lesson learned

I have several tried and true methods for dealing with grumpiness, and one of the most reliable is visiting a bookstore. Today, in a state of mind I would call “surly”, I dropped in to my local favorite, hoping to remedy this problem. And it is with this backdrop that I give you today’s lesson in karma.

Upon my initial meandering around the store I noticed a woman, and by noticed I mean smelled, because this woman was very heavily perfumed with something floral. I immediately began searching for the cause of this olfactory assault so that I could escape it when I turned and noticed that the source of said assault was clutching Sarah Palin’s latest literary atrocity. At this point my instinct took over and I walked quickly to the opposite side of the store.

I wish the story had ended there, but alas it was not to be. Minutes later I stood inspecting the magazine section, and was reaching for the cover that featured Will & Kate (I can’t help it, I find them fascinating) when I was once again overtaken by the heavy scent of roses. As I turned to look for an exit I found myself trapped by the woman who exclaimed “Oh Will and Kate!”; and then, gaze drifting to my left hand “are you hoping to find ideas for your wedding dear!?” I felt compelled to identify that no, I was not in fact looking to the royal wedding for inspiration for my own, thank you. I gave her a very forced smile, turned to go, and then “oh but dear, have you picked your colors yet!?”

I couldn’t help it, I cracked. Under ordinary circumstances I would never have done it, but given my bad mood, and the fact that her perfume was making my eyes water, and that I had seen her holding a book by Sarah Palin five minutes prior, and that she thought I would get wedding inspiration from the royal family and that she didn’t know a thing about me but she wanted to know if I had picked my wedding colors!? (Mom you should probably stop reading here).

Smiling, I offered the most ridiculous thing I could think of at that moment: “Oh yes, I’m thinking of aubergine.” As the devil on my shoulder jumped up and down and the angel on the other side buried its face in its hands and my mother reading this thinks “how could she have turned out like this?” I prepared to walk away smug in my triumph over confounding the floral woman with my sarcastic answer. Because seriously, who really knows what the color “aubergine” is? (Side note: it’s eggplant, which is lovely, and much easier to say).

But the floral lady bested me. Her face lit up and she practically yelled to the whole store “oh dearrrrr but one of my daughter’s colors was aubergine and it’s beautifulllll and I’m forever talking to people who have no idea what it is! You should definitely pick aubergine, it will be so wonderful in all your pictures!”

Touché karma. Touché.


benjamin franklin love

I started reading a Benjamin Franklin biography last night until I looked up and realized it was 1 a.m. which was surprising to me because 1) that’s way past my usual bedtime and 2) I don’t usually find biographies that riveting. I picked Ben Franklin because he seems like a pretty interesting guy and also because I know relatively little about him. I blame this on my elementary school history classes which were big on Virginia’s native sons like Washington and Jefferson and not so much on anyone who did anything outside of the Commonwealth.

Whether it is a fair assessment of my history classes, I’m not sure, but my fuzzy memory seems to recall that the day Franklin was mentioned it was something like “kites, electricity, ok back to the Declaration of Independence, which wasn’t written in Virginia but should have been!”

Anyway I’m learning all sorts of cool things about Mr. Franklin and his family, including that his brother started the nation’s first independent newspaper. I felt consoled by the news that Franklin “excelled at writing but failed at math” (which I chose to interpret as “you too can be as successful as the most famous founding father never to become President!”) But my favorite was when I learned that Franklin adopted vegetarianism for a time (not at all a popular decision) so that he could save half the money his brother gave him for food and spend it on books.

It has always been a mystery to my home state’s elementary schoolers why Franklin’s face graces the $100 bill (he wasn’t even born in Virginia!) while Washington and Jefferson got stuck with the $1 and nickel, respectively.

