Perhaps, in a distant café,
four or five people are talking
with the four or five people
who are chatting on their cell phones this morning
in my favorite café.
And perhaps someone there,
someone like me, is watching them as they frown,
or smile, or shrug
to their invisible friends or lovers,
jabbing the air for emphasis.
And like me, he misses the old days,
when talking to yourself
meant you were crazy,
back when being crazy was a big deal,
not just an acronym
or something you could take a pill for.
I liked it
when people who were talking to themselves
might actually have been talking to God
or an angel.
You respected people like that.
You didn’t want to kill them,
as I want to kill the woman at the next table
with the little blue light on her ear
who has been telling the emptiness in front of her
about her daughter’s bridal shower
in astonishing detail
for the past thirty minutes.
O person like me,
phoneless in your distant café,
I wish we could meet to discuss this,
and perhaps you would help me
strangle this woman on her cell phone,
after which we could have a cup of coffee,
maybe a bagel, and talk to each other,
face to face.
There's another skin inside my skin
that gathers to your touch, a lake to the light;
that looses its memory, its lost language
into your tongue,
erasing me into newness.
Just when the body thinks it knows
the ways of knowing itself,
this second skin continues to answer.
In the street - café chairs abandoned
on terraces; market stalls emptied
of their solid light,
though pavement still breathes
summer grapes and peaches.
Like the light of anything that grows
from this newly-turned earth,
every tip of me gathers under your touch,
wind wrapping my dress around our legs,
your shirt twisting to flowers in my fists.
~ by Anne Michaels From: The Weight of Oranges / Miner's Pond
I believe it is often in the simplest of gestures, in the unexpected action, the ordinary becomes extraordinary. In love we often look for the grand moment. We wait to hear the words we want to hear. We plan how love should be, should look, should act. We miss the signs completely. Love happens to us every day. Do you see it? Can you feel it? ~ rdg
“In Michaela's favourite restaurant, I lift my glass and cutlery
spills onto the expensive tiled floor. The sound crashes high as the
skylight. Looking at me, Michaela pushes her own silverware over the
edge. I fell in love amid the clattering of spoons....”
1. People are getting rid of bookshelves. Treat the money you
budgeted for shelving as found money. Go to garage sales and cruise the
2. While you're drafting that business plan, cut your projected profits in half. People are getting rid of bookshelves.
If someone comes in and asks where to find the historical fiction,
they're not looking for classics, they want the romance section.
4. If someone comes in and says they read a little of everything, they also want the romance section.
If someone comes in and asks for a recommendation and you ask for the
name of a book that they liked and they can't think of one, the person
is not really a reader. Recommend Nicholas Sparks.
will stop by your store on their way home from school if you have a free
bucket of kids books. If you also give out free gum, they'll come
every day and start bringing their friends.
7. If you put free
books outside, cookbooks will be gone in the first hour and other
non-fiction books will sit there for weeks. Except in warm weather when
people are having garage sales. Then someone will back their car up
and take everything, including your baskets.
8. If you put free
books outside, someone will walk in every week and ask if they're really
free, no matter how many signs you put out . Someone else will walk in
and ask if everything in the store is free.
9. No one buys
self help books in a store where there's a high likelihood of personal
interaction when paying. Don't waste the shelf space, put them in the
10. This is also true of sex manuals. The only
ones who show an interest in these in a small store are the gum chewing
kids, who will find them no matter how well you hide them.
11. Under no circumstances should you put the sex manuals in the free baskets. Parents will show up.
12. People buying books don't write bad checks. No need for ID's. They do regularly show up having raided the change jar.
If you have a bookstore that shares a parking lot with a beauty shop
that caters to an older clientele, the cars parked in your lot will
always be pulled in at an angle even though it's not angle parking.
More people want to sell books than buy them, which means your initial
concerns were wrong. You will have no trouble getting books, the
problem is selling them. Plus a shortage of storage space for all the
Readers Digest books and encyclopedias that people donate to you.
If you open a store in a college town, and maybe even if you don't, you
will find yourself as the main human contact for some strange and very
socially awkward men who were science and math majors way back when.
Be nice and talk to them, and ignore that their fly is open.
Most people think every old book is worth a lot of money. The same is
true of signed copies and 1st editions. There's no need to tell them
they're probably not ensuring financial security for their grandkids
with that signed Patricia Cornwell they have at home.
17. There's also no need to perpetuate the myth by pricing your signed Patricia Cornwell higher than the non-signed one.
People use whatever is close at hand for bookmarks--toothpicks,
photographs, kleenex, and the very ocassional fifty dollar bill, which
will keep you leafing through books way beyond the point where it's
19. If you're thinking of giving someone a
religious book for their graduation, rethink. It will end up unread and
in pristine condition at a used book store, sometimes with the fifty
dollar bill still tucked inside. (And you're off and leafing once
20. If you don't have an AARP card, you're apparently too young to read westerns.
A surprising number of people will think you've read every book in the
store and will keep pulling out volumes and asking you what this one is
about. These are the people who leave without buying a book, so it's
time to have some fun. Make up plots.
22. Even if you're a
used bookstore, people will get huffy when you don't have the new
release by James Patterson. They are the same people who will ask for a
discount because a book looks like it's been read.
23. Everyone has a little Nancy Drew in them. Stock up on the mysteries.
24. It is both true and sad that some people do in fact buy books based on the color of the binding.
No matter how many books you've read in the past, you will feel
woefully un-well read within a week of opening the store. You will also
feel wise at having found such a good way to spend your days.
