Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Genet Is Okay

I didn't like feeling cowardly, as if I were hiding something by not mentioning reading Jean Genet, so I went ahead and posted on Facebook a photo of Sweet Potato in her new sweater top from Marz, here at breakfast with sleeves pushed up like Genet, and steeled myself for a possible negative response.

But, it turns out, Genet is okay.
Flavor of the day.

One friend wrote a comment suggesting the Orphan Reds mount an all-doll performance of The Maids (eek!); another said they had recently read up on Genet because an academic friend who is an expert was coming into town.

This did not make me any happier than being attacked, actually, since I think Genet's writing is wonderful––wacky imaginative, funny, even, and tender in spots––but disturbing.
I don't know enough about him, but people who worship strength always make me nervous.

Ah, well. No one ever said FB is a place for complex conversations, even with oneself. 
At least I'm not covering up, and I'm happy about that.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

On View

Blown away by Jean Genet

This was, honest, the scene on the back of the couch this morning.

The Orphan Reds look like sweet little girls––everyone on Facebook reads them that way––but they are unreconstructed wild things; I never should have let them near Jean Genet, which they got into last night after I went to bed.
And his Funeral Rites, of all things!
You know they like bee burials. I fear this has given them unsanitary ideas.
"Let's eat the bees!"
I'd never read Genet; I picked him up in a Little Free Library yesterday and skimmed Funeral Rites last night.

It was outrageous! 
I loved reading it, and then checked myself, "Do I love this?"
I'm not sure.

When have I read anything that isn't entirely clear?

Most writing these days is quite clear about where it stands, its political (sexual, racial, gendered) identity labelled, curated, crafted, positively artisinal!
Godknows I wouldn't post this photo of the Reds & Genet on Facebook, where uncertainty and contradiction are not allowed. The book's politics are obscure to me--Genet hates the Germans, who killed his lover, yet worships the Nazi's hard body--is this anything more than [currently in vogue in liberal circles] Tom of Finland–style worship?

I googled to see if Genet's considered anti-Semitic. Not blatantly (not like Céline!). But the jury is out. Someone who knows the received wisdom on Genet's politics would skewer me if I got it wrong. 

Genet's treatment of his dead lover's fiancée, a vulnerable little housemaid, is tender, wonderful:
the final paragraphs of the book describe her funeral rite––laying a faded daisy in a patch of sun on the floor. 

After all Genet's pyrotechnics of grief––Genet imagines his dead lover presenting his (the lover's) corpse to be eaten––this final scene is, the girl is, as the Internets said last year, a cinnamon roll, "too good for this world, too pure."

For now, I just want to enjoy the complicated brilliance---it bounces off the writing like sheen off a beetle.

Here, Genet worships his dead lover by locating with his tongue a pubic crab––transferred, he imagines, from his lover's body––in another man's groin:
"With my head in the hollow of his legs, my eyes sought out the sacred crabs, and then my tongue, which tried to touch that precise and tiny point: a single one of them. My tongue grew sharper, pushed aside the hair very delicately, and finally in the bushes, I had the joy of feeling beneath my papillae the slight relief of a crablet. . . . My mouth was filled with tremendous tenderness. The insect had left it there...."
I was thinking I'd never read anything like that, and then I realized---sure I have!  
John Donne's "The Flea".
"Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
It sucked me first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled be..."
I have to go to work now. This post is as much about feeling angry at how sanitized the literary culture has become as it is about Genet. I'm angry that I'm afraid to write about this on Facebook. Even if I was brave and did it, what would be the point? 
None, I think.

Of course I wish we could wipe away racism and sexism and all that tripe.
Of course.
But the problem with cultural sanitation is it hides things away.
The sewage is still there, it's just out of view.
With Genet, it is fully out in the open, glistening like crazy in words.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Favorite Movies, #12 & 13 (Big Lebowski & WALL-E)

Two more Favorite Movies, from my series on Facebook
First, let me say, I don't like myself on FB.

I am seduced by its immediacy, but I end up feeling like a performing bear, shuffling for marshmallows.

I need to keep my account, in order to post on the thrift store's page, but I'm going to make a big effort [again] to write more here.

(Truly, more than chasing the instant "likes," it's a matter of laziness. I do the least, there.)

