The Little Free Thread Library
June 3, 2024 5:29 AM   Subscribe

Spending the last couple of weekends late spring cleaning required confronting the dozens of books I've held onto over the years, jammed on dusty shelves and closet boxes, with the oldest dating all the way back to summer reading favorites from grade school. Some of these I keep not so much because I love the story itself (I'm a big fan of ebooks and have most of my reading history digitized), but because the book as an object holds special meaning. Do you have any physical books you keep around more for the memento libri than for the text inside? Tell us about them (or anything else) in our weekly Free Thread!
posted by Rhaomi (163 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Some personal examples that come to mind:

- Blindsight by Peter Watts -- my favorite science fiction novel, graciously signed by the author
- America: The Book, also signed (by Stephen Colbert!)
- Night Work by Thomas Glavinic -- the first thing I ever bought online (or at least on Amazon)
- House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski, because you can't not own a physical copy if you want to read it right
- A Zondervan student bible from when I was still a religious tween -- I did its 3-month reading track one summer and filled the end notes with handwritten verses that still speak to me
- Everyday Wonders by Barry Evans, a delightful collection of thought experiments, puzzles, and science-adjacent musings full of photos and illustrations
- Old dog-eared collections of Calvin and Hobbes, The Onion, and The Far Side that played a big role in shaping my sense of humor
- Speaking of cartoons, the Cartoon History of the United States by Larry Gonick more or less formed the basis of my historical understanding of America, and it's heavily worn from my time in AP US History (where it was a great study aid!)
- A whole stack of vintage children's books claimed from my grandparents house after they passed, including the infamous tearjerker Love You Forever, the richly illustrated Rainbabies and Heckedy-Peg, and a pop-up history of Christopher Columbus published (for some reason) by Sears, Roebuck, & Co.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:30 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]

Larry Gonick's work is always great.
posted by NoMich at 5:34 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

Popping in to say that we have power and AC after missing them for 30 hours in last week's Dallas storm, yay! Also I had to have a second sonogram after my mammogram last month and it came out with the new thing being a cyst, also yay!

The book I have kept forever is Penmarric by Susan Howatch, which is a retelling of the history of Henry II of England and his children (legitimate and otherwise) through the filter a family of late Victorians down through to the World Wars. My late mother bought it in England when I was a teenager and it's a paperback, so: not in great shape. For various reasons I don't have a lot of my mom's possessions and that one has a lot of sentimental value.
posted by gentlyepigrams at 5:42 AM on June 3 [10 favorites]

Compact OED, two volumes (including a magnifying glass!) 1971, so outdated: doesn't have ANY emoji 😱
posted by HearHere at 5:48 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]

I have been lightening the load of stuff for some years now, including what was originally thousands of books. Most of the physical books I keep these days are ones that I will use as reference, so it’s down to a shelf. It’s interesting what I know I’m going to consult again: a medieval bestiary, origami boxes, drawing books, knitting stitches, sentence diagraming, and Katie Mack’s THE END OF EVERYTHING. Any fiction I reread goes on Kindle.

And then there are copies of things I published myself—published paperbacks turning yellow with age, my PhD dissertation, and hard copies of the books I self published. I could really get rid of the old paperbacks, which are disintegrating, but it all represents Things I Actually Did Once Honest to God.

Speaking of which, an old boyfriend from 55 years ago found my blog and left a comment on it yesterday. He said he had attended a Zoom reunion of the campus radio station for his university, and my name came up quite a bit. This is not necessarily a good thing. I did not visit him that often.
posted by Peach at 5:50 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]

Oh and all the republished volumes of Pogo and all of Edward Gorey’s anthologies!
posted by Peach at 5:53 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

I have a personal library of hundreds of books which is, at this point, almost exclusively general nostalgia. They're basically decoration. I almost never re-read books, with few exceptions. But I hate to think of them going to waste, or just being recycled as paper products. So they remain in my house, collecting dust.

I'm exclusively a public library reader these days. Saturday night I finally gave up on a book I had been reading for 10 days or so, I was at about 410 out of 480 pages and I was just, like, MAD every time I picked up the book to read. Moved on to my next check-out yesterday morning and read like 170 pages throughout the day, so that's obviously going much better. The current book is Sparks Like Stars by Nadia Hashimi, highly recommended!
posted by obfuscation at 5:58 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

Larry Gonick's work is always great.

I have the complete "Cartoon History Of The Universe/History of the Modern World" series.

But the Sentimental Favorites are:

* A complete set of the Time-Life Nature Library, assembled thanks to browsing Paperback Book Swap. My parents had a mostly-complete set when I was a kid and I was fascinated by them; I would mostly just look at the pictures and read the captions. Woefully out of date, but still nostalgic in a way I can't explain.

* Some children's books that resonated with me on a gut level:

The Tyger Voyage by Richard Adams.
Shazira Shazam and the Devil.
Your Own Best Secret Place.
Zeek Silver Moon.
Soonie And the Dragon.
Henry The Explorer.

* A complete set of Eduardo Galeano's trilogy Memory of Fire, a history of the Americas from Pre-columbian myth up to 1984 (the year he finished). It's a history told through short vignettes, and reads like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Howard Zinn, and Larry Gonick got drunk one night and collaborated on it. It's awesome.

* Finally: a copy of Leon Uris' book Redemption, which was a sequel to his book Trinity (which I also have). The reason I have Trinity is because back in 1992, literally the day after I graduated from college, I was offered a paid internship serving as Leon Uris' assistant for two months, working with a team that was trying to stage a theatrical adaptation of the book. Lee had made the deal with the producer that he could have the rights to adapt it if Lee himself was the playwright.

That internship set me down the path I am currently on. Ultimately the play didn't work out (Lee may be a talented novelist, but that doesn't necessarily translate to him being a talented playwright). But revisiting the book inspired Lee to write a sequel, Redemption. And so when it was published he sent some copies to people connected with the production to thank us. And so my copy of Redemption was a gift, from Lee, and has an inscription from Leon Uris himself: "For Darling [EC]".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:03 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]

Some ick news happened yesterday and I am slightly cranky:

(a) My second play that I was going to start mid-month, Romeo and Juliet, got canceled. The director got fired for a "pattern of behavior" and they are deep-sixing the show entirely. So much for my getting a better part (and well, a director who'd give me one). Beyond that, I won't comment further on the director stuff because my friend on the board didn't feel like she could say much. I am grumbly and wondering what the hell else I can do. I passed up an audition I wanted to do because I got into this show (AAAAAARRRGGGGHHH), I can't do the other one going on right now because of rehearsals (and they wouldn't take me anyway), and the remaining audition I know of going on soon, I don't think I particularly want to do it. Pooh. Boring dead time for me after LM launches now.

(b) I went to an online conference over the weekend that a friend of mine paid for me to do. The first two days of it I got what I came for and I liked the material, but on day 3 they threw out doing the stuff I was interested in and instead spent hours harping on everyone to sell it to all their friends and family and said some ridiculous things like "Your wedding is scheduled that weekend? CANCEL IT. I'M SERIOUS."* Since it was online, I dropped out and then started getting some creepy messages from them, at which point I started hitting the block buttons. I do not think it is the sort of thing people accuse it of being online because their actual material is good and it doesn't fit my personal definitions of that stuff, but I do think their pushy sales techniques sure make it look like one. (Basically, you just keep paying for a lot of classes.) I also thought the way they ran things was kind of weird--skimping on breaks and runs for way too long--and apparently according to searching later, that's deliberate. Ick. I was cranky and hungry all weekend and bleah.

* I'm presuming some of y'all know what this is from my saying that, but given how things go online these days, I'll decline to mention the organization's name just in case.

Said friend who paid for this has been working for them and frankly, I'm not sure how that conversation's gonna go when she gets back from wherever she's at. Bleah. I didn't get the horrendous sales push from either her or anyone else I talked to there before, but the leader of this weekend thing, gack. Added bonus is that friend and another mutual friend are going to an in-person version of it as part of their multi-state, multi-location vacation pretty soon, and it's all paid for, and mutual friend doesn't drive so it's not like she's going to be able to leave if she doesn't like it. I suspect mutual friend is gonna react like I did once the sales talk starts up and she'll be trapped. Unfortunately given the intensive commitment that's already happened, I fear warning her ahead of time isn't a good idea since it's not like she can get her money back and bail. I think the best I can do if they ask is be vague and "there were some things I liked and some I had some issues with, let me know if you want to compare things after you've gone," sigh.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:05 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]

I'm reading the revised, republished City of Bones by Martha Wells and time just disappears.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:08 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]

time just disappears

I love that <3
posted by obfuscation at 6:10 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

I have begun making cyanotype prints from my 4x5 negatives and I am chuffed. That is all.
posted by tommasz at 6:19 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]

I still have the textbooks my mother used to teach me to read, along with a bunch of books we purchased in the UK when I was five and on the way to Greece (where we lived for a year)--a lot of Ladybirds and a book of Greek mythology.

I do try to evict at least twenty or thirty books a year, mostly from my contemporary fictions shelves, but this, er, does not make much of an appreciable dent.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:22 AM on June 3

Just wondering if I've just been particularly oblivious, or whether it's because I'm in a left-wing media bubble: Am I the only one that didn't know that Judge Juan Merchan donated to Act Blue, including $15 earmarked for the Biden campaign? Now, the "New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct dismissed an ethics complaint about the donations" and an ethics committee said he didn't need to recuse himself. On the other hand, making any kind of partisan political donation is an incredibly stupid thing for a judge to do, and if the judge on the case had donated to Republicans, I think those of us on the left would have been hearing a lot more about it.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:23 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

I'm a big manga reader and collector and my absolute two favorites (for very different reasons) that I will never ever get rid of are Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo and Azumanga Daioh by Kiyohiko Azuma. There are nice new editions of both (with unflipped/unretouched art in Akira's case), but I love the older copies I've owned for years now. I reread both every few years or so.

I also have a couple obscure children's books that I've held on to, but I'm not sure why. There's no sentimental reason why I still have these; they're just good books. They've been uploaded to the Internet Archive if you want to read them there: The Alligator and His Uncle Tooth by Geoffrey Hayes and Rosy Cole's Great American Guilt Club by Sheila Greenwald.
posted by May Kasahara at 6:26 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

We pared down a lot of our books a few years back during a move, and pretty much everything I kept is memento libri. I haven't been reading a lot in recent years.

My wife and I have competing bookshelves of magazines, books, etc., which either mention us directly or something we've created or done. I have a new one on the way which mentions something I did, in relation to a gambling scandal (I didn't have anything to do with the scandal). I also have a small shelf of books that I did the typesetting and cover design for during our ill-fated attempt to be a small press in the early 2000s.

