For the Love of Books

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that I just moved. If you haven’t been paying attention, no worries, I barely pay attention myself.  However, this latest move really brought home (ha! Pun!) a harsh truth. I have too many books.  Although, really, are there ever too many books?  The movers who carted my stuff from the old place to the new place might say yes. They might even add in some colorful sentence enhancers.

After my last move, I downsized quite a bit and no longer have the “houseful of stuff” I’ve had in the past. I’ve narrowed down my possessions considerably. Still, it doesn’t seem to have made moving any easier. You see, I had only two different categories of boxes for the movers to sort through: fragile and books. The fragile items include a teacup collection, a vintage/antique plate collection, and other such sentimental possessions. I’d have to say though, the books won. You know, if we’re keeping count. Which I suppose we are.

I loathe giving up a book. In the past, I have donated a select few to a nursing home and a preschool. But in general, if I like a book enough to buy it, I like it enough to keep it.  So here I am, surrounded by books and fragile things. Not sure what that says about my state of being, but there you go.

If I’m honest, there’s really something comforting about being surrounded by books and if you’re an avid reader, I’m sure you can relate. I guess it’s why I love libraries and bookstores, and my own “not quite to the hoarding point” collection. I’ve always dreamed of having a library the likes of which are scene in Beauty and the Beast.  There’s just something about mountains of books that feels like home.

To start, there’s the soothing smell of an old book. Hell, even brand-new books have a comforting aroma. I’m willing to bet that you know exactly what I’m talking about. Next, there’s the satisfaction to be found in a page flip. As you progress further and further into a tale and flip a page, a feeling of accomplishment that’s almost addicting always follows. I’m not even going to get into the sheer excitement of delving deeper and deeper into a good story and the need – the absolute need – to find out how it ends … I mean, that would probably be showing a bit too much of my “crazy.”

To say I owe a lot to books is probably also showing a bit too much of my “crazy.” Doesn’t make it any less true though. I’m able to look back and see every book, every story, every adventure, and connect it to the time in my life when I first read it. When I need to reconnect to that time in my life or that feeling, I re-read certain books. Some books are just “comfort food” for my soul. Others take me on an adventure or thrill me with the ghosties that I love so much.

Heaven for me would be my own little kingdom of books, books, and more books. Nerdy? Yes, but it’s my thing. We all need to find that thing in life that brings us joy and, for me, that’s books.

Beauty is as Beauty Does

I think YouTube’s beauty community tends to be a bit underappreciated. Underneath the drama and obviously forced collaborations lies a community that inspires me. No, seriously.

It’s easy to forget that the talented young people on YouTube do more than apply makeup under carefully positioned lighting. These influencers run a business. Although it looks like fun, I imagine that they work hard. I’m not sure if it’s worth multi-millions a year hard, but still. I can’t even get my life together to buy groceries and gas in the same week, and here these people are, figuring out contours and crafting the perfect cat-eye all while maintaining cosmetic sponsors worth more money than I could ever hope to have … and that includes my “win the lotto” retirement plan.  And have you seen the ones that can curl their hair WITH A FREAKIN’ FLAT IRON? I didn’t even know that was a thing. It’s impressive.

I can’t do makeup for shit. I’m horrible at it. But I do find myself giving the tutorials a try from time to time. Is it always a successful recreation? Ummm, no. Is it a hell of a lot of fun to try? Absolutely. Well, mostly. Okay, usually. Fine, if I’m being completely honest, it can be almost as frustrating as driving in heavy traffic, and we all know how I am when I’m driving in heavy traffic. One side of my face ends up tolerable and the other side, well, it turns out different, shall we say.

I still like watching the videos though. The whole thing with social influencers profiting from these beauty tutorials is a relatively new phenomenon.  Back in the day, if you wanted to learn how to do makeup, you experimented with a best friend (makeup… yeah, we’re talking makeup here…sheesh, get your minds out of the gutter, people!). Or had a visit with your friendly Avon or Mary Kay representative – and the pushy sales pitch that went with it. The lovely Elizabeth Arden coined the phrase “makeover” and provided the service in her salons with many others following suit. However, this was – and remains – an unattainable decadence to many, if not most. Now all you need is a WiFi connection and boom! you’re on the road to a perfectly contoured and highlighted night out on the town.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that a lot of you are rolling your eyes right now. YouTube in general, and especially the “influencers,” are an oft-maligned group. However, much like the song lyric sites that save us all from embarrassment during our daily mobile concert commute to work, online tutorials (makeup or otherwise) are changing how we access information and learn new things… and they’re making this information available across the board. And given the fact that the individuals who do these sorts of things have managed to snag jaw-droppingly lucrative sponsorships as recompense for their time, I can’t help but think this younger generation has got it all figured out.

