Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Midwestern love of Chains & the Blaming of Leonard Woolf

Particularly in the days before Amazon, The Tattered Cover really used to be something, back when its Cherry Creek store still existed. When I first moved to Colorado one of the first places I made sure to visit was the Tattered Cover, it was almost legendary. It had four immense floors, stuffed with books of every description. There were wingback chairs secreted away in seemingly private corners, where patrons sat and read for hours at a time. Their customer service was well known, and there is a famous tale of a customer service representative there once tracking down some out-of-print editions in a private basement, in Ohio. I have no idea how, I prefer to think that he was in possession of some book-charming magic.

Now The Tattered Cover largely resembles a chain bookstore. Or perhaps the chain bookstores came to resemble it, I don't know. I do know that after the Cherry Creek store closed, and TC moved to an old theater on Colfax Avenue, it lost something. The store had also opened other branches, one in lower downtown, one in the suburb of Highlands Ranch. It was inevitable, I suppose. Although it is still known as an independent bookseller, it largely resembles a Barnes and Noble, or Borders inside.

There is something about the Midwest and a great love of Chain anything. Chain restaurants, Chain retail stores, Chain auto-mechanics. Even though in other parts of the country there is nothing less hip than a Chain store, here about the only businesses that survive are Chains.

This is particularly ironic because the Midwest is associated with Conservative thinking, which talks about the importance of the small business owner, and the dreams of the individual being key in this Free Market but in practice, it is the Chain Stores that thrive. I've never been particularly at peace with this aspect of Colorado, but then I suppose that's my stealth-liberal talking.

When we first moved here we frequented a Sushi restaurant called Goro's which I apparently liked right to death, in very short order. I should mention that if I like something the chances that no one else will seem to be rather high. Products I adore tend to disappear from shelves, entire lines of merchandise are seemingly vaporized by my approbation. I'm something of a menace, really. Fear not, this evidently does not hold true for people, just things. Stores, restaurants, perfumes the occasional town (long story, that). If you are selling something? For the love of mercy, don't ask me to buy it, if I like it is a sure sign of ruination to come, but I digress. I do that a lot too. Kill things off by liking them, and head off on tangents. We all have skills, those are mine.

Anyway, I was scouting around one of the Tattered Coves off-shoot stores because I was looking for a biography of Leonard Woolf. I didn't truly expect the store to have it and, indeed, it was nowhere to be found. I was also looking for a copy of an E. M. Forster book, as I had lent my copy to someone, and then that person moved to Texas. My copy of Howard's End went with her, and apparently got lost somewhere between the border of Oklahoma and the city of San Antonio. They suspect a box fell off the truck. No, really. I probably liked that box.

The Tattered Cover didn't have a copy of Howard's End on hand, either. Similarly, another one of my books that decided to secede to Texas, Wharton's The Custom of the Country wasn't available either. Determined to support an independent bookseller, or die trying, I snatched up a copy of The Women, by T C Boyle, although my track record with enjoying contemporary fiction suggests that was a foolhardy plan.

When I returned home, I logged onto Amazon, and found everything I needed within seconds. Mission accomplished, go team Me. I could have ordered the books at the store, but frankly I was a little ticked about Howard's End, The Custom of the Country I can understand as it isn't one of the more popular Wharton books, but if you are going to have any E. M. Forster in a bookstore Howard's End seems a very likely candidate. Plus, for reasons that will soon be easy to understand, I wanted to get the heck out of there.

My quest for the biography of Virginia Woolf's husband has to do with my on-going obsession with seeing both sides of almost any situation. I think this has to do with my parents divorce when I was little. My father had a lot of problems, to be honest about it, and would say just terrible things about my mother to me. I was six when she left. My mother, who had far fewer problems (particularly after she ditched my dad, and as a consequence, me) was no better.

I'm not blaming either of them, by the way. This was in the seventies, and there's a reason that defaming an ex-spouse in front of a child became so frowned upon; almost every divorced person was doing that in the seventies. It did leave me with an almost pathological need to defend people who aren't present. A trait of mine that can drive my friends nearly mad. They tell me about how they have been wronged, and nine times out of ten I start to try and provide the other person's possible viewpoint. It takes an act of will on my part to stop myself.