Film student update: I'd write something if I wasn't so mad and frustrated with something entirely unrelated.

So, I own a foreclosure in a small town about an hour away from the city I live in. We bought it in 2012 when we had a few thousand (yes, bought it for a few thousand) dollars due to a windfall, with the intention of refurbishing it ourselves, paying cash for everything.

I have security cameras up, since I'm only down there every couple weeks. I'll get into more details of why the cameras were installed shortly.

Saturday, the camera app beeps at me "PERSON", and I turn it on to see a complete stranger driving a riding lawnmower around my lawn. Yes, the lawn was long because there was a lot of rain, and it should have been mowed the previous weekend but I couldn't because of the holiday -- but I was already planning on going down on Sunday to mow it.

Some backstory: the last time a complete stranger did this, before I had cameras, their riding lawnmower caught my propane tank line, ripped it out of the tank, did a couple hundred dollars of damage to the tank valve and by pure luck evaded causing a huge fire. I only found out about it when I got the bill for the repairs from the propane company (he called them, but still didn't try talking to me) then had to spend some time detectiving to figure out who did it.

Also, what is this anyway? Am I going to get a bill for the mowing? Is this person at the wrong house?

I try talking to him through the two-way-audio cameras, but they can't hear me.

So, being a small town, I called the local police (actually the sheriff) and asked them to go down to tell the guy, please stop mowing my lawn, I'll be down on Sunday to mow it myself.

So, being only a half-block from the courthouse, in a matter of minutes the sheriff SUV pulls up, talks to the guy.

This got me a big middle finger from the guy on all three cameras as he drove the lawnmower down the street to parts unknown. I still have no idea who this guy was.

My problem isn't "stay off my lawn", it's that if you're going to spend a half hour to an hour criss-crossing every inch of my lawn, please ask if it's OK. Ask if I need help, ask when I'll be down to mow. Good neighbors talk to their neighbors when there's a concern (which I've done when necessary -- like, when the person across the street decided to start parking in my driveway I didn't have them towed, I talked to them). And, why me? There's literally an abandoned house directly south of mine where the weeds are waist high. The one next to that is near-abandoned, no siding on one entire side of the house but they do come trim it every month or so, but its lawn was just as long as mine. There's plenty of evidence I'm taking care of the property, that mine isn't abandoned.

It's not like I'm hard to get a hold of: I have the camera doorbell now, but for a decade there's been a sign in the front window that says "questions about this property? call [phone number]". The city knows how to get a hold of me, just ask around.

When I was down on Sunday to mow, and then do some work inside, I half expected them to come talk to me, confront me, whatever, but, nope, like most times I'm down there everyone's in their own yards, kids playing in the street, nice quiet neighborhood that's the reason we bought this place.

This is also one of those small towns that still has its own newspaper, which I subscribe to, which prints the police blotter every week. Usually, I'm making fun of the unconsequential calls -- "Caller said a cat was attacking birds at their bird feeder, deputy talked to owner of the cat", "On Halloween the deputy was called downstairs in the courthouse due to screaming and running noises, it turns out the county recorder had candy" -- but this time, fuck, there's going to be a "Deputy talked to the person with the lawnmower and told them the property owner didn't want their lawn mowed" and that'd be me.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:27 AM on June 3 [15 favorites]

Y'all, I still have the original trilogy of The Vampire Chronicles that I bought at various used bookstores when I was 13. They are all falling the fuck apart--The Vampire Lestat is being held together solely by rubberbands--and I will never ever part with them. I mean, one of the biggest reasons why I would never is teenage Goth me wrote lyrics by The Cure and Bauhaus on title pages, margins, etc. I love the drama of young me!

Also I can never part with an early mass market paperback of Good Omens that I used to read while drinking coffee in a Waffle House when I was also a teen. (Listen, the Waffle House was the only place most of us weird teens went to because we could drink A LOT of coffee for cheap and smoke cigarettes.) It too is falling apart. I had Neil autograph it when he was in Montreal around 2012, I think? He was amazed that I still had it and pleased. He definitely took care to write his name in it. It is now in a shadow box in my home office. I mean, I have it memorized anyway so it's okay it won't be physically read anymore. Over on Blue Sky a few months ago, Neil was asking about people's copies and when I sent him a picture of mine, he remembered it!
posted by Kitteh at 6:28 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]

Forgive me for asking, but - is there a reason you didn't go out to talk to the Random Lawnmower Person yourself?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:29 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

- is there a reason you didn't go out to talk to the Random Lawnmower Person yourself?

As I mentioned, the property is in a small town an hour from where I live, he'd have been done long before I would have gotten there.
posted by AzraelBrown at 6:31 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]

More musical adventures:

I heard folk speaking Spanish next to me when I sat down to busk and so I started playing the Peruvian and Mexican tunes that I know, and they started singing, and then I had to admit to them at the end that I don’t actually speak any of that language.

Someone wanted to rap with the violin. He was quite good, and that was neat. He charmingly called me “queen” multiple times, kissed my hand, and told me that they worship me out there, which was very sweet.

I was approached by someone from a nearby restaurant who said they wanted me to play at that restaurant for a couple hours. This is the second person in as many weeks who has flat out approached me to offer a paid gig during busking. It’s flattering. They have a rooftop dining area and the person wanted me to play there when it’s open, but it wasn’t right then. He took me up to show me though. The rooftop is quiet and airy and intimate and it might work really well. Since it wasn’t open, I played on the street right next to the place. They paid the rate I asked for and then fed me and wouldn’t let me pay for the food. Maybe they’ll ask me back.

Someone wants me to record tracks for a studio album and I’ve never gotten the chance to do that before so I’m pretty excited. A little nervous because sometimes I do better when the songs have time to percolate and if I’m just going into a studio to hear them right then, there will be no percolation time. I’m not good enough to really be a session musician. Although I’m going to get there in my lifetime, just maybe not right now.

Don’t ask how I know this, but busking at One World Trade Center requires a permit. It’s been on my bucket list to busk there and I can now cross that off. No one said it had to be legal.
posted by wurl1tzer_c0 at 6:34 AM on June 3 [26 favorites]

I'm not a big re-reader, and my local public library welcomes book donations and often adds book donations to their permanent collection,

so the books I still have are mostly

a) graphic novels;
b) art books;
c) books that I myself am actually in;
d) reference books;
e) books I haven't got around to reading yet.

After many, many donations to my local public library and also giving away books on Buy Nothing, I am now down to 12 shelves of books. That's 12 shelves, not 12 bookcases.
posted by chariot pulled by cassowaries at 6:35 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

I love watching your busking turn into paid gigs, wurl1tzer_c0. Stories of an artist reaching their audience just melt my heart.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:37 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

My parents are getting ready to move down here for health reasons. (Last year my mom had a stroke. A month ago she broke a couple of ribs. She can't drive, so if anything happened to my father, they'd be in big trouble.) Anyway, they still had a bunch of my old books, so I sold them. (3 Investigators, Hardy Boys, and a variety of mysteries, some vaguely supernatural.) I took them up to the local used book store while I was up there. Got $16 for them.
When we've moved, I've culled my collection a lot. Stuff I've kept has included stuff still to be read (Mostly October Daye books), comics (Far Side, Calvin and Hobbes, BC, and others), art books, manga and RPG books (1st ED AD&D, GURPS, including a bunch of source books, Robotech, etc.) One of our bedrooms is a library, which makes it sound like we still have a lot of books, but it's also where we have the PS4 and PS5, and my kid's figurines, which take up a fair amount of space. (They're into Asuka from Evangelion, Persona, and Chainsawman.)
And the last book I bought/read was A House with Good Bones.
posted by Spike Glee at 6:50 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

Yesterday i saw a friend who moved form the US to Australia years ago. I gave her a book I have been saving specially for her, for several years.

Even better, I told her that the book had been free (an ARC for reviewing), so she could discard it if it's too big to carry back in her luggage. No strings attached!

I have been giving away most of my books over the years, which I hate...but handing off a book to someone I know will enjoy it makes the process so much easier.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:00 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

the church I attend held the annual Pride Picnic yesterday and it was low key but fine, I think a highlight for me was when a mom and her middle-schooler walking by accepted the invitation to come over for a hot dog, and I recognized her from a chance encounter weeks ago, so we sat and visited. She asked what the picnic was for and I was like.. the pride flags? I suppose I assumed anyone walking by would know. So I tried to explain Pride Month and probably did a poor job of it. The middle schooler kept saying "I've never been to a party like this!" and I think he meant it like, he doesn't go to many parties. So I invited them into the building for a look and he and a buddy enjoyed hitting keys on the old organ. The buddy showed up with his mom, in support of his older sister, and I recognized him from mentoring the previous year, so that was a nice and unexpected reunion. the day made me realize I live a good life in this little town and I think about the dark stuff a lot but there are good people and good kids and you never know. Then I went home, mowed the lawn, made dinner, and watched the Edmonton Oilers win the Western final to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals. We are facing the Florida Panthers, as villainous a bunch as you'd imagine.

I have a bunch of comic books and a friend is going to check with his partner's teenage daughter to see if she would like them. It will be hard to part with them but they are just sitting around, someone should enjoy them.
posted by elkevelvet at 7:08 AM on June 3 [13 favorites]

Our landline phone number is one digit off from a colonoscopy clinic (but not our colonoscopy clinic) so we get frequent calls that go like this

Me: Hello
Them: [ protracted silence ]
Me: Sorry, this is not the colonoscopy clinic. You've misdialed.
Them: Oh, I'm terribly sorry, thank you.

Humans are so fun. When I don't follow the script they expect -- the script of a receptionist at a medical service provider they really would rather not be talking to -- they don't know how to deal and the phone line just stays dead.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:10 AM on June 3 [14 favorites]

I have my mother's old Agatha Christie paperbacks that she bought in the 1970s. They have weird stiff cardboardy page inserts showing an ad for cigarettes or bookclubs. The ads are usually torn because my mother would tear pieces off them for bookmarks. Or she would use stuff we brought home from school -- I was reading one and the bookmark was a "home fire safety -- here's what you should do" information thing I'd brought home in the second grade, it has my name neatly signed in little Janet cursive.

I just sent my sister's grandson a note and a gift for his high school graduation, and after I sent it I wondered if he'd be able to read it because I wrote in cursive.
posted by JanetLand at 7:12 AM on June 3 [8 favorites]

I moved at the beginning of May from the US back to Canada and had to make a list of my belongings for customs. I told customs stuff like "Box #1, 37 books" but since I was making the list anyway, I actually made a more complete list for myself so when I want to look at a book, I'll know what box it's in. (I'm living with my parents until my partner has his work authorization and we're in a position to get a place, so everything is in storage and I can't just unpack.)

