The Coolest Heaven is where you are.
The Coolest Heaven is where you are.
Listen to Jim: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/eveofchristmasremembered.mp3
or read on…
It’s morning on the Eve of Christmas, 2011 A.D.
The last two weeks have been very busy at the Museum of Fond Memories, so I’m happy that the shop doesn’t open till 11 a.m. Since Liz is up and out , I’m alone to determine how to spend a much-needed quiet morning. The usual breakfast haunts are either crowded or closed, so I take my New York Times and head for McDonald’s, hoping for an isolated table and a few moments of meditative non-work activity.
The stressed employees humor me with my order—scrambled eggs, grits, two tomato slices, sausage and biscuit, with iced tea on the side. A rare chance to gorge—after all, it’s Christmas Eve, isn’t it?
While I’m just settling my brain for a long winter’s fast-breaker, a couple arrives at the next table, she with Santa hat and earphones, he with strained countenance and long gazes through the window. She doesn’t notice his inattentiveness, nor does she recognize my solitude. “I’m dreamin’ of a white Christmas,” she sings loudly, boogie-ing her body to the earplug sounds, blissfully unaware that there is anybody but herself in the establishment. She continues singing out-of-tune parts of other carols while her partner and I try to concentrate on our own tiny universes. The speaker system at McDonald’s is blasting other Christmas-related tunes, so my mind has to delegate two sets of simultaneous lyrics to their respective hiding places while I attempt to focus on the Times.
Later, on the way to the car, I begin to appreciate the girl’s annoying joy and realize I could use a little less grouch and a bit more Christmas boogie myself.
“Hey, what church are you from?” a shouted question careens over my left shoulder just as I’m trying to pile into the automobile. I have to twist around to see who’s there. A large wrinkled smiling face is staring at me and repeats the question, “Hey, what church are you from?” My first reaction is that I’m being panhandled, so I slam the door. Then, realizing I’m being testy, I lower the window to reply—suddenly realizing that the street man has assumed I’m some sort of clergy because of the black shirt, trousers and jacket I’m wearing, probably contrasted with my white Santa beard.
I don’t try to look like something special, this is just the way I am.
“No church,” I reply. Then, my fast mouth getting ahead of my thought processes, I add, “I’ve got a long night ahead of me, delivering toys.”
He looks startled and backs away, as if he suddenly believes me.
I drive to work and begin to focus on my shop and my customers.
Does Street Man think he’s just encountered some sort of Santa Claus?
Does Book Man think he’s just crossed paths with a needy soul who thought for a moment he might find peaceful words?
How many more opprotunities might I miss this day? Or did I do exactly the right thing?
How will I ever know?
I hope you have many good and mysterious encounters this and every week in this Land of Perpetual Post-Christmas
(c) 2011 A.D. by Jim Reed
Read below or listen here: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/WritersWrite.mp3
As the images of storms past hover and sink deeply into our minds, many of us tend to rearrange our memories and allow them to fade.
This is unacceptable behavior.
The only plea a teller of true tales can make that is worth making is: Please don’t let this happen. Write down/record each detail of your experience, whether you were in the eye or whether you escaped physically untouched. Fact is, we were all touched, deeply and irrevocably.
What matters now is to work these events through the template of a muse, so that some degree of peace and closure and perspective can occur.
You are your own book, whether you know it or not, and now is the time to transcribe your life, to come to terms with the preamble, duration and aftermath of what you have lived.
The most important thing: Each non-storm day in a writer’s life is worthy of examination, too. Storms are easy to remember. Slippery moments of significance can fall to the ground and roll under something, out of sight, out of memory.
Don’t let that happen. Attention must be paid
(c) 2011 A.D. by Jim Reed
Do you workworkwork all the time? A decades-old entry in my Red Clay Voice Diary seems applicable today: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/audio/christmas/2/track12.asx
Listen to Jim: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/objectsofdesire.mp3 or read on…
Be glad that I don’t tell you the story behind each and every Thing you select to take home from Reed Books/The Museum of Fond Memories. Be glad, because I’d hold you up for hours!
