Bookstores are Magical Places

Aisle in Barnes and Nobles

I don’t know if I’ve ever told you, but I was extremely sad when Borders Bookstore passed away a few years ago. Extremely sad. It felt like another magical door was closing on me, and the void that Borders left could never be filled.

In this post I’m not going to say that Barnes & Noble fills that void, but it comes close enough.

I really love bookstores. I always used to go to Borders and read snippets of a bunch of books like I was sampling cakes or something. I liked (and still like) walking into bookstores and feeling the words hidden in the shelves and knowing that each and every little book is actually a not-so-little world all on its own. I think there’s magic in that.

Sometimes I’ll just walk into a bookstore just because I like the feel of being in a bookstore. Of course, when I have extra money I’ll buy books, but that’s not really a common occurrence nowadays. :(

And so it was last week or so when I was able to go and visit Barnes & Noble. I have to say I was very glad that I did. It was like the bandage/herbal tea/dessert-thing that I didn’t even know I needed. It patched my writer’s block right up, and it got me to a more creative and art-friendly place. Thank you, Barnes & Noble!

Now, this time around I’d like to say that I did have money and that I bought a bunch of books and that I carted them all home in a little toy wagon… but I didn’t. That makes me feel sad just thinking about it.

But if I did happen to have money at that time, well, it wouldn’t have lasted very long. Here are a few awesome books I really wish I had bought:

(sorry for the blurry-ish pictures. I used my very temperamental phone to take these)

The Novel Cure From Abandonment to Zestlessness 751 Books to Cure What Ails You

The bookstore was full of creative remedies that day. From my blurry picture you can barely make out the words: The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin. I saw this book and thought it was genius, not to mention that it has a beautiful cover. (And it’s worth mentioning that this book has a beautiful website too.)

The Rathbones

I’ve heard that The Rathbones by Janice Clark is a really good read and I’ve been wanting to get my hands on it for a while now. Seeing it in person just made my day. (And the cover is exceptionally lovely)

(Yes I am judging these books by their covers. Can’t help it sometimes. If it makes you feel better their summaries sound just as beautiful as their covers look.)

*sigh* If only.

As I meander through the shelves of any bookstore I tend to think that each book has a voice, almost as if each one is a friend waiting for you to meet them. And to me, although bookstores are usually really quiet inside, I feel like they are also very loud since all these books are talking to you at once and trying to grab your attention.

Those particular book-voices that day had refreshed my inner voice, and I was definitely ready to write after that.

Since I loved the bookstore so much, I took a picture of some of the books and set it up as the background screen on my phone so I could carry it with me all the time:

Barnes and Nobles Bookshelf

And so went my trip to my bookstore. Needless to say, I will be going back.

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Hooray! I Finally Did It! Library Contest Results: Plain Sugar Drops

I took this photo of a bunch of random stuff of mine last year year for my photography class:

A picture of some ribbons and things tinted pink

It kind of fits. Kind of.

It actually is a picture of mine that goes well with the story at the bottom of this post. And so, without further ado, the actual post:

I’m on cloud nine today. After all this time, I’ve finally done it: 3rd place at my local library’s writing contest.

*dances while throwing confetti and eating sprinke-covered cupcakes*

This has been a goal of mine ever since I’d heard about it a few years ago. Imagined Ink Teen Writing Contest, 1000 words, about anything. And this was going to be my last chance too, since the contest is only open to teens I’m not going to be in high school anymore next year (although I will still be a teen, I suppose… weird.)

But now I finally done it and just in time, too. I was beginning to think that maybe I wasn’t the writer I thought I was, but I guess I am her… If that made no sense, I’m sorry. I’m still dizzy from the smiling and the happy-cloud around my head.

I’m very proud of my third-place finish. The other entries were really, really good, and deserved what they got. I’m perfectly happy.

I might be repeating the word “happy” too much. Apologies!

I wasn’t able to make the event the library put together to present awards, sadly. Author Kenneth Oppel was there, and I would’ve loved to have gone but my schedule was being particularly malicious that day. I was this close to meeting an awesome published author. Sad face: :(

I did end up getting some pretty cool stuff though, including a signed copy of Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel, which I am entirely thrilled to have. I love signed books! They’re living proof that books were written by real people.

Stuff I got as a prize from the library. Thank you!

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel signed by him

And Cheez-Its! I was really hungry when I got this stuff and so the Cheez-Its were a life saver.