We had to completely unpack our Uhaul at the border so they could make sure we weren't smuggling drugs or guns or whatever (I wrote about that here if anybody is interested) and one of the border guards wanted to chat with me about all the sci-fi I have, asking me my favourite author (I said Connie Willis, though it's a toss-up between her and about ten other writers) and he said his was David Weber (lol, of course it was).

So the upshot of this is I can confidently say I own exactly 309 physical books (probably another couple hundred on Kindle). I read about 100-120 books/year but I tend to get them out of the library. I buy things I will reread and reference books, and I also have a lot of books other people have bought for me that have attractive spines since I do love the look of a bookshelf.

I culled about 4 boxes of books before we moved, maybe 150 books, and sold them at MacKay's (Nashvillains will know) for over $100 (don't remember the exact amount) in store credit which I gave to my 14-year-old niece who lives there, which is absolute riches for her.

Some of my favourites: Jane Austen, Allie Brosch, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jennifer Crusie, Percival Everett, Dorothy Gilman's Pollifax books, Gordon Korman, Madeleine L'Engle, Robin McKinley, Terry Pratchett, Martha Wells, and as already mentioned Connie Willis.

Anyway the move is going well and I am almost done with the second draft of my novel!
posted by joannemerriam at 7:21 AM on June 3 [15 favorites]

I keep my copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide Omnibus (the big black Bible-looking edition) handy at all times, but somewhat pointlessly because after reading it cover to cover 53 times plus countless random open-and-begin-readings, I can more or less quote enormous sections of it verbatim or at least recall nearly every word starting with just a few. I no longer actually need the book, but I’d never give it up.

Heh. Funny thought: somewhere inside my 30 trillion synaptic connections resides a tiny LLM-analogue dedicated to continuations of any paragraph of that series. A pity I can’t submit prompts for inference in bulk and generate new unique text. I guess in theory I could create a LoRA for Mistral/Llama and accomplish the same thing(?), but it wouldn’t have all the unique understanding of the many and particular ways in which I appreciate Hitchhiker’s and how it plays with the thematic spirit of science despite being the furthest thing from it.

In other news: after 15 months, 38 phone calls, 6 in-person RMV visits, $420 worth of FedExing documents back and forth, more tears and occasional suicide ideation than I really care to contemplate my car is finally mine again. Don’t leave Texas while there is still a loan in both your name and your ex-spouse’s: it is 79 to 124 days just to get the digital title issued, if you immediately pay off the remaining balance. That is step one of countless, and different interpretations of how sales tax ought to work in communal property assignment during a divorce mean that Texas and Massachusetts requirements are very nearly impossible to reconcile when it comes to transferring a vehicle registration. I don’t know if it’s better or worse that this is all without anybody contesting who the car belongs to: after I turned down the enormous sum my ex offered during the initial split (the company she worked for was bought out immediately prior), she used a small portion of what she’d offered to buy a new car in full with cash, and couldn’t possibly have cared less about the tiny Sentra.

So, after a year of learning to navigate Cambridge/Boston by foot, subway, Uber and just-recently-stolen bicycle I once again have wheels. Holy fuck I forgot how liberating just being able to hop in and drive anywhere can be. I know a lot of people here aren’t big on cars but even in the closest thing to a European city the United States ever produced it’s such a game changer.

The car immediately failed inspection of course because changing the six-months-dead battery cleared the emissions sensors. Passed the safety portion so I have 60 day Retry sticker with which to rack up a couple hundred highway miles. Technically I’m also supposed to get both windshields re-tinted because Texas standard is nearly twice the Massachusetts legal limit, but after everything I’ve been through I’m mostly set on just trading it in after passing emissions and getting a new Prius. A terrible financial decision since the car is less than five years old with under 20K miles and fully paid, but the emotional associations I now have with it are bordering on unbearable, and I just want to put it behind me for good.

And I guess in some ways that’s the opposite of a book you keep around as a momento: a perfectly nice car you’d do almost anything to get rid of. In any case I am greatly relieved to turn the final page of this particular chapter of my life.
posted by Ryvar at 7:26 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]

Our landline phone number is one digit off from a colonoscopy clinic (but not our colonoscopy clinic) so we get frequent calls that go like this....

Oh good Lord you have just dredged up a memory....

Years ago (in the 1990s) I was working for a startup gift-delivery business in NYC. At some point we applied for and got an 800-number. However, this 800 number had previously belonged to a life insurance company a couple years prior. I'm sure that they had sent out several notices about their new number, and was posting the current number on all its correspondence and bills, but easily twice a week I had some variant of this phone conversation:

Me: Good morning/afternoon, New York Gift Express, how may I help you?
Caller: (lengthy pause, then): ....Is this Western National Life?

Followed by my trying as politely as I could to explain that no, we were not, and they had changed their number and the caller may wish to consult a more current mailing to look up what the current number was. I think I eventually looked up what the number was to offer that to callers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

I have a few novels by G. A. Henty that belonged to my great grandfather as a little boy in the 1880s, with his (very childlike) signature in pencil on the title pages.

Henty wrote adventure and historical fiction aimed at younger readers, similar in style and tone to H. Rider Haggard but less emphasis on the fantastical. He was extremely popular in the late 1800s but almost completely forgotten today. Of course, if you look at him through the lens of 21st century progressive morality there are the usual Kiplingesque problematic elements. But I'm always going to hang onto them for the family connection.
posted by fortitude25 at 7:34 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

(Heh, i also have a full Douglas Adams collection, including one signed Dirk Gently hardcover. Also damn near memorized it all. )

One of our friends is... a hoarder. I lean on him, as gently as possible, to keep reviewing and getting rid of stuff, and helping him shift, sort and cart away whenever the opportunity arises. Books, magazines etc are of course part of the mix.

So his situation is on my mind when I look at my own not insubstantial acquisitions. We're seniors now! The math is pretty stark; estimate the total number of hours/days/years it would take to interact with everything we've kept, and compare that to the healthy years we probably have left. It tends to focus my thinking.

And yeah, we probably have more books than we really need or are likely to reread (or, in some cases... read). I have taken some to the charity stores.... but books don't seem to sell well from there, and a few are even turning them down now. Other suggestions welcome.

Anyway, I want to consider books and magazines as things that have their maximum utility when they are being read, and if not by me, then I should move them along. I also hope to make better use of the nearby libraries.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:36 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

However, this 800 number had previously belonged to a life insurance company a couple years prior.

So, my first wife, right after we started dating in the 90s, moved into her own apartment and got a new phone number hooked up for herself. Well, new to her.

It had been a few years, but this number had belonged to a suicide counselor.

She had an short, succinct outgoing message on her answering machine, which seemed rather innocuous and she thought it was funny, and who's going to hear it except her friends, these five words:

Leave a message or die.

It was only a week or so of getting hangup calls on the answering machine before the suicide counselor called and, in very grave tones, asked her to please change her answering machine message, it was affecting people.
posted by AzraelBrown at 7:36 AM on June 3 [13 favorites]

In the '90s, I worked for the Writers' Federation of Nova Scotia, and the last four (and area code) of our number was the same as for some number at the department of defense, but our number was a 423 number and theirs was a 494 or something. Anyway, nobody ever got us confused except for this one guy who was a total loon who would call to threaten us periodically for oppressing Canadians etc and I would patiently explain he had the wrong number and sometimes he'd apologize and other times he'd demand to speak to my superior officer. In retrospect it's kind of funny but at the time we had the police on speed dial (and they were aware of the situation but couldn't identify the guy or something? I don't remember). Nothing bad ever came of it. I sometimes wonder if that guy ever got the help he needed.
posted by joannemerriam at 7:36 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]

I recently called a company, but I carelessly swapped the local area code (which was correct) for a toll-free area code (because who doesn't have a toll-free number?).

The woman who answered was very kind, and had the correct number to hand. When I protested, "But I am sure I dialed the right number," she patiently agreed...then gently suggested that I check the area code.

I finally laughed out loud and congratulated her for her patience and kindness. Lord knows I would have run out of you-know-whats years ago.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:39 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]

I've moved so many times and gotten rid of so many books that probably the largest category of books in my library is books that I bought with good intentions and keep meaning to read but haven't read yet.

I have many daydreams relating to someday buying a house, but buying a couple more bookcases is definitely high on the list. (I'm currently in a one-bedroom, but it's tiny, as one-bedrooms go.)

In the last few weeks I've been to the small Kinokuniya in the Chicago suburbs and Prairie Lights in Iowa City and Lion's Tooth in Milwaukee; bought Magical Realism by Vanessa Angelica Villareal and a book on fungi and a Japanese epistolary novel with real (well, photocopied) handwriting in it. Also - digitally - The Dos and Donuts of Love (for book club, not great) and Chetna's Easy Baking (also for book club, since I wanted to make mango ginger lime cake.)

Living near a very good bookstore is a thing not to be taken for granted.
posted by Jeanne at 7:42 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

I’m surprised they made you unpack the truck, joannemerriam … unless you crossed at a minor checkpoint. When I came up two decades ago through Port Huron with my itemized and valued list, they just xrayed the rental truck.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:42 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

my karma is such that a little cloud of seediness appears to follow me around when it comes to random phone number stuff

once, leaving messages for students, I read off the contact number listed in (what turned out to be the old) stepsheet, only to find out that the old stepsheet featured an error and no-one could figure out how I'd acquired the old stepsheet in the first place, because the number was off by a digit and I was directing students to call an Adult Companion line, basically a dating service when that sort of thing hadn't been fully subsumed by online options.

the other time, out on Vancouver Island helping a friend with renos, for two days my Edmonton-based cell number kept getting calls from men asking me about arranging a booking with an escort, or asking why (name of escort) hadn't shown up, it was wild. By Call #2 I was convinced I was being pranked and the ensuing call was (in hindsight) one of the funniest things from that year.. the guy was getting increasingly angry and I was getting increasingly provocative, because I was sure it was either my buddy J-- or my other buddy D--, and man did that not work out.

Ryvar, what you describe surely qualifies for the kafkaesque descriptor
posted by elkevelvet at 7:48 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]

Today is the last full week of work at my current job, and with the organization in Toronto I've been with for about 20 years; I'm headed out to Calgary to join my wife, who took a job there about two years ago. I've been looking for work out there the whole time and actually have an interview this afternoon, but whether I get it or not I'm moving out there at the end of the month. Real end of an era shit.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:50 AM on June 3 [16 favorites]

I have the copy of Ethan Frome that I was assigned to read in high school.