It's a pity I never had a yen to be a defense lawyer, isn't it?

Several years ago I became embroiled in a debate about Virginia and Leonard Woolf. If you aren't familiar with Virginia Woolf, here's the short version: Well known author, and for good reason. Tendency towards nervous collapses, and breakdowns possibly related to Manic Depression, or possibly Clinical Depression. Sexual abuse at the hands of her half brothers (I've no urge to defend them, trust me) also played a large part, and Virginia eventually took her own life. She's a figure of a fair amount of interest and I'm sure you've all heard of her.

She was married to Leonard Woolf and seemingly loved him a great deal. He returned this feeling, and waged a long battle, often simply trying to keep her alive. Virginia also had a long affair with another woman. It would take entirely too long to explain this if you aren't familiar with the specifics, but that was not outside the boundaries of her marriage.

Virginia Woolf was complicated, basically.

In the middle of a party a few years back, a woman who had recently read a specific biography of Leonard Woolf and this particular biography blamed him for Woolf's mental illness. As it happens, Woolf had her first nervous breakdown years before she ever laid eyes on her husband-to-be. Certainly by modern standards the measures Leonard employed to try and keep Virginia safe from herself seem controlling, and the life he encouraged her to lead to try and stave off bouts of depression also seems controlling when viewed from a modern perspective.

To try and keep this from stretching on for too long I'll sum up and say that we had a long, polite but pitched conversation. She stood firm on her belief that Leonard Woolf was an abusive, controlling man, I continued to defend a man long in the grave as having done the best he could do, and out of a very sincere love for his wife given what was available in terms of treatment. We parted ways, and were probably both equally glad to do so.

I've been meaning to read the defamatory biography of Leonard Woolf from that day to this, and two things reminded me that I still needed to procure a copy. One was Jo's list of authors she'd read, and seeing Woolf's name on there reminded me that I had yet to see the other side in that debate. The other was a mutual defense of Annie Sullivan my friend Angela and I were engaging in via email. Long story short: Long dead Annie Sullivan was accused of abuse of Helen Keller in a biography. My friend and I were on the same side of that defense but it reminded me, I had yet to read the Woolf biography. It is now ordered and on its way.

However, it was as I was doing a near headstand on the floor of the Tattered Cover, as of course any subject of a biography starting with W is likely to be on the shelf closest to the ground, that I heard my name called. I glanced up, from my decidedly weird position, and felt a slight chill wash over me.

Before me stood a woman who is perfectly nice in every single way you can name. She's a pleasant person, she has a sunny disposition. We have known each other for seven years through our sons' sport activities, and although she is among the nicest of people, she finds me weird. She likes to tell me that she finds me odd, and weird, eccentric, a great figure of fun. This started when she found me reading a book about Czarist Russia (save yourselves, do not ask) in a parking lot, during a rainstorm. Now, I'm not sure I blame her for thinking I'm an odd duck, she has a positive gift for finding me in the middle of doing things that are slightly left of center. For instance, in that rainstorm, when she was simply seeking company while we waited for practice to finish, she knocked on my car window and startled me so badly, I threw a book about Peter the Great directly into the air, only to have it bash me in the nose on the way down.

I'm just saying, legitimately from her perspective, I probably seem like a lunatic. We've only met four times outside of the fields, but not once has she found me doing something as innocent as buying a cucumber. No, instead she's found me doing things like lurking outside an Adult Book store, waiting on another friend, who had needed moral support while trying to buy a vibrator. That's the kind of stuff this nice Lacrosse mother finds me doing, as she's innocently off to the adjacent Mexican restaurant. Then there was the time at a charity drive, I almost slammed bodily into her while clutching a doughnut shaped cushion to my chest, with a headless bobble head doll stuck in the center. That is yet another long, long story but I swear this is not evidence of my encroaching madness. The fourth incident is actually so embarrassing, I'm choosing not to describe it in public.

There is a perverse god somewhere laughing his butt off. You see, on this occasion, not only was I down on my knees, one of the blasted books on the shelf was upside down. Rather than reaching out and righting it, I had placed the crown of my head on the floor, and was attempting to read the title. I had one hand on the shelf above me, steadying myself, giving not a thought to how it probably looked as if I was having some strange seizure to everyone else, when I heard this woman's voice. I shot up with a quickness.