After reading the comments regarding Anna Akhmatova's poem, I thought it might be helpful to post a little bit about her life and work.
Anna was born in Odessa, Ukraine in 1889. She lived through the Russian Revolution, WWII and Stalinism. She died in 1966 in Leningrad / St. Petersburg. She was married 3 times. Her first husband, Nikolai Gumilyov, was executed by the Bolsheviks in 1921, a few years after their divorce. To force Anna's silence, their son Lev Gumilyov, was imprisoned in 1938 and lived in prison and prison camps until after Stalin's death. Lev was released in 1956. "Requiem" - probably Anna Akhmatova's greatest poem - recounts the suffering of Russians under the rule of Stalin and specifically recalls waiting each day in large lines with other women at the prison's gates hoping to send a message or a small package of food to their loved ones imprisoned inside. She is said to have been the 'voice' of a silenced generation. "Requiem" was not published in its entirety in Russia until 1987 - twenty-one years after her death.
Anna's third husband, Nikolai Punin, was imprisoned in 1949 and died in 1953 in a Siberian work camp. Anna's writing was banned unofficially from 1925 to 1940, and was banned again after the end of WWII. She was persecuted by the Stalinist government, was prevented from publishing, and considered a 'dangerous enemy'. However, she was never attacked directly nor did she ever choose to go and live in exile.
Song of the Last Meeting
My heart was chilled and numb,
but my feet were light.
I fumbled the glove for my left hand
onto my right.
It seemed there were many steps,
I knew – there were only three.
Autumn, whispering in the maples,
kept urging: ‘Die with me!
I’m cheated by joylessness,
changed by a destiny untrue.’
I answered: ‘My dear, my dear!
I too: I’ll die with you.’
The song of the last meeting.
I see that dark house again.
Only bedroom candles burning,
the yellow, indifferent, flame
If you click on her name above her photographic profile in the post below, it will take you to a website that chronicles her life story and provides links to more of her work.
I was in the car line at a local Starbucks on my way to work. I was a little pushed for time as I had already stopped once to fill up the monster gas tank in my car. I thought I had missed the 'morning' rush as it was getting closer to noon. I was wrong. Apparently, there is ALWAYS a car line at this particular Starbucks. I was idling behind a subaru outback, musing about trading in my gas guzzler for a subaru. The lead car pulled away from the window and the outback just .... didn't move. Normally I am quite patient with this type of behavior. I counted to ten. The outback still didn't move. I finally hit the horn. Actually I had to hit it a few times before it made any sound. The lady in the outback glanced up and pulled ahead.
After she completed her transaction, it was my turn. FINALLY. The gentleman at the window said, "The lady ahead of you paid for your order. Here it is. Have a nice day."
Sigh. Not only have I acquired a new ticket to hell, I've also been saddled with a bucketful of BAD KARMA. I felt bad. I earned a second ticket to hell by briefly toying with the idea that I should have ordered an entire breakfast along with my latte.
Tickets to hell don't faze me, as we've already discovered. But BAD KARMA gives me the heebie jeebies. So I spent the workday attempting to find ways to 'pay it forward' - in order to reduce my bucket load of bad karma. I was not having much success. My attempts to help my co-workers kept being interrupted or superseded by more pressing matters like ... helping customers. I did have one minor victory. A customer wanted a new loop on a medallion. Normally we don't work on jewelry that is not made by our company. I okay'd it with the boss and had it done while the customer was waiting.
I know. It is but a small drop of good karma in my big bucket of bad.
My little sis and I have a friendly competition going: Who can rack up the most tickets to hell before dying? The pendulum has swung both ways many a time. What counts as a ticket to hell ? Ummm... knowingly committing a dastardly deed ? We started this about 15 years ago. At this point in our lives, we both have full fleets of jets going to hell with first class reservations. Even my sweetheart has weighed in an opinion, "Your sister will be piloting your jet to hell." Hmmmm .......
One of the many varied jobs I have had in my life was working as a Reading Instructor for the Institute of Reading Development
in southern California. The program was in its infant stages and hired
a bunch of us young ne'er do wells, trained us hard for 2 weeks, then
unleashed us on the unsuspecting public for 6 week long crash courses on
improving reading speed, reading comprehension, fluency and study
skills. Wow. Now IRD has a cool website, a defined curriculum and
nationwide affiliates !!
I taught all age groups from kindergarten to
adult. We used a variety of different books, selected per age group, to
teach these varied skills. For the little guys we used my most fav
book of all time: Maurice Sendak'sWhere the Wild Things Are. Kids just respond so positively to the story of Max who gets sent to his room with no supper for being a Wild Thing.
Like most good children's books, it has simple phrases that are
repeated often throughout the story. And when you read the book out
loud (always 'model' the reading first for your students) and 'act' it
out for the kids, well gosh - they really thought I was the bees
knees! Eventually I'd have the kids repeating key phrases with me as we 'read aloud' together and marching
through the classrooms channeling their inner 'wild things.' It was
great fun. (All the acting and repeating key phrases help to improve young children's reading comprehension and fluency skills.)
Sadly, Maurice Sendak died on May 8, 2012 at the age of 83. NPR's Fresh Air has a lovely article remembering Maurice splicing together a number of different interviews Sendak did with NPR over the years. It is hard to believe Where the Wild Things Are has celebrated its 50th year in publication.
Go HERE to read the article or to listen to the broadcast - you won't be disappointed.