At the top of each page, it says "ETHAN FROME" next to the fold, and then the page number is next to the page edge.

Alongside that, every single time, I have scribbled something silly next to it. "ETHAN FROME II: Electric Boogaloo." "John Jacob Jingleheimer ETHAN FROME." "They didn't know they were messing with the wrong ETHAN FROME." "How much Frome could an Ethan Frome Ethan if an Ethan Frome Could ETHAN FROME." Hundreds and hundreds of them.

I keep it because it reminds me of what a silly fun kid younger me could be. I remember the bad stuff just fine, but the light, funny stuff slips away sometimes without a little help. So I hang onto it.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:53 AM on June 3 [23 favorites]

I've got a science fiction novel somewhere with a Joanna Russ ex libris book plate on the first inside page that I got at a local used book store way back when. She used to live in Seattle when she reviewed books for F&SF.
posted by y2karl at 7:59 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

Two years ago, I was working from home in my living room. Out of all the benefits that WFH brought to my (and my pooch’s) quality of life, perhaps the greatest of all was that I no longer had to even pretend to hide Metafilter on my second monitor anymore.

As I was browsing the blue, a bird flew in through my open window and alighted on top of my Metafilter. I was stunned for a few moments as it adjusted its wings, and then an instant later it was gone.

I had forgotten all about that moment until an unrelated search last night surfaced a video I had taken as it happened. I was still lurking back then, free threads didn’t exist and I had no way to tell you all what happened.

But this is a new day! Witness this bird!
posted by 1024 at 8:02 AM on June 3 [33 favorites]

this is the only good twitter

what a terrific share, thank you 1024!!
posted by elkevelvet at 8:08 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]

(salutes The Card Cheat) Good luck!
posted by avocet at 8:08 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

I keep a battered paperback copy of The Bachman Books (the first four novels that Stephen King wrote under the psuedonym "Richard Bachman" collected into one book) on my shelf, partly because I'm a longtime King fan and I feel certain that at least one of the stories contained therein -- "Rage", where a creepily-charismatic teenage holds his high school classroom at gunpoint -- won't ever be reprinted.

Come to think of it, I don't think "Roadwork", where a divorced man is unwilling to allow his home to be demolished for a highway, so he barricades himself in his home with weapons and explosives, stands much chance of being reprinted either. "The Running Man" (yes, it is the basis for the Schwarzenegger movie) also ends with the protagonist crashing an airplane into a skyscraper, so....
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:08 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]

Oh, and follow-up to this comment from two weeks ago, my mother's doing better. The surgery went OK, though she has a gnarly series of stitches across the top of her head like a headband. She's in acute care now getting occupational and physical therapy to make sure she still has balance and isn't troubled by stairs.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:12 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]

Many years ago, we changed our land line number, and got the former number of an auto parts store. Nobody knew what their new number was, including other stores in the chain. After about 6 months, the phone company paid for us to get a new number. (They just offered us some money to switch, out of the blue. My guess is that the auto parts store wanted their old number back.)
posted by Spike Glee at 8:17 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

Elkevelvet: thank you but to be honest I skipped many, many aspects in the interest of my own sanity - the most recent being that after finally getting the new plates and going to swap out the dead battery, I took an Uber over to Autozone and… they’d had a power surge just 30 minutes prior and lost Internet and with it their point of sales systems/warranty lookup and VOIP phones. I gently informed them that there was a good chance they’d be down for a day or more if some of the local hardware upstream from them was taken out by the surge (which turned out to be the case). Left the battery there and no issue picking up a replacement the next evening after another Uber trip. But it’s the kind of thing - god, flashbacks to the whole no-out-of-state-checks / can’t mail cash / money order circus for a small town clerk’s office to obtain an official copy of the divorce decree that turned out to be the wrong kind of official copy - purple stamped instead of blue, for some reason - where the Universe has fought me Every. Fucking. Step. of the way to any kind of resolution. Somewhere around phone call 21 I was running a streak of 17 completely different official versions of what the transfer process should look like (I took notes), and the most recent four had been flatly contradictory. Definitely some Catch-22 in addition to the Kafka.
posted by Ryvar at 8:19 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]

The Bachman Books reminds me of a story.

Steven King went to my high school. He donated the performing arts theater that's named after him.

Sometimes alumni would come through the dorms, and usually anybody around would give them a warm welcome, mainly because sometimes they also brought beers. One afternoon, the alumnus in the common room was Steven King. I did not know what Steven King looked like or that he was Steven King, but I knew he had no beer. I was polite and made conversation, but my interest ended there.

At some point we were descending a narrow stairwell and he asked me "Couldn't you just imagine if all these walls were dripping with blood?" I don't remember how I replied, but I do remember thinking no, I couldn't, but it was very clear that he could.

Later on someone told me who he was and it made a lot more sense.
posted by 1024 at 8:26 AM on June 3 [12 favorites]

I might have taken a moment and asked him to clarify what kind of blood. Fresh arterial spray kind of blood? Stale venuous blue? Semi-coagulated? A bit chunky? Slowly oozing out of the pores of the wall in slow drips, or more of a waterfall kind of thing? Help me out here, maybe it's a day of the week kind of thing, or week of the month.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:39 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]

he asked me "Couldn't you just imagine if all these walls were dripping with blood?" I don't remember how I replied

I'm contemplating whether he'd be delighted or offended if you answered "what the hell is wrong with you?"
posted by AzraelBrown at 8:42 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

I mean, I had that exact hallucination due to manic psychosis the one and only time I took anti-depressants. It was dark red, slowww waterfall emerging from a straight horizontal line at chest height. Kinda like those water features you see at really pretentious shopping malls with a dedicated Prada outlet. Dunno if that’s what he saw but I’ve visited that general headspace neighborhood and that’s what I recall.
posted by Ryvar at 8:50 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]

I like having a lot of books. I may only re-read a few, but they're old friends and with some bookcases on an outside wall, decent insulation. I lost about 1/3 of my books in a flood, and am less attached to them as objects now. The books were packed for moving, in alpha by author order, and I lost my books by John Brunner, Laurie Colwin, and Margaret Drabble, 3 of my favorite writers. I am fond of some cheesy old mass market versions. I seldom buy hardcovers as they take more space.

I recently read Becky Chambers' A Psalm for the Wild-Built, digital edition, and am a bit sad not to have it on a shelf, though there's no room, really. I try to not bring home so many books, but it's so difficult - they beseech me in a free pile or little free library, or beg to come home from the thrift shop. I was a bookseller for a number of years, and will automatically straighten a shelf of books, except at home, where the books are roughly organized, but chaos has crept in.

I had a reading drought, but am back to books, digital and print. Such good company.
posted by theora55 at 8:55 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]

It was dark red, slowww waterfall emerging from a straight horizontal line at chest height. Kinda like those water features you see at really pretentious shopping malls with a dedicated Prada outlet.

Ummm that is kinda very specifically similar to some of the other details I left out of the story? Specifically the slow movement of the blood, almost like it was being extruded or something but still a fluid. And that it emerged from a horizontal line. I don't remember if he specified it was chest height, but I do remember him being specific for some reason that the blood wasn't coming out of the ceiling, our the edge where the wall met the ceiling, it was pouring out of the wall, there had to be white wall above the red line where the blood emerged.

Right now I am a surprised Pikachu
posted by 1024 at 9:01 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

My small suburbish town had its 1st Pride event yesterday. I staffed a table to register voters. I expected a small inaugural event, but the organizers got food trucks, a bunch of exhibitors, and vendors to come, and a good turnout. There was pushback and drama from conservative trolls, who didn't have the fortitude to show up to protest. Just incredibly encouraging that a handful of folks put this on, did a great job, got a ton of support. The forces of justice, I'm not kidding, it took bravery and so much work.

Re: Stephen King, I encountered him a few times when I was a bookseller. Quite a good guy, regular Dad, his wife, Tabitha King is also a good writer. A wall of blood would smell horrible. shudder.

I am late to planting things, but did up some pots of flowers which will also be used for an event, and bought some tomato seedlings yesterday. Picking cherry tomatoes and eating them immediately is part of the joy of summer.
posted by theora55 at 9:05 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

We seem to keep a whole raft of books that would be great for a visitor to browse, but we never have any visitors. But they would be delighted to browse our bookshelves if they were to visit.

Actually, we keep books for a ton of reasons. We're quite the bookish household. I don't read as much as I did when we first met 30 years ago, but I'm okay with that as I still have a curious mind and am taking in new things often.

Oddly, I have a full set of Stephen R Donaldson novels/novellas/short story collections most of them in hardback first printing. He's the only author whose entire works outside of journal articles I've read.
posted by hippybear at 9:05 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

theora55: Someone here - I think seanmpuckett? - recommended Autonomous and it combines Becky Chambers & Martha Stewart’s Murderbot first-person autism-coded-AI narrative with a pharma-themed Snowcrash. Great read.

Right now I am a surprised Pikachu

Like I said I was only ever a tourist the one time but it was a pretty memorable trip.
posted by Ryvar at 9:06 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

I'm making a spreadsheet of my DVDs so that I stop buying duplicates at flea markets. I'm two-thirds through and up to DVD number 620. And I have so many more books than DVDs…

I keep the books there on the shelf because, if I open a book and read only one sentence, the entire book comes flooding back. But a book missing from the shelf is a book that I probably will never think of again, and so I might as well never have read it.
posted by jabah at 9:12 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]

jabah, there's a free app from the nice people at that can help you do that. You can scan the UPC codes with your phone to add them to your library. You can even export spreadhseets from it.

It's on both Android and Apple as My Movies. Highly recommend.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:21 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

I may have too many books – but they are all books that I revisit. Each book is a comfort and a bundle of good memories. (I have books that go back as far as Scholastic Book Services paperbacks I bought in the 1960s.) Consequently, my library is resistant to current Swedish Death Cleaning and, in fact, continues to grow. I do manage to cull some volumes on occasion, but income continues to exceed outflow. I am planning on spending $$$ to remodel and expand my library.

Major categories include science fiction & fantasy (including signed copies of Good Omens and The Last Unicorn). comics compilations (including Pogo, Bloom County, Asterix & Obelix, and Bruno), childhood favorites (including The Mad Scientists’ Club, Winnie the Pooh, A Wrinkle in Time – and a complete set of the Adventures of Tom Swift Jr.), manga collections (including Azumanga Daioh, Skip Beat!, Yona of the Dawn, Claymore, and Aria), anime art books, humor, television, architecture and interior design, gardening, psychology, history, sports, cookbooks, Japanese culture, language (English and Japanese), art, and photography. Lots of books in each category.
posted by LovelyAngel at 9:22 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

I'm a big believer in reading a book, then either donating it, or if it's a good book, taking the first opportunity to press it into someone's hands and share the joy. It cuts down on my book hoarding. Where I get into trouble and still hoard a bit is the stacks of books "I am going to get around to sooner or later" but have not actually read yet.

