This blog, published free of charge since September 2007, is a way for me to stay in touch with seasonal bookstore visitors from afar and with all customers and friends when I am closed during the winter. My annual seasonal retirement will begin this year on November 1, and I expect to be back and open again by June 2021. Meanwhile, thank you so much for following Books in Northport and for supporting Dog Ears Books.
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Thursday, March 28, 2013
Nightmares of Repetition
many years ago, back when the minimum wage was $1.15/hour or less, I held a
part-time job at the Lansing Civic Center. What our crew did depended on the
event. For a circus or a country Western concert, we sold popcorn, hot dogs,
coffee and soft drinks; for formal events we checked hats. Yes, hats. Even in
those early post-Kennedy years, older men still wore hats. In cold weather, we
checked coats, too, and if the weather happened to be rainy, oh, no! Umbrellas!
evening in the coat check room involved one long spell of quiet, with little to
do but chat and read, book-ended by two episodes of absolute frenzy. First came
the rush of arrivals, with coats piling up on the counter almost faster than
they could be checked in; we ran and scurried, arms loaded sometimes up to our
noses with coats! That heart-thumping activity was followed by the lull of the
event itself, interrupted only occasionally by a visit from someone needing
something from a coat pocket or by an early departure. At the end of the
evening came the madness of the exodus, men crowded and squeezed around the
counter, handing their numbers over the heads of other men, shouting to direct
us to coats and hats. Most tossed tips into the aluminum pie plates on the counter
when handed their coats and/or hats and/or umbrellas. Tips! We never got tips during the
circus when we were selling hot dogs! There was, however, a price to be paid
for the “easy money” of the coat check room, because after such an evening came
tedious, repetitious activity can infiltrate the dream state, lengthening a
day’s labor and extending it through the hours of what should be rest. And so,
back then, during sleep, the work continued, coat after coat after coat, hat
after hat — until someone insisted that he’d checked a hat, but I could find no
hat matching his number! Panic! Umbrellas went missing in the coat check
nightmares, too. Because it is the dream state itself, not its content, that
determines what will be a nightmare, what will roil the stomach, bring cold
sweat to the skin, and send the mind into panic.
week and this, at my bookstore, my husband and I have been sorting books,
boxing books for donation and recycling, moving furniture, loading some
furniture to deliver to a consignment store, sorting books, boxing books,
moving books, sorting, boxing, moving.
How will the bookstore’s reduced floor
space accommodate what survives the cut, and how can our best books most
effectively be displayed? Backs ache, and legs and arms quiver by late
afternoon. It’s exhausting. And then in my dreams, night after night, I
continue moving tables and bookcases and shifting books, by subject, from one
area of the shop to another. Was valuable inventory inadvertently scrapped? Oh,
The fun of transition!
these silly, tiring dreams I wake in the middle of the night, unable to get
back to sleep, and get up to read for a while, then return to bed for a couple
more unconscious hours, until the packing and moving dreams again become so
intolerable that they interrupt sleep. Morning. Pre-dawn light in the sky.
Might as well get up. Sigh!
would it be like to work for a moving company, for heaven’s sake? To do nothing
day after day but move furniture and boxes? Would a person ever manage to have decent,
too shall pass.
Smaller view will mean more wall space
before summer arrives, the new wall will be in place and freshly painted.
Pictures will be rehung and bookcases and tables of beautiful books
redistributed. A new street entrance will welcome our customers. Everything
will look fresh and new and welcoming.
in June, I can start dreaming about sowing seeds and watering and mowing and
weeding! If I’m lucky, I’ll also have dreams of exploring woods and fields with
Sarah and of alfresco dinners beneath the linden trees with David and friends.