#12. The Big Lebowski

I dislike the cruelty that runs through all the Coen Bros. movies, so I don't want to watch this movie again, but I find comforting the very idea of The Dude, who, in the midst of this cruelty, only ever wanted to get his stolen rug back––without spilling his White Russian. That rug, you know, it really tied the room together.

Jeff Bridges (The Dude) happens to be practically my only celebrity-sighting so far.

(When I was fourteen, the summer of 1975, on vacation in Washington, D.C., I saw Dustin Hoffman.

Hoffman was sitting on a park bench in Lafayette Park, across the street from the White House, being filmed in All the President's Men. 
Or, waiting to be filmed. 
I watched for an hour while the film people set up lighting and wires, before I got bored and walked away. Along with Truffaut's film Day for Night, this was my introduction to the tedious work behind film magic.)

Now I was forty-six, and it was 2007. The Big Lebowski had been out nine years, but I hadn't seen it.
I'd spent a week visiting my [attractive] friend Lauren in Santa Barbara, CA. The area is full of rich people---Oprah has a house nearby. My sister had been all excited that I might spot some movie stars, so I'd asked Lauren to help me be on the lookout.

I hadn't seen any stars, however, by the time Lauren took me to the local airport to go home. There, in the small ticketing area, leaning against the ticket counter, was a big cowboy-looking guy. Turned away from the counter, he was surveying the people in line, and when he saw Lauren walking up, he smiled.
It was like a car turning on the brights.

"Who's that cowboy grinning so blatantly?" I wondered, before Lauren pulled me close and whispered, 
"You can tell your sister––that's Jeff Bridges!"

That didn't mean much to me, or to my sister:
no Dudeist, then or now, she declared I'd only seen a Class B star.
Now that I love The Dude, I'm impressed I saw his actor, but what really stays with me was the high wattage of the guy's smile.

Movie stars. 
They are different from you and me.  

#13. WALL-E

Here is the opening of Wall-E, side-by-side with the scene of characters Cornelius & Barnaby singing the song that's playing,
 "Put on Your Sunday Clothes", in Hello, Dolly! (1969):

"WALL•E/ Hello, Dolly "Out There" Comparison"

Wall-e is genius, the way it weaves pop culture references into a hopeful apocalyptic tale. It includes lots of delightful tips of the hat––to Star Trek, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Apple computers, even Alien (Sigourney Weaver is the voice of the computer, which doesn't want the humans to return to Earth---like the ship's AI in Alien is not on the human's side).

Delightful, fun to spot, but not surprising in a sci-fi movie, given these are all sci-fi-ish references (even Apple).

But Hello, Dolly!
I'd wondered about that, so I was happy to find this article, from just a few months ago (June 27, 2018), "WALL-E turns 10: Andrew Stanton explains the film's Hello, Dolly connection".

Here's a snippet from the article:
"Speaking to EW for the 10th anniversary of WALL-E, director Andrew Stanton calls the pairing 'the craziest idea I have ever had.' He explains, “I had always wanted to open with something old-fashioned compared to this apocalyptic, futuristic setting.' . . .
"Stanton had portrayed Barnaby, one of the two idealistic young men singing 'Put on your Sunday Clothes,' as a freshman in high school, and as a result had the musical in his iPod library. 'Suddenly that song just came on and it struck me; it came on late at night while I was reading a book,' he remembers. 'I turned to my wife and I said, "I think I have the strangest idea I’ve ever had."
'I just kept waiting for it to fall apart. There were so many reasons why it wouldn’t hold. It was so incongruous that it was attractive, and so we worked it into the story.'
. . .
"After WALL-E debuted, Michael Crawford, the original Cornelius from the 1969 film (who can be seen in the footage in WALL-E), called up Stanton to ask him out to dinner. 
"'[Crawford] said when he had to punch the very beginning of the song with the orchestra and say the phrase ‘out there,’ he was never getting it right, and finally [director] Gene Kelly had to come out of the booth and come over to him,' Stanton explains.
'[Kelly] said, "Kid, you gotta sing this like it means more than the world. This is bigger than the universe, just think of the stars." And the take that they used was the one where he was thinking of the stars when he sang ‘out there.’
So when he saw the opening of WALL-E and it was just this field of stars, it just blew his mind.'"

