Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Recovery Mode

Ah, I would sure love to have this week off. There are many folks with the week between Christmas and New Year's Day. They get to frolic with their children and return gifts that they disdain. Meanwhile, folks like me stand behind the counter and laugh along with your jokes, as if we have the week off too. I did take yesterday afternoon off. I just didn't go back after lunch (with the boss's permission, of course.)

I have about 35 pages left to read in The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley. It's a great character novel, centered around the ninety-one year old Ptolemy Grey, who is trying to piece together his important memories before he dies. He wants a clear head, so that he can leave something of worth to his remaining family members.

I talked to my son this morning, who will probably not pull into Seattle until at least midnight tonight. The severe winter weather conditions on the east coast are still wreaking havoc on the travel plans of many people, including my four-year-old. I've missed Justin's smiling face over the last week, and I'm looking forward to hanging out with him this weekend.

Now here is a video for you all. I wish I could play some Monster Magnet at work today, but it would probably end up sending the customers running from the store with their ears bleeding.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Crunch Time

For all of those dedicated Americans who believe that shopping at Christmas is their patriotic duty: you are running out of time. Friday is Christmas Eve. The bookstore is actually bustling with business today. Many folks are obviously draining their bank accounts in a feeble attempt to reconnect to friends and family over this Christian/Pagan holiday by giving them gifts. I can barely make it from payday to payday, and that's without throwing a holiday like Christmas into the mix.

I am no longer in between books. In fact, I am just over halfway through Hubert Selby's The Demon. Selby is also the author of Last Exit to Brooklyn and Requiem for a Dream. This book could just as easily been called My Life as Sociopath. I'll most likely have the time to finish The Demon before the week is through. I'm already eyeing Walter Mosley's latest, The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray, as my next read. My wife just finished it last night, and had nothing but good things to say about it.

I came into work an hour early today, but I seriously doubt that the day will see me leaving work an hour early. We've been quite busy, and I assume that my help can be utilized right up unitl 6:30 pm. Otherwise, I would be happy to go home, and get warm with my loved one. I do have to make one stop tonight: my son and his mother are leaving for Georgia for the holiday week, and I want to give my son a hug that will last him the week. We also have a couple of gifts to drop off.

I have just ten minutes left to my lunch break, and then I must wade back into the crowds upstairs. I think that I'll actually have some time to shelve books, which is always fun.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Yet Again . . .

I am in between books yet again. Last night I finished reading Matt Briggs' yet-to-be-released novel, The Strong Man. Unfortunately, it was just okay. I started to write a review late last night, but essentially it's like this: The Strong Man is a quirky coming-of-age tale, based in Seattle, but set against the first Gulf War (Desert Storm.) Young Ebeneezer Wallace (I kid you not) knocks up his Chinese-American girlfriend, and then his army reserve unit gets sent to the Middle East. There are some interesting elements to the tale, but I there seemed to be a lack of overall cohesiveness. In a way it's a morality tale, but by the last page I'm still left wondering what Ben (Ebeneezer)has learned from his experience on the peripheries of war.

I am at work, (which means that I shouldn't be blogging) but I wanted a chance to expound a little on my decision-making process for my next read...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Better Life Through Suffering

Okay, I've been here at work for just over two hours. I'm walking around wishing that I had money and time. Specifically time off. I lied in my earlier post. There are actually places I would rather be today than buying decrepit books from desperate customers. I'd rather be walking in the woods with my own conscience for company. At least I'm not able to discard myself when I think something disappointing. I'm stuck with my own senses and values, so I somehow better find a way to enjoy the ride. As for others: They can discard me when I disappoint them, like some piece of garbage that cannot be recycled. All we can do in this life is try our best, and for some that may not be good enough, but I'm a human, whether I like that fact or not.

Happy Happy Happy

Gosh, I'm so happy to be at work today! The sun is shining; my checking account is 67 dollars in the negative; and my significant other is not speaking to me. I cannot think of any place I'd rather be today than work. Here I can serve those who have hefty bank accounts, and whose houses are all in order (so to speak.)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Post Traumatic Dream Syndrome

I hate those mornings when you awake from a particularly disturbing dream. The dream may not even be memorable, but the emotional fallout stays with you for the rest of the day. The aspect of the dream that brought this on could be very simple: losing my son in the mall, or having a particularly bad argument with an ex of mine. Dream reconstructions that may not even be based on an actual event, but some distorted version of your actual memories. The reality of the dream doesn't seem to matter though. So I'm dealing with one of those mornings today. I don't remember the details of the dream, but to add discomfort to an already uneven awakening, my ex-wife called me shortly afterward with some question about refinancing the house, in order to take my name off the deed. It was like bitter frosting on an already sour cake.

