Mostly what I buy these days are books and Trader Joe’s salted Almond Butter. I’m capitalizing because it’s a real thing. The books I buy come unexpected. It works like this. I’ll be reading a book or an on-line magazine article or essay by someone I like and another book will be mentioned and maybe described and because I have a lot of love for the person doing the mentioning and describing I’ll go over to Ebay and type it in. It almost never happens that you can’t find something on Ebay for less than $5, a better way of saying it is you can nearly always find something on Ebay for less than $5, and this is especially true with used books, which are pretty much the only ones it makes sense to buy. If I find what I’ve gone looking for as a result of following breadcrumbs – and I always describe this as my Hansel and Gretel way of moving through this life – and it’s less than $5 or the truly scrumptious “best offer” I go right ahead and do it, hit the “buy it now” button, or “best offer”, where I type a number gleefully small. It’s actually thrilling, and I should also say that every once in a while I can work for my son Gerald, who has what’s called a developmental disability, and get paid out of state money as a personal attendant, and they pay $14.51 an hour, which I get as a certified-did-all-the-paperwork-and-background-check-stuff worker, and I am fully aware – and equally grateful of course – that I can and often do buy three books on Ebay and pay for all three of them with just one hour of tutoring, you could call it, or physical activity direction, or some other support activity he needs help with, which is very cool. And you know what is just as cool and maybe even cooler? Going to the mailbox on the front porch and finding a book in it, addressed to me. Not trash mail from a local crematorium or another credit card fabulous offer or a car dealership from like nine years ago or an actual bill, but something fun. I should capitalize that. FUN!! (Yup, I added the double exclamation point, which all the how-to writing books say you should never do.) F ’em.
So, if kicks just keep getting harder to find, like the song said, some of my kicks these days come through the mailbox in the form of cheap, used books, whose direction I was sent in by following tidbits of clues strewn along the way through the labyrinthe of my mind. And oh the wonders within. Look – somewhere I read a quote from someone in a Paris Review interview, so I ordered a copy of the ninth edition of the Paris Reviews from the library and I read it straight through and it knocked me out. I wanted more so went to Ebay and ordered this collection of Paris Reviews and joyfully found it in my mailbox and am now most of the way through it, and as a result of statements I’ve read from one author or another ordered the Gardner “how-to” book, and my wife dug up the Marquez book which I’d plucked for nothing from a local
‘little free library’, then I checked out “Cruddy” from the county library, because somebody somewhere in one of these books raved about it, and I’m about a quarter of the way through with it now and it is absolutely tearing new channels of wonder in my mind with thrillingness and joy for the writing, and I’ve since ordered another of her books for four bucks on Ebay — and this is how it goes for me these days. You might call them cheap thrills, the oppo of them ol’ kozmic blues.
If my last post on this Blog concerned the gradual draining of memory from my mind (“Bookends”), well this one is about filling it up with new stuff, and being moved and stimulated and absolutely electrified with words and sentences and the joy of buying fun cheap stuff, most of which I’d never known or heard about a month ago.
And you know what? If you are feeling a little low and would love a breath of fresh, hopeful air, I strongly encourage you to go to Ebay, type in the name of a book someone suggested to you three years ago, or one you saw here today, find a copy with a ‘Buy Now’ for $14.95 or ‘Best Offer” and offer $4.25. Maybe even less. I promise you’ll feel giddy all over. And for all you know, they may take it. And then there will be something other than junk in your mail one of these days.