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning

Red Hair Girl has had an exciting weekend.
On Saturday night, she went to Bingo at the Catholic church where I used to work. bink had free tickets.

RHG quickly became bored with Bingo and extemporized for the Costume Contest, using empty wrappers from the free candy at every table.
She didn't finish in time for the costume judging, but that was OK--the judge didn't even know who Tintin was, so what chance would a small, imaginative doll have stood?

We got a ride home from an old church friend, and RHG connived to be left in the car when I got out. Thus she got to spend the night with her friends at bink's house, 
where the Lion has gone to live with Daryl.
bink sent me this:

This morning, RHG came with bink to our usual Sunday coffee. This week, we went to the place with the toast bar.
You get to make your own toast, and choose your toppings and sides.

Daryl introduced her to this thing called "avocado toast":

But Red Hair Girl only wanted the triple-berry jam.

Whew! This girl leads an adventurous life. I just sit and darn and watch.
Today, I started repairing this wool sweater the moths got at this summer, stitching around and connecting the little holes.
(And there are more.)
I call it, "The Tracks of Moth Tears":

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Downtown with Penny Cooper

Penny Cooper heading to Penny's café (real name) to meet my sister (in blue) for tea. She has put her real dress back on but kept the purple velvet trousers of her musketeer costume that my sister made for her.

Afterward, I headed to the downtown farmers market, Penny Cooper in my pocket. Red amanita mushroom hat knitted by Julia.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Bedside Table, & Nancy Thinking

Rat Lamp (goes by "Rat Lamp") lives on my bedside table and reads to the others.
Rat Lamp is one of my all-time favorite possessions.
I spent more on it ($110, about twenty years ago) than anything else, except big-ticket items such as my orange couch and my bicycle.

Not directly related, I thought this "Nancy" from yesterday (Oct 8 2018) was pretty brilliant. (I am happy I already have a blog index tag for "thinking".)

Monday, October 8, 2018

That person is getting ice cream . . .

. . . Should I get ice-cream too?

I'm sitting at the ice-cream (and coffee) café near Marz's place. This afternoon I helped her put plastic over her big window (to cut down on drafts)––the earliest I've ever plasticized for winter. 

We are colder, earlier, than usual––in the high 40ºs this week.

But not too cold for ice cream.
However, no, I'm going to pass. I already have coffee with sugar and half-and-half.
At home I drink coffee with 2% milk because I don't like it so creamy (weird but true); when I'm out in the afternoon, however, this is a treat--and it's pretty much ice cream.

Also, this place makes "artisinal" ice cream, which tends to be over-flavored. Sea Salt Vanilla? That's just plain, salty ice cream.

Oh! Now I look closer, I see they have white licorice today--that's a favorite of mine.

No, I think I'd rather go home and have cheesy pasta for dinner.
It's the season for hot comfort food.

Best Outcomes, I: Fall on Your Sword

A Facebook friend just posted about the Kavanaugh appointment to the Supreme Court, and a (male) friend asked her what the best outcome would have been.

I commented:

"What I would have admired most would have been if K had withdrawn. A compassionate and honorable person (even if he was not guilty!) could have used the situation to make amends by not accepting the nomination.

"He could have said something like,
'In recognition of the unconscionable number of women and girls (and boys and men) who have suffered like CBF has, and because I believe it does not serve the Court and the country to have such politicized appointments, I will not accept this nomination.'"
While I'm wary of grandstanding, in this time of #metoo (yes, OF COURSE me, too! I can't think of a woman who doesn't have some icky sexual story to tell--and of course many men do too), in this mess, I could stand a little noble, old-fashioned falling-on-my-sword/buck stops here for the greater good. 

But these guys!

They don't show any compassion---even if they are wrongly accused, couldn't they say, "You know, so many people get a shitty deal, I am so sorry for that, and my experience of being wrongly accused has opened my eyes to what they might feel like ALL THE TIME"?

I haven't followed all that closely. Has some guy said this and I've missed it?

Best Outcomes, II: Doing Better

This morning I finished a little article for the quarterly newsletter. I write or heavily edit about half the newsletter.
My boss intends these articles to be puff pieces, and he started the newsletter to bring in cash donations. 
I think he thinks I whip the articles out, but I am not that sort--I always research the topics.

