Wednesday, January 17, 2007

On Bad Pick-Up Lines, Books, and Joblessness

Last week I was exchanging a book at McNally Robinson Books because I had bought my sister The Omnivore's Dilemma only to remember that she doesn't like getting hardcover books. (I bought her a very pretty teapot instead) While I was happily glancing through their discount books a man comes up to me and compliments me on the kindness I have done people by wearing a rather boring blue cardigan. He thought it was so lovely that I'd worn this color that he thought he should do me the honor of coming up and introducing himself. I thought that he should stand at least ten feet away from me at all times. "I figure you're just like me," he said, "shopping for books you have no place to put and no time to read." If he'd added on, "And no money to buy," he'd have pretty much hit the nail on the head. He was looking for a book similar to the self-help book he'd just finished and wondered if I had any suggestions. I was no help because the closest to a self-help book I've ever voluntarily read is Finding the Right Dog for You. Sadly dogs are another thing I have no time, space, or money for. I wished him luck and headed away just as fast as I could. My mother would tell you that reactions like this are the reason I don't have a boyfriend. I maintain that I'd rather be a cat lady at 22 than talk to people who read self-help books and think their presence is an honor. The former I can handle, the latter not so much.

The only reason this stuck with me, to be honest, was the whole "books you have no place to put and no time to read," thing. Granted, I'm sure he practiced that bit while gazing dreamily at his own reflection in the bathroom mirror and it's an easy guess because most people living in NYC have no space for anything. Still, my book obtaining habit is a bit of a problem. Not only do I buy books I have no time to read, I also get them as gifts. And as if that wasn't bad enough, for the past year I had a job that provided me with a massive number of free books. There are take shelves all over the office with piles of books that aren't being used so, hey, help yourself. There's really no excuse for turning down free books. Leaving aside the books I store at my parents, I still have an awful lot more books than I need. At present I have 180 books sitting around my bedroom. That's not a lot, really. It sounds like an obsession under control. But it's more than I have shelf space for and it's more than I need. 10 are stacked up waiting to go to the Housing Works Used Books Cafe. They've been in that stack for about 3 months now with no movement. 23 I've read. 3 I'm in the middle of. So that leaves something like 144 to read. And yet does my rate of acquisition slow down? Not really.

The one thing with the potential to intervene is the fact that I am now jobless.(former palace of free books and paychecks on the right) This isn't a surprise. I began my former job as an intern last February and was asked to stay on because the assistant in the department was going on maternity leave. She came back last Thursday and after a brief catch-up period, my last day was yesterday. The intelligent person would have looked for a job prior to the end of their current job. I am not the intelligent person. So now I need to find a new job. Until I have gainful employment, no new books.

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