank.  I never have to worry about how much money I have in my bank account.  I barely even have to keep any financial records.  It's all tangible, and right there in front of my face. 


I'm very passionate about abolishing the bank system, and moving to a cash only or barter system.  It makes more sense to me.  It keeps the human race together, where relying on big business only serves to keep us apart.  In my opinion.


I've talked more about finances than I anticipated. 




I spent all day yesterday thinking about the wings of the P-61 Black Widow.



Kind of a funny thing to dwell on all day, I know.


We recently got a ton of scale model kits in my bookstore (from god knows where) and since I'd never built a model airplane as a kid, I decided I needed one to try.  I put together a Sopwith Camel (one of my favorite planes) and an F-16 Electric Fighter (Hal Jordan's ride) and then started building this Northrop P-61 Black Widow.  It's sort of become an obsession.  In about two weeks, I've bought two dozen of these bastards.  Tanks, jets, bombers.  A fucking boeing 747.  And I'm just having a blasty blast putting them together.  I see why so many old men are into scale modeling.  It's centering.  And after a few days when it becomes a plane instead of a sheet of plastic pieces, there's a feeling of accomplishment.  Plus, now that I've built two 1:72 scale model planes from two entirely different eras in history, I'm pretty sure I could rebuild any plane engine you put me in front of, scale or not. 


So I'm working on the Black Widow.  And when I left off yesterday, I was putting the wings together.  I didn't finish yesterday morning, and after going to a late dinner with my better half last night, we came home, and the little ones (read: my parakeets) were already in bed asleep in the same room as my desk.  So I didn't get to finish the wings last night either.  I'm going to dwell on these god damn wings again all day today.

Back to work. ((or)) Books as far as the eye can see.

The Sword in the Stone - T.H. White Le Morte d'Arthur, Vol. 2 - Thomas Malory Interview With The Vampire - Anne Rice The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel Beowulf: A New Verse Translation - Seamus Heaney, Anonymous Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Vol. 1 - Robert E. Hegel, C.H. Brewitt-Taylor, Luo Guanzhong

So I'm back to it today after a day off.  I never do anything terribly exciting on days off.  I was out of bed by 6 am because I just can't sleep any later than that.  I sat on the floor and read sixty or seventy pages of The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White, because it was the closest thing to me.  I've been really into King Arthur stories lately, I don't really know why (aside from the obvious, being that King Arthur is a really cool character.) So there are T.H. White paperbacks strewn all over my apartment, and I have piles of random fantasy books with "Merlin" in the title pulled down from my shelves (so I can make a dedicated "King Arthur" section.)  So far, I think my very favorite Arthur story I've read is the death of Arthur, from Le Morte D'Arthur by Mallory.  I see the irony in saying that my favorite part of a book called "The death of Arthur" is the death of Arthur...kind of seems like a given.  But it really is just the best part. 


I'm also strangely into a lot of chinese writing lately, too, but it's harder to find.  I mentioned Water Margin the other day, so it's been on my mind for at least that long.  I only wish I could find a copy to read.  I could just order it from amazon or something, but that seems really silly to do when I work in a bookstore.  The few times that I've ordered a book, it's inevitably come into my store within a week (Interview With The Vampire, The Clan Of The Cave Bear)  So I'm cursed to sit and watch Beowulf come and go a million times a week, and never see Romance ever at all.  But one day, completely by stupid luck, all four of the great classical novels are going to roll through this warehouse, in a matched slipcase heritage edition leatherbound gold leaf set, giving me bedroom eyes.  And they will be mine.


as far as the eye can see ((or)) one wooden stake through the heart
as far as the eye can see ((or)) one wooden stake through the heart

here is a small glimpse into my warehouse.  This is the main stockroom, but it comprises about 5% of what is actually here. 


It's...pretty warm in here. 

Give a boy a hammer, and the whole world becomes a nail. ((or)) Le Morte D'jonah

Today is warehouse day.  Probably my favorite day of the week. 


My bookstore is one of four locations in the valley, and they all feed from a 61,000 square foot warehouse full of books.  The first time I walked into the warehouse (or "area 51"), I was completely taken aback by it.  This was about a year ago.  I'd never seen such a huge collection of books before.  I've been going once a week for a year, and I still haven't explored the entire place.  It's pretty marvelous.


So anyhow, my Wednesdays consist of spending six hours basically shopping and hand picking stock for my bookstore, off of the innumerable racks of books, one hour eating lunch, and one hour meeting with the management team to hash out the coming week throughout the bookstores.  In addition to that (because I have experience in a warehouse), I also usually end up doing a lot of heavy lifting and manual labor.  Which is pretty's a workout, but I don't mind it.  