The one I finished this morning was supposed to be about how wonderful it is that the store employs lots of older workers. But when I looked more closely into the situation, ... well, it's not that wonderful. 
The store pays the least it can legally get away with and that is not anywhere near providing the justice and dignity the mission statement talks about. 

I talked to my coworkers, and most (all?) of them rely on some sort of government assistance, including what used to be called food stamps. (I rely on money I inherited from the sale of my father's house.)

Basically, the store is taking advantage of poor, old people who can't find other employment. The work is physically heavy, too, and I  can see that a lot of my coworkers are in pain. Same as when I worked in the nursing home--a lot of my coworkers were wounded, but worked anyway because they had no options.

Along with the article, which I kept mild, I sent a stronger note saying I believe the store should consider if this is how they want it to be. Even though the store can't afford it today, I wrote, we could aim to do better:
personally, I would want the store to work toward paying a living wage, based on the cost of living.

We are a couple dollars (per hour) short of that.

I know, because I asked, that my boss doesn't even know what I'm paid per hour. ($10.25, same as all my coworkers--the legal minimum in this city.)

I have largely stopped saying "we" when I talk about some aspects of the store.
I am not included in the decision making, such as it is, and I don't stand behind a lot of our policies. No one even seems to be asking if they are in line with our mission, which often they are not.

Our mission says we will provide dignity and relieve suffering, AND THE ROOTS OF SUFFERING.

We (I count myself in here) do directly relieve some immediate suffering, for sure---but not necessarily in a dignified way: 
we regularly put out free food, for instance, but for lack of space and tables, sometimes (often) we put it on the floor.
That is not dignified, but everyone's so used to it, no one even says anything.

To change that, we'd have to do some strategic planning--it wouldn't be that easy to reconfigure the space, but it could be done.

It could be done.

Here's the happy thing:
I have calmed down and am not all in a twist about things changing right now.

The store operates more by oversight than intention, and while that's a problem, what is done with lack of will can more easily be righted that what is done with ill will.

I hope I am helping by simply pointing out, Hey, we could do better. We want to do better! 
How could we?

Yes. That's my question. How could we do better? Wishing alone is not the answer.

And now I'm going home to pasta!
Even though I've written about serious matters here, I am in a good mood--there has never been a time in history when people weren't creating a mess for ourselves and someone, somewhere was asking, "How could we do better?"

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Fly Me to the Moon

I was going to clean my apartment thoroughly today. 
I made a good start.
But then I had to make this.

Astronaut spread from The New Book of Knowledge Annual, 1970, which I got at a thrift store on the way to Duluth.

Moustronaut from May I Come In? (kids book), 1969

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Donut Frosting, and Other Daffy Donations

I've been keeping track of some of the odd things that get donated to the thrift store.

We take it all--in with the literal garbage there is (sometimes) treasure.

Some icky things are obviously accidents---like the bakery bag that held only the frosting of a donut --I imagine someone cleaning up after a garage sale or move, and their bag accidentally getting in with the donations.
Other things are intentional--this headless sacred heart of Mary was mailed to the store. We have a religious articles ministry that accepts such objects, and we even say we'll repair them. 
But that means gluing heads on---but not manifesting the missing parts themselves.

And these boxes of instant pudding that expired three years ago, in 2015? They came in a carefully packed box of nice kitchenware, so they didn't seem to be accidental.
Who knows?

It is very sweet when people write little notes---here the person even sketched the outline of the missing puzzle piece! 
But the store gets waaay more than enough puzzles, and this one was nothing special, so into the trash it went.

It's common that people don't clean their shoes before donating them. Luckily the material in the treads of these hiking boots was just grass and mud.

BELOW: This memorable entry from February 5, 1964, is the last entry in this donated daily journal.
After this, the journal is blank.

A shoe box of John D. MacDonald paperback thrillers from the 1970s was another donation that came with handwritten notes. In this case, the notes seem to be reminders to the owner him/herself, not to the future buyer. But who knows for sure?

These old pulp paperbacks were well worn and the high-acid paper yellowed. I saved a few with the best covers and put the rest on the 33¢ shelf.

