NYC Adventures: Books of Wonder

It’s my first full day off in 14 days (FOURTEEN DAYS) and I’m starting it off by writing a blog for you people. Because I love you and truly want you to come along with me on this whirlwind adventure in NYC.

And also I wake up insanely early and there’s nothing else to do because 1) Everyone is at work or 2) People who don’t work day jobs aren’t up yet (it’s 7am EST, btw).

I went to a really cool place, one in which I had a hard time extricating myself due to the massive amounts of awesome sucking me into the building.

First, a little background:

Due to the fact that I am a second child (outpaced by my older sister by a span of 16 months) I spent a significant amount of my childhood playing “catch-up”. I needed to prove to the world that I could do anything she could do and that included teaching myself to read by the age of 4.

From then on, if I had a choice in where my family spent a leisurely Saturday or Sunday, it was always one of two places: the public library or Barnes and Noble. I dragged my mom and my sister to both places, though I can bet my mom was less pleased with the effect of B&N on her purse. “HURRY UP” was often yelled by both as I sat strewn across the floor with a number of volumes in my lap.

The cool thing about being an adult (one of the only cool things since, largely, adulthood stinks) is being able to spend as much time as I want, anywhere that I want.

I remembered seeing a crowd-funding effort by an independent children’s bookstore in NYC a few years ago and knew I wanted to check it out.

I was not disappointed–Books of Wonder offers a massive amount of board books, picture books, middle grade and YA selections, workbooks–anything and everything geared toward the literary desires of young humans. Most of the picture books were also signed by the authors and illustrators, to boot!

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Off to the far left corner of the shop stood the rare and antique selection of books, these costing an insane amount of money. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie “You’ve Got Mail” while perusing this section. Meg’s character owns an independent children’s book store called “Shop Around the Corner” which houses a selection of antique and rare finds. Tom Hank’s character Joe Fox (Eff-Oh-Ex), the owner of a bargain books chain store, talks to one of the indie shop assistants, George, about the enormous expense of the rare book:

George: The, uh, illustrations are hand tipped.

Joe: And that’s why it costs so much?

George: No, that’s why it’s Worth so much.

**Obviously, value is in the eye of the beholder.**

Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of books behind those few panes of glass.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of books behind those few panes of glass.

It was thrilling to see such monetary value assigned to simple ink and paper–the thought of one day penning a novel that could accrue what amounts to a yearly income for someone was mind blowing.

I knew I’d be seeing one of my all-time favorites counted among the stacks:

1st Edition Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone signed by J.K. Rowling and with the signature of the illustrator, Mary GrandPré laid in-- $8,500

1st Edition Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone signed by J.K. Rowling and with the signature of the illustrator, Mary GrandPré, laid in– $8,500

Such simple stories by A.A. Milne have become classics over time and the price of these editions confirm it:

Complete set of "Pooh" books-- $8,500

Complete set of “Pooh” books– $8,500

Many of the volumes sheltered from sticky fingers and the elements were worth more than what I am paying for my college education:

"A New Wonderland" by L. Frank Baum from a private collection of an Oz historian in a dust jacket-- $45,000

“A New Wonderland” by L. Frank Baum from a private collection of an Oz historian in a dust jacket– $45,000

One of my nanny kid’s birthdays is quickly approaching and so, after an hour…or maybe 2…I wrenched myself from the stacks, paid for my selection (signed by the author and illustrator), and stepped out into the harsh light of the city sun.

Even now I tick through the amount of free time I may have and wonder when I can go back and spend my life’s savings in such an inspirational place.

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What Would Ellen DeGeneres Do?

I recently discovered an app on my phone (thanks to an awesome gal pal) that allows you to download audiobooks and ebooks to your mobile device. What makes this app (Overdrive) special is that you’re downloading it from your local public library FOR FREE.

Free is absolutely the best price.

You borrow the title, much like you would a physical book, download it, and then return it by clicking a button when your 21 days (usually) are over.

So simple, so easy, so worth it.

I commute to work and so this app has been life changing for the few days that it’s been living on my iPhone. The first title I downloaded was “Seriously…I’m Kidding” by none other than the amazingly wonderful Ellen DeGeneres. 

I’d previously tried reading this book, but couldn’t get into it which is crazy because I love this woman and her show. 

Many of the chapters, some just a paragraph long, are a bit nonsensical and stream of consciousness–it’s hard to get into it simply by reading from page to page. Downloading the audiobook and listening to it in her own words (she’s narrating) makes it fresh, hilarious, and easy to get lost in. It’s kind of like being at a personal one-on-one stand-up show and it’s hard to stop listening once my drive is over. In fact, there have been a few nights recently where I sit in my car cracking up, hoping the neighbors walking by don’t contact a psych ward.

Ellen’s her usual upbeat self in this book–though she does use some language I’ve never heard her use before (she drops the “B” word in one goofy rant). But as always, she encourages people to be helpful, considerate, and kind to one another. She also talks about the many benefits of keeping a positive outlook and attitude. I definitely heard this section of the book at the right time because I had an encounter today that put me in a bit of a funk:

Yesterday, the USPS incorrectly mailed a letter that I had sent to the wrong address. Instead of sending it to the person that I had intended, they sent it back to me. Never mind that the stamp was on the correct side of the envelope and that everything was written legibly. Because I put my own return address in tiny writing on the back flap instead of the front left corner, they sent it to me instead. I was especially upset because the piece of mail was a thank you card, time sensitive to my own standards, and contained a gift card for the person that gave me my informational interview.

I walked back to that same post office and stood in line waiting for the clerk to finish up with a man who seemed pretty ticked off. Both the customer and the clerk clearly learned English as a second language and were batting some pretty heated words back and forth. To top it all, the customer had a third party on the phone arguing with the clerk about whether or not he could mass ship whatever it was he was trying to ship.