"I thought that was you!"she said. Well, in her experience, who else would it be? Woman doing something vaguely bizarre in public? Has to be me. "What are you doing?"

Now, at this juncture, I probably should have lied. I probably should have said, "Oh nothing, just looking." but I wanted to try and explain my contorted position on the floor, and said I was looking for a biography. I left out the part about reading upside down.

"Oh, which one?"

I realized my mistake almost immediately, but as nothing that would reassure this poor woman that I wasn't moments away from sticking my head in an oven, came to mind, I answered truthfully, "Who's Afraid of Leonard Woolf: A Case for the Sanity of Virginia Woolf."

She blinked, laughed and let out a long, drawn out, "Oooooooh. I haven't read that one."

Yeah, I'll bet. I extricated myself from the conversation with a minimum of explanation, and left with equivalent of a Chain book, one from the New York Times Best Seller List. I couldn't be found snatching that up, nope. It gets ever so slightly better, no really. When I exited the store, a man stood nearby with a sandwich board, asking for signatures to preserve some parks and recreation space, to keep it out of the hands of a developer. I stopped and did my civic duty. It's just my tough luck that he was wearing stuffed reindeer antlers on his head, trying to attract attention.

This was, of course, the moment when the Lacrosse mom exited, and saw me deeply engrossed in conversation with Antler Man. Embracing my fate, I waved cheerfully to her, and the Antler Man waved too. She seemed to be chuckling as she waved back. Can't imagine why.

Next time I meet up with that woman, I'll likely be carrying a live duck and riding tricycle while eating popcorn. I'll have a perfectly reasonable explanation, of course, but that won't matter.

I left the store, and went to the grocery where I bought such shocking and strange things as Broccoli and Leeks.

I do wonder what fate has decreed that this woman will stumble across me doing things that must look like I'm inches away from sitting in a corner, chewing my hair. When I see it from her perspective, truly, I can fully understand why she thinks I'm, at best, a flake, and at worst, a mad woman but for today, I'm blaming Leonard Woolf.


Cabo said...

That was a grand read. I adore Virginia Woolf's work be they bred of demons within our without.

BTW... this line literally had my guts hurting. I had to collect myself for a moment. Priceless.

"Rather than reaching out and righting it, I had placed the crown of my head on the floor, and was attempting to read the title."

You see... I've BEEN in that position. HA!

The Bug said...

Yes Cabo - I think that was the point I started laughing out loud - hilarious! I often WANT to be thought extreme & odd - but more than likely I'll get caught buying the latest Nora Roberts book. Sigh.

This post has a wonderful synchronicity - I have another blog friend (Evening Light Writer from Under the Wild Plum Tree) who has been reading the letters of Vita Sackville-West
to Virginia Wolff. I feel as though I should now read about at least one of these characters - it's a sign!

Kathryn said...

Oh, Alane, i love your stories! I read the last 1/2 to Duane & we laughed our heads off. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

I like Alibris for books, i can find all kinds of books, usually pulled from small bookshops over the US & Canada, even if they're out of print. I've never used Amazon.

I seem to, also, be cursed with the "if i like it, it will soon be gone" affliction. Sigh.

I appreciate your ability to see both sides of an issue. Of the things my parents did teach me, i do appreciate an ability to be empathetic the most. Sometimes empathy feels like a torment because it opens me to so much more pain. Still i'd much rather have it than not.

All that said, however, i do sometimes struggle with the "see the other side" thing, because my mother in utilizing it did not do it well. I've learned that when listening to someone's pain or problems, the "other person's side" has to come last. I need to listen to their hurt first before going to why the other person might have reacted so.

Skip that step & the person i'm trying to comfort thinks that i'm "taking" the side of the other person.

That is what my mother did, consistently. I didn't take problems to her often for i learned early on not to. But on the occasion when i did there was no, "That sounds like it hurt," or "You must really be upset." She went right to the "What did you do/say?" or "Why do you think they said/did that?" It always felt to me like the other person had her compassion & i was always in the wrong.

I don't think she meant it that way, but that is how it came across.

