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09 27 2011 Lost in the Used Bookstore

Used bookstores are dangerous places for me, like plant nurseries:  I almost always find something I have to acquire.  I have always been a book-lover, taking after my mom, Virginia – a truly avid reader; I have also moved (either short or long distance) my belongings on an average of every 2.5 years.   I’ve been an avid patron of my local libraries since I was a little kid; I used to sneak out of church to go to the library which was just across the way!

About 15 years ago I realized it was dumb to keep hauling these books (most of which I would not read again) around, and that I could donate them to the library and check them out when I felt the need to reconnect.  So donate away I did, and vowed to add to my library only books I knew I would use as reference (art, spiritual insight) or loved so much I re-read frequently, feeling the need to revisit them at odd hours of insomnia or poor mental health (Brideshead Revisited, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, and stories about the South where I was raised.)  Used bookstores became verboten, unless I had a really specific need.

During my current episode of unemployment I have been investigating ways of supporting myself that I have pondered, indeed dreamed, over for years, such as selling on EBay, ESL instructing in Latin American countries, Professional organizing, and moving my artistic works from the hobby to professional level.  I used the library to identify books that would make good reference books, and instead of paying shipping fees etc. decided to allow myself to venture into the used bookstore, Wonder Books, around the corner.

It was mesmerizing.  I found myself going shelf-by-shelf, top-to-bottom, topic to topic, straightening books whose titles I couldn’t read, seeing old book-friends I fondly remembered (Jansen’s History of Art).  Although I did not find many on my current list I came across so many of great interest that I spent a lot of time on the little stool, pouring over and admiring them.  I was very selective, cheap is best, but still ended up with more books than I wanted to pay for, much less take home to move yet once again.  So, winnowing had to be practiced, with I think good results.  Here’s what I came home with:

McCoy Pottery:  I have several pieces, see it all the time in thrift stores and at estate sales, and lots of folks collect it.  Plus, it’s fun and beautiful.  Reference, $5.00.  (I will be able to make this investment back with no trouble at all!)

Care and Repair of Antiques by Thomas Ormsbee; although it’s old (1950’s) there is so much insight into how to properly care for antiques of many categories.  Some things techniques never change, except in the museum world.  Reference, $4.00.

How to Mend Your Treasures, Lawrence Adams Malone; another old one (1972) chock full of detailed instructions on mending china, porcelain, stoneware and other stuff.  I have so many pieces that are a little chipped, in need of a deft hand at repair, and I would enjoy be able to make them whole again.  Then I noticed the book’s owner’s label inside the front cover:  it belonged to the author, in Arlington VA.  That made me stop and think.  How often do you come across a book that belonged to the author, on a subject you are very interested in?  Reference ; $4.00

Palaces of Gold & Light,Treasures from the Topkapi, Istanbul.  I have been an admirer of Ottoman arts, jewelry, books, illuminated manuscripts and textiles for many years; they are unique.  This heavily, beautifully illustrated catalogue is from a 2000 exhibit that toured the US.  I missed viewing it in person, but will get such pleasure out of seeing the reproductions.  After I’ve perused it at length, I’ll use the images in my collages.  Real re-purposing.  .99

The one I had to struggle over is a coffee table book, In Flagrante Collecto (caught in the art of collecting) by Marilynn Gelfman Karp, but also the real tale of collecting.  The store had about 30 copies of it, and it was priced at a hefty $13.50.  But the story it holds is so very close to my own as an inveterate collector that it was just too on point for me to pass up.  I asked for a discount, was denied, and bought it anyway.   I probably could have gotten an inter-library loan (not many libraries would have purchased a copy) but it’s the kind of book that you can open at any point and learn something, be amused and made thoughtful, and open up the realization that there are, indeed, many other people in the world who also find it hard to deny their collecting drive.  For me, since I have decided to shed myself of my collections so I can move lighter in the world, it’s a view into what other folks want to collect – and how I can help them with that determination.

