I’d been looking forward to the last week of April for about 6 months. A good friend of my wife’s was getting married and had invited us to the ceremony and weekend activities. The event was to take place at the Hotel Monaco in Portland, Oregon.
I’d only been to Portland once before (in the summer of 2003) and honestly didn’t enjoy most of that trip. We stayed in a cheap hotel on the southeast end of town, had to drive and fight for parking way too much…
But I really enjoyed my time exploring Powell’s Books. I vividly recall walking into the store, feeling overwhelmed by the massive shelves, the sheer number of books, the impossibility of ever seeing everything.
When I heard the wedding was in Portland, I knew I was going to return to Powell’s and that was an amazing feeling. I made my list of 1st printings I wanted to find (it’s a new passion for me, collecting certain books in 1st printings. I am more of a snob all the time) and tried to keep my anticipation at a minimum.
We picked our hotel (The Mark Spencer, a great place if you’re looking to stay in a great area of downtown Portland. The food options alone will blow your mind) from those near the Monaco and in close proximity to Powell’s. We couldn’t have done better. This is the view from our hotel window.
We arrived on Friday and planned to spend all day Monday at the bookstore, but when our dinner with the bride and groom ended earlier than we expected, we had several hours to spend exploring and shopping.
In my head, I was going to find all these amazingly clean copies of books I’d been looking for for quite a while. When I reached the halfway point of my list and hadn’t found a single 1st printing, I began to worry. In my memory, Powell’s was the place to find specific copies of books, not just any old mass market or trade copy, but that is all I was finding.
Then the flood gates opened. I found 80% from the second half of my list. So many that my basket was almost too full for me to effectively search for more. My arms grew tired.
I also learned how tricky the staff at Powell’s can be. After my success in the second half of the list (and finally noticing copies in the staff only section), I revisited the first half, checking the overflow shelves to see if I’d missed anything. Sure enough, just out of my reach was a hardbound edition of a Russell Banks book I was looking for. I had to get a staff member to retrieve it, which I hated doing, but it was worth my discomfort as I found a signed 1st printing of Cloudsplitter ($6.95 people). This trend continued with other authors, multiple trade copies on lower shelves and editions I wanted up high. It makes sense- Leave the less valuable copies where the average buyer can see them, and place the collectible copies just out of reach.
My unexpected score was a 1st printing of Watership Down. Of course when I was showing it to a friend, some of the glue snapped. Luckily the binding is sewn as well as glued, so it isn’t a total disaster.
We visited the bookstore almost every day and I regret nothing.
All in all I spent way too much money, but when I look at my shelves, see some completed collections, it makes my heart glad. Of course there are still many books to buy, and I have to decide if I want to hope for the serendipity of a thrift store or independent bookstore find or give in and buy from online sites.
As for the wedding- It was incredible. I get very emotional at weddings, and I am unashamed to admit that I usually cry. There is something wonderful about two people finding each other in this crazy world that always warms my heart. It is especially poignant when the people are older and have had a rough go of things, been treated badly.
Yeah, I’m a romantic and that’s fine.
Here is one last photo- some cool art on a building near our hotel.
What is your favorite bookstore? What sort of things do you collect? Am I a total nutjob?
One month before the placement of twin seven year old boys in our home, Sheryl and I took our last vacation together before becoming parents. I’d never been to San Francisco, we both wanted to go, so we went. It sometimes seems like only yesterday.
I don’t think I had the slightest idea how my life was about to change, or how insane being a parent would be/is. Looking back, I wouldn’t change one damn thing. I’ve got great kids who are less than 6 months away from graduation. I love them. But once again things are about to change in a huge way, and as before, I have zero clue about the how.
Anyway, here are three pictures from that trip. It was a really good time. Also, don’t pay any attention to the plastic bag in the last picture. It isn’t really there. You’re mind is playing tricks on you.
I’m super busy editing “From Water” and I really want to working at it so I can actually keep the goal of self publishing soon. But I’d also like to continue my Wednesday blog posts. So, instead of some rambling paragraphs about what I’m writing or not writing, you get this fine photo.
I’d intended to use it as part of a black and white photography challenge, but it wasn’t as interesting as some of the others and I set it aside. Looking at it today, I’m struck by the contrasting lines and bleak background. Seasons change. I get older. And I like this photo today.
Thanks to a lovely December temperature inversion, I’ve been spending most of the past week indoors. The air is so toxic and nasty, taking the dog for a 30 minute walk on Monday made my throat hurt for hours after. For both our health, we are putting walks on the shelf until this nastiness clears out.