Pauline said...

picturing you sitting on a street corner chewing your hair ;)

this was very funny - I'm always impressed with people who can digress successfully.

Now, do I blame you for the recent lack of Campbell's Green Pea Soup on my local grocer's shelves along with the sad fact that After Eight Mints are no longer being imported?

Land of shimp said...

Cabo, I love Woolf's writing too, and it makes perfect sense that you would like her also. She had a gorgeous use of language.

I'm so glad to know I'm not the only whose reasoning would run to, "I'm already leaning, this is actually easiest..."

Bug, it's clearly a sign! Woolf is following you! You are being stalked ;-) By the way, I think she just believes I'm ...strange. Running into someone four times in seven years isn't often, but she has either seen me being so startled I acted like a freak, loitering around, likely looking anxious and then pained when I saw her by the restaurant, buying weird stuff at a charity drive...etc.

She keeps finding me doing these very normal things -- waiting for a friend, etc. -- but I'm busily acting like a freak of nature. I figure from her perspective, I'm just a goof (possibly in need of some medication).

Kathryn, I'm so glad you both had a good laugh. I have to admit, it is a bit funny to me also. Someday she'll likely finally bump into me in the midst of buying shoes, and we'll both be disappointed by how normal I appear to be. I should make sure to stock up on weird socks, just in case ;-)

Thank you for the recommendation on the bookseller, I'll check them out.

My dad had a lot of good traits, but yeah...both of my parents just roasted each other alive.

What your mom did, I don't really think that's quite the same thing. Another person's viewpoint does matter, and I am annoyingly solution oriented but I'm not sure how a kid would not walk away feeling as if they mattered very little with your mom's approach.

I'm not condemning her, at all. Just like I'm not condemning my parents, they had an awful marriage, an awful divorce, and I'm the only child they had together. Mostly people do the best they can, you know? But even keeping that in mind, I'm having a hard time envisioning what your mom's thinking would be. Perhaps it was a reflection of the way she felt about her own place in the world? I honestly don't know.

That's a different approach, that's for sure. Most parents, and I include myself, have trouble seeing the side of anyone who has upset their kid.

Empathy is a great skill to have, it really is. But to use the phrase I used in the post, with a different meaning, your mom was slightly left of center on that.

Thank you, Pauline. This was hastily written, and it shows. My husband is still primarily out of commission and therefore, I don't have much time to write something, but I'm glad it was enjoyable.

I...errr...well...I'm not responsible for the mints! I swear. The soup is one of the few "this is just not good for me, but I like it anyway!" loves.

My apologies. I shall try and only like lima beans in the future ;-)

Pauline said...

oh don't you dare like Lima beans! I happen to love them and if THEY disappear too, I will be hunting you down!

Vera said...

I oh so love those old bookshops where one can rummage away for hours. In the UK there is a village on the borders of Wales and England which is jam packed full of bookshops, most of which are carry old books. Many a happy hour spent there. Shame in some ways that the Internet will eventually close those shops, unless the owners are savvy enough to have websites themselves. And then there are ebooks coming along.....
I see both sides of situations as well, which makes it a flipping difficult to make personal decisions sometimes, but great for the psychic counselling work I do. That comes from my past as well.
Great read and very interesting.

ds said...

That. Book. Is. Not. Worth. Your. Time. If you want to read about Leonard, then read Leonard (I've yet to do that, but maybe someday) or Victoria Glendinning on Leonard.

Better yet, just read Virginia ;)

I've been downside-up in bookstores too; if anyone saw me, they probably fled...

Land of shimp said...

Pauline, fruitcake and lima beans? You do swim against the stream, and I say, rock on!

Never fear, lima beans (and for that matter, fruitcake) are both safe from me.

I'm with you, Vera. I love books, old bookstores, etc. Admittedly, there are upsides to having a broader digital format. More people can see "print" now that cost limitations aren't as tied to resources.

I don't think real books will every go away, though.

d.s. that was at the root of the argument, I've read the biography you are suggesting :-) That's how I got into the debate in the first place, I was told by this woman that she was reading a biography of Leonard Woolf, I assumed it was the one I'd read...and from there the proverbial fur did fly.

