When I was 13 I Bought Dashell Hammet at Either Or Bookstore

05.7.12

On Friday nights we used to go to sushi in Hermosa Beach. It was my Mom, her friends and four of us kids. Two boys, two girls. We started going there when we were just finishing nursery school and we’d walk from their house to the sushi bar and then from the sushi bar to Either or Bookstore and then back to their house again. It felt like miles. It was just a few blocks.

Either Or had three storefronts. You’d enter on the lowest one because the street was on a slant and then when you’d finish up in that room you’d walk up two small steps to the next room and then two again to the top. There were plate glass windows, benches, carpeting, the smell of the beach and cats. I never loved the cats but I loved the combination of warm rooms and sea air.

I loved books and I loved sushi and I looked forward to those Friday evenings. On the best ones we’d still be slightly sandy and perhaps a little sunburnt from a day on the beach. The sunburn would leave me cold so I’d get to wear a sweatshirt in the summertime.

Sometimes my mother would be in a good mood and we’d get more than one book. Sometimes she’d be positively giddy from sake and I’d get as many as I could fit in my arms.

I remember the night that I discovered the mystery section at Either Or. I flipped through the first few pages of The Glass Key and I knew that I wanted to read this book. The mystery wasn’t in the pages of it, but rather in why adults loved these books.

I couldn’t wait to read adult mysteries. I’d long ago abandoned Encyclopedia Brown and Nancy Drew. I was adult at thirteen.

So when I took the kids to hear my Kindergarten classmate read his newly published book at Skylight Books I wasn’t surprised when Jane picked up a book of poetry by Sylvia Plath. I wondered if she’d read it. It wasn’t an inexpensive book and I suppose I was so relieved that it wasn’t the Bell Jar that I just tossed a credit card her way and hoped for the best. I wasn’t giddy from sake but from a fellow Beach Kids’ success.

I was in Jane’s room this evening and the book has scarcely been cracked. I’m not sure it matters if she ever reads that book. I never read The Glass Key but I memorized it’s cover.

Overabundance With Our Feet on the Ground

02.21.12

This weekend we snuck out of town for some family time. Since we’d unplugged Jane from her friends it seemed only fair to take the family funishment to the next level and make her spend quality time with us. We had a blast.

What was interesting about this trip is that we stayed in a hotel I wouldn’t recommend to anyone. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t one I’d recommend. It wasn’t budget friendly, and no matter how much I lowered my expectations they simply couldn’t be met by the hotel staff. They were a friendly staff, adorable even, but they weren’t particularly competent.

We told the kids we were heading to San Diego and my son packed for the beach. I don’t know how we didn’t double check his clothing choices, but we didn’t and he ended up with shorts and tee shirts and not enough socks. Although San Diego is, in fact, the beach, it was February in San Diego and it was quite cool at night. Jane’s hair wasn’t behaving as she thought it should (though I maintain that she has the most incredible hair I’ve ever seen).

With all this, with not very interesting food, cold and windy nights, waiting until 9pm for a bed to be made (and by “made” I mean it had no sheets) and Mr. G’s back hurting him it sounds like a horrible weekend away. Don’t worry, it’s only a sound.

Jane finished book seven in Pretty Little Liars and we had to beg the bookstore owner to please let us in, “we don’t need to browse.” I explained, my foot wedged into the closing door. We just want to grab a book and go. A toddler was in the back pooping in her diaper under a table, her father thought it was adorable. We got a book and Jane had a dose of birth control all at once.

During this weekend I was reading, obsessively reading, The Man Who Quit Money. It’s about Daniel Suelo who quit money in the beginning of the millennium. It’s a fabulous book and it touched me because it was written by a man with whom who I grew up. I still make his mother’s pancakes from the Co-Op nursery school cookbook. Obviously I wanted to like this book, but somewhere midway I realized it was me. He was writing about me (and so many of you) when he talked about the dilemma of reusing a Ziploc bag. Is it worth the water to rinse it? Am I adding to the plastic in the landfill? Why the fuck did I buy this bag in the first place? To hold apple slices? Next time I’m sending the kids to school with an apple and a knife (braces make it impossible to bite into one whole).

The book might have made me nicer over the weekend. There was only one moment where I lost my cool with the hotel manager (who was approximately 15 years old). I looked at things a little differently. It didn’t matter how I wanted to see the world. It didn’t matter what I expected a resort to look like, it mattered that I was with my family and I was gifted time and attention.

In fact Monday morning Alexander looked up at me and said that even though it’s a bay and not a beach and even though and even though… this was the best weekend of his entire life.

I’m not sure why our family is having such a nice time just being together. I’ll never really know how a crappy hotel and terrible food gave us all such pleasure, but it did.