My movie hoarding is a different matter though, and my entire family is discussing the need to come up with a storage solution to address the giant, wobbly stacks of DVDs and Blu Rays next to the downstairs TV. I figure if I'm going to retire to Eastern Europe or rural Italy in a few years, my window for picking up discs easily is going to close soon, so I'll get what I can while I can.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:24 AM on June 3

I figure if I'm going to retire to Eastern Europe or rural Italy in a few years

You should probably check on the TV standard and the DVD region for those places you might want to move to? You might have to make sure to take US equipment with you to watch the media you're collecting, and that might require a second set of equipment to consume local media in any form. Even just the difference between NTSC and PAL can be a shock, and then you also run into global DVD region codes...
posted by hippybear at 9:28 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

Way ahead of you. I have a region-free player already. (And discs from nearly every region already.)

(I recommend the nice people at 220 Electronics, who hard wire units from Sony, Panasonic, etc. to be region free. That way, no software update can undo it.)
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:37 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

Oh. Last night we watched Butterfly in the Sky (Netflix link), the Reading Rainbow documentary. It was fucking awesome.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:38 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

Martha Stewart’s Murderbot

Amazing mental image, I love it.

I’m surprised they made you unpack the truck, joannemerriam … unless you crossed at a minor checkpoint.

Apparently Houlton doesn't have an xray, and we were lucky to have a K-9 unit as otherwise (they said) they'd have had to go through each box by hand.
posted by joannemerriam at 9:49 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]

Thread 204000!

I, too have met Stephen King (was in an elevator with him after a wedding for a family member of his) and he was actually super quiet. I had a pretty great impression of him (and Tabitha, and the whole family) after the wedding.

I also have a lot of books. When I bought my house a few years ago one of the big selling points was a front room that was all built in bookshelves. I use them for books and mostly now have a "one in, one out" policy about books now. I like being surrounded by ancient encyclopedias, cool sci-fi paperbacks, books that reflect a younger me, and all the former-library-copy Jessamyn West books. We have a lot of Little Free Library-type boxes in my neighborhood (one that is just for Narcan and drug-testing strips but most are for books) and after I've read a book I usually put it back in one of those.
posted by jessamyn at 9:50 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]

When I came up through the Stanstead checkpoint for my immigration, they made us unpack the truck too. My poor kitties were terrified! (RIP Ozzy and Drusilla, you were good babies)
posted by Kitteh at 9:51 AM on June 3

This is so timely as I am having to finally really cull my books for an upcoming move. Til now I have either had copious built-ins OR enough kitchen storage to repurpose a china cabinet for book storage; sadly my new place will have neither of these. We'll be buying some new shelves, certainly, but even so I probably need to lighten the load a bit. There are a lot of things that I simply won't ever need or reread and I am getting VERY anxious about having enough space in the new apartment overall. I've gotten very used to my uncrowded, low-clutter life.

I had breakfast with an ex over the weekend and he mentioned that he still had several of my books, which he took at the time of the breakup thinking he'd read them. I was like, friend, those are yours now. He made fun of me for not having finished one of them (I had, the bookmark in it was from a second read-through) and I remembered why I don't date him anymore.

Books that will survive the cull include a battered Anne of Green Gables (fully broken in half at this point, held together by dreams and a rubber band) which is both a memento libri and constantly read -- just one page or two, here or there, in any order, like an old lady's bible.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:54 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

I think I have a one-out, many-more-in book policy. I just bought 11 volumes of Sam Pepys' diary.
posted by JanetLand at 9:57 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

May was a big month:

- 18 days ago my cat died; he was, literally, my best buddy for 15 years.
- 10 days ago our adult daughter killed herself. It was very unexpected.
- We adopted her dog and 2 cats. After our cat died we were down to 1 dog and 1 cat, the fewest pets we'd ever had. "This we can manage," we said. That lasted 8 days and now we have 5 pets.
- Wednesday my wife was driving & was hit by a red light runner. She has a significant knee injury; she cannot bend it and is in an immobilizer; sees ortho later this week. The car was totaled.
- Thursday I broke up a fight and in the process got punched in the face.

[A young woman who witnessed the car accident accompanied my wife to the ER and even stayed on for a couple of hours after I got there. She was God-sent.]

[2 guys were fighting in an intersection. I rushed in when one brandished his bike lock. The other guy tried to punch him and my guy dodged, opening a path to my cheekbone.]

Everyone has been so kind: family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, store clerks, etc etc.

The auto accident was such a shock, and the young woman was such a help, that our grief is much improved. There are many hard days ahead but we will make it.

Would anyone like to walk the dogs?
posted by neuron at 9:58 AM on June 3 [27 favorites]

jeez neuron

sorry, that is the roughest patch right there

it sounds like you're doing as well as can be expected? I'm not sure if those words convey any real meaning, I just don't know what to say. Take care, I'm sorry
posted by elkevelvet at 10:06 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]

Jesus, Neuron, anything specific you need? That's a hailstorm of suck.
posted by wenestvedt at 10:09 AM on June 3 [7 favorites]

well my dad died peacefully in the night. I'm very thankful for the peacefully part. he was 80 and had been very ill for a while. now on to the chaos of booking flights etc.,

and my mom just told me, told me, not asked me, that I am the speaker at the memorial service. a unanimous decision by my family members. I don't mind, I'm sort of the obvious choice and after my sister's wedding last year, also the only ordained minister. (it was also their idea that I should do that ceremony lol!)

oh boy. we'll get through it. my mom is ok but I'm still worried about her.
posted by supermedusa at 10:11 AM on June 3 [9 favorites]

I have an 11th edition Encyclopædia Britannica that I found in the basement when I was around 12 years old. I assume it once belonged to my grandfather.
I have no use for it other than as a curiosity from a time when we thought we knew everything, but I can't bring myself to throw it away.
If I could find someone who wanted it, I would give it away. I have no interest in selling it on eBay as the shipping would be a lot.
posted by MtDewd at 10:26 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

Don't tempt me, MtDewd.
posted by JanetLand at 10:42 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

How far away from Vermont are you?
posted by MtDewd at 10:43 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

I spent spring-summer-early Autumn of 1990 cycling Alaska and took my favourite book with me Jupiter's Travels [author's website], as it's a (mostly) comfortable read and resonated with me deeply, and imo a good book to take on long solo travels.

A funny thing to take on a bike trip where everything was measured to the gram to reduce weight and bulk - but some items are worth their weight.
posted by unearthed at 10:50 AM on June 3

>> Alongside that, every single time, I have scribbled something silly next to it. "ETHAN FROME II: Electric Boogaloo." "John Jacob Jingleheimer ETHAN FROME." "They didn't know they were messing with the wrong ETHAN FROME." "How much Frome could an Ethan Frome Ethan if an Ethan Frome Could ETHAN FROME." Hundreds and hundreds of them.

@DirtyOldTown, this made me immediately think of The Magnetic Fields song "Ethan Frome", and if you did this in 1988 that would be even crazier, because that's the year this song is about...
posted by jeremias at 10:53 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

This is so timely as I am having to finally really cull my books for an upcoming move. Til now I have either had copious built-ins OR enough kitchen storage to repurpose a china cabinet for book storage; sadly my new place will have neither of these.

Hardcheese, I'm in a very similar position. Many of my boxes of books, CDs, DVDs etc. have been in storage for quite a while now. I'm moving to a new place, and soon I will either be shelving them or giving them away.

That reminds me, I was going to make an AskMe about this (and still might), but is there any database-type program people here use if they wanted a list of... all their media? Their music (whether on CD or vinyl or MP3 or whatever), their books (physical or digital), their movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or just a computer file), comics, etc? An app or program that lets me track all of it?
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 11:03 AM on June 3

Unearthed: A funny thing to take on a bike trip where everything was measured to the gram to reduce weight and bulk - but some items are worth their weight.

I took the hardcover Riverside Shakespeare with me on a month-long trip around Europe. Amazon says it weighs 5.4 pounds, but it felt a lot heavier than that by the end. What the hell, Younger Me?!?
posted by wenestvedt at 11:34 AM on June 3 [5 favorites]

a nice little gem from 1965 from jeannie, jim, tom, bill

jim, tom and bill play a very confident mix of surf and rockabilly - jeannie doesn't like her boyfriend - she's going to "treat him bad" - she sounds pretty proud of it, too
posted by pyramid termite at 11:36 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

I have many books, but I have far fewer than I did. Being the son of an English teacher, husband to another English teacher and grandson of a professor and of a librarian, this is hardly shocking. I have gobs of Kindle books shared with my mom, tons of reference material and yet it was still hard as hell to get rid of things when I needed more space.

But things I still have because of memories:
  • My bible from summer camp the one year I went and fell in love for the first time - we weren't terribly religious - I think my mom just needed a break for a week - and she had such lovely blonde curls
  • My copy of K&R C - because I paid $40 for it back in 1990 and there's still some value to squeeze from that turnip.
  • my split in half copy of Caesar's Gallic Wars because I translated that critter and I'll be damned if I forget it.
  • A dense nearly unreadbly small typed copy of the Unabridged collection of Sherlock Holmes given to me by my best friend back when we were in High School. He still smiles knowing that I have it and wants me to read a story to his kids when they're older. The trick will be finding one that isn't filled with some horribly antiquated views/terms
  • All 21 novels in the Travis McGee series that I collected while feeling homesick for Florida while living in Boston for college. Like the Holmes story, some very regressive bits in there, but not nearly as bad as most "competence porn" stories. (Oh... and JDM's last story "Reading for Survival" - which is really an extended lecture by Meyer)
  • A giant pile of Nero Wolfe novels (not all of them - only about half - Rex Stout wrote a lot. Mostly as comfort food for when I'm sick
  • a big damn copy of LotR because it and the Hobbit (which oddly, I don't have atm) - remind me of being 10-12 when I first read them
  • An antique copy of Mrs Lincoln's Boston Cooking School given to me by my mother-in-law because she figured I would get much more use out of it than her daughter, my wife. (I'm the household cook)
  • My grandfather's old Woodman's Journal with a hard flip over cover and his notes scribbled in the margins
  • And the most recent addition - from my wife - a first edition of Desolation Angels because she knows I have a dream of sitting in the woods somewhere, writing and looking out on the end of self.
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:42 AM on June 3 [4 favorites]

Don't tempt me, MtDewd.