I’ve entered this contest once before (which I might have mentioned in this post). And let me be honest, I might have been doubting myself as a writer a little. But this was exactly the motivator I needed. I can write!

If there’s anything that you end up taking away from this post, let it be this: if you feel like you were meant to be a writer but your words aren’t as writer-like as you thought they would be and you don’t feel like you’re a writer at all, don’t give up. Please don’t. Writing, whether it’s in the back of a notebook or at the top of a bookshelf, is a gift. Don’t give that gift up.

And I’m writing that little piece of advice for myself too, because I’m almost 100% sure that in the near future, I will be that person who doesn’t feel she can be a writer at all.

Thank you for listening. You can read my entry, as well as the first and second place entries here (which I highly recommend because they’re beyond amazing). They’ll probably be up there until next year’s contest. I’ve also posted my entry down below.

Note: Yes, my first name really is Jacqueline. Jackie=Jacqueline. Just so nobody’s confused or anything…

• • •

Plain Sugar Drops

ŸŸŸ            The candy drops at Bellissa’s Confectionary are now $3.00. Last Tuesday they were only $2.75.

I hand over three bills in exchange for the package. A white, crisp paper bag tied off with a black ribbon that has been cut with more precision than necessary.

The man at the counter does not even have to ask me what I want. In fact, I don’t think we’ve spoken in years.

(That streak was broken today. Mr.—I can’t even remember his name—stated that the price of drops has gone up to three dollars. I just nodded.)

Every Tuesday afternoon around this time I walk into Bellissa’s and buy exactly one bag of candy drops.

I do not marvel at the pink-and-orange-striped walls. I do not stop to ponder anything else in the store, though it is somewhat tempting.

I do not watch the blown-sugar Ferris wheel as it spins in the front window. I do not deposit any coins in the glass cotton candy machine. I do not gaze longingly at the bouquet of cupcakes in the display case.

Every Tuesday, I walk in and head straight for the blossom-colored counter. I hand Mr. Man-Behind-The-Counter exactly $2.75 (now $3.00). He gives me the bag of drops, along with my receipt.

BELLISSA’S CONFECTIONERY

NAME: LAINIE FALLOWAY

PLAIN DROPS…………………… $3.00

TOTAL…………………………….. $3.00

THANK YOU, PLEASE COME AGAIN

Now, the man behind the counter and I both know that I am not Lainie Falloway, but he does not dare point it out.

I look like Lainie. I walk like Lainie. I dress like Lainie. I even smell like Lainie. And for all intents and purposes, I am Lainie Falloway.

As long as neither of us says anything about how I am not Lainie, for all anyone knows, Lainie Falloway is here inside the sugar-blown world of Bellissa’s Confectionary, just like she is every Tuesday.

I walk away with my package of colored drops.

This is the part where I begin to walk towards 73rd Street. By the time I’ve reached 68th I will have opened the bag of drops.

The pristine black ribbon will remain pristine, being tucked into my coat pocket.

I will look through the bag of similarly shaped discs, through the assortment of artificial sugar-shine colors, until I find a red one.

I always eat a red one first.

By 70th, I will become bored with sucking on the drop and will begin chewing it, crushing it between my teeth like ice.

I hate these drops. The candies themselves come in five colors (there is no blue) but only one flavor, which is plain sugar. They are boring. They do not taste like fruit. Or chocolate. Or cinnamon.

They taste like nothing.

They are pretty, reflecting light like gemstones held up in the sunlight. But underneath their beautiful exterior is an utterly boring, pointless existence, devoid of flavor and interest.

But I eat the drops. Always.

By the time I reach 73rd Street I will have crunched up about eight or nine drops, depending on my mood.

On 73rd street sits Coldwater Cemetery, a large, stone-laden landscape wrapped around with iron fencing, much like a cake piped with icing along the edges. This is where I am every Tuesday, right after I visit Bellissa’s, easily trading a sea of sugar for a sea of stones.

I enter the cemetery methodically. Sixteen graves back, four to the right. Don’t trip over the shovel.

This headstone is my sister’s. Very plain, I think. It should’ve been one of those statue graves, one with an angel standing watch over the plot. But no, it is a simple stone, smoothed and rounded over much like a candy disc.

“I bought the drops.”

I toss a few onto the grave spot, hitting the stone with a couple of dull clicks. It’s the only answer I ever receive. I narrowly miss the date of birth with my candy.