I've also read several biographies on Virginia. I've never read her autobiography, but I'm not much for reading autobiographies...which is odd, since I love to read journals and memoirs.

But yes, that was the entire bone of contention, the difference between the biography I had read, which she had not, and the one she had read blaming the hell out of Leonard.

Thank you for chiming in, though. I truly do appreciate it.

Jennifer D said...

That was a fun story!

I seem to have the same problem with the things I like disappearing. I tend to buy several backups now. Such as lotion, I found this Banana Nut Lotion I adore and I just knew I liked it too much. I was right, it was soon discontinued and now I am down to my last bottle. I am hoarding it at this point. The same thing happens at the market my fav's always vanish.

I haven't read a book by either Woolf... I better get on it. I am intrigued. Thanks for the fun.

Nancy said...

What a wonderful post on a cold January night. I laughed, knowing I have had people in my life that have seemed to always catch me at odd moments. What is with that anyway??!!

Jo said...

Alane, you need to move to Vancouver. You would fit right in here. We're all just like you.

We have a chain of bookstores in Canada called Chapters/Indigo. They are just like Fox Books in the movie "You've Got Mail", wiping out every little "shop around the corner". One bookstore they did not take down, however, is a store called "Duthie Books" which is owned by a Vancouver family. Whenever I want to order a book, if I call Chapters, they either can't get it, or it will take forever. If I call Duthie's, they either have it or they can get within a few days.

Duthie's has comfortable benches and chairs where folks can sit and read. One day I was sitting on a bench reading a biography (and like you, I don't like reading modern fiction). Anyway, there was a man sitting on the same bench, facing in the other direction, and he and I started a conversation. We chatted for quite a while about books, current events, etc., with our backs to each other. When we each got up to leave, we turned and faced each other, and it was the Premier of our province (which is the same as the Governor of your state). I laughed.

Have you read the biography of Vita Sackville-West? She was a friend of Virginia Woolf's. They were an amazing group of people.

Suldog said...

God, you make me laugh. Good stuff!

Alix said...

Thank you, shimp, for your gloriously thoughtful comment at Casa Hice today. I read every word and wanted to tap you on the shoulder and explain so you would understand more clearly. The post spoke to two separate things... one was a sexual assault by my brother in law. The other was a recent incident with a lifelong friend (and when I say lifelong, I mean since birth - literally) who in one fell swoop totally destroyed our friendship. Yes, I agree that most forgiveness includes the going forward of relationships. Yes, of course. But every once in awhile a relationship detonates and you just can't collect the all the shrapnel and reconstruct it. Sometimes things are just too far gone - and usually that refers to trust.

Thanks again for stopping by Casa Hice and for taking the time to read and respond so eloquently.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

really nice to meet you Shimp and thanks for the visit :)

Land of shimp said...

Oh look, comments! Hello, sorry about the delay.

Jennifer, so good to see you! I really loved the quilt you made for your dad, by the way. What a wonderful gift you have.

I do the same thing, Jennifer. This has happened so frequently that if I really like something? I buy a backup whenever possible. I'm telling you, I've got to be some proving ground for marketing, if I've ever gone outside the "niche" (meaning I will soon like that poor niche to death), it's because I have only a mild liking for a thing.

That seems safe for the product in question. If I love it? Oh chances are high it is doomed for mass marketing.

Nancy, I'm so glad it isn't just me on the "what is it with this person catching me at my oddest moments?" thing. I mean, good heavens, the timing on that bookstore encounter had to be precise. I spent most of my time there behaving in a perfectly normal fashion, essentially the moment I didn't? There she was. It was like I summoned her from the mists of the universe.

I'm glad to have company in this doubtful "gift" in you. Good company, too!

Jo, I would love to move to Vancouver, and if the fates are kind, may still someday! My entire family loved the area.

I love your story about the bookstore. Isn't that just the most marvelous feeling? Books provide instant affinity, and a point of connection. You might have been nervous if you'd seen the man first, instead, you were peers having an open discussion...and discovering a person where a symbol had lived before.

That is the coolest darned thing.

I'm so glad, Suldog, and you return the favor with me :-) You're a wonderful non-fiction humor writer.

Alix, I'm so very sorry that you were hurt by someone you should have been able to trust. That's a terrible thing to have to bear, and I'm glad you found your way through it.