It was a wonderful afternoon, and when I left I felt as though I had been in a dream – what time was it, what day, what else did I have to attend to?  The magic of printed books, the world will be a poorer place when they cease to exist.


09 17 2011 eBay

I was surprised when I received an email from eBay, thanking me for having been registered on the site for ten years.  For TEN years I’ve been wanting to get active on eBay, but something always held me back:  fear of failure, most probably.  Turns out, this on line selling stuff is a lot more complicated than it should be.  Not in any big way, but in the small stuff – that adds up to less dollars in my pocket for everything I sell.

I have now listed 14 and sold 11  things on eBay, within the last month.  Revenue:  $500.  My time:  a lot – but it’s fun!  Onward thru the fog:  more boxes to clear out, photos to take, research to do.  All the stuff I love doing.

09 16 11 The Crown

One of my faithful ol’ teeth gave way last week; felt like I lost about half of it.  First DDS visit for exrays; second was to start putting a crown on it.  Apparently is a three-step process, unless I also need a root canal, which will add yet another step.

It was such a miserable experience – my shoulder always cramps up when I have to sit in that chair for more than 30 minutes, surely in part of the associated stress.  The two applications via needle to numb the area are not too bad for me anymore, but when she put in the instrument full of the material to make the mold it hurt like hell and smelled about the same; and to have to hold it there, teeth clenched for 10 minutes, was agony.

The substance of which the temporary crown is made put out fumes of noxious petroleum by-products; I nearly gagged.  Dentist’s response, “Yes, yes I know, everyone says that, it is awful.”  Think she could have warned me beforehand?  Now I have this really bright silver cap on the tooth, which fortunately in on the side of my mouth and not easily seen.

Afterward, I had a couple of errands to do, and because my face was SO numb, I did not realize I was drooling down my chin.  Charming!

When I got home I was exhausted, and had to remind myself that I had undergone stressful and painful oral surgery, which would naturally result in fatigue.  Another item the DDS should have conveyed to me.  My stomach was upset, and I woke up during the night and had to vomit, surely a reaction to the noxious chemicals that had been put into my system.  Today I felt poorly until mid-afternoon.

I have to return in two weeks to get the crown installed.

With all our modern medical technology, it is shocking there is not a more humane way to accomplish these common operations, and CHEAPER!   Cost for procedure:  $1300.  If I need a root canal, several hundred dollars more.

Wish I had gone to Mexico, where there is excellent medical care, reasonably priced – and with more interesting surroundings, sites to see, and food than there are in my town of residence.  Probably could have had a nice week in MX for about the same cost, and with equally satisfactory results.

09 14 11

09 14 11.

09 13 11

What a horrible day. I had a networking meeting set up via a friend, in DC. We’d postponed it from last week, due to the terrible rain we were having, so I just could not put it off again. Going in to DC from Rockville is a real pain, whether driving, Metro, or whatever – it’s very time-consuming and expensive. But, away I went, out of regards for Barbara’s making the connection for me.

Found a parking meter – great! But the contact turned out to be unimaginative, rote, old/thinking. Waste of time, at the moment; then went to see Gwen, she may be helpful, but SHIT the directions she gave me for getting back home from her DC location was almost a kiss of death.

Not much more I HATE than traffic, and her directions were so far off, I was almost in TEARS before I got home. What should have been a 45 minute commute was 2 fucking hours.

Then, what should have been a certainty for me, to be elected to the board of directors of my condo association, turned into another loss. There have rarely been more candidates than seats available on the board, who wants to do that, but this time Jame Zimmerman pushed one of her friends at the last moment to run : her “explanation” was horrible, nothing like mine – and the other newcomer, Rory real estate agent was also not good.  But, they won, I lost. It’s made me sadder than I thought it would; I guess I just  needed a win, and a chance to make a difference in my investment/community, have a voice.  NOT.