All the foundling books and artifacts in the shop have their own backgrounds, their own histories-—and stories could be told.
In order to save time for both of us, it is best I keep the back-stories to myself so that you can purchase a wonderful artifact and begin your journey with it, with a clear mind and a vivid imagination. That way, you can create your own story, your own genealogy, and stamp the object with your indelible personality.
This isn’t difficult. After all, the ephemera and books in my shop will never be as meaningful as the memories they evoke, the tales they force you to tell, the reflections they engender. Not only will you imbue your new-found treasure with your essence, you will also leave traces of your very DNA through the simple act of touching it. You will make your own story and carry it with that story’s subject till you are ready to end with a period and allow the next owner, the next heir, the honor of starting a new paragraph.
This is dynamic archaeology, folks. And a thousand years hence, when diggers find traces of the book or diary or collectible you own today, they will be able to determine once more that the things we hoard and cherish are the things that tell our stories best.
And perhaps they will be able to revive us through that all-inclusive DNA that seeped into our objects of desire
© by Jim Reed 2011 A.D.
Listen to Jim: http://www.jimreedbooks.com/mp3/literaryvanitieshell.mp3 or read on…
The Shopping Mall of the Literary Vanities is a one-of-a-kind destination point, at least today. Someday, it may be franchised and you’ll find them everywhere. Here at the Mall, you can stroll past storefront windows that display waxwork scenes of authors who are in the process of having what we call BOOK SIGNINGS. One window depicts Kurt Vonnegut puffing away and signing like crazy, as adoring fans are ignored and processed. Another window shows Rick Bragg kindly signing book after book for ‘Bama fans. Then, there are the windows of the Unknown Authors. Here, you’ll see one lonely writer after another sitting stiffly and staring ahead, pen poised, waiting for attention from invisible throngs.
Naturally, in order to properly represent statistics, you’ll find about 98 lone-author displays for every two busily-successful authors. It’s a big mall.
This might as well be a Gary Larson cartoon more properly titled The Shopping Mall of the Literary Vanities Hell that we writers often have nightmares about.
That was a dream. What follows is what happened today:
I’m driving into the parking lot of Little Professor, a book store in Homewood, Alabama, where, this very Sunday High Noon, I’m attending a book signing.
Not just any book signing. My book signing!
I’ve dusted off the last few copies of my title, Christmas Comes But Once a Day. Liz has decided it’s time I make myself available to the masses in order to sell off our “stock” before I add another handful of stories and publish a revised edition for next year.
So, here I am in the parking lot at Little Professor, about to spend two hours being The Author.
Why do I dread these events? Even more puzzling: why do I look forward to these events?
Any experienced author will tell you how wonderfully terrible and terribly wonderful book signings can be. Like many others, I’ve spent hours over the past decades, sitting in bookchain stores waiting for somebody—anybody—to buy my book and ask me to sign it, to no avail. Then, again, I’ve sat in stores where people have lined up to get my signature.
The fun part is having people ask.
The horrifying part is having nobody ask.
The even more horrifying part is never knowing in advance what kind of book signing event it’s going to be, till I’m already there, sitting nude at a table with a small sign over my head explaining what this geezer is doing in the middle of the store staring into space.
Today’s signing is pleasant, and I am relieved. A number of friends and strangers buy my book—as well as my writing book and my “Tweed Coat” book, and, better than that, some folks sit and talk with me and listen as I read a couple of Christmas tales to them. People can be so kind—thankfully.
I am relieved and grateful—and very glad that I don’t do this for a living. I’m a lot more secure in my old book shop, comforting all those long-dead authors who have been through many other book-signing hells…and I assume they, like me, are happier where they are than where they have been
(c) 2011 A.D. by Jim Reed