The one thing I do mind about warehouse day is that I have to get up at 5 am.  The thing is, I get up at 5 am every day (I sleep in the same bed as a high school teacher.  we're in it by 9 pm, and out of it by 5 am), but I don't HAVE to, I just choose to spend those precious few moments with her in the morning before we both go off to work.  On wednsdays, however, I simply must be out of bed by 5 am.  It's like when I was forced to read 1984 in high school.  I couldn't get into it because it was homework.  Sure, it's one of my favorites NOW, but when I was forced into it I could not care less.  When I MUST be out of bed by 5, and it isn't my, that's a bad time. 


I was also out later than I wanted to be last night having dinner (at one of my favorite restaurants, Cafe Bizou), with her parents.  Her mom is a character, and we actually worked together in an office prior to my bookstore job; she's a blast.  Her father...well, we get along, and he's a pleasant man, but I feel like five years into our relationship, her father still doesn't believe it.  He tolerates me.  But I think he's a funny guy, and at least he doesn't hate me (usually fathers hate me, why wouldn't they?)


Point being, I guess, that I'm tired on warehouse day.  BUT the promise of 61,000 square feet of books for eight hours, and a day off tomorrow is waking me up pretty quickly. 


Today is also my assistant manager's (and one of my most trusted friends) birthday.  Happy birthday, person whose name I won't put on the internet!



I woke up to a lot of new followers.  Hi new followers.  First followers, I should say, as you guys are my first followers.  I guess this calls for introductions. 


My name is Jonah, and I am a bibliophile.  I am 11 days away from turning 30, and I fear that as I get older, I get more and more out of touch with everything but my books.  That's not a bad thing, necessarily, just a different one.  I was born in the deep south, but when I turned two, my family started moving.  We spent time in Kentucky, Ohio, and Massachusetts before moving to Los Angeles, where we settles for many years.  At the age of 16, I left home and school for the first time, with a duffel bag full of clothes (and my teddy bear) and began moving around the country by myself.  For ten years I traveled around the contiguous US, mostly by foot, or by bus, stopping where I felt like stopping, and trying to do good things for others.  I survived mostly on the kindness of strangers, only working for a few months here and there when I needed to.  When I was about to turn 26, I lost a dear friend, and decided it was time to stop.  So I found my way back to my family home down south, spent a night with my cousin drinking robitussin until we flew through space, then rode in a tractor trailer truck with my uncle (I think he was my uncle) back to Los Angeles.  My mom met me on the road before I even made it into the city, in a truck stop somewhere in Riverside, and she took me to her home.  I unpacked my duffel bag (and my teddy bear), and started living adult life. 


There are a few things that traveling around the country for ten years did for me that a college education never could.  Firstly, I'm 30 years old, and I'm only 800 dollars in debt (and that's because of library bills that I never paid).  No student loans for me.  Secondly, meeting and talking with people from all over the country has instilled in me a certain distinct set of values that nobody has ever had or vocalized ever before in the world ever; "Be excellent to each other".  Seriously,  nobody has ever said that before.  I guess more specifically, I learned that there's no point disliking anybody, and every single person on the planet is worth more than anyone can fathom in the deepest and most profound pit of their brain.  People are beautiful, enigmatic, and awful creatures; the best kind of creatures.  And I know how to love all of them, even the bad ones.  I am a true egalitarian, and I love everyone the same way I love my siblings;  because All Men Are Brothers (or The Outlaws Of The Marsh) - get it?  Literary jokes.  Worse than dad jokes.  That's me in a nutshell.


I can't really say for certain what my favorite book it.  If someone can, then I don't really believe they're a true book lover.  Some of my favorites from the past have been Frank Herbert's Dune, Anne Rice's The Vampire Lestat, Maxx Barry's Syrup (a strong contender for the top spot), Shui Hu Zhuan's Water Margin and Mark Z. Danielewski's House Of Leaves.  But the book I've probably read the most is Elizabeth Barret Browning's Sonnets From The Portugese


I've talked about myself more than I anticipated doing.  The only blog platform I've ever used was a far more personal place, with a less clear focus.  I feel like I should be using this to talk more about books, but when it really boils down to it, books are my life, every day, and every night.  So this is somewhere that I hope I can open up to, and talk a little about myself personally, while skewing towards my rampant bibliomania.  I mean, really, it all ties together in the end, anyway.


Currently reading: Kavalier and Clay (truth told, I haven't even started this yet.  This is more of a reminder that I have less than a month to read it.)



The amount of books.

I'm sitting here looking at some of my bookshelves, remembering the last time I tried to add them to a virtual bookshelf.  I got through one row of my main shelf, and had about 100 books input, and became totally overwhelmed by the number.  100 doesn't seem like many...but that's one row, out of sixteen, and they're all double stacked.  And that doesn't include the piles of hundreds of books sitting on my floor, because I don't have shelf space.  That doesn't include the stacks, and stacks, and stacks of paperbacks. 


I can't even ballpark a figure when someone asks me how many books I have. 


I'd like to have them all organized, and categorized, and alphabetized, but I don't have the space for it just yet.  One of these days, I'll have my library, but for now, I just have stacks and piles.