This is the creepiest donation I've yet seen––
some kind of dead worm, a true computer bug, stuck under the screen of an MP3 player:

The Reds, Crossing Chester Creek


Chester Creek Gorge, Duluth, Minnesota

(It was drizzling, and the wet rocks were slippery––
see muddy knee.)

The Reds on the Rocky Shore of Lake Superior

Marz juggling ^

Friday, October 5, 2018

A Book Lady's Busman's Holiday

Duluth has a new indie used/new bookstore--Zenith Books! I had a great chat with one of the owners, Angel, about being a Book Lady.

Here I am being goofy outside their storefront, with its mural of book spines. The store used to be Wild West Liquors, because it's in the run-down west side of town, where I usually stay. (The university & mansions are on the east side).
This side has just started to spiff up lately, and the store is doing VERY well.

It was great to get away---Lake Superior blew my mind cobwebs away, for the moment, and I'm happy to be back at work. I'd gone to the dermatologist for a skin check the morning I left (all is well), and the nurse said to me, "You have my dream job."

I have to say, I have my dream job too! Annoyances and poor pay notwithstanding. I'm off to it right now---more later!

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A Moment of Poise

I'm going to Duluth! Marz has rented a car, and I'm to be the passenger. We leave in a couple hours. Me and the Orphan Reds. I hope to find some Duluthian fabric in a thrift store (plaid?) to make them some new clothes... 

I'm leaving at home Firefly, who I'd hoped I wouldn't have to deconstruct before restuffing. But she was just too stinky, even after a year of being loosely stuffed with newspaper, so I cut off her cotter-pinned joints (below, left; wicked), took her apart, and gave her a bath.
It took four baths, actually, before the water was clear.

She is waiting to be patched next. I'd salvaged a ratty handmade quilt from the alley (below, right) whose strips of old worn fabrics will match beautifully.

I like to leave the house ship-shape when I go away, even for a couple days.
That's not happening!
But my life is unusually poised at this moment. Just for the moment, anyway, no one I love is in crisis, including me, and many of us are happy and well.

Even very well: 
my friend Julia is newly in love, so she's radiating.

At work, too, all the tiny silver balls are resting in their proper grooves, for the moment...

Thank you, everybody for your comments and emails about my work dilemmas: they really help! 

GZ had suggested a solution to my ethical dilemma about taking books from Little Free Libraries in the wealthy neighborhood--in her neck of the woods, the boxes are "Take one, leave one". 

The boxes I took from never need replenishing, but I'm going to replenish the book box at a preschool two blocks away, which often does. The store always has more donated kids' books than we can sell, so that will be a fitting redistribution.

Then, yesterday my boss told a couple of us (me and a concerned and informed longtime volunteer) that later this month the directors of the church groups associated with the store are meeting, and he's going to talk about the need for structural changes--including setting up a board for the two thrift stores. 

(That is correct, the board does not oversee the thrift stores.
The organization has a labyrinthine structure that allows almost no lateral communication. The big exec. Tom makes all the decisions for the stores... or, he doesn't. )

It is beginning.

Julia and I were darning together last night, and I told her I'm not patient. She looked confused. "You just told me you are happy you have three more winters' worth of darning on this blanket," she said. "Maybe you could think about the thrift store as a darning project."

Yes! Like this fantastic "Six-Year Darn" from visible-darner extraordinaire, Tom of Holland:

And last of the most recent lovely things: a blogfriend sent me $20 for store supplies of my choice. (Thank you, K.!)
I splurged on something I've wanted since I started: peel-off labels for the books.
For price stickers at the store, we cut up donated address labels on a paper cutter --the problem being the labels are too sticky--they don't peel off, they rip off, so they tear non-slick paper book covers and jackets.

The next 2,200 books won't have that problem!
And there was money leftover for new fine-tip markers. These are like gold at the store, so I hid them before I left.

And now I must finish packing! 
I'm taking my electronics so you'll probably be seeing the Reds in Duluth...
XO Fresca

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Marshmallow Strategies

I don't usually write in the evenings, but it's the end of an intense week, and the end of the month, so, it's time for a little reflection this Sunday evening...

