Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"Madonna saved me from the worst fate that can befall a teenage girl..."

If Only by Geri Halliwell
Weight: 1.6 lbs
Method of Disposal: I don’t quite know what to do with this one. I will probably leave it somewhere in Decatur.

An older volunteer that works with the cats at the shelter recently sent me pictures of her own baby, GingerSpiceGirl. In honor of her and her kitty, I have decided to get rid of the Geri Halliwell autobiography. I must say, it was delightful to learn that this woman had named her cat after my favorite Spice Girl.

I am not proud to admit that I was once a Spice Girls fan, but then again, I do smile when I tell people. I still feel the need to put in a vague affirmation on behalf of Geri Halliwell if the topic comes up. I loved her and her fiery red hair. You could not imagine my disappointment when, upon purchasing tickets to a Spice Girls concert (That’s right. What?! What?! I am bucking at you.), I learned that Ginger Spice was leaving the band. I never got to see her live. It was a true tragedy.

In 1999, I bought If Only. I saw it on a bookshelf at the old Borders that use to be in Duluth, GA. I was very excited about it and read it right away. And I enjoyed it. That was twelve years ago, but I am going to stand by it. I had fun with it. I worried about Geri, and I appreciated her. What can I possibly say? I am a very loyal fan. I was, after all, raised as a lion. And, for the record, so was Geri.

She can be tacky and cheesy, but so can I. I am realizing, yet again, that I am still fond of her. It makes me laugh, and I like laughing. I think it will be fun to leave this book somewhere. I will enjoy imagining the next person finding it and thinking, “What the hell? Why would someone be reading a book about Ginger Spice in this day and age?” Or “Holler! I just found a Geri Halliwell book! This might be the finest day of my life to date.” Farewell, Ms. Halliwell, til we meet again.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Patchouli, Poe, and Mass Market Paperbacks

18 Best Stories by Edgar Allen Poe edited by Vincent Price and Chandler Brossard
The Tell-Tale Heart and Other Writings by Edgar Allen Poe
Method of Disposal: Giving to Heather

These books were given away because of a special request for Edgar Allen Poe. I thought I had a lot more to offer, but I could only find two mass market paperbacks from the 80’s. Oh well, the stories are there, right? Heather liked Poe when she was younger and is interested in revisiting it and possibly passing it on to her daughter.

Who didn’t like Edgar Allen Poe as a teenager? Seriously? I loved him. I remember reading his stories out loud to my mom while she drove here and there. I remember learning about the man in multiple English classes. The usual suspects were lined up for our education. The Black Cat. The Tell-Tale Heart. Fall of the House of Usher. We were given a vague, intentionally intriguing biography. Did he really die drunk in a gutter?

These books contain more than the creeping words of Edgar Allen Poe. One retains the smell of the patchouli incense I lit all the time as a teenager. It has a fold at the Masque of the Red Death, and there is a map drawn on the inside cover. I think it leads to a nature preserve, but I am not sure. I don’t really recognize it. The other book has the name of a tenant who lived with us temporarily when we needed a little extra money and rented out a room in our house. I guess she left it behind, and I carried it with me.

I guess it is obvious by now, but I love books. I love how they hold so many stories, intentionally or unintentionally. I wonder how much these cheaply made, dinky, little mass market books will last. They are books that were built to be destroyed, to be stripped if they didn’t sell. And here they are, 25 years later. Being passed down again, possibly for the 3rd or 4th time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

"If you're born a lion why bother trying to act tame..." Ani D.

The Secret Language of Birthdays by gary Goldschneider and Joost Elffers
1994 Hardcover
The Power of Birthdays, Stars, and Numbers: The Complete Personology Reference Guide
By Saffir Crawford and Geraldine Sullivan
1998 Paperback
Weight: 7.5 lbs
Method of Disposal: Selling unless you change my mind

The Tweets, Facebook updates, and text messages spread the news quickly that the horoscope had changed. Some people were no longer considered to be brave lions and had been downgraded to the scuttling crab. A new sign was added. Panic and confusion ensued. I got multiple, mocking, and sneering phone calls letting me know I was no longer a Leo. This was not the first time that the basic rules of Astrology had been called into question. Astronomy is not so kind to Astrology. This, however, was different than the thousands of arguments prior because the news was released with exuberance to a lot of people, with a quickness, and repeatedly in a very short period of time. It was different because it brought my identity under fire.