Anybody Home?

I love haunted houses. I think if you have some common sense and keep a respectful attitude, you can live happily with a ghostie or a demon. And, you’d always have someone to push down that can of peas off the top shelf you can never reach.

Some residences just ooze the “murder house” vibe.  You might remember the post that I did a couple of years back called, “Horror House For Sale.” For those of you who don’t (you can click the link and check it out… just sayin’), I shared a few images of a house that I found on Zillow. You could feel the presence of well… something, just looking at it. Maybe a mutant creeper still living in the walls somewhere, just waiting for the new owners to move in. Wouldn’t that be something!?

I came across the above image recently (don’t ask) and it took me back to the day when I first found Zillow’s Most Haunted Property. That all-familiar sense of excitement I mean, fear… of course I mean fear, I’m not a psycho (good movie by the way!), the fear crept back in and I started to imagine all the possible fun dangers lurking within those walls.

This led me to wonder: what exactly is it about haunted houses that fascinates us so much? Now, I understand this might sound like a stupid question. Obviously, everything that makes a haunted house a haunted house is what makes it thrilling scary. I guess what I mean is, what is it about an old, rundown house that makes our skin crawl?

As I’ve said before, most people are terrified at the idea of living in a haunted house, and I get it; it’s a pretty universal feeling. I mean, imagine driving down an old country road late at night (I seriously recommend you find a better way to spend your evenings) and seeing a house like this one! No lights on the road (and if you’ve ever driven down a country road at night with no lights, let me tell you… it’s freakin’ DARK) or in the drive or visible in the home. Or worse yet, just one light dimly glowing in a shadowy window.  I’m willing to bet you’d think, “someone definitely died there and in a gruesome horror movie kind of a way too.” I know I would.

Why, though? Well, if you ask me, haunted houses invoke one of the biggest fears known to humanity – the fear of the unknown. The weight of all that ambivalence can be crushing.  There are few things in the world that can toy with our sense of security as much as haunted houses.

I have to say that Hollywood understands the root of our fears when it comes to haunted houses and boy, do they capitalize upon them. Haunted house movies make a killing (no pun intended, oh, who am I kidding… of course it was) and in a sick twist, this oft-used trope works to spread the universal fear to generation after generation. When we find ourselves face to face with a house that in any way resembles the Amityville Horror House (there’s a story that Hollywood really beat to death by the way), everything in us tells us to run. Well. Most of us anyway.

Horror movies and ghost stories have taught us that all run-down houses host paranormal entities and demonic forces intent on charming claiming our souls. Of course, the logic-angel sitting on our shoulder reassures us, “oh, that’s just hogwash,” even if it sometimes does so in a quiet, slightly frightened voice. Because you see, ultimately, it’s the uncertainty of their presence in the dark that is the most terrifying thing of all.

Long Distance Call

I will admit, since last October, life has been weird. I appreciate all of you sticking with me during my “sporadic writing phase.” It’s kind of like Picasso’s “blue period,” just not as… well, blue. Or paint-y. Definitely not as paint-y. Or hanging in a museum. Okay, fine. So, it’s not like Picasso’s blue period. Happy now? Sheesh.

Today would’ve been my Dad’s 78th birthday. Yeah. It’s still all so strange. We had his memorial last month. We’d been holding off for a number of reasons, not least of which, we simply did not want to officially say goodbye. There were military honors, and they gave my Mom a flag. One of his siblings spoke about his life. It was a lovely ceremony. I wanted to speak as well, but my severe anxiety, as it so often does, got the best of me. I think my Dad would’ve understood though. Neither of us were known for lengthy conversations, though we knew the love was there. That, we had in spades. As they are wont to say, we have closure, whatever the hell that means. All I know is, my heart still hurts.