I. All the Problems
My boss (the one I like) came back to work on Friday after attending a mid-week retreat for executive directors of thrift stores--(he has newly been made the assistant exec.). He told me it had been good to hear the problems the others had with their stores. 

"Were they the same as ours?" I asked.

"We have all their problems," he said. 

"You mean, they would talk about one or two problems each, and we had all of all of them?"

"Yeah!" he said. "I just kept quiet..."

We laughed, but I was surprised how relieved I felt--relieved to be externally validated after our current exec., Tom, the week before had dismissed my concerns––in front of my boss––when I had suggested that we have certain problems that need addressing. 

That Friday evening, I watched a snippet of the Kavanaugh hearings and felt enraged, quivery and sick, at the reminder that the dismissive way Tom had treated me is NORMAL for the way some men of power treat women and other people they do not esteem.

Of course I knew that, but the conjunction of events made me see so clearly that my current nervousness about speaking up at my workplace is not a problem of my own making, is not my personal neurosis--it is simply a sane reaction based on my experience that men in power DON'T LISTEN and DON'T BELIEVE me.

And sure enough, Tom didn't.
He's a good guy, insofar as he does real, good work getting food to food shelves. But when I watched Kavanaugh (he's so repulsive, I could only watch briefly), I flashed on Tom––Tom getting so defensive when I said it would be nice to have new plumbing because this is the SECOND time in three months that I've waded through toilet overflow, to plunge a plugged up toilet--him getting so upset that he stood up and started pacing as he went on the offensive, EXPLAINING in an exasperated tone to me the history of the building's plumbing problems. 

Like that means we don't need to address the problem NOW?
Or grant me some intelligence?

. . . Or buy me some new shoes???

Well, surprise, surprise, right? Who doesn't know that men in power act that way.

I DO know. But these hearings... they hit home surprisingly hard.
Specifically watching
how CAREFUL Christine Blasey Ford was to present a clear and reasonable case... I was reminded of myself, as I expect quite a lot of women were. 
Maybe if we are just nice, and reasonable, and draw a frikkin picture ("across from the bedroom is a small bathroom..."), they won't "accidentally" smother us to death.

Talking to Tom, I was careful to explain why it's a PROBLEM to have the toilet overflow every six weeks, ("not good for business"), in the hopes that this man who could do something about it might just consider taking that under advisement.

He never even got back to me about it and my offer to do some online research into solutions.
I really wondered if my boss wouldn't follow Tom's lead, since the two men are close colleagues of many years (my boss is the junior partner), and I am just some dame who has showed up with the temerity to complain about things nobody ever had a problem with before.

(They did. It has become clear to me, my coworkers just don't tell the management squat. "Nothing to be done," as one of them said. And they're sort of right, in a general way.)

II. The Culture of Patience

So, yeah, I'm resentful. And rightly so!
As ever, I don't want to cultivate that resentment in a Petri dish. 
But while most of my life I've flown under the radar, solo, as much as possible, at this advanced age (almost sixty! in two and a half years), I wonder if I could find a way to be effective at this workplace and not go down in flames. 

I'm trying to come up with a strategy.
My first point of strategy is to stay away from Tom. I wouldn't even bother trying with him, and I don't want to negotiate with him.

And I don't have to. My boss wants things to work better, and he seems to respect my opinion. I'm surprised. Without thinking about it, I expected him to align himself with Tom, especially after Tom treated me dismissively.
Can I trust my boss?
I don't know, but I think I can afford to risk trusting him.

My second point of strategy is to cultivate patience, not expect everything to happen quickly, and not take set backs as major losses. 

And--related--remember it is far from just me who wants change--many other people want and work to make the store keep going, and have for 25 years before I showed up. 
So... take the long view.

I have not really thought of patience as a virtue until fairly recently. I was the kid who would eat one marshmallow now rather than wait 15 minutes to get two.

I wouldn't regret it either: 
the pleasure of the one marshmallow outweighs the discomfort of the 15 minutes.
I don't know why they don't credit that in those tests, as if the children who choose the one marshmallow are just stupid---not everyone weighs costs and outcomes the same.

And honestly, given the law of diminishing returns, is two marshmallows all that much better than one?
Eat the marshmallow and leave! 
Go do your own thing! 
That's worked beautifully for me, much of the time.

