Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Page from the Archives

We used to keep a store journal. Whenever we had an interesting day, customer, thought or idea, we would jot it down. Because I was still teaching part-time, we had a lot of staff here, most of whom worked solo shifts. The journal helped us get to know one another and share some of the highs and lows of the book biz. So, from time time, I'll share some pages from the archives with you.

4:52...a woman came in at 3:15 asking if we had books on "attachment disorder". Even though we didn't, she stayed until just a few minutes ago. Probably got too attached to me

3.2.02...Yup! I am here. All alone. In the storm. The whole city has shut down. I am nuts

3.5.02...I really wish we didn't have to have a public bathroom.
3.8.02 Tomorrow is Saturday. It is bathroom cleaning day. O joy! O rapture! O &#@*

Looks like we had a theme going there for a few days. but, honestly, the bathroom cleaning business is not fun. I seem to recall that Jacque was always brave when it came to that activity.

One Saturday Jacque and I were working together. Jacque offfered to clean the bathroom, but when I'm here on a Saturday, I prepare myself to enter the dreaded chamber, covered in plastic from head to toe, and armed with multiple disinfectants in the event that things don't go well in there. Without going into too much detail, I will say that I have a certain reflex that is easily triggered, and this particular type of cleaning brings it out in a power display of sounds and general hollering. Jacque, having never witnessed this drama, rushed in to save me, or at very least, to assess whether calling 911 was in order. All she found was me ready to survive a nuclear blast, brush in hand, scrubbing away, and accenting the process with a cacophony of unpleasant bellerings, croakings, and a few easily definable foreign phrases.


Fannie Flagg provides a nice diversion for me. I needed a quick book to read Saturday night and Sunday morning, so I grabbed this one from our used books section. I really enjoyed Fried Green Tomatoes...the movie didn't work as well as the book. When I read that book about 10 years ago, I remember thinking about the rituals her characters had - the mornings they gathered at the local diner to catch up the newsy items, talk a little politics, and maybe even cause some trouble. They took evening walks, listened to the birds, sniffed the heliotrope and chatted with neighbors relaxing on front porches. I also remember thinking, "I want that life. I want my time to be more casual, and not measured by check marks on a to-do list. I don't want to work so hard to squeeze time in to see friends, like they are some sort of agenda item.

Well, guess what? Today, I have that life! It's not at the local diner, or on a neighbor's front porch, but here at the bookstore. Friends pop in and I am so lucky to be able to sit and visit. They don't mind minor interruptions like the phone, or deliveries, and sometimes, customers even sit and join in on the conversations. We have been here five years, maybe it's six - doesn't really matter. I have become one of the neighbors. I get invited to neighborhood parties, have celebrated birthdays with neighbors' grandchildren, get reports on what and how kids are doing in school. People share their successes and, occasionally, their disappointments. We have welcomed new babies. One new mom even stopped in with her newborn on their way home from the hospital. Really! We have pictures of our "store babies" hanging all over! Our biggest thrill is when one of those babies walks up to the counter on his/her own wobbly two feet, chest proudly puffed, wearing that look-at-me-grin. Generally, the first store related word they utter is 'Candy".

We know all the neighborhood dogs, too. Digger, Eddie, Sophie, and Max. They stop by for drinks of water on hot days, and we keep treats on hand.

The perks of being a neighborhood bookstore far outweighs the disadvantages of not being downtown where I know we would be busier and the register would be ringing more often. The trade-off is fine by me.

Long ago, I promised I'd share the process of how we put Heart-A-Rama together. A couple weeks ago, the directors met with the general co-chairs to pick a theme for the 2009 show. We decided on "Fairy Tales" but I am not sure how that will be worded on the shirts yet. We decided what parts of the show each director would be responsible for, and now we're on our own.

I put together a committee to write the musical, two tweeners (those are short little pieces) and the musical finale for the show. Our first meeting was a brainstormer...we decided what we wanted to do with each of the segments we were assigned. We made an outline for the musical and decided what characters would be in it, and what songs we would use.

Now, the slow work begins. Last Thursday we met and started writing dialogue for the musical. After two hours we only had two pages and one song done. I like our group. We have Connie, Karen, Chris, and me. There is always plenty of red licorice, which seems to appear at all HAR meetings. For us, it eases the pain of the grand silence. And believe me, there was plenty of that at our first two meetings. We try to pitch ideas as fast as they come to us, and some are just dogs. They totally stink up the process. When someone tosses a really stupid idea out, everyone else gets quiet. Eyes grow big as we silently check to see who is in agreement. This lasts a looong time. Painfully long, if it your idea getting the treatment. Normally, this disolves into laughter...starting with one of those sputtering laughs, the kind we all try to hold back. But that crazy laughter must trigger endorphins or something. Between the snorts, guffaws and giggles, we start to piggyback on the idea that started the ruckus. Those stink-o ideas sometimes lead us to pretty funny places.

We meet again tomorrow...two more pages, perhaps! The working title for the musical is "Give Peas a chance." (Yes, you read correctly, it's peas, not peace.)

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