Speaking of Cake: I attended the KNDD's Deck the Hall Ball last night with my 17-year-old stepson (is "stepson" the correct nomenclature?) There was a six-band lineup, which means that the couple of bands were less than stellar. In fact the first "band," Sleigh Bells, was downright awful. They were composed of two members: a screaming banshee, and a punk-like dude on electric guitar, who kept running in front of his precious Marshall Amps, and playing with buttons on his computer. I kept thinking of the morality tale The Emperor Has No Clothes. Here we were being told that this "band" was the next great thing. They will blow you away. Instead I think that Sleigh Bells actually sucked, yet we were being cajoled into thinking greatness. I wasn't falling for it.

Cake was the third band of the night. I had been wanting to catch Cake live for many years, but this was probably not the event for that moment. They only played for about a half hour, and seemed less than tight. Maybe it was the fact that they flew from the east coast that morning.

The highlight of the night was The Black Keys without a doubt. They were the next to last band, and I think most folks left just after their set, not waiting around for Broken Bells.

I could expound more on last night's show, but I'm quite hungry and I hear a certain bagel shop calling. First I need to drip some gasoline into the tank on my car, and stop by the Jalisco Mexican Restaurant, and pay them ten dollars from yesterday's lunch. I had the cash, but they were short on change. I'm leaving a little early, but I'll have time to do some reading before reporting for duty at the bookstore.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Between Books

I finished reading my first lean and mean Parker novel by Richard Stark last night. It was a quick and intense read, but now I'm in that netherworld in between books. I have a few that I was going to peruse last night, but instead I ended up writing until four in the morning. I haven't done that in a while. I didn't write in my journal, which is well overdue, but some things have to wait (like my personal whines and rants going into a journal that will disappear at the demise of technology.)

I'm tempted to read David Rakoff's latest collection of essays entitled Half Empty. It's message appears to be directed at misanthropes like me. The holiday season is just ripe for misanthropy, believe me. I'm also considering reading an advance copy of Matt Briggs latest novel, The Strong Man, which was passed my way. He is a Pacific Northwest author, and he'll be doing an event for the book at our store next month. It might be nice to have read the book when he comes.

I have tomorrow off, because I will be attending the "Deck the Hall Ball" at the WAMU center (named after a bank that failed a couple of years ago.) The doors open at 4:30 and there are six bands in the lineup, including Cake, The Black Keys and Jimmy Eat World. I will be accompanied by my companion's 17-year-old son. He is psyched to be seeing an actual rock show. I'm just hoping that I'll be able to sit down for the show, being the cranky curmudgeon that I am.

Enough with the Bagels Already

Post midnight blogging. There's nothing like it. I put my on headphones, and listen to music at unhealthy levels. I struggle to come up with some words that somehow describe my life as it currently stands. Maybe I'll get lucky and turn a phrase that I'm happy with, or come up with a particular rant that is cathartic.

Lately my posts have felt more like laundry lists: go to bagel shop, read book, go to work. Boring. But thought takes time, at least in my head it does. It may feel like I have less time these days, but the truth is that it's the same amount of time, it's just being filled up by other events besides writing blog posts. I've tried to write some posts on the fly, but those are the ones that sound more like banal lists of today's tasks.

So, I did eat at the bagel shop today. It was Monday, so I figured that I had gone the weekend without tasting those yummy everything bagels, with veggie cream cheese. I was due. I also felt quite flush with a ten dollar bill in my pocket. One of the youth that works the counter at Bagel Oasis recently clued me to the fact that there were free refills on soft drinks, even though they sell small, medium and large. For the longest time I just automatically ordered a large, which is self-serve. The whole pricing tiers and self-serve aspect of the soft drink sales at Bagel Oasis often had me scratching my head. Now I order a medium, and usually top it off once. I save 70¢, or something like that.

That is today's bagel update. Someday I may tire of this dietary routine, but not just yet. I'll probably have more to write about my visits to Bagel Oasis in the future. Maybe something about the nubile young women, who work the counter there; and how I'm old enough to be their grandfather. I may sometime write about the characters who come in regularly for their bagel fix (besides me.) People like my former neighbor, who purposefully avoids eye contact with me, when I'm sitting in the adjacent booth. He is probably harboring judgments against me, because of my divorce; or because I wasn't the most social of neighbors. Too bad, so sad.

Will I eat at the bagel shop on Tuesday (of which it now is, because it's nearly 3:30 a.m.)? Only time will tell. Speaking of time. I have once again run the clock out. It's time to brush my aging teeth and crawl into bed beside the love of my life. I sense some spooning in my near future.

I'll leave you with one of my favorite numbers performed by Raul Malo the other night at the Tractor Tavern. (Yes! I actually got off my ass and attended a live show!) Unfortunately, I could not find a video of Raul singing "Moonlight Kiss" on YouTube but I did find a number of videos of a line dancing group in Australia, performing a nifty routine to this number. Enjoy.