Well, but at this juncture of life, in this job, it's a different set up. 
If I can cultivate patience, everybody could get more marshmallows.
That's a very different goal.

You know? I'm not exactly doing this for myself. I mean, it would benefit me if even a few of our All The Problems were ameliorated––certainly I would like it if I never have to plunge the toilets again.

But that's not what motivates me. What motivates me is that this store does REAL good things, and we could do them a lot better if we'd ask for help with our problems.

The other day, a day it was only in the 50ºs, a guy from the park next door wandered in the donations bay (where customers aren't supposed to be), found a coat that fit him in a bin, and came and found someone to ask if it was free. 

This guy SMELLED. And he was very, very drunk. 

Another coworker said, "No, it's not free," but I said,
"That's OK, you can have it," and patted the guy on the shoulder and kind of pushed him out the door.

Then I regretted not telling him I would help him find some clean pants too. But I didn't have it in me to go find him...
I know there will be another chance, and I'll be a little more prepared. There are so many people in need like that...

My boss told me he wishes we had showers for the folks who live in the park to use. "And washing machines," I said.

Anyway. I am no Mother Teresa! I am not on a crusade. But if I could wrap myself in the marshmallows of patience, I might be able to repulse the insults of egotistical executives and (with others) help the store run a little better, and keep running.


P.S. Bubble soccer. I want to.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Some Shelves

 From My Books Area in the Thrift Store

 I was excited to find that ^ ship-shape electric clock, standing on top of the Cool Old Books shelves, and the print of Don Quixote too. The other day a shopper asked me if we had a copy of that book, and I knew our one copy had sold, so I had to say no, which made me sad––not that people expect a thrift store to carry a particular book...

But a few weeks ago, a woman had mentioned Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove, and it just so happened I had recently put it out for sale. She was amazed––and so was I.

I don't get to enjoy the coolest things for long––that ship clock sold overnight, ($6.99, a good deal, I thought, though the top of one mast is missing). And the golf lamp sold in a few days--not that I was attached to that, but it was a nice prop.

I write "not for sale" on certain things, but that doesn't work--people take the stickers off and take the item to the cashier as unmarked... There are a couple things I'm going to write on with paint, because I would be very sad to lose them---a lumpy iron frog, and that canoe bookshelf (that holds Minnesota books), though all my coworkers know not to sell that.

I actually argued with a customer about why he couldn't buy it--he was insistent that everything in a thrift store should be for sale.

I'm stopping with beautifying the area, however, beyond these little things. Marz was talking about how some people find bookstores intimidating, and while mine is arranged in sections like a bookstore, I hope that its general grunginess is welcoming to all.
The ugly spray-painted shelves, for instance, that came from a video store and that I despaired of at first, I now think are good:
if you love books, they won't put you off; if you find the idea of books a little intimidating, they are reassuringly unswank.

Kirsten mentioned censorship.
I do practice a little of that in one specific area---I have thrown in the garbage a couple books that were old-timey racist:
books about the "happy jungle natives" and "fierce Indian squaws" type of thing.

 Julia suggested I find homes for them--perhaps with teachers wanting to teach about how perspectives on race change? I'm open to that, but there were only a couple so far, and it's low priority.

I send to recycle/resale hundreds of pounds of pious Christian books that, frankly, just don't sell. bink has come twice to sort and put out Religion & Spirituality books, and she puts a wide range out. The section is full up, and it doesn't empty very quickly. Pema Chodron books sell immediately, but not much else.

Oh--and King James Bibles. People have twice asked me for them, and we were sold out! I was surprised, but Marz told me that's a standard for evangelicals.

Unlike my predecessor, I put out all the cool, old little prayer books and missals, and those do sell--because they're cool? or because someone really wants to use them?
I don't know.

I think some of both.

Otherwise, I put out books of across the political spectrum, but recently I culled some Glenn Beck books that were on the shelves when I started and didn't sell over the summer, and some of Michael Moore's too––ditto.
It's not so much censorship as weeding and pruning.
The History/Social Sciences books sell, but could use more space.

Fiction sells, and I can't keep the shelves full---that's why though not a single copy of All Quiet on the Western Front has sold since I started in June, I allow myself the pleasure of having three different paperback editions of it––they make me smile.