I am not saying I put much faith in any of my many horoscopes or that I actively seek out my rising or descending signs. I am not claiming (or disclaiming) the accuracy or truth of the stars and birthdays. I don’t much care about all that, but I do know I was raised a lion, and I intend to remain as such. I was very young when my mother first told me I was a Leo. I was curious, and she answered all my questions. I liked it. I felt better, braver, and more cantankerous. I began acting like a lion, dressing as a lion, growing into the lion I was always meant to be. As I got older, I stopped wearing the full-body furry costume. I did not ask my friends to walk me around on a leash and whip me if I tried to attack anyone (Its true). I guess I might be willing to bring that back. But, I never lost my pride. I reveled in my Leo-ness and in the Leo-ness of others. I got into very exciting, very sticky, and overly dramatic situations, butting heads with other lions. Relationships would dissolve, and we could blame it on the combating egos and selfishness well-associated with our species. I refuse to let it go.

I will, however, get rid of some of my fun (yet ridiculous) birthday books to honor this new 13th sign of the Zodiac. This Ophiuchus. I had so much fun with them over the years, but I only open them once every four years (it seems) and so I see no reason to haul them around. I appreciate their absence of Ophiuchus and, who knows, I may never find that absence again, but I probably will. People talked about it all day and now it is already fading away, as things do when they zoom through the internet.

Did you know I share a birthday with Whitney M. Young? The most awful William Bennett (not a lion)? My strengths are that I am fearless, competitive, patient (until a course of action is determined), observant, expressive, and visual. My weaknesses are that I am hasty, stubborn, restless, anxious, disturbed, and isolated. My advice: “Your realism should not be a prescription for unhappiness.”

My meditation: All words are lies.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mystic Places

Mystic Places by the Editors of Time-Life Book
Mysteries of the Unknown series
Method of Disposal: Leaving somewhere in Oakhurst (GA). Unless you want it, of course!

I was mesmerized by the supernatural as a child. I think there were a couple reasons. The first being, that it was so often wrapped up with unexplained loss, pain, and a scary unknowing. A certain emptiness took over space. The other being that I might be able to answer the questions no one else could. People would have to acknowledge my value if I found proof of a life form from another planet. Unfortunately, I now realize that developing an obsession with magical monsters, over-intelligent aliens, and lost civilizations really just makes you more invisible, which then leads us back to the first reason I liked it.

The book begins with Atlantis. Who wouldn’t be intrigued with paradise on earth? People have never been able to resist that. The book twists truth, speculation, and fantasy. Enough to make a kid dream or spark the dream of an island resort in some man’s mind. A man with access to a lot of money and a passion for tourism. Throw in some dolphins—paradise on Earth.

Then, the one that really kept me up at night. The Bermuda Triangle. It made me feel like I could just vanish at any moment. And where would I end up if I did vanish? That’s scary for anyone, but it is really scary for a kid. It’s the closest I came, at the time, to contemplating death. Of course, I didn’t know it, but I recognize the panic and almost irrational fear I sometimes I experience now. I still don’t like it.

Great Pyramids, Megaliths, and “Glyphs for the Gods,” and the inner core of the Earth. Did you know a man named Olaf (like is The Series of Unfortunate Events) claimed that he had been to Inner-Earth on his deathbed in the 1900s? He had to wait because the first time he tried to tell it he was institutionalized for decades but, luckily, a friend of his put it into book form posthumously. He lived with giants before he was labeled crazy. If you do not know that, it is because you didn’t read this ragged, ridiculous, and endearing Time-Life book as a child.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Futbol's Furry Friends

Mascots: Football’s Furry Friends by Rick Minter
Weight: 1 lb
Method of Disposal: Donating, unless you want it

I had a childhood dream of being an astronaut or a marine biologist, but as life began to settle in and I started to see the world for what it was I must have lowered my expectations. There came a point when I was still very young when I wanted to be a mascot. A big, masked, anonymous, and furry mascot. I could work at Disney Land.