The man was rude and aggressive and refused to leave even after she told him that she was unable to help him. Instead of being a shrinking violet, the female clerk gave it right back.

Good for her, I thought. That is…until it was my turn.

I walked up to the counter.

“Hi, I came in a few days ago and mailed this letter–it was mistakenly sent to me–”

Before I could finish my sentence, she had snatched the letter from my hand, scribbled out my return address that I had painstakingly written and scribbled along the barcode on the envelope. By the time she was through with penning these black masses all over my envelope, I figured the pen must certainly be out of ink.

“You write it wrong! You write it here!” she barked as she pointed to the top left corner of the front of the envelope before throwing it back at me.

“Umm…can I use your pen please?”

She drops it on the counter.

I quickly scribe my address, noting that the presentation of the gift was completely screwed, and booked it out of there.

I felt angry and upset as I walked back to my job. I understood that she was dealing with a tense situation, but I’m a new customer–a new situation–and I don’t deserve to have such negative energy thrust upon me because someone else acted like a complete douche-canoe.

I took a minute to note that I was indeed fuming and that maybe I should calm the heck down. WWED? What Would Ellen Do? [Yes, there is a chapter in her book entitled “What Would Jesus Do?”]

She’d breathe deeply, maybe do some dancing, and let it roll off her back.

Which is what I did…after making a voodoo doll of the rude customer and sticking it with my sharpest pins and needles. Change takes a long time, y’all.

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Spontaneity Killed My Credit Card…and it Feels So Good!

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I love adventure as much as the next person but I’d never classify myself in any category described by the words “care-free” or “spontaneous”.

What really gets me going every morning, what really gets me excited about sucking in the sweet (gloriously dry) Los Angeles air in the AM, is the knowledge and security that the day I’m waking up to is (almost) entirely planned.

Not the little things like what I will eat or what item of clothing I’ll wear (that’s easy, though: whatever is in the ‘clean’ pile on my bedroom floor as opposed to the ‘dirty pile’ right next to it) but the big things I know about the night before.

I’m going to work (either from the office or from my couch), I’m going to a café to get coffee in the morning (usually Starbucks since I don’t have to drive to get there), I will most likely be ordering in/picking up lunch and dinner, which is a horrible young, unmarried, childless person cliché that I happily perpetuate.

Delicious, delicious perpetuation.

Anyway, my point is, I am a planner.

It’s also cliché to think of people “like me” (young, unmarried, childless) as unhindered by responsibility or commitments to our time outside of work. Sure, it’s much more uninhibited than someone trapped at home by children bouncing off of their walls (and I say ‘trapped’ with all the love one can muster after wiping countless faces, noses, and tushies without a moment’s peace).

But there are still things that shackle me to my home and keep me from hitchhiking across the galaxy. I’ve been meaning to read that series of novels titled similarly–gotta put that on my list. I digress.

I hoard my vacation days for “what-if-emergencies”. I Ebenezer Scrooge the crap out of my paychecks (if you don’t know what that means, you certainly aren’t familiar with the works of Charles Dickens…or the Muppets).

Sometimes, though, I get tired of planning and putting things off for another day.

I get frustrated when friends working full-time, getting paid much more than I do, and with less bills to pay (i.e. an undergraduate education, rent, etc.), use ‘money’ as an excuse not to do something.

Anything.

Kind of hypocritical if I’m using the same ‘ole excuses. And if I know one thing about myself, it’s that I’m not a hypocrite. That, and I love ice cream. And Parks and Rec.

Last night, while sitting on my couch, I felt an inexplicable tingling sensation in my fingertips.

That funny feeling started to spread up through my palm, into my wrist, and began to irritate my elbows.

“Strange,” I thought to myself as the tingling found it’s way up through my arms, circumnavigated my armpits (because what’s romantic about including armpits in a story? Oh wait…crap), and made it’s way to my brain.

My eyes pointed meaningfully at the laptop sitting beside me. I had just recently relegated the computer to standby status in favor of the Victorian novel North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (old English Literature Major Habits die hard).

While reading I came across this quote: “Thinking has, many a time, made me sad, darling; but doing never did in all my life. My theory is… ‘Do something, my sister, do good if you can; but, at any rate, do something.'”

Here, my phalanges (that sounds like such a dirty word…good job, Latin) took on a life of their own and quickly typed in a URL that I’d been to many a time in my digital lifespan.

Then:

Click. Click. Click.

A box filled in here, a calendar selected there.

Tap. Tap. Click.

CONFIRMED.

Aaaaaand I’m flying to Hawaii next month thanks to the irresponsibly low fares on Orbitz.com.

Can’t wait to see my first round of living spontaneously pay off when I reunite with some awesome friends and enjoy this time of near-but-not-quite-reckless abandon in my life.

Hawaii--Get Ready | Photo Cred: My buddy Kelly who I am going to visit!!

Hawaii, get ready. | Photo Cred: My buddy, Kelly, who I am going to visit!!

Well, That’s Unfortunate

You know how, in the book (by Roald Dahl) turned movie James and the Giant Peach, James rescues a spider from his cruel aunts which pays off later when the spider swears unflinching loyalty to him in times of disaster (i.e. sharks, pirates, etc.)?

From this morning’s events with a spider in my bathtub, should I be sent on a whirlwind fantasy adventure, I would be a goner.

If that first run-on sentence doesn’t kill me first #EnglishMajorStruggs

I will never have this relationship | Photo Credit: Comicvine.com

I will never have this relationship | Photo Credit: Comicvine.com