Between the Shelves

Between the Shelves picBookstores are like Disneyland to me – better even, because you don’t have to pay for entry, it’s nice and quiet and there’s no long lines (probably because no one reads anymore). And unlike shopping at a retail store with well-meaning, possibly commission-dependent sales associates breathing down your neck with every sweater you pick up, I get the feeling that the folks at Barnes and Noble are okay with incomers getting high off the smell of the New York Times bestsellers pages with no intent to make a purchase. At least I hope so.

The other day I said to my sister, “I’m feeling kind of down; I’m going to Barnes and Noble.” No

My mood is an odd thing – I don’t really know why most of the time – but even more so in this awkward transition period between the end of school and whatever trajectory I’m supposed to be on as a 21-year-old. Sometimes I find myself enthralled by the idea of the world being my oyster, and other times I’m crippled by anxiety that a simple, oh-so-helpful “Stop worrying!” quip cannot cure.

While walking across the graduation stage back in May to receive the frame of my [but without the actual] diploma, the Jostens guys captured a nice shot of me smiling all toothily as I shook President Jon Wallace’s hand, as if he and I had been waiting for this moment our whole lives (although he probably has no idea who I am).

When I look at the Jostens photograph now, I feel like somewhat of a phony. Graduation day was a more scary event for me than a joyous one – “precarious” was a word I’d learned to drop in every conversation regarding my next steps.

Also, I’m terrible with goodbyes in that I avoid them when I can, or at least the gravity of the finality of some goodbyes. So I took a more casual approach; saying “See you soon!” to friends I probably wouldn’t see very soon, with the hope that no one took this casual approach personally and that “soon” would be sooner rather than the more realistic “later.”

The weirdness of ^that combined with school being done, ended, finished! was a new experience, along with the finality of bringing my belongs back in the house and hometown I grew up in, and not just for a summer or Christmas break.

I know what you’re probably thinking – “Oh God, I got trapped into ANOTHER long-winded, semi-nostalgic post about not being sure about anything.” I’ve been working on a couple of projects actually, but when things get more finalized, that will be something I’ll happily share.

No, no, no. This is about the titular shelves, and why I prefer long strolls through them versus sandy beaches.

I haven’t kept a tally, but let’s just say I’ve familiarized myself with the “Good Beach Reads” titles of one of the B&N tables on the second floor.

I’m probably not as voracious a reader as I would like to appear, but I do enjoy it when I get the chance and was no different at playground age. I’d read in a moving car even if it made me carsick, at sleepovers (it’s okay because she was reading too) and became an instant fussbudget when someone would dare interrupt my “me time” with an attempt at conversation. I liken my reaction to a dude-bro’s when someone stands in front of the TV screen during March Madness.

Reading provides a temporary escape, so the cliché goes, but the actual act of selecting, browsing and re-shelving books has become a source of solace to me over time. Like listening to smooth jazz or sipping on cheap $4 wine. There’s no way I’ll be able to read every single title that looks intriguing, just like one can’t learn every language there is to know.

I think I just like the idea of all the unexplored terrain bookstores provide. I can’t explore every single page or story, and there’s no expectation for me to either. But knowing that something good is literally just around the corner is equally comforting.

I didn’t mean for all this to become a metaphor (or simile, rather) but alas, sometimes you have to be okay with sounding like a Hallmark card.

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House of Grouse

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It has come to my attention that in a time and place in which our society prides itself in individualism and acceptance of a variety of perspectives and lifestyles, we may actually not have come close to universal open-mindedness as we would like to think.

I can think of two primary examples in which I find myself incredibly frustrated with my generation’s inability to refrain from grousing at every given opportunity: 1) YouTube videos/controversial social media posts/journalism articles and 2) when one group of people hears that another group’s viewpoint is the opposite of theirs, and thus over-sensationalized generalizations are made by both parties about the opposing parties.

House of Grouse pic 1The worst part is, most people resort to name-calling and finger-pointing in an attempt to make themselves appear as some sort of martyrs.

You’ve heard them all: Those over-zealous Christian homophobes. Those weed-smoking hippies. Those crazed feminazis. Those uneducated conservative/liberals. Those snotty, rich white people. Racial slurs. All terribly ignorant statements made all across the board.

