Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One for the Collection

I secretly don't like to share my books. Or at least, I don't like to loan them out when I think there's a question of whether or not they will ever make their way back to me.

You see, I like to collect the books I read on my bookshelves so that I have a tangible memory of all that I've read. I often find myself having fallen in love with the characters in a book, and giving away their recorded presence seems too harsh a departure for me to handle. Thus, I steer clear of library books and book trading parties and things of the like. I can recommend a good read until the cows come home, but my collection is mine and mine alone.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy was given to me as a birthday gift, and I devoured it within days. It's one of those books that stays with you long after you've read it, sort of like Life of Pi or Crime and Punishment (if in fact you stuck it out until the end).

There are two important characters. Never does McCarthy bestow upon you either of their names. I always find it interesting when an author chooses to present their characters as nameless. It sort of detaches you and pulls you closer all at once. An interesting writing mechanism, for sure.

There's a father and his boy, and the book is an intimate explanation of how nothingness can become everything and be one in the same. You are presented with post-apocalyptic America- the ruins of which are all around you as read, all the time. It is impossible not to worry as you read that this event is looming in our near future.

Once I got past McCarthy's use of fragmented sentences in his descriptions, I was hooked on his use of language that made the pair's delicate relationship jump from the pages:

"He knew only that the child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke."

McCarthy weaves their journey south using scarce and uneven meals as little mile-markers along the way. As I read, I found myself taking my food with new appreciation. Each morsel was important.

"Are you okay? he said. The boy nodded. Then they set out along the blacktop in the gunmetal light, shuffling through the ash, each the other's world entire."

This book will take you on a journey- one that you hope will end triumphantly- and force you to question whether or not your problem of the day is truly worth grieving.

I urge you to go buy a copy and read it immediately. Because I certainly won't be loaning you mine- it's already settled into its place among the greats on my shelves.

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Holly, I am thankful for you. I am thankful for your poofy hairs and the way you bark viciously at anyone or anything who even thinks about knocking on our front door, right down to the UPS man. I am thankful for the way you bounce out from under the bed and around the room every morning. I am thankful for your sweet brown eyes and your furry paws that look like little boots. I am thankful for the way you eat one little piece of dog food at a time- what a good example you are for your brother who swallows his whole! If only he would slow down long enough to watch you.

Paddington, oh how I say so many thanks for you! I am thankful for your wet nose that is forever and forcefully nudging me for attention. I am thankful for your eye mole (and for the fact that it seems to be staying the same size). I am thankful that your waistline is slightly smaller than it was this time last year (down 3.5 pounds!). And most of all, I am thankful that the vet seems to think we will one day kick these heartworms once and for all.

Your Mom (who you two better be thankful for too! Not everyone would let you sleep ON the pillows, you know.)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hell Week Day 1: Splenda


To those of you who actually follow this blog, I apologize for my lengthy absence. In terms of the journalism world, it's absolutely inexcusable to abandon one's writing outlet for such an extended amount of time and expect readers to rejoin you at some undetermined moment in the future. For my laziness, I apologize.

Some of you may know however, that over the course of the last few months, I've had some major life changes: New job, new city, new apartment. Some of you may also know that I am not the best with change. I am a full-fledged, self-proclaimed creature of habit. I have a favorite thing on the menu at each of my favorite restaurants that I order each and every time, without fail. Some may see this as predictability; I see it as stability. You just can't go wrong with what you know is right. (Don't even get me started on the day I got froggy at Starbucks and decided to try the latest of-the-moment fall-flavored drink. Two sips and that $5 was chucked in the trash can. But that's another tangent for another time.)

Having said all of this, it's been somewhat of a tumultuous few months for me, frappucino-related crises aside. However, I am settled, I am decorated, and I am determined to resurrect this little blog of mine if for no one else than my little sister who recently pointed out to my father in a most matter-of-fact manner, "Key has not updated her blog since MARCH."

And what better time to begin (again) than at the beginning of the most interesting retail week of the year? Hell week. That's what we call it, those of us behind the counter. Why? If you have to ask, you must not have ever been to a mall the week of Thanksgiving before.


In keeping with the former tone of my blog, I will suffice it to say without naming any names that I have switched from one brand to another since I've last written. Interestingly enough though, not much in my daily life has changed. I'm still always on the verge of maxing out a store card, I'm still merchandising and styling fabulous clothes and I'm still behind the counter processing returns for a large portion of each of my days.

Sunday of Hell Week began similarly to many others, with productive Sunday errand-runners making their returns to the various locations at which they had online shopped at their desk while at work all week.

I'd like to stop here to point out a phenomenon I can't quite wrap my mind around: the productive Sunday errand-runners. They are a breed all of their own, and I could never be a part of the herd. I dream of Sundays. Sundays were always my favorite day, before I committed to a life without them. Eating brunch in bed, snuggled up with my pets and the Sunday paper and some magazines, taking an afternoon nap... Ah. It just doesn't get better than that. How someone could willingly choose to give up their Sunday for an afternoon of errands is beyond me.

But I digress. Early in the day, a middle-aged woman in a normal outfit approached the desk with a return in a medium-sized shopping bag. I found nothing abnormal about the situation and proceeded with her return, delighted that it appeared to only be a thing or two. However, upon reaching into her bag, I found not only a pair of pants to be returned, but hundreds upon hundreds of packages of Splenda.

I looked up and met the woman's eyes, sure that she would sense my confusion and offer a funny anecdote as an explanation for the contents of her bag. She said nothing though, only looked back at me as if nothing were out of the ordinary.

This reminded me of course of a great episode of Friends in which Monica and Ross' grandmother has passed. In this episode, Ross is helping his mother choose an outfit for the woman to be buried in and in the process gets roped into going through her closet. Along the way, he finds shoeboxes upon shoeboxes of nothing but packets of Sweet 'N Low. He spills one box while pulling it down from a high shelf and suddenly hundreds of tiny pink packages are raining onto his head as he stands laughing, remembering his grandmother's strange collecting habit.

Having nothing else to go on, I was obviously left to assume that this woman is also a collector of artificial sweeteners. I quickly processed her return and rather than throwing away the empty bag for the client as I normally would, I made sure to hand it back to her, the receipt neatly tucked in among the multitude of small yellow envelopes.

As I went through my day, I appreciated the woman for giving me something to smile about this week. I think I'll always wonder what her offspring will find in her closet when her time comes.