Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Adventures of a Bibliophile

Fall break. Two blessed words that came none too soon into a busy semester. My plans to go home to Jersey were accompanied by great excitement and days of not eating in order to stuff myself with as much of my parents' food as possible. A couple weeks before I headed home, my mother and I talked about spending a day in New York City, one of our usual haunts when we get some spare time together throughout the year. But what should we do? At first, we thought we would see a show on Broadway but my favorite Shakespeare play is coming back in November so we decided to wait. All our regular museums and exhibits were offering nothing new. We were stuck.
Then we had a conversation that went like this:

Mom: I have an idea!
Me: *sighs* Mom, I'm not biking. You already asked me that.
Mom: I looked up 10 best bookstores in the city. We should go visit them!
Me:
Mom:
Me: Are you an angel?

One day I will write a blogpost (or two or ten) about how much of an influence my mother has been in my life. She is my greatest supporter, no matter what I choose to pursue. She listens patiently to my many obsessions with music, TV shows, and books and doesn't judge (I hope!) my immense love for fictional characters. She's the one who has accompanied me on countless book readings and author events and small out-of-the-way concerts of people she's never heard of. In the end, she's my best friend who I can tell anything to. So naturally, she knows me best. She decided we were going to spend a whole day going through bookstores in Manhattan just because I love them so much and would get a kick out the trip.
Did I mention how much I love my mother?
Anyway, we set out Saturday morning armed with bags to carry our purchases in and our handy-dandy booklist. First stop was in Chelsea: 192 Books. The store was smaller than we thought but well-lit and charming. I picked up a copy of The Circle by Dave Eggers, which I've heard good things about! Mom bought a few books as presents for the little people in her life.

192 Books in Chelsea

Next, we headed over to the most touristy bookstore by far: The Strand. You might have heard of this place; it's got three floors of books and it was crowded! We wormed our way through the bottom floor, picking up books that looked interesting or those that had been recommended to us by friends. But we really found our peace on the third floor, the rare book room. There were books dating back to practically the beginning of time. I didn't want to touch them for fear the pages would disintegrate between my fingertips. I don't know why more people didn't want to hang out up there but it was pure bliss. My favorite part of the rare book room? The smell. Someone has seriously gotta bottle that stuff.
Mom got a good laugh when I ducked into a nook full of books and declared that it is exactly what my heaven will look like!

Me in book heaven!

Our next stop was a used book store further downtown called HousingWorks Bookstore. It's completely run on donations. Every book has come from someone else, most of them well-loved and all of them looking for their next reader! There's a cute cafe where we ate lunch and rested our sore feet! I gathered up a few books for Christmas presents then spent a while looking for books for my mom's classroom at school. The selection of children's books was great! The volunteer staff at the counter explained that all the money goes into housing for the homeless and relief for people with HIV/AIDS. We definitely need to donate some of the cajillion books in our house to HousingWorks!

Outside HousingWorks!

By the time we got to the fourth and last bookstore, McNally-Jackson, we were pooped! It was busy also and only a couple blocks from HousingWorks. We wandered amid the tourists who were loud and obnoxious but then caught sight of something interesting at the front of the store. McNally-Jackson boasts it's own printing press! My dad is in printing but it was neat seeing the press up close. If anyone is interested in seeing their work self-published, check out McNally-Jackson! They also have a large downstairs where we found peace and quiet and more importantly, a bench to sit on!

I have my mother to thank for this wonderful day. The bookstores were amazing but getting to spend the day with her was just another memory I'll forever cherish.

Mama and me!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Failures

Part of me wanted to delete this entire blog and just start over so I didn't have all my failures staring at me every time I went to write a post. But then I started playing around with the settings and gave it a makeover. Not to mention all the good times I've had with this blog. Don't worry; I'm painfully aware of the struggles you, the reader, and I have been through on this blog. Like this trainwreck of a post. Or this one. And let's not forget the one that made no sense at all.
I've grown in a lot of ways in the past year. As a writer. As a person in general. The way I view the world has changed and I'm more confused than ever. But that's life. One of the things I'm learning is that you can't predict it, can't even plan for it. 
For those of you who haven't read my blog before, I'm Marie. I'm a college student who likes to read and write. Sometimes I talk about those things on this blog but sometimes I talk about other things too. I like dancing crazily in front of my mirror when my roommate's not home (and sometime's when she is) and making stupid videos with my cousins. Country music will always be part of who I am and I spend way too much time watching TV shows like Pretty Little Liars and Supernatural. I'm about as far from perfect as you can get. But I enjoy life. My life.
I thought a good re-intro to this blog would be to tell you about how much of a failure I've been recently. You know, lay all my cards on the table. I won't even try to use my poker face.
So let's talk about cooking.
I'm terrible at it.
But I didn't know how terrible I was at it until I started trying all these fall recipes. I admit I caught fall fever early. I'm excited for colder weather and heavy blankets and the leaves falling off the trees. Why not then, try some new recipes? How exciting this will be! How good everything will taste! Fall!
I started with Pumpkin Sloppy Joes, which would have gone great if I hadn't been tricked by the man in Wegmans who sold me whole cloves and I dumped a whole bunch into the mix. Mistake. Do you guys know how awful cloves taste? God. I wasted an entire pound of beef, an entire can of pumpkin, and a good two hours to this dish that was now almost inedible. But good college kid I am; I suffered through the whole thing by picking out the cloves before I microwaved a serving. Lesson learned: no cloves, ever. And no more sloppy joes for a while either.
Next I tried Pumpkin Soup. I've made soup before, guys. I'm not really that bad at it. I stocked up on the ingredients (inexpensive! healthy!) and set to work one weekend afternoon. It smelled great. My whole apartment was the scent of autumn and not a single candle was lit. Then I sat down to eat lunch and put a spoonful in my mouth. And almost spit it back out. Large chunks of onion, which I swear I diced, were swimming in my soup like little fishies. My roommate stared across the table as I forced down spoonful after spoonful. I made this soup, goddamnit, and I was gonna eat it. That dish would have been lost if not for my mother. I was complaining about my inadequacy to her on the phone next day and she said, "Well Marie, did you try putting it in the blender?"
Uh. Um. No?
It worked. Of course it worked. Thank you, Mother. After that, it was substantially more edible and I ate almost the whole tureen and did not taste one onion!
Those are only two of my woeful attempts. I won't put you through the pumpkin cookies that went in the garbage. Or the pumpkin cupcakes that were supposed to be foolproof. Apparently, I'm a new kind of idiot. It's part of growing up, right? That's what I tell myself as I open another packet of pre-marinated chicken breast and throw it in a sauté pan and then toss it on some romaine leaves. I'm trying but this whole living on your own thing is hard. Someone send me back to sixth grade where all I had to do at night was decide which sweatshirt and jeans I wanted to wear to school the next day.

Check back soon for more updates about me and my writing. And if you really like me, recommend my blog to your friends!