Thank you for elaborating. I'm sorry I rambled on so. I do that, by the way, it's practically my freaking trademark ;-)

You didn't owe me any explanation at all, but I truly thank you for providing one. I'm a rambling, musing sort of person, and I tend to treat comment sections like a conversation. Just putting that out there, because I was just adding my thoughts, not refuting yours.

I thought you had a very interesting, and empowering set of thoughts, and I was just expanding on something. I really do thank you for returning the favor here.

You got me thinking a great deal, and that's a great gift to give to someone.

You're welcome, Gary. It was my pleasure. I did just wince slightly, though. You have such a lovely, spare use of language, and you just commented on my most blathering post in ages. I'm usually stranger to brevity, but not quite this much.

Anyway, lovely to e-meet you, and the pleasure was mine!

Tabor said...

Thanks for stopping by my post with the compliment and I am glad to have the joy of reading this post. You could live in my neighborhood and we could carry ducks or ride tricycles or whatever together!

Gary's third pottery blog said...

why yes, you do have more to say than me :) I am all about the quick little bits, I guess! I post usually 3-5 times a day, just a wee bit each time, for the last 3.5 years, over 5000 posts over 3 blogs.....

Land of shimp said...

Tabor, I would feel honored to have a duck carry, trike riding, popcorn eating buddy like you.

I'm glad you stopped by, it reminded me that I need to check back on Zorro's progress!

Aha, Gary, cumulatively that's a lot of words. I type somewhere between 85-90 wpm, which is the other part of it. So between natural wordiness and rapidity of typing speed? Yikes. I sometimes pity people stumbling across my comments. "Holy crap, it's the most verbose woman in the world!"

Ivan Toblog (aka IT) said...

I thought I'd return the favor and visit your blog... almost mesmerized. You paint a wonderful picture of what that woman must believe is insanity, but is truly only coincidence. I love it!!!

The fact that she will still approach and talk to you probably means she isn't judgmental... dontcha hope?

You said, "It did leave me with an almost pathological need to defend people who aren't present." I understand completely. That's probably one of the reasons that I am no longer married to my first wife (but only one). I wish someone had been around to defend me after I was gone.

Books had better never go away because something is needed to distract witch hunters.

Tea said...

Thank you for the lovely comment, it definitely made my day! And I am glad you still managed to post the comment with my crazy Croatian instructions ;)

Land of shimp said...

Hello, Ivan! You and Sol were making me laugh quite a bit earlier today, and I love to laugh so I'm very grateful for that.

I do hope that this means she is not a judgmental sort of person, but I do also know that she thinks I'm...different. She's told me so, "You're just so crazy." said with seeming affection (or at least, she wasn't actively backing away, which I take as a good sign).

On the occasion, sometime in the future, where she actually sees me doing something completely sane, she likely won't recognize me at all.

Thank you for the visit, I do appreciate it.

Hello Tea! I'm just mortified that the comment that actually posted was the one wherein I was musing away about how I'd never beat the translation program into submission.

It's perfectly reasonable that you would have instructions in Croatian, as you are from Croatia! It was quite funny. That was something like my sixth try, and I typed that out thinking that another comment was about to vanish into the ether.

Instead, there it was. Emblazoned for all to see :-) I should have known.

I'm so glad you enjoyed the comment, and thanks for the visit!

Shrinky said...

I adore your style of writing, what a treat this was to read! I have a similar friendly stalker, she never fails to leap out from nowhere to mis-read what I'm up to.. but now, being past the point of embarrassment, I've long since given up trying to explain, "This is NOT what it seems!".

Virtually every High Street in the UK appears to be cloned as far as chain stores go, few corner shops are able to survive. Such a pity. I do use Amazon, it stocks everything and provides great value for money, but there is nothing to compare with physically browsing through a good bookstore, it's so tactile and distracting, I can lose myself for hours in one of those!

ethelmaepotter! said...