I imagine that if I was some sort of popular columnist or something and this was to end up on a Buzzfeed-type website, there would STILL be commenters (albeit mostly inbetweeners with poor grammar skills) calling me out for calling out people who unnecessarily call out EVERYTHING. Well guzzle down your Hatorade because here’s what I think on three trending topics:

WHAT IS LOVE? (BABY DON’T HURT ME)

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A few weeks ago, Ireland became the first country to vote in support of same-sex marriage by popular consensus. This next part may make me unpopular among certain groups, but this news made me happy. The idea that the large majority of a country voted in favor of NOT interfering with two people’s definition or exhibition of love is one that warms even the wintery-est of hearts.

But that’s not my point.

Some (definitely not all) critics of those who support same-sex marriage feel the need to make uneducated assessments like “Oh you support that, so you must be gay…” Umm…I support providing aid to orphans in third-world countries; doesn’t mean I am one. Likewise, some supporters automatically deem non-supporters as haters. There is a myriad of reasons why someone might not support it – religious reasons, the technical definition of “marriage,” just generally not being sure about it, etc. Accusing someone of being close-minded straight away actually says a lot more about the amount of space there is in your so-called “open mind.”

BLAMING BODY-SHAMING

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How grateful I am that we live in a society where the corset has become an outdated (and inhumane) fashion staple and since replaced by Spanx. I too smile upon those who blast fashion companies’ appalling use of Photoshop and the use of perhaps “untraditional” figures used for international beauty and cosmetics marketing.

I recently came across an article about plus-sized model Tess Holliday’s impressive strides in the fashion industry. Cool read. Until I scrolled through the comment section…

“Why r we normalising obesity???”

“F—k the haters, she’s beautiful!”

“OMG i cant believe how horrible some people rrr….its her body…”

“This can’t be healthy.”

The following commentary has nothing to do with Tess Holiday, necessarily: I’m all for loving your body and yes, fat/skinny shaming sucks. Yes, a person’s health and appearance is their own matter, and none of us (unless you’re a doctor) has the right to determine if someone is eating too much or not enough. But healthy body image does not equate you know, a healthy body. You can be 50 pounds or 500 pounds and love yourself, but it won’t mean much if you’re not around long enough to enjoy it. And expressing concern for someone’s health related to this does not deem that person a “hater” or a “body-shamer.” It makes you an overly sensitive critic who gets weird joy out of criticizing what you perceive are critics’ critiques.

I DON’T HAVE A CREATIVE TITLE FOR THIS SECTION ABOUT CAITLYN JENNER

Quite frankly, who gives a crap that Caitlyn Jenner won some ESPN award over someone else? The fact that you place more importance and frustration over that says A LOT about how you put less weight on things that actually matter…like say, I don’t know, sex trafficking?

Also to those who have been telling me lately, “Oh, I’m so sorry that Bruce Jenner took your name!” a) Caitlyn Jenner can do whatever she wants to her body and name, and b) it’s just a name, not my entire identity and if I ever become a successful writer, I always planned to use a pseudonym anyway.

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS THAT MAY WARRANT SOME HATORADE

–          I think the millennial generation places too much glorification on staying in, gorging on pizza and not wearing pants. WHY???

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–          ^Ditto for sleeping in until 6pm. Seriously, why do we applaud lack of productivity?

–          No me gusta man-buns, but it’s your hair so do whatever you want. I sure do.

–          I think the idea of two friends jointly raising a child is a beautiful thing. Who says “family” has to adhere to a “traditional” equation?

–          HOW DARE YOU rudely feign-cough when strolling past a smoker. How would you like it if I somehow feigned having a quadruple-bypass while you chow down on your quadruple beef chili-burger?

OK so 1,000 words later and this is my shtick: No one is going to be happy. You or someone else will always be too self-righteous, too shameless, too serious or not serious enough, too liberal, too conservative, too moderate, too rich, too poor, too accepting, and the beat goes on and on and on and on…

How dare you have an opinion! How dare you deviate even the slightest from popular consensus! To which I say, how dare you not?