After learning about the lengths he went to for books, however, I completely understand. And it has nothing to do with kites.

once upon a time

A few weeks ago, while visiting a Barnes & Noble, I happened upon a pretty display of what turned out to be covers for e-readers. I was both excited and disappointed; the covers were kate spade (I love kate spade) and super cute, but they were made for e-readers, which I despise with every fiber of my being. Despite this loathing, I felt the need for closer inspection of the prettiest one, which happened to be green. Picking it up I noticed the words “once upon a time” scrawled neatly across the front.

Not to be overly dramatic or anything, but I felt like someone had punched me. I called my sister to express an only half-coherent rant because my brain was moving faster than the words could be articulated. It went something like “KATE SPADE BOOKS ONCE UPON A TIME NOOOOO” or a sentence of similar intelligence.

I love books. I do not like e-readers. I’m not trying to be a Luddite or resist the progress of society or any similar arguments made in their favor. The environmentalist in me sees the practicality of not chopping down as many trees (though those making this argument never seem to get around to mentioning the mining of metals that goes into production of those e-readers, like Kindles just grow on trees – ha! but I digress).

“Once upon a time…” evokes a certain romance that belongs solely to the world of books. I know e-reader devotees often argue that they are books, just in a different form, but I disagree; this is an argument greater than semantics. A book is a Book with a capital B, not prefaced by any vowels. It has pages you turn yourself, not by tapping on a screen, even if it “doesn’t look like a screen.”

This is not a crusade against e-readers per se, because I have friends who love theirs and if it helps people read more, then why not. I also fervently hope that this doesn’t translate into me being a crazy old lady who builds a fort out of books to keep out the world.

Tonight it is raining and I think appropriate bedtime reading will be one of my favorites, “A Wrinkle in Time.” I kind of love the idea that I will not only read that fabulous first line, but also feel it practically lift off the well-worn page (physical evidence that my love affair with this book has spanned a number of years): “It was a dark and stormy night.”

it’s international women’s day!

I wish in honor of the occasion I had something really awesome to write, but I don’t. Instead I will highly recommend visiting The Girl Effect website. I love the definition, from their website:

The Girl Effect, n. The unique potential of 600 million adolescent girls to end poverty for themselves and the world.


Watch the video. It’s powerful. And check out Google’s new banner to celebrate the day!

rabbit, rabbit, rabbit

Last night, at approximately 3 minutes after midnight, my sister and I exchanged “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” texts. Lest you think we are exceedingly strange (though we are) I should explain for those who don’t know that saying these 3 words on the first day of the month brings you good luck for that month. Our texts serve only as a reminder to say those words right now, because the rules of superstition cannot be altered for a technology-dependent society. Of this I’m pretty sure.

This superstition was only one of many ingrained in us by our great-great aunt when we were kids. I’m not sure if it’s a southern thing, though my mom certainly thought it was. It’s possible that this was the only thing she could come up with to explain to her not-southern family why her offspring thought it was appropriate and even necessary to throw salt over their (left) shoulder if they knocked over the shaker. At the time I thought her need for explanation was bizarre, but in retrospect I can see how small children calmly throwing condiments might require it.

After my great-great aunt passed away several years ago there was no one left to constantly remind us of superstition etiquette, so most of them slipped my mind. Though I always preferred the good luck variety to the ones required to ward off bad luck, a few still jog my memory from time to time. This is particularly true at awkward moments when I find myself diving to save a hat from being thrown on a bed (a very specific but clearly defined superstitious no-no).

Though my mom succeeded in convincing me of the silliness of superstitions many years ago, I hold on to the ones I remember, mainly because they help me remain connected to the greatly missed woman who convinced me they were true. I think of her when my palm itches, when I see someone open an umbrella indoors, and when I stop a recently-vacated chair from rocking (a reflex I never notice until after the fact, and it always makes me laugh). These brief moments of memory always make me smile because I can just see her in heaven, breathing a sigh of relief at the bad luck I just warded off with my rocking chair save.

But back to “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.” I highly recommend it if you would like some extra luck each month, or if you’re looking to introduce some superstition in your life. It’s a much more socially acceptable superstition than say, throwing salt over your shoulder at a dinner party.