Today is Labor Day, and I will be at work for most of the morning. 


I love my job.  I am the store manager of a used bookstore, which (aside from owning my own comic book shop) is sort of my dream job.  I have four employees that work for me, whom I love, and I have a supportive upper management team that works off-site.  For the most part, I get to do whatever I want to my store...I play the music I want to hear, I sell the books I want to sell, and I decorate the place how I want to decorate. 


Today, I'm going to be doing that last one.  Fall (or autumn?  I don't know the difference) is upon us, and it's time to let people know that in other parts of the country, where it isn't perpetually summer, there are oranges, and reds, and yellows, and browns at this time of year.  And pretty soon, it's going to be time for Halloween decor, my favorite type of decor (aside from the calm, cool decor of the British officer class, of course.) We decided yesterday that we're going with a pirate theme for our kids section, and I'm going to bleed that out through the whole store.  Last year, at this time, I was but a lowly bookseller (not that my booksellers are lowly), and didn't do much for the holidays.  This year, I'd really like to blow everyone out of the water with my decoration.  Halloween first, followed by "harvest" (because Thanksgiving is a sham), and then...into Christmas.  I don't have room for a Christmas tree in my home (because of all the books), so in an attempt to really get into the christmas spirit, I'm going to use my bookstore as a second home, and decorate it accordingly.


Can't wait to get deeper into the season.  I only wish that the forecast for this week wasn't hovering above 90 degrees. 


Currently reading:  Le Morte D'Arthur (for fun), and The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (for bookclub)

— feeling question
"Tania disappeared. It's been more than a year and I haven't heard from her. Her parents have combed through morgues, hospitals, and jails. They travel anguished from one city to the next following up false leads. There's always someone who is sure they've seen her somewhere or other. And there they go to look for her, only to return a few days later, disappointed.
I know Tania is okay, that she thinks about me, that she still loves me. Luis tells me that sometimes, in the middle of the night, the phone rings at home. There's no voice, just breath, and then they hang up. It's her, I'm sure of it.
I haven't been able to forget her. I miss her every night. I sleep naked with the hope that one day she'll cross the room's threshold and come lie down next to me. Because I can't stop loving her. I've tried and I can't do it. I've made love to eight or ten more women, and every time I penetrate I remember Tania's warm belly on me and I close my eyes and think of her."

This is from the final lines of Guillermo Arriaga's The Night Buffalo.


When I met Rebecca, I...don't even know how old I was.  I don't know what year it was, or what state I was in, or who I was with.  But I met her, and I almost instantly fell in love with her.  It was her hair, and her smile.  Her funny shaped nose.  Her hands, fingernails, thighs, and ankles.  I loved it all so much that I can't really put it into words.  Even now, however many years later, it's as if the words to explain my love for her just don't exist, and I don't have to means to create them.  I loved her unceasingly, and unconditionally.  And I think she loved me too.


I was traveling at the time.  I know that much.  I think I was in Chicago, maybe, or Milwaukee.  I remember the midwest when I remember her, even though she was (and maybe still is) somewhere in New England.  But I distinctly remember loving her through a terrible winter.  We would stay up all night, well into the morning, laying on the telephone together, and talking to each other about all the things we didn't talk to other people about.  We talked about what we wanted to do, we talked about what we wanted from each other.  We eventually would talk about our children; twin boys, Harold, and Brody.  They never really existed, but if our wishing for them hard enough could have made them real, it would have. 


Once, she sent me a large envelope.  Inside of it, it had a half smoked cigarette, stained with her lipstick.  It had a smaller package filled with strings, all cut to her measurements, so that when I pieced them all together, I would know exactly how tall she was, how wide her hips were, how broad her shoulders were, how thick her waist was; she was smaller than I had imagined by a great deal.  There was a pair of her panties (clean), stuffed into an empty cigarette box.  There was a lock of her hair, tied with a red string inside yet another cigarette box.  And there was a copy of Guillermo Arriaga's The Night Buffalo.  I read it all in one sitting, while i inhaled the smell of her perfume from the lock of her hair (Chance, by Chanel.)


We would often reference this book when we spoke, specifically, the phrase "Do you know?"  this meant "You know how much I love you, right?"


Just like in the book.


Soon after I got this envelope from her, and I read this book for the first time, everything about us fell apart.  I can't say when, though I do know why.  That's not this story, though.  It was sudden, and bracing.  One day, she wasn't there, and I didn't know any more.  She had not known for some time before me.  And she decided to leave me before she lost me.


As I flip through the pages of this book, I find myself drawn again to the passages she underlined for me to read again and again.  Some lines, less than ten words long, that I sat and read hundreds of times.  It's a stark contrast to my own notations, which consist of sharp, thick black lines, striking out every mention of a character called Rebecca.


And as I close the last page, the faintest bit of that perfume waft off the paper, written on by her hand; "Jonah, do you know?" 


I think of her often.