Goodwill thing also , taking more time, getting folks to respond, commit, be a part.

Been watching a miniseries on Ben Disraeli, what obstacles he faced, but he kept on trying and became one of the most influential PMs in British history.

09 11 11

As I many people around the world did this morning, I woke up to 9/11 stories.  I get my news mostly from NPR, and the coverage was moving; at one point the morning announcer seemed to lose her place, sounds of shuffling, quiet, and suddenly I realized she was, I think, overwhelmed with emotion and just had to pause for a moment to collect herself.

After over a week of constant rain, which had me quite cranky, Boo! and I deserved a day out.  I took him to one of our favorite places:  the marina on ? Island, just north of Alexandria.  It is one of the most scenic places I know of in the DC area, sitting right on the Potomac looking across at the Washington Monument, Capital, downtown DC; sail boats drifting by, planes overhead coming and going from Reagan National.

I went in to the little to get a hot dog – they make really good ones there – and when I came out Boo! had made friends with two ladies there with their Yorkies.  We sat and talked, mostly about our dogs, for over an hour.  About how significant they are to our mental, physical, and physiological well-being.  Our experiences and opinions all ran the same way; they even used the same recipe as I do for Boo! food.  It was so pleasant, relaxing and …. comforting.  I was sorry to say goodbye, and regretful I will probably never see them again.

Going in to Old Town Alex I discovered the annual art festival was in progress on King Street.  There are some artists I’ve watched there over the years, and looked forward to seeing them again.  Jo Nelson, incredible Asian based assemblage works, I just wish I could afford them.  Someday!  I noticed in one of her pieces a soapstone piece, exactly like one I have!  She told me it’s a bookend, so now I’ll hold on to it for my work.

Everywhere we go, Boo! just charms people, and they love him, it’s quite remarkable.  Just something about him and his personality, friendliness, cuteness – it always happens.

It was such a nice day, Boo! all tired out, 9/11 commemorated, fine art appreciated, what could be better?

09 08 11

Left “early” for unemployment denial appeal this morning, googlemap in hand. It was raining REALLY hard, visibility poor, street addresses impossible to see, and as usual in the DC area they were unpredictable: first got bigger, then reversed to getting smaller.
Made several backtracks, u turns, finally determining the building I was looking for was embedded somewhere in a huge shopping center. Stopped for directions, tried to call the phone # on the form I’d received (got a voice message to NOT leave messages on this number) and finally found it, but alas and alack, 25 minutes after scheduled hearing.

I found the expansive appeals offices completely empty and silent except for the nattering of an employee down the hall from the reception desk. Many offices, empty, no people, dead. Weird.

When the nattering employee and his listening colleague
saw me, they could do nothing but put their full attention on me: there was no one else for them to be helping. I was advised that my appeal had been dismissed, due to my non-appearance at the appointed time.

I just started crying; I have not received benefits for the two months I’ve been unemployed, due to several cock-ups on the part of the MD system, and I’ll have to cash out a retirement account to make my mortgage payment next week.

They shook their heads, these two men dressed in nice suites – and said, of course, there is nothing THEY can do. Since I was crying, they were solicitous about making sure I got the correct phone # to call, where, they assured me, I would find help, relief, support.

After a real sob in my car, I came back home and called the # I had been given. It was the wrong # for any help at all; I was given another # to call, but it supplied only automated assistance. Nothing that would help me in my particular situation.

I found the name of the Director of the department on the form I’d been sent, and wrote her a letter outlining my problem. I have been fully eligible to receive benefits in MD since July 1, 2011, and as of today, Sep. 8, have not received one cent.

I put in a Randy Newman CD on my way home, I think he’s one of the most brilliant songwriters of our time, but his songs do refer (often) to rain, floods, loss and generally depressing conditions. I so admire him, but this morning, I wish I’d had a Pointer Sisters CD to play instead.