The death date may not be mine, but the birth date is. We were twins, born four minutes and thirty-two seconds apart. It’s very creepy, seeing my own birthday etched into a gravestone, but I have to remember that it’s not really mine. Not just mine, anyways.

The infamous Falloway Twins used to always go into Bellissa’s and buy candy. Sara Falloway would always get something different or unusual—sour lemon drops, cinnamon spikes, fruit chews, anything.

Lainie would always walk right up to the front counter and would purchase a package of plain, colored sugar drops, and proceed to eat them in rainbow-order.

The candy store was ours. We watched the Ferris wheel spin for hours, constructed entirely of sugar. We bought cotton candy from the glass machine in the corner. Tried to guess the flavors of the cupcakes in the case.

We always shared our spoils, although we didn’t enjoy each other’s candy as much as our own. Nonetheless, we were two sisters of spun sugar, of Ferris wheels and frosting and candy.

And every Tuesday, we’d walk all the way home, throwing candy at each other and laughing and looking utterly inseparable.

Inseparable. We were inseparable, weren’t we? I toss another piece of candy at the grave. I can’t live without my sister. She was me, and I was she, and how was I supposed to live without myself?

Without her?

So every Tuesday I come back to this spot with my bag full of plain sugar candies and I pretend that my sister is still here, still alive, still eating candies and occasionally throwing them at me.

“They raised the price, can you believe it?”

More drops fall onto the silent grave.

One last thing to do before I leave. I pull the perfect black ribbon out of my pocket and place it on the ground.

“Miss you, Lainie. See you next Tuesday.”

I leave her then, pelting the words with drops one last time before I go:

In Loving Memory

LAINIE M. FALLOWAY

BELOVED DAUGHTER AND SISTER

June 18th, 1997-November 7th, 2010

It Has Come to This: I Hate My Main Character

Did I just say that?

Yes, I just said that.

…I can’t believe I just said that.

Here is an angry face, because I am not happy: >:(

It’s really strange, because this character that I am directing all of my unhappy faces towards used to be one of my favorites. Nothing about him has seriously changed or anything, but all of a sudden I realized I just didn’t like him.

I was sitting there staring at a page of what I thought was worthless junk, drinking some green tea and praying that I wasn’t catching a cold/the flu/the plague because my throat definitely felt itchy.

I stared. I stared some more. My brain began talking to itself. This is ugly. This is really ugly. Why did I write this? Why isn’t this working? Did I mean to write cat or act? Why are there so many h-t-e’s instead of t-h-e’s? Maybe it really is supposed to be h-t-e. Is this supposed to be definitely or definately? I don’t even know English anymore. I’m a writing failure. Doughnuts. I need doughnuts. Donuts can fix anything. Is it doughnuts or donuts? Stupid Dunkin’ Donuts, I can’t even spell donuts doughnuts anymore. I’m hungry. I could use some eclairs or something.

Unfortunately, there was nothing of the doughnut-type in my household. There still isn’t.

…I need to fix that.

Anyway, I was in the middle of not eating chocolatey fried pastries when oh no, the solution hit me. BAM! Or I guess the problem finally hit me. I’m sorry, dear main-character-person, but I don’t like you anymore. In fact, I feel like printing out everything I wrote about you so that I can have a physical object in my hands to crumple. (Not that I’ve ever done that.)

To clarify, I should mention that he isn’t really the main character, but a main character. (The main character and I are still on good terms… For now.)

I used to love this main character. He fit right in with my story. He was the only character I didn’t have problems with. He was awesome! And it’s not like I did any major reconstruction of his persona or anything. All of a sudden his personality became more and more annoying and then I realized that he was annoying and that something had to go.

Everything had grown around him– my other characters, the setting, the plot, the world, the author– but not him. Now he doesn’t fit in with anything anymore.

Has anyone else ever experienced this? Because I am both happy and frustrated. On one hand, I now know what I need to fix. On the other hand… I now I have to fix it. *sigh*

He must be rewritten. He has to be taken apart and reconstructed and burned to ashes then brought back to life like a phoenix. There’s no other way to remedy this. I feel like I’m about to take a pair of scissors to a scarf I knit by hand for five-ish years. I have to cut through the threads, slice through my work, snip it to ruins. I can’t do it!

Yes, yes you can. Breathe, girl. Get a grip!

