Thursday, May 01, 2008


Everything changes

I was in the supermarket the other day and a great song started playing on the muzak, a song I loved and used to dance to at my favorite club back in the 1980s when I was a punk art student. Fast forward twenty years and here I am looking at the organic pasta sauce, listening to that same song, suddenly feeling the same emotions I used to feel back then. No, feeling them even more intensely than I did then. I could hardly stand it. I couldn't read the label on the pasta because my eyes were misting over. No one told me about this part, I thought. Or people did, at least in books, but for some reason I didn't understand what it meant. Because I was a kid?

Man, the getting older thing, it's rough sometimes.

The news from here. The cat's out of the bag because I've already told a bunch of people, but here it is in public, so to speak: I've closed my bookshop. A good portion of my inventory has already migrated up the street to the antiques co-op, where I rent a booth. More will follow. The dismantling is just beginning. Many of my bookcases are nine feet high and I'm going to have trouble finding new homes for them. I think I'll put some in storage in case I decide to reopen in the future.

Now, listen here. Don't Cry For Me, Argentina, because the sense of freedom I'm feeling is a deeply wonderful thing. Seven years I've been here and I simply need a break from listening to people's stories, and from scraping the overhead together every month, which has gotten harder and harder. However, I do not consider this a failure in any way, shape, or form, because I could continue to scrape by, if I chose to do so. But I do not choose to do so, right now. I've loved having this shop, and I can honestly say there isn't anything else I would rather have done with my time. To be able to say that, that's not bad. Anyway, I'll still be a bookseller, part-time - I'll keep selling a little online, and in the antiques mall, and at the antiquarian bookfair in Maine in September. The other part of the time, I'll be weeding the garden, and painting at the easel - and I've got some great news about that - I've been accepted at an artist-in-residence program for the fall. I go to Connecticut for the month of October. Change! I swear to God, you make one, and others stampede in right behind it.

I'm not going to say what that song was. The one I heard in the pasta aisle. Chances are, you've got your own.

Thanks for the update. Part of why your blog has always been a 'must read' for me is your authenticity. (The other parts being that you're a damn fine writer and you write about things that I happen to love, like literature, bookselling and books. As well as your daily life. Can I say you are a little like the Sam Pepys of your day? I think so.)
Change is part of life and I'm getting ready to transition to opening my own brick and mortar bookstore in Tacoma, Washington. I'm leaving a well paying job so it's a major life event for my wife and I. Furthering your artistic ambitions must be very satisfying for you as well.
I'm glad to read that you haven't thought of your time selling books as anything but positive. I'd rather live a life that's authentic and true to me, than one that the material world would consider 'successful.'
Finally, thanks for all your posts. I can't tell you how many times you've sent me to ABE to buy my own copy of different books you've discussed, and how many times I've copied and sent out a post to friends and relatives. Many times.
Viva la Sarah! I hope you continue to blog about your art, about books, about life. Without sounding too sentimental, you're blog quickly became a daily fix that I always enjoyed. I hope you continue it in some form or fashion.
Dear Sarah,

Congratulations and best wishes on your new adventures. No doubt you'll be busier than ever! I hope you continue to write the occasional post and keep us informed.


Sarah - you are very special and I too hope that you keep up at least the occasional post, after all it's not as though you are going to stop reading now, are you.

Congratulations on the art thing too, good stuff!

But, and this is a big but, and I'm sure you understand; I.Have.To.Know.What.The.Song.Was.

(you can whisper it too me, I won't tell.)
I missed the blog while you were 'gone'. As the time went on it became pretty obvious that something was going on. That didn't stop me from checking at least once a day to see if you has shown up back in our blogosphere!

I offer my congratulations on the new opportunities you are able to look forward to. I have owned, and currently own, a brick and mortar shop. However, in my case I have a family member who runs it while I earn enough money to keep myself, my sister, and the shop afloat. When I shut a shop down a couple of years ago it was frustrating to hear so many people stop in and tell me how much the shp would be missed. I wanted to tell them "Well, if you had actually spent some money supporting the shop it wouldn't be going anywhere!". But I didn't.

I hope you continue to offer us a few tidbits now and then. I enjoy your insights. Thank you!

Wayne Z.
Dear Sarah, congratulations on making the leap & doing this change. It sounds positive in many ways, even though I know change is hard.

I have to admit that I selfishly wish that you could still be there when I go to Maine (not this year, but maybe this next year?) because I was looking forward to the chance of meeting up with you & seeing your bookstore.

The October Artist-in-Residence sounds just wonderful. I hope you will still have a blog & can blog about your experiences there.
Just clicked on you for the first time - your post of being in the grocery aisle, the song, - oh, yeah.
Your new venture sounds exciting despite the trepidation - but I hope you continue to post - having just found your blog, I need to catch up.
"Just for a moment I was back at school
And felt that old familiar pain
And as I turned to make my way back home
The snow turned in to rain."

I can't tell you what your comments mean - and those of you who emailed - thanks so much for the positive thoughts - I was quite anxious about letting people know I was closing up...

Tim, Viva la Sarah! Pepys! You made my day, man... awesome. I know - part of the reason I'm downsizing in this way is that I want to be even further removed from the pressures of the material world. The overhead at the shop, the price of gas in the tank, the extra phone and electric bills, the usual. I want to focus on painting, and on being frugal and paying off our mortgage quickly if we possibly can. The path to freedom!

Dan - I'll keep writing - I love writing too much to stop. I often find myself composing blog posts in my head, it's gotten to be a good habit.

Jon, some days I feel special, some not. Feeling special is a warning sign I'm taking myself too seriously! If I tell you the song - promise you won't laugh, now...

Wayne - I had a fellow trying to get in the shop today (I'm here packing up some boxes, as you can see) and when I said I was closed he said he was sorry he hadn't come by sooner. I said I'd been here seven years. He said, "Well, I've only lived in town for a few years." Oh. That wasn't long enough, I guess...

Kim, I plan on blogging along. I think I'll need to blog at the a-i-r program, a bit - it's going to be kinda lonely down there, so far from home.

Susan, glad you found me. Hope you find some good reading in the archives. Thanks.

Steven - those weepy seventies songs. Get you right where you live, don't they? p.s. haven't started reading Dante yet, have you? Mine is on the bottom of the pile on the bedside table. Like a big dark stone. Or an anchor. Or something heavy.
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