Just stopped by to say thank you for visiting my blog and for "diagnosing" my obsession with Andy Griffith and I Love Lucy: "As long as she touches in with her show, she feels like she can cope."
Good grief! I consider myself somewhat insightful, but I had never before put my feelings into words. I now have bullets for my weapon of defense against the naysayers of old sitcoms.
Your blog is WONDERFUL, and I believe I'll follow along with you for a while. LOVE the post about how the internet has changed us (that song is stuck in my head!) and the story of your inspection of the Hubby's nether regions. HILARIOUS!!!!
Nice to meet you; see you often in the future!

Land of shimp said...

Shrinky, it's good to see you :-) Glad all went well for you (I say again, because it bears repeating).

Mine is an acquaintance, but I'm glad to know that this is a fairly common happening, and that other people have a person who just pops up at what are seemingly inopportune, or simply odd, times. It's make me feel a lot better.

I wouldn't have guessed that about the UK and Chains. It makes sense, after all, Chains generally have enough financial backing to survive financial downturns, where as independents don't often.

Even wanting to shop independent stores, I'm in a Chain as often as not. When we picked up a new toaster the other week, it was at the ubiquitous Bed, Bath and Beyond. For something like that, if an independent store still exists? I have no idea where they are.

There's an odd spirit of uniformity in Chains, that again makes perfect sense, but it's vaguely surreal. When I can literally go to another country, walk into a store, and have the difference between that store and the one in my home area be nothing at all (they are even set up in corporate standards) I guess there are two ways to look at it: Evidence of how we have formed a global community, in some respects. Or they less warm and fuzzy, "death of the small business".

But to be fair, people who might have opened a small business are now more likely to buy a franchise.

I do use Amazon, clearly, for the same reasons you do, I can find anything there. Every now and then I'll go with an independent seller, even via the internet but boy are they ever in a pickle. When buying some journals, I made sure to buy them from a Prince Edward Island bookseller, rather than Amazon (the author of the journals hailed from there, 100 years ago).

It was worth it, and felt like the right thing to do, but the ship times were longer, as is to be expected. It's Amazon when I need something quickly.

Hello, Ethel! I'm so pleased that I helped provide some good defense words. People can be so ...if not harsh then odd...about something deemed a different sort of interest, but the reasons behind them are almost always ones anyone can relate to.

I've got a friend who loves historical romance, which are not my cup of tea, but she's found something that makes her happy. Pretty people meet in period dress, conflict ensues, pretty people fall in love and have a pretty ending together. When put that way, it's so darned easy to see the escapist value of it.

We all have something, and it differs from person to person, but it is so far from strange. It is something to which we can all relate.

Thank you for stopping by, and I'm really glad I gave you a laugh :-)

Cricket said...

That was a great post and very funny. I read it a while back but haven't had time to comment 'til now.

I used to frequent a long-gone used bookstore that was one of my favorite places. It was only very loosely organized by subject. You never knew what you were going to find and where. That was part of the fun.

I read Red Ranger. Wonderful recommendation. If you haven't already, you can pick up your assignment for next Xmas in my reply to your comment on "Chapter And Verse".

Re: another post of yours, I read up a bit on Richard Cohen. Wow. What a wacko. There are some strange and evil folk out there. I'm never sure if I'm better off knowing or not. Maybe 51/49 in favor of knowing.

Re: your post on height. A friend of mine once called her son in to reach something saying "I need your tallness in here." Her son replied "I prefer 'your highness'."

Hope to be back soon. Respectfully yours,


Mia said...

People who want something specific are better off shopping online. People who want to explore and possibly discover something new will always go to bookstores.

What's strange about reading a book about Russia?

Joanna Jenkins said...

I grew up in Ohio and often marvel at the number of chain restaurants and stores they have. There is nothing like good old fashioned customer service. Sadly it's lacking in so many of those chain stores.

Thanks for stopping by my blog via Hilary's Post of the Week. I really appreciate it.

I'll stop back again here soon.

Have a great weekend.

Land of shimp said...

Hello, Cricket! I'm so very pleased that you ended up reading Red Ranger Came Calling, that is absolutely delightful. There is nothing quite like the feeling of being able to share something like that, knowing that it will almost certainly touch someone. The wonderful networking we do with the things we are fortunate enough to encounter.

I will happily check the comment section for my assignment, and thank you in advance for it. I look forward to it, truly.