How far away from Vermont are you?

We might be able to broker something. I could certainly hold on to an eleventh edition EB for a while if you wanted to come fetch it at some point JanetLand. Mine is maybe a bit lonely.
posted by jessamyn at 11:44 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

How far away from Vermont are you?

We might be able to broker something. I could certainly hold on to an eleventh edition EB for a while if you wanted to come fetch it at some point JanetLand. Mine is maybe a bit lonely.

That's seriously kind of you, but I honestly have so many books backed up waiting to be read, and now all of Pepys too, I think all that Britannica would overwhelm me.
posted by JanetLand at 12:10 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]

Peach: Speaking of which, an old boyfriend from 55 years ago found my blog and left a comment on it yesterday. He said he had attended a Zoom reunion of the campus radio station for his university, and my name came up quite a bit.

Is your old campus station still on the air? I was stunned recently to learn that the campus radio station that I spent much of my time at let their license lapse and are shifting to podcast/streaming content. I understand that it’s the way of the world these days, but still bummed me out.
posted by dr_dank at 12:18 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]

I'm so sorry, neuron.
posted by happyfrog at 1:15 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

neuron and supermedusa, so sorry for your losses and hoping their memories may be a blessing.
posted by joannemerriam at 1:15 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]

neuron, I'm so sorry.

In books, I'm trying to write a local history article about a nineteenth century artist, musician and general do-gooder. I idly put her name into abebooks and it came up with a book she had owned. It had her bookplate in it. Book was too expensive for me to buy on a whim, so I messaged the seller and asked if he could take a picture of the bookplate for £5. He replied that he could, but he'd also make me a deal on the book. I accepted and am really pleased, as it was obviously drawn by her.

If anyone in the UK would like free books about the history of aviation, please get in touch - trying to get rid of some of my father's books (he's signed up to this, has many more), and have saturated all charity shops in four counties, plus the Isle of Wight.
posted by paduasoy at 1:18 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]

Media mail in the US makes mailing books fairly cheap. 2 to 8 business days, starting at $4, up to 70 pounds per shipment.
posted by AlSweigart at 1:44 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]

neuron I'm so very sorry for all of your loses and pain. I hope the animals will provide some comfort and that you will find some healing.
posted by supermedusa at 1:47 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]

My mother sent me an entire set of The Family Creative Workshop, a series of books we had a subscription to in the Seventies. It's a remarkable round-up of all kinds of crafts. There's a list of the crafts listed here. We also have both volumes of the Woodstock Craftsman's Manual, and I even have "Historic Book Arts Projects" from the Museum Of New Mexico, which includes full plans for a simple printing press. I figure all of these might be useful after the fall of civilization. Maybe not for me, but maybe someone will find them and use them to rebuild society like with the shopping list from A Canticle For Liebowitz.
posted by hippybear at 1:54 PM on June 3 [6 favorites]

I have a couple of toll-free numbers, relics of a time when long distance cost money, and I had clients and friends in distant places and the cost of the toll-free service was negligible in comparison. I still have to have a land line out here in the sticks, so I still have the toll-frees. The "business" one spells my name, once you're past the prefix. The other is the next sequential number past that.

Business is flat and long distance charges no longer are a thing, but I cannot seem to ditch them. Once you get to a certain age, changing any long-memorized number is a source of potential trauma.

At some point a printing business somewhere in Texas printed up a bunch of forms with their number on it, but didn't catch the typo which had turned it into one of my numbers. Haven't had one in a long while, but for a time I was getting many calls per day with confused people wondering where their orders were and the like. Most were pretty reasonable, but occasionally someone Just Wouldn't Believe.

In the spirit of pride, take a gander at this beautiful woman doing an amazing job of "liberty" riding a beautiful horse while holding a ranbow flag.
posted by maxwelton at 2:02 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]

Re: books (and DVDs). My father passed away a few years ago and my mother and I moved in together. My father collected lots of books and DVDs, and we would often send each other copies of anything we liked. On the packing list, I think the movers estimated 1000 books and 2000 DVDs. Plus I had my own collection of four floor-to-ceiling shelves full.

So there is quite a media collection in my basement right now, some on shelves, most still in boxes, and one day I will finally have the mental strength and energy to go through them all and remove duplicates and anything that doesn't interest me or Mum. Like his science fiction collection that overflows two boxes. I keep meaning to go through them, pull out any sentimental ones, and then donate the rest somewhere where fellow nerds would appreciate them. I just, again, haven't got the energy/motivation. The last few years have been a lot, y'all.

But my personal life is looking up! My terrible boss is still under investigation but all signs point to her not being allowed to return, now that the board is finding out how chaotic her workflow was and how she made it difficult for the rest of us to actually do our jobs -- plus we keep discovering more and more things she's done that could open us to legal liability if the persons involved were the litigious type. So, yeah.

Anyway, last week I got VIP tickets to one of my favorite music groups! I'm sad that they aren't stopping in my city like they have the last couple of years, but I got tickets for their three Texas stops in September. So now I get to plan a trip! I've been getting itchy about not having something to look forward to, so this is helping me focus and stay positive during work weirdness.
posted by paisley sheep at 2:26 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]

Technically I'm gifting two copies of Rex Stout to a 'new' friend who I know will appreciate them, but I'm having a really hard time actually, physically letting go of them. (forgot them in the kitchen, couldn't find time to swing by when I had them in hand again, etc...) Another book I shared at a 'book-swap' (and then forgot I had 'swapped') I spent the entire time missing in the most inchoate way. I just felt the empty spot in the bookcase every time I thought about it ("where the hell did I put it?" and later, "Oh, right. Hrmm.") I've/we've tried divesting ourselves of books and last summer my partner got rid of a handful of real nice art books that I was surprised they were letting go... but ok. A book that resonates is immediately a wardrobe like Prof. Kirke's: an entire land living in there.

When we immigrated to the US from Canada (back at the end of the 70's), my parents drove us down in our Datsun B510, the four of us, a dog and a foot-well full of plants. They made us get out and they went through the whole car. It was stupid. The border is stupid and brings out the most stupid in people. I didn't know it at the time but it was the most consequential border crossing I would ever, so far, make (overseen by people acting stupidly.)

I recently finished The Fraud and had such a hard time finishing it because I knew when I did it would be over and I so didn't want that. But I forced myself to do it and ... books are weird, for people who are into them. I haven't read much in the last year and falling back into the habit, it is strange to note the difference.

(They mowed the field next door, the hay was shoulder-high, and as they were half-way through the storks came and started picking through, then a hawk coasted through - dallied for a minute - then moved on. )
posted by From Bklyn at 2:31 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]

Dr_dank - My old radio station is still on the air and was reporting live on the campus occupation, just as they did in 1968, 69, and 70 when the Tactical Police Force was staging below my dorm room window.

I know my old boyfriend’s radio station still is running too.
posted by Peach at 2:44 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]

My old place had built in bookshelves so that worked out well. My current place does not and I haven't been bothered enough to go out and buy a bookshelf even though I would like to have some place to display them. Currently they're just sitting in a closet. Even though most of them are books I've already read it'd still be nice to see them at least. But buying a bookshelf would make my already limited living space even more limited.
posted by downtohisturtles at 2:49 PM on June 3

Oh fun I moved into a new place a few months ago and I just got a package from my borderline mom! Whom I cut off all contact with over 10 years ago and haven’t seen since she tried to force her way into my apartment around Christmas last year, and the Oakland PD wouldn’t take me seriously and send an officer despite repeated calls so I had to physically remove her from the property and then just wait while she lurked at the threshold.

I found a new place to live after that, as I’ve done each time she’s pulled this. Guess she’s been watching enough to know that I moved and she’s obviously got my new address and unit number. While many personality disorders can severely proscribe a person’s life, it turns out that in some cases they are not at all a barrier to a very successful career in finance – perhaps even a competitive advantage. So add no financial limitations to no concept of boundaries, and well… I’ve lived all over the globe at this point – years in Asia, Europe, even a few brief stints in the Middle East and global south. She finds me each time. But usually I at least get a couple years before I start feeling really paranoid, talk about it with my therapist who reassures me I am being paranoid, and then find out later that there were multiple PIs competing for a contract on me. This time it’s been 2, maybe 3 months? Gotta be a record.

Hello panic my old friend
posted by 1024 at 2:52 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]

hippybear: ... like with the shopping list from A Canticle For Liebowitz.

OMG. I was feeling too lazy to post a list of the books I most treasure, but that one is in my top 10. It was assigned in high school english, and it had a huge impact on me. I was just getting into electronics at the time, too. I wore out the copy I snaffled from school, and had to buy another about 15 years ago.
posted by Artful Codger at 2:52 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

downtohisturtles: maybe put up on small bookshelf on a wall and put books on it and rotate them out of the closet onto the shelf from time to time?

Small wall bookshelves are a nice way to have books if you don't have much space.
posted by hippybear at 2:53 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

OMG. I was feeling too lazy to post a list of the books I most treasure, but that one is in my top 10.

The Cold War lives on in our bodies and minds.
posted by hippybear at 2:54 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

dr_dank, I used to do campus radio then I had to hang up the spurs due to a move

back in the day (up to 2010) most new shows needed to be pitched to whoever was programming director at the time (paid position) and new volunteers usually did their time till they earned a slot, and it was not uncommon to get stuck with a weird time

cut to a year ago, and talking to a former volunteer from the period I was at the station and apparently they struggle to fill slots with live content. incoming students just aren't as excited about live radio like they used to be, where a podcast from the basement is easy enough. this makes me feel old and sad.
posted by elkevelvet at 3:25 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]

On DVDs -

Uh, if anyone has a duplicate DVD of anything on this list from 1970 or later I can happily be its new home...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:58 PM on June 3

I'm still thinking up sandwiches.
posted by Stanczyk at 4:11 PM on June 3

Also, I have a small house and a large library, last time I counted about 3,000 titles, so now about 3,500. I give books away far too freely but I rarely deaccession. So all of them. I cherish all of them.
posted by Stanczyk at 4:17 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]

I've never been a big collector of books. For the most part I prefer to frequent libraries, and on top of that for the last 15 years or so much of my non-fiction/informational reading happens online. The only books I buy are ones I really love and re-read periodically, reference books, and comic books (C&H, Pogo, Bloom County, Pearls Before Swine, etc.) Thus I have no more than a couple shelves of books plus a couple more of DVDs and a few knick-knacks.