Many years later, I would work in a small bookstore, and I would end up mascot-ing, if you will. It was for story time. The most memorable moment was being Franklin the Turtle. I strutted around the mall trying to lure kids into the store. Instead, I got a group of annoying teenagers who pushed me until I heard the familiar voice of my best friend, Skye, asking them to stop. She told them who I was and there were some apologies. I was irritated that the only thing that saved me was my friend and not human decency. I then stopped by a local food shop where another friend worked, took off my head, and we made out in the bathroom…just for a minute. I was and am a great role model. I left the second a child walked in.
After that, I worked at Barnes and Noble in the children’s department. I became an assortment of children’s cartoon characters. I was so great as Curious George that parents would later tell me that they wished I hadn’t missed him on my day off. Furry Nut Brown Hare had a messed up name and an unfortunate costume to boot. I couldn’t breathe in there! I am pretty sure I was having an asthma attack when I knocked over that toddler trying to get to the staff room. I couldn’t see anything so, no matter what, it wasn’t my fault.

It was at that job, after one of my more disturbing dress-ups, that I began searching for books on mascots in our system. I was bored—not inspired. This was not my most insignificant search. I will tell you now that there were many times I searched “ahhh,” “I hate work,” “I hate retail,” and “eeeee.” Anything to stay awake. I found a lot of books I never would have heard of otherwise. MASCOTS being one of them. I thought I was getting a book that was really about football’s furry friends. I thought it would tell the stories of these people’s regular lives, the abuses they withstood at work, and the designs of their costumes that allowed them to breath, walk, and/or dance. No such luck. There is a page per mascot with a brief description about why that mascot was chosen for that team and then some ridiculous questions like, “what is your favorite food?” And even more ridiculous answers like, “KitKats, chicken balti pies, and the children who pull my tail.”

Oh, and this is football like futbol if you are interested in making it part of your library. It would be fun for a kid. Just don’t get your hopes too high, like I did, and you won’t be disappointed.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Coming Out and Staying There

Two Teenagers in Twenty: Writings by Gay and Lesbian Youth Editor Ann Heron
Weight: 8.2 ounces

One Teacher in Ten: Gay and Lesbian Educators Tell Their Stories Editor Kevin Jennings
Weight: 9.4 ounces

Method of Disposal: Leaving somewhere unless you want one or both of them.

I have been trapped at my place of employment due to the snow storm. We needed to ensure that all the animals were taken care of no matter the conditions of the roads. I am in a trailer with 2 dogs, 1 puppy, 2 cats, and another person. There are other people in various spots around the property. We are going on our second night at the shelter. .

It is due to this that I am not around all my books and cannot select ones off the shelves that I feel like writing about and getting rid of. I have tried to go over the titles in my head, but they evade me. I am so sleepy. I chose these two books primarily because I knew they were available to leave at any time.

I am not a huge fan of coming out stories anymore even though I recognize that they have value. I loved these books many years ago, but I feel nothing for them now. I am thinking about leaving them somewhere that teenagers seem to find appealing. Maybe, by some miracle, someone who needs them will find them. And maybe, by some miracle, we will be leaving this place soon. We have people at home who need be relieved of their housekeeping/watching duties. And I have books to get rid of.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

True Crime and Ann Rule

Every Breath You Take: A True Story of Obsession, Revenge, and Murder by Ann Rule
Weight: 12 oz
Method of Disposal: Donated to the AKF

I tend to inherit Ann Rule books from my stepmother. She reads everything the woman comes out with, but she is not interested in clutter so she passes the books on just as soon as she completes them. I am not sure that I had ever heard of Ann Rule before I met my stepmother. That is pretty impressive since she is the most well-known true crime author around.

I have mixed feelings about true crime that grows less mixed as I get older. I am not sure if I should have so much insight into all the violence. At what point do I cross the line between natural interest, education, and compassion to using tragedy as entertainment?

This book is somewhat unusual in that the woman who died told her friends to contact Ann Rule to write her story if her ex killed her. She knew it would probably happen. How painful and hopeless to know in your heart that you will be murdered but to not know when or how it will be done. This is one of the many horrors of domestic violence. I think that is where the value of this little mass market paperback lays. It shows the world how serious, how scary, and deadly it really is to be in an abusive relationship. It shows people how dangerous it can be to leave the relationship that is killing you. It forces the reader to recognize a very real problem in the world. There are other ways to get this information, but this book may get to people who are not looking for it. I hope it does. The book does not offer information about dv outside this one woman’s experience so its lesson only goes so far, but it is there.

Ann Rule books are not the type you read again. I am always surprised I made it through it—not due to her writing or research, but because of the terrible things she writes about. I am passing it on now, as I should have done long ago.