New Year and New Books

Yesterday, Charlie and I went to our favorite independent book store (the Thematic Attic), a wonderland where you can find Dia de los Muertos folk art, an Edgar Allan Poe action figure or a statue of Anubis, depending on your mood. And books. So many books. The proprietor, a 30-something man named Lorezo, is the most enthusiastic, wide-eyed person. It's hard not to get caught up in his excitement about the world around him. I just wish he had more patrons. His store is just better than any chain store I've ever been to.

We browsed around and I found "The Outsiders" and bought it maybe as much for me as for Charlie. It's a great coming-of-age story. It took me back to my young self when it made such an impression on me. It's also a favorite of Husband's. Teen angst, class distinctions, unaware parents, rebellion, depression, sadness -- it's got everything a young person could ask for. And author S.E. Hinton started writing it when she was only 15 years old. A very humbling thought, and maybe why it's so honest -- she wrote what she knew. I hope Charlie enjoys it as much as his mom and dad did. We'll see.

In my browsing I came across a book of short stories written by Shirley Jackson entitled "The Lottery." (The title of her most famous story. Who can forget that chilling depiction of a "normal" small town.) I remember reading "The Lottery" in high school and being absolutely horrified by the ending. Her stories have a tendency to depict everyday circumstances and average-type people only to end with a terrific twist, revealing the underbelly that lies beneath the surface of polite society. So far, the first two stories I've read in the collection have just a hint of creepiness and are compelling.

The third find, by Charlie, was "The Encyclopedia of Immaturity" compiled by the editors at Klutz (the really silly books that kids just eat up these days). Sounds tailor made for men of all ages. Just kidding. Sort of. His delight with this book has manifested itself in a variety of ways. As I write this, his shrunken head (peeled apple) is drying in the oven. A little while ago, he twisted a dollar bill into a ring, stuck a spoon to his nose, played a few practical jokes on us (or tried), and put a bar of Ivory soap into the microwave for 30-second increments to watch it become transformed into this wonderful foam cloud.

Today I worked for the first time in a month because of a rotator cuff injury. The job was easy and I worked with a Spanish interpreter who I've worked with before and have always enjoyed. He's a courtly gentleman, very warm. (I can't resist commenting on his eyebrows though. They remind me of two furry black caterpillars. I'm surprised his wife hasn't gone after hime with a razor, but then again, he wouldn't be the same.) He mentioned that his week has gone well. When I told him about my injury, he took it as a good omen that I've been able to return to work. He also took his good week so far to be another good omen about the year as it lies ahead of us.

The sky is blue, the birds are singing, and it's 80 degrees outside. It's hard not to feel optimistic on a day like this.


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