July 6, 2008

a telephone and a red balloon

SO EXCITED that I got to hit the Friends of the Library Book Sale on its last day. I didn't even care that it was about six thousand degrees in the McKinley cafeteria. The gigantic fans posted in the corners kept the volunteers from heading for the hills, but didn't much help the rabid, eleventh-hour book-buyers whose t-shirts were soaked through with sweat as they rummaged almost frantically through cardboard boxes marked "hobby," "comix," "lit," "horror," "art." It wasn't quite what I'd call crowded (the selection had been picked over for two weekends, after all) but there were plenty of the hawk-eyed, cheap, and desperate last-minute types you'd expect to find at the final four hours of a gargantuan annual book sale. Practically-free reading material is way up there on the list of Things That Make Damned_Cat Happy. Except for National Geographics, which were a quarter apiece, everything was 50 cents, and this was the final nail in the Should I stay or should I go? coffin. I thought long and hard before allowing myself this opportunity because I knew that it would spark - at the very least - some consternation from Scott. Whether it would be voiced or kept silent was not entirely predictable. We have had many brief conversations about my Book Lust and book-buying habits, which usually go something like this:

Him: Could you, ah, maybe stop buying books and start using the library instead?

That's like me asking you to stop fishing and just buy our dinner from Tamashiro Market.

We've gradually expanded our conversations to include promises to install shelving (me) and space-related lamentations like, where in our tiny apartment will we store the children when we start having them? (him), cheerful replies that he can build a large wooden box to house the kids so that the books can roam free (me). Arguments that there is no such thing as too many books (me) and counterarguments that yes there is (him). I only got to go to the Book Sale this year because I promised that if I bought a single volume I'd clear every book that is currently sitting on his side of the desk and make every book I own fit on something that resembles a bookshelf. (I think the kitchen counter is a lovely place to keep reference materials.) <-- This is a prime example of my sense of humor being completely lost on Scott. Anyway, because I'd never been to this sale before and did not know what to wear (not heels) or bring (Pack-n-Roll or a really, really big canvas tote), I only brought home nine treasures:

I was so excited to find the Margaret Wise Brown biography because I am a huge fan of Goodnight Moon - mostly due to the half-year I spent long-term subbing in a preschool resource class with several wonderful autistic children who absolutely loved (and, I'm convinced, began to learn to read with) this classic that begins in a great green room. I sat down right outside the McKinley auditorium with some tea and a chicken walnut sandwich from the Wedding Cafe and started to read Awakened by the Moon, and in a single chapter already find MWB to be a fantastic role model, a kindred spirit, and timeless hero. I am also reading Ann Patchett's Truth and Beauty right now and am enjoying the similarities between MWB and Patchett's friend, Lucy Grealy - two smart, unpredictable, individualistically quirky women. Women who love, write, and live such amazing lives - the complexities of which are belied, in Brown's case, by her deceptively simple but universal and enduring words and art for children. I would never have guessed that there was so much life and history behind that great green room. She was a tomboy in childhood, a troublemaker in college, a person who so relished all aspects of life that she could dearly love a pet rabbit while it was alive, but have no qualms about skinning its carcass after its death so as to continue appreciating its enduring sensuality and life-essence.

If the FoTL continues to hold the Book Sale in July, I might make it an annual birthday present to myself. I felt like a kid, taking "birthday money" to the sale of my dreams, and being pleasantly surprised that I spent the sum total of $4.50 for an enormously pleasing (and only slightly sweaty) afternoon of book-hunting, book-lust satiation, and nine take-home treasures. Now I have books for the rest of the month, plus money leftover for hiking boots.

I am giddy.

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