When too much gunk and moisture get trapped in the valley, dense fog forms, and as it is super cold as well, these lovely layers of hoar frost form on everything. I’d find it beautiful if it hadn’t been created by toxic air.
I’ve lived in the Salt Lake Valley most of my life, and this is the one thing that makes me wish I lived somewhere else. Sometimes these inversions last weeks, and along with the health risks, winter depression settles in. The hours of light are already fewer, and when you add gray skies, bad air, below freezing temperatures, warmer, sunnier days can seem far away indeed.
I usually enjoy winter. And more often than not, it is spectacular here in Utah.
I try to remember that beauty, but it is hard when I’m trapped indoors, experiencing the same day over and over.
So, in an attempt to keep my chin up and talk about more interesting things. I’m presenting this photo of five of my favorite reads from this past year, and—
hoping you fine readers will share your favorites with me.
I wouldn’t really call the following paragraphs reviews. Think of them as reasons I liked and recommend these titles.
I found it nearly impossible to pick a favorite this year, but My Absolute Darling came as close as any. I almost hesitate to recommend it as the subject matter (emotional, physical and sexual abuse) are difficult topics for many, and this book does not shy away or hide the horror. That said, it is an important book, and Gabriel Tallent is a fantastic writer.
History of Wolves vexed me. It is a coming of age story that refuses to fit the mold. It took me several days of pondering to decide if liked the book. Months later I realized I loved it. I’m a sucker for flawed characters, and this book is full of them. The ending left many feeling confused and frustrated, but the ambiguity worked for me. I didn’t need to have everything explained, and the answers I was offered were satisfying.
Good Morning, Midnight is also atypical of its supposed genre. An post Apocalyptic novel that ignored many tropes. Themes of regret, loneliness, ambition, loss, redemption are beautifully explored. I highly recommend this one. Also, it made me cry three tears.
The Nix surprised me over and over. Nathan Hill weaves a very compelling story about a son trying to understand his estranged mother. I laughed out loud several times, felt disgust and sadness, and found myself completely wrapped up in events. Again, this book is filled with awesomely flawed characters who might get it right in the end, but maybe not.
American War offers a glimpse of a very likely future for the United States- A second civil war. Omar El Akkad gives striking insight into how someone becomes indoctrinated, and how quickly that indoctrination can lead to extremism and horrible acts of violence.
Don’t forget, I want to know your favorites as well.
A mostly Wordless Wednesday post-
Athena is almost 6 months old. While still a puppy, she is no longer the tiny little thing we brought home in July. She just passed the 50 pound mark. I can already see the adult dog she will become, and she will be amazing. Her guard instincts have kicked in and she spends many content hours staring out the windows, waiting and watching. I love her more and more.
Last Saturday my brother Robbie got married. It was a grand night, filled with family, fun, love, and some craziness. The venue (Publik Coffee) was near perfect. I’m a sucker for exposed brick walls, so I was impressed with this place the moment we entered.
Families and friends mingled on either side of the room. A testament to how well we all get along. There was very little awkwardness.
I’ve liked my brothers girlfriend/fiance/wife, Emily since the first time we met. She has the right balance of class and irreverence, which makes her perfect for my brother and our family.
I can admit, there was a time I thought Robbie would never marry (which isn’t a bad thing. That sort of commitment isn’t for everyone), so as he stood in front of this room and said his amazing vows, I teared up over and over. More tears were shed when Emily took her turn. When two people have been through hell and fire, then find happiness together, well, I’m a sucker for that sort of story.
Here are some more lovely images.
This was taken just before the toasts.
First dance. Also, I love dancing at weddings. It is a time when you can just be silly, dance like a crazy person, and have a grand time. The dancing at this wedding was particularly awesome, with all sorts of insanity. I hope there is epic video.
I really dig this lady next to me, by the way. My wife is top notch.
See you next week, friends.
As I looked up, streaks of pale pink and yellow stared back at me me. For a moment, it seemed as if the sky were moving at an incredible rate of speed, stretching the clouds, and the earth lurched to keep pace. I stumbled, confused and dizzy, forgetting why I had come to the city, who I intended to meet. A passing stranger spoke to me, but his words were a jumble of incoherent sounds. I could only stare at the fading light, awestruck.
Three deep breaths, three rapid blinks, and I regained a recollection of my surroundings, who and where I was. She was waiting for me in the bar around the corner, a cold beer already placed on the table in front of the empty chair I would soon occupy. I was excited to see her again, share some conversation, one hundred laughs with someone I did not see enough of during the autumn months.
And in that moment, as I fumbled with my phone, framed a picture, instead of thinking how much she would appreciate the stunning sunset, the mountains dark silhouette like an oil painting, all I could think was how I wished you were right here to see this with me instead.