I adore your avatar, by the way. I always want to pat it on the head, or attempt to converse with it :-)

Hello Mia. It may be a thing particular to the United States, but having an interest in any given subject, past the point of being in a formal educational setting, is often deemed "odd" here. So there isn't anything odd about reading a book about any of the various Czars, but since Russia, the political structure of Russia, and the history of that structure are of interest to me, without it having a direct impact on my life? Some think it is odd to pursue that sort of interest when there isn't a degree on the line.

I started studying the history of several countries just because it was of interest to me. I'm unlikely to gain anything other than knowledge from it, and THAT is the thing that many would deem odd. "What are you planning on doing with it?" "Nothing, just wanted to know."

But all that said? Again, nothing. There may be something odd about throwing said book with such force that it ricocheted off the interior of my car, into my own face, on so slim a scare as someone knocking on my window when I wasn't expecting it. So that's the answer, it wasn't what I was reading that was odd, it was that my reaction was that of a jumpy, tweaky sort of person.

Then the subject matter became just a further, "All righty then." from her perspective.

It's nice to see you, Mia. I recognize you from Jo's blog :-)

Hello, JJ! Thank you for the return visit. I'm always so grateful to Hilary for compiling posts, because she directs me to things I might not otherwise see. I loved the pictures of your neice's flowers, so the pleasure was mine.

Thank you for returning the visit, that was very kind of you!

jingle said...

awesome stories,
gifted in fiction
and imaginations...

happy Monday,

Land of shimp said...

I'm so sorry I missed your comment, jingle!

Thank you for stopping by, and for the encouraging words!

Kyle said...

Wow Alane, lots to talk about on this one!

Sorry you are stuck with chains out there, but I guess it makes some sense, in a no sense way. What a pretzel.

I'll keep quiet about your superhero power of being able to crush the future of inanimate consumer products. That might come in handy some day. :)

I am very familiar with Virginia Woolf, but I must confess I've never read that book. It sounds tempting, but then again thinking of going through her life via a book, not so much right now.

Once again, I was drawn in by the charm, humor, and visions created in this post. What a storyteller you are Alane. So glad we crossed paths.

Land of shimp said...

Kyle, I think it is one of those "Good Space Books" when you're in a good space, it's an interesting thing to consider. You know, those times where it's actually fun to figure out all the ways you disagree with something? A mental limbering of sorts.

I get the reasons behind trying to view Virginia from this angle "Virginia Woolf, victim of the Patriarchy in the form of one Leonard Woolf!" but it doesn't fit. In many ways, the ways in which Virginia was freed from the expected structure by both her family, and by marrying Woolf.

In both of their lives there is evidence of the limitations of the times, both in his attitudes and attempts, but also in her suffering. Absolutely, the response to her situation would have been vastly different in modern times, for a huge slew of both societal and medical reasons.

The book is a lit bit laughable (when you are in the right brain space) because you absolutely see the framework of trying to claim Virginia, even more as an icon for a particular grouping. It's also easy to spot where the validity of the central idea comes that Virginia suffered unduly at the hands of men, but the real culprits are known.

Demonizing Leonard Woolf for the sake of demonizing the Patriarchy is stretching it and actually, rather diminishing to the true accusations that can be lobbed throughout history.

Leonard wasn't perfect, but trying to brand him the bad, controlling man is ...well pretty ironic. He was actually quite loving and even nurturing, given the tools available to him at the time.

But it does speak to what an important figure Virginia is both in what she went through, and what she created, that people set out to bend facts in order to claim her as a symbol (and in this case, in contradiction of what are pretty easily perceived facts).

So the book is sort of a maddening labor of love, and best read when you're in the mood to perceive that love, the reasons for writing it, and the impulse behind mucking around with the perceptions. Otherwise, it's just likely to be frustrating.

I'm really glad I stumbled across you, Kyle. You signed on as a follower before I actually even knew what a follower was, at all so I've got you to thank for my being able to find you.

You do an excellent roundup of liberal issues, and issues involving equality for all, particularly the Gay and Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered community.

I refer people to your blog all the time, for precisely that reason and in the hopes that they'll find that point of affinity, which is where understanding and empathy really begins. From empathy springs a lot of good things in our hopes for the future.

It's a pleasure to know you.