My sister arrived Saturday evening and we've been having a grand old time catching up and comparing our childhood memories (her memory is significantly better than mine). Yesterday was quite rainy so we just hung out at the house and I made pot roast at her request. Today has been overcast so not much sightseeing; I made buckwheat pancakes then we went to the local IKEA store because she'd never been to one. That was a success. We're back home now but in a bit we'll go out for some excellent pizza. Tomorrow the weather will start clearing up, so we'll do some local sightseeing - and we HAVE to go to Voodoo Doughnuts (yes I know Blue Star is better but ironically they don't have the same star power notoriety amongst out-of-towners). Wednesday and Thursday are supposed to be sunny and pleasant, so one day we'll go to the coast and the other out to Mt. Hood before she leaves Friday.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:34 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]

One side-benefit of her visit, beside just being fun in and of itself, is it gave me the impetus to clean up my house to the point where I'll be willing to invite other friends over, which I haven't done in well over 5 years. Yay!
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:39 PM on June 3 [6 favorites]

Can't believe I forgot one of my most cherished sentimental books: The Times Family Atlas of the World. It was my dad's growing up, and is as old as I am -- old enough that it has a complete guide to all the Soviet Republics alongside the US states. Not exactly useful in 2024! But I pored over that thing as a kid, from the beautiful natural relief maps to the detailed plans for the world's top 100 cities. Idk if it made me a geography nerd or just let me get into it early, but it's the reason I can draw a map of the world Al Franken-style or zoom Google Earth down to pretty much any landmark, despite only having been to Canada once.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:51 PM on June 3 [3 favorites]

Greg_Ace: I totally get you not cleaning up your space enough to welcome visitors for years on end. It's a pain to keep up to the imagined expectations of visitors. I'm glad you got there. i hope to get there myself soon.
posted by hippybear at 4:56 PM on June 3 [5 favorites]

I'm an indifferent housekeeper in the best of times, and the pandemic removed any residual chance of people coming over. I do keep up with the potentially gross stuff, but I can let the clutter accumulate to the point where it's a not-quite-literal mountain of a cleanup/straightening task. Now that I've done major organizing, and people are hanging out in person again, I'm more likely to manage to maintain its current neat and tidy status.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:17 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

When we moved to an apartment in Toronto from a 4 storey house in Kitchener we gave 95% of our books to a huge yearly book sale to benefit the Elora Singers. We filled up one guy's minivan to the "i wonder if it's going to break the springs" point. But it didn't.
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:46 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

Slight piece of good news: I had sent an audition video to another theater company, and then they said "please fill out the audition form we didn't mention earlier," and then I didn't get back to it because I got into R&J. I emailed them yesterday asking if it was too late and they said it's not, so I sent them the form. So I can say I at least TRIED to get in there, anyway. And another friend of mine mentioned another theater company to me, and I said I'd do it if they can wait for me to start in 3 weeks... so we'll see.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:12 PM on June 3 [7 favorites]

I sent of the book my preschoolers made for publishing today. I should have it back in 3 weeks or so. Last year we did "We Are Amazing Preschoolers" and this year we did "When I Grow Up..."

Had my dance recital on Saturday. I f-upped royally. I was supposed to lead making the circle. Instead of going behind the line, I went in front of it. I have no clue how. I've never done that before. Realistically, no one in the audience noticed. But I knew. And I'm pissed at myself. Probably time to hand up my tap shoes.

As far as my personal books, I have the couple my kids did here in the US and in Korea. I have the copy of Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat I got for my HS graduation. Also, The Places You'll Go from college graduation. I have a few cookbooks, including one I just got. If you love chocolate chip cookies.... I highly recommend it.
posted by kathrynm at 6:23 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

neuron, that's a lot of loss. Sympathy from this internet stranger.
posted by theora55 at 7:10 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]

yes, neuron...

I also have a lot of sympathy for you during this tumultuous period. I hope you find grace, hope, love and peace in the midst of all this turmoil.
posted by hippybear at 8:04 PM on June 3

@neuron . .
@supermedusa .

three books that have helped me in different times of grief:
* on grief and grieving / elizabeth kubler ross & david kessler
* how to go on living when someone you love dies / therese rando
* dying : a memoir / cory taylor

bonus recommendation: dog years : a memoir / mark doty (here’s a short review from the guardian.)
posted by tamarack at 10:43 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

I forgot one of my most cherished sentimental books: The Times Family Atlas of the World
yay! atlases! whenever i see an atlas i also get sentimental. they bring me back to childhood. i don't remember if my family actually had an atlas (my childhood was a bit chaotic) but i distinctly remember the first time i opened an atlas.

the book was unlike anything i'd seen before to that point: a picture book, yet the pictures were not necessarily narrative. or, if there is a narrative, the main actors are geopolitics & plate tectonics
a complete guide to all the Soviet Republics alongside the US states
i wonder what that would be like, i.e. how completely could places be described then, would there be equivalencies made, etc.. having met someone from Kyrgyzstan, the historical entity that was the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic fascinates me
posted by HearHere at 1:40 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

If they write on my gravestone, " 'E weren't a bad lad and 'e did 'is best," I'd be well pleased. Not exactly the Socratic ideal, nor the Daoist injunction to be as water but I'll take it. Happily, I'm as fit as a butcher's dog and so there's no need to notify the stone mason just yet.
posted by dutchrick at 3:11 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

quick, someone ask me how covid is
posted by bombastic lowercase pronouncements at 4:31 AM on June 4

[ gestures invitingly ]
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:44 AM on June 4

okaay? how's covid
posted by HearHere at 4:54 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

Still only caught covid the once, in January last year. Knocks wood

It definitely made the top 5 “sickest I’ve beens”. I’ve had worse cases of flu. But only because I’ve had some pretty shitty flu.
posted by notoriety public at 7:22 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

My only bout with covid was one where I didn't even know I was sick. I only knew I should be testing because i was at a gathering where it was breaking out. But I never had any symptoms. My covid tests were entirely off the charts for over a week, though.

So maybe I've had it a dozen times, but I only know I've had it once.

I hope everyone suffering from it finds quick respite.
posted by hippybear at 7:29 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Today is Killdozer day! It's been 20 years! Previously.
posted by Catblack at 7:38 AM on June 4

Last night out of nowhere I started to feel a little sick, and it kept me up most of the night.
This morning I tested for Covid and it came back positive.
I'm not feeling too bad, but this should get me out of a lot of household chores.
I was looking forward to a music practice today, but oh well...
posted by MtDewd at 8:14 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

i don't get it
posted by HearHere at 8:18 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

Open mic last night - I performed two originals and got many fist bumps and smiles, so I’m thinking I didn’t mess up too bad. Second time I have been since the pandemic first hit. Much less nervous than last time. I used to go a couple times a month.

My most interesting performance pre pandemic was when I solo performed Led Zeppelin’s “Dazed and Confused” on a bass ukulele with rubber strings.

posted by kabong the wiser at 8:30 AM on June 4 [5 favorites]

a bass ukulele with rubber strings

My kiddo just got one of those over the holidays, and it's their favorite thing.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:05 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Hoping all have an easy time of their illneses and find peace from their losses.

I'm not sure my bout with covid would crack my top 5 as it were. It hit me as basically a mid-range cold. The loss of smell was weird but also very brief, and the amount of sleep I got meant that after the first two days of snot and crud I actually felt more alert and energetic than I normally am, lol. But then again I do remember it very clearly, or at least as clearly as I remember my other very sick times, so maybe.

I had a bug this year that I thought for sure was covid but over a week it never popped positive on a single test, so I remain unsure. And lord knows that I could have had a hundred asymptomatic cases, because these days I'm not likely to test unless I feel sick or I've been around someone who was sick.

Is my body crumbling slowly from within? Probably. Is it from covid or just from being in my 40s? I will never know. Even before the pandemic it's not like I ever felt good.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:25 AM on June 4 [1 favorite]

Is my body crumbling slowly from within?

I mean, whose isn't...
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:15 AM on June 4 [2 favorites]

Popping in to say if you have a good therapist, hang on to them if you can. Mine is freaking awesome and just helped me navigate some immense stress around an impending family trip with a narcissistic estranged parent trying to get in on my visit. (My visit is give my sister a break with caretaking for our mom.)
posted by Kitteh at 12:19 PM on June 4 [2 favorites]

Talking about little free libraries like this, there was a memory scratching at the back of my head of a short story. I went looking for it: Little Free Library, by Naomi Kritzer.
posted by notoriety public at 12:43 PM on June 4

neuron and supermedusa, I am so very sorry for your losses.

I have held on to the 1888 copy of Dickens' "David Copperfield" since I bought it for a dollar at a yard sale back when I was a teenager. It got me hooked on vintage and antique books. Nearly half of my books (I have a LOT; there are just over 300 just in my living room) are late 18th century to mid 20th century. I find that I worry over very old books; that they will be unwanted, and tossed in the trash, when they're still in fine shape. If I don't "save" them, who will?

But....I'm also ready to let some of them go, and I'm having a difficult time finding people to take them.

Today, I took a beautiful copy of A.A. Milne's "Now We Are Six" from 1955, and photos around it, in a shadow box. Some years ago, I'd given a copy of that book to my "twin brother from another mother", because his name was Christopher and my name is Anne and we were born in the same hospital on the same day and have been friends since we met again in kindergarten. Christopher Robin in the book has a best friend named Anne, and I thought it was appropriate.
We lost Chris late last year; he had cancer he didn't tell anyone about. I have been more broken up about his death than I ever thought I would be. So I found a copy of the book, and arranged photos of him around it, and now have a nice shadow box of my "brother" that I miss dearly.

Some books you can never, ever let go.
posted by annieb at 3:36 PM on June 4 [10 favorites]

I think if I could find some curious young queer to pass a lot of my books along to, I would be thrilled to do so. The city in which I grew up had zero gay subculture and so when I came out much of the context I gained was from books of various sorts. I've absorbed all those lessons now and I don't know if any of them would be applicable today, if I had some 20-something young queer kid in my life I'd be shoveling books at him non-stop because they meant a lot to me.

It is indeed difficult to find the person or people to pass books along to. You want them to have the right home.
posted by hippybear at 4:28 PM on June 4 [1 favorite]

book: I have the latest Tommy Orange book from the library. It's gonna be so good I don't want to start it because it will be over too soon and I'll be out of that world again

phone: our old landline was once an endpoint for some kind of automated ordering system. We'd get a call just before 10 am most mornings. For the first couple of weeks there was a carrier tone, but I didn't have a dial-up modem to see what it was trying to say. Shortly after that, there was no carrier, but the calls continued for another decade. There were also a few faxes from an automated car parts system, but they stopped when I faxed back a page with WRONG NUMBER scrawled on it

fact: (via jessamyn) there really was a guy called Bum Farto. My inner 8 year old has been laughing uncontrollably for the last two hours and may have just wet himself.
posted by scruss at 6:07 PM on June 4

Have you seen my new landline phone? It's off the hook

So, y'know, don't bother trying to call me...
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:45 AM on June 5 [3 favorites]

Naturally, and as usual, my deepest sympathies to those with hearts that grieve and best wishes for love and peace to those who struggle with THE WEIGHT .