And now, it’s summer. In our family, we all knew what that meant.

Hope the fishing’s good where you are, Dad.

Judgement at the Grocery Store

Okay, I know I’ve been quiet for a few days. But hey, I’m back!  Poor lucky you!

So, it turns out that one of my wrists is broken after all. The doctor simply missed it. Unfortunately, a specialist is now in order. On top of that, I just moved. Now, I’m no stranger to moving. I’ve moved many times in my lifetime and I have to say, the one that took place this past weekend was, in a word, hell. Needless to say, I’m going to forego the moments of joy for now (I’m still making notes in my journal, though!) and write about an annoying thing so as to have an outlet for my generalized aggravation.  Today’s topic is thoughtlessness.

I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes – especially on a particularly chaotic day, doing just the bare minimum can be difficult. A busy life tends to wear you down over time, even if you’re the poster child for completed to-do lists. At the same time, some tasks commonly considered to be the “bare minimum” are actually acts of common courtesy that in fact take little time to complete. Returning your cart to the cart return at the local supermarket is one of these, and yet, so many seem unable to follow through. Carts, carts everywhere. It drives me insane.

Me when I see a cart left sitting propped up on a curb or in a parking spot when the cart return is like right there!

I mean, it’s a matter of basic courtesy. You grab a cart, you use said cart to collect your groceries or other sundries, and then you return the cart so that others can use it. It’s stupid easy. Still… it’s the “return” process where people seem to have a problem (to be clear, I’m not talking about those who might have a physical issue that impacts their day-to-day life… rather, I’m calling out the deliberately thoughtless among us).

Catching someone returning a cart is the exception rather than the rule these days. When it occurs, it’s a glorious thing, like you’re witnessing a rare phenomenon of mythological proportions. You know, the kind of awe-inspiring legend people only whisper about, but never see for themselves.  It’s far more common to find abandoned shopping carts littered throughout the parking lot – taking up valuable parking spaces and sitting haphazardly on medians… though of course you never see the cart until you’re actually pulling into the parking spot it now inhabits.

Why is the bare minimum too much to ask?  Well, while I was stewing over the laziness of my fellow shoppers, I came across an article entitled, Why Don’t People Return Their Shopping Carts. When I noticed this article was posted on a site called Scientific American, I knew I was in for a treat. Let’s be honest: sometimes the stupidity of others can only be explained through science.

Scientific American’s article broke cart users up into five different categories (parenthetical notes are mine):

  • Returners – those who return their carts to the cart receptacle each and every time (my favorite kind of people, quite frankly).
  • Never Returners those who never return their cart to the receptacle (I guess it just isn’t their job; they’re much too good for that).
  • Convenience Returners – those who return their cart only if the receptacle is nearby (come on, people!).
  • Pressure Returners – those who only return their cart under pressure of a nearby cart attendant or nearby car owner (you could save yourself a lot of worrying if you just did it every time… just sayin’).
  • Child Driven Returners – shoppers with children that see returning the cart to a receptacle as a “game” (I call this good parenting).

You gotta love science.

The article goes on to explain that although supermarkets attempt to coax us to do the right thing (return the cart to the cart receptacle), they’re fighting against our own “self-serving goals.” These goals include staying dry in the case of a day with bad weather or getting home as quickly as possible, or plain laziness. In a sick twist, a supermarket’s attempts to make it easier to return carts to their receptacles can justify our reasoning for not doing so. After all, do we really have to take the time to return our carts ourselves when there’s a cart attendant employed to gather the carts?

Of course, people don’t think that perhaps this person has other duties as well. Not to mention, they shouldn’t have to chase your errant cart across the parking lot to add it to the queue of carts they have ready to return to the store. Sure, it’s their job, but if you can make someone’s life – or job – easier, why don’t you? If it’s 100 degrees of hell out for you and you only have one cart to return to the freakin’ cart return, can you imagine what it’s like to return 200+ carts in 100 degrees of hell?  I mean, come on, people… get your shit together.

Okay, Wendy, breathe.

My point to this rambling is simple. Be a decent human being. Return. Your. Fucking. Cart.