Today, I have an additional wish. I sincerely wish that none of y'all, my dear MeFites, will ever need to get good at helping a loved one onto a portable commode.
posted by ob1quixote at 2:08 PM on June 5 [6 favorites]

I sincerely wish that none of y'all, my dear MeFites, will ever need to get good at helping a loved one onto a portable commode.

I hear that, and with 3 out of 4 parents having passed already, we know too well how gut-wrenching it is to see a parent, the strong person who raised and supported us, made weak and dependent by age and infirmity.

But let's also make some noise for the caregivers - nurses, PSWs, personal aides - who provide such services to our elderly and disabled, for a living. Doing the tedious, gross, heartbreaking stuff that we the relatives are too busy or squeamish to do ourselves. Fucking saints, most of them.
posted by Artful Codger at 12:49 PM on June 6 [4 favorites]

I did not expect one of the best international cricket matches of this year, no this decade, so far, to be the USA vs Pakistan in the ongoing World Cup.

Which the USA just won after forcing a super-over (the cricket equivalent of extra time in other sports). Epic scenes just now at the ground in Texas.

Also, and after their first match crushing of Canada, most of the other teams in the tournament are going to want to avoid them; the USA have serious batting power. They still have to play India and Ireland in their group, but win either of those and they are likely to go through to the next stage.
posted by Wordshore at 12:59 PM on June 6 [2 favorites]

So the Oceans' Eleven-style scheme to get me back into an old job is done for; that's fine, I wasn't as into it anyway.

I've got one recruiter working on two other things for me one place, I've already had an initial interview another place (I should follow up today about whether there will be a second interview) and an old work colleague who just got a new job is going to refer me to a couple of her recruiters as well. I've also seen signs of interest from a second application I've sent out - and I've sent out about 60 in the past two weeks alone (NYS unemployment only requires I send out three each week). I also went to a free lecture at the library about "how to format your resume so it gets past screening software" and made a couple of tweaks accordingly.

I think it also helped that I've mentally prepared myself for at least three months without anything happening. And I would actually be okay - the CSA farmshare starts tomorrow, and there are a shit-ton of free cultural events coming up.

This has done a lot to shift my mindset over to this being a giant Gift Of Time. One of the events coming up is a pair of concerts at Brooklyn's Botanic Garden; I'm already a member, so I get in free. And on June 20th they are having a pair of chamber-concert performances; one at sunrise, and one at sunset. And...not having a job to go to means I could get up super-early and go to the sunrise one, go home and nap, and then go to the sunset one. If I'd been working I'd likely miss both because "I wouldn't be able to get to work on time" and "I'd be way too burnt out to go to the sunset concert".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:00 AM on June 7 [4 favorites]

Dropped my sister off at the airport today. She didn't want to go home, and I was happy to let her stay as long as she liked, but...all vacations must end.

At least now I have a nice clean house to myself! Currently accepting bets on if/how long I manage to keep it this way...
posted by Greg_Ace at 3:24 PM on June 7

....a giant Gift Of Time

If you can swing it, time really is a gift. Nobody, on their deathbed, says "I wish I'd worked more".
posted by Artful Codger at 3:45 PM on June 7

While I was in a store today where a local radio station was playing over the sound system, I heard an ad voiceover say "Free never sounded so good!"

I said to the cashier, "When has 'free' ever not sounded really good??
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:43 PM on June 9

Well, I suppose if they were taking people to be executed for free...
posted by Greg_Ace at 2:44 PM on June 9

Layoffs inbound at my work. I should be fine, but send any positive mind atoms you have lying around, as I wait to find out. Should know by tomorrow, one way or the other.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:37 AM on June 11

Welp, nevermind. They cut me loose.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:12 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

Aw shit, DirtyOldTown, I'm so sorry :(
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:18 AM on June 11 [5 favorites]

It's all right. It never feels great to be let go, but I'm in a solid position to weather it financially and a good position to find a good landing place.

And I kind of hated the work.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:33 AM on June 11 [7 favorites]

And I kind of hated the work.

Sort of a tarnished silver lining. :)

I empathize with you, I was once part of a group layoff that none of us saw coming. On the plus side, it incentivized me to move to the PNW where (besides the amazing scenery) I found a better-paying job and a bunch of new Metafilter IRL friends. I hope it turns out just as happily for you!
posted by Greg_Ace at 11:29 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

Some appropriate ecards for you then....

In other news, I got a callback for a show: Something Rotten, a show I desperately wish I could have done at the same time as Much Ado last summer and ended up doing tech on it instead. There are two other theaters doing it this year, but the other one is Snooty Theater much later, and we all know I won't get into that :P The callback theater is what I'll call New Theater, as they have a children's program and now are trying to establish an adult program. They seem nice but fairly disorganized and seem to run late a lot. I sent them a video audition a few weeks ago right before I had the R&J audition, then didn't follow up on that until after R&J was canceled, they still took it and gave me a callback.

There were ten people in there for ensemble only, which I hope is hopeful for me since that show is usually a huge one, and apparently they had to have more auditions and that's why they took so long to get to the callbacks. I had to come in 20 minutes late because they gave me super late notice on the callback and there was no way I could arrange to leave early without the notice. But I'm pretty good at picking up dance numbers even so, and while I didn't remember all of it when I didn't have someone else doing it in front of me, I did the best I could with vim and verve, and there was a "make it up yourself" section and I'm brilliant at that shit. After that I was told I didn't have to read any lines, then oops, yes, you do, so I read a few lines of Portia being drunk at the party, which I think I did super well, thank you. So hopefully I get in because they need warm bodies and are relatively new to this--I note most of the auditioners seemed to be from the teen program and while I didn't see most of the people auditioning for leads, I only recognized one person from a prior audition. Maybe the word hasn't quite gotten around yet for them to be swamped with people, so good news for me?

...I will note that (he who I am trying to no longer have affection for) also got a callback for this one, as a lead. It sounded like the last time I talked to him, he was likely to be "shotgunning" (i.e. only requesting one part/refusing ensemble and if he doesn't get the one part, won't be in the show), so I suppose we will see on that one. He is that good and gets a lead in almost everything he's ever auditioned for (except at Snooty Theater, which only took him once), and I'd be flabbergasted if he didn't get something. So...I might be in a show with him again, something I never expected to since his career has really taken off at Snooty Theater and Even Snootier Theater. He'd be the only person I know over there already too. I don't know what to make of that. I've been working on stopping caring for the last few years, but good lord, it would help if I could just meet someone better already.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:43 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]

Was there a new free thread this week and I missed it?
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:29 PM on June 11

There was not, I don't think.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:37 PM on June 11

The MeTa about me sucked all the oxygen out of any possibility of making a new Free Thread post, I think.

Sorry about that.
posted by hippybear at 6:45 PM on June 11

DirtyOldTown: I'm sorry to have read about your job ending. That feels like a tragedy to me, and I hope you can flip that around quickly.
posted by hippybear at 9:29 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]

Everyone else: I'm fine, I've read the entire MeTa thread, and honestly, there is a lot of self reflection that the community is doing as a result of all of this that I think is healthy.

Also, I'm not sharing MeMail from loup, not without permission, but my assertion that I can ask people not to interact with me anymore comes from me asking for a blocking feature, and being explained to me that is not possible and so instead telling me I can ask for others to stop interacting with me as if I had a block button.

This is not special treatment. My inference from this interaction is that anyone could request this.

If loup would give me permission to share the MeMail I received regarding this matter, I would share it here so anyone could see it.

I will be taking a break from MetaFilter for an unspecified amount of time. I'm sorry for any hurt I have caused, and I need to heal from the hurt I have suffered.

I wish all of you peace.
posted by hippybear at 9:33 PM on June 11 [6 favorites]

hippybear, regardless of the rights and wrongs of it, that cannot have been a pleasant experience for you. I feel for you.
posted by dutchrick at 9:53 AM on June 12 [7 favorites]

We're already in to Thursday, so in lieu of starting a new Free Thread just for one comment...

So I have this awesome app that connects people with food stores and restaurants who want to sell some of their excess stock at a discount to help fight food waste. The participating restaurants or markets put together grab bags of stuff and sell each bag for like $5-6 a pop, and customers buy the bags through the app. You don't always know what you're getting (you can't place an order for something in particular in advance) and you have to go get it in a certain time window. But you still get a decent amount of stuff for five dollars.

And best news for me - there's a fancy-pants bougie indie food market that participates in that, and I was in the area this afternoon and bought a bag through the app, and ended up with a jackpot of sorts:

* A loaf of artisanal sandwich bread
* A tub of cream cheese
* A tub of some kind of red dip/sauce/thing
* Some pre-carved Tete de Moine "cheese flowers"
* A jar of pre-made tiramasu
* A 28 ounce tub of maple yogurt


I'm meeting a friend on the weekend and I'll bring the cheese flowers with some fancy crackers, and the bread will definitely get used over the course of the week. I can similarly find things to do with the red sauce and the cream cheese and will probably make short work of the tiramasu.

As for the yogurt....I had the idea to break out the ice cream maker and make frozen yogurt out of that. Any other thing I use yogurt for would work best with plain yogurt this time of year (smoothies, granola, etc.) because I'd be using seasonal fruits and I'm not sure how the maple would act with that. But maple frozen yogurt is something else again.

I was trying to brainstorm what I could throw in it, and asked the roommate - he said that maple and bourbon is an amazing combination. So I may be going with some kind of maple-froyo-with-bourbon-walnut-swirl thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:46 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]

So long as I'm not run over by a parent driving a tank-car in the school run, abducted by aliens (if they do, I'll request being returned to Earth after the UK and US elections), or felled by bird flu or overdosed on pizza over this weekend, then there will be a new Free Thread this coming Monday, the uh 17th June; it's written and ready to roll.
posted by Wordshore at 8:46 AM on June 14 [5 favorites]

Godspeed, good sir!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:35 AM on June 14

Thanks, Wordshore! I try to fill in when I have time in the morning or notice one hadn't gone up by the afternoon, but have been sidetracked by some truly bizarre computer issues the last week or so and totally missed it.
posted by Rhaomi at 11:34 AM on June 14 [1 favorite]

A new free thread, for a new week, is now live and awaiting your comments.
posted by Wordshore at 12:13 AM on June 17 [1 favorite]

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