Okay, okay. I am not excited for this. Obviously. But it must be done. Sort of. I know what I have to change, but not how I am going to change it. He’s so pivotal to the story, I don’t want to have him be like any of my other characters. And these other characters are somewhat of a problem– I’ve already looked at them, thought they were flawed, and improved them, way before this disaster happened. But now I feel like I’ve used all my good ideas on them, and so there is nothing left for him. I feel like Prometheus right now, in that myth where he and his brother Epimetheus were given the tasks of creating the creatures of the earth. Epimetheus was given the animals, Prometheus the humans. When making the animals Epimetheus used up all of the good traits like speed and claws and things, so there was nothing left when it came time for Prometheus to make people.

Great. I’ve used up all the traits on this earth. So what do I do now? According to that, I either:

a) Steal fire for my main character, prompting Zeus to chain me to a rock so that eagles can pick out my insides, or

b) Delete some of the animals of the earth and give their awesome claws and beaks and wings and things to my main character

Um… I don’t like these options.

So I guess it comes down to me, stretching my creative muscles in order to recreate this character. I must overcome this barrier. When I think I’ve used up my last option, I have to remember that THERE ARE LIKE A BILLION MORE OPTIONS AFTER THAT. I just have to work harder to find them.

I’ve basically got to take him apart and put him back together again in a different way than he was before. I can do it. I will do it. I’m holding up the scissors right now. I’m striking the matches, pouring gasoline all over the pages… I’m… I’m…

NO I CAN’T DO IT AHHHHHHHH

…This is going to take a while.

Wish me luck.

A Glass Perspective

Glass Lamp

• • •

A Glass Perspective

I will never understand this place where I stand.

Life is a matter of perspective. It is subjective. It bends and twists and breaks, it moves in tandem with us, shifting as we do.

Glasses are often stated as half empty or half full, as either-or but never both. The glass bends the light as it catches, and the light turns and shines like a lighthouse or a firework flare, all depending on how the glass is standing. Where it is standing. Where it is moved.

We live in a hall of mirrors, each mirror distorted and misshapen but utterly reflective. And depending on where we stand we see different versions of ourselves, reflected back in wayward ways. Are we tall? Strong? Do we look curled over, sad, small, weak? Are we who we think we are? Is this mirror me? Or is it this one? Which one shows me who I am?

Do they all?

Maybe none of them are.

We are what we wish other people to see, because people see what we want them to see. And we want them to see us, and we want them to like us.

But these are not always mutual things, seeing and liking. We see the mirrors, but we do not like them. We know that other people can see us reflected in them. If only we’d step aside, look in a different mirror—one that does not make us appear a withered stick or a formless shell. But we do not move.

We choose the ugly, the scarred, the broken. We see this. We know others see this. And we do not like it. So we drive our hands across the glass and tear it down, relishing in every crack, every shard, every shatter.

We cut our hands and destroy our image and we continue until there is nothing left of us, nothing but an empty place where once a shadow of us had stood.

If only we’d moved.

If only we’d stepped aside.

Then we would be able to see what a select few have the advantage of observing, being in a more perfect perspective than ours. They stand in a different light. One that flatters us, though we cannot see its sweeping bow, nor hear its applause; we do not feel its shouts for encore, nor taste the roses it throws at us.

And it is a silly thing, this thing we forget. For this stage-light that embraces others may not fit us, not the way we want it to.

We are seated on the balcony, but we wish that we could perform.

We are ballerinas behind closed theater curtains.

Orchestras in a soft-edged room.

But I do not understand that my place is not here, where I was put, where I have fallen into. It is not here, where the mirrors all turn back on me with sharp angles and twisted jaws and haunted figures. It is not here, where the light does not hit me unless it deals a heavy-handed blow.

No, this is not my place. But it is my only place, the only place I know.

I, but not you.

Sometimes someone else must move us—they must take our hands and lead us, assure us that they will catch us if—when—we fall. And we will fall, in this new territory. We will stumble upon mirrors that do not glare at us. Lights that halo us.

Crowds that see us, and like us.

But we still have to have the courage to move our feet for ourselves. To alter our perspective. We must find ourselves a new place to stand.

And then the world will bend around us.

• • •

The picture up there is a lamp/light fixture-thing I saw in a store in Granville Island in Canada. I didn’t have a tripod with me so it’s a little shaky, but I just thought it was pretty.

18 Today

Today is my 18th birthday. *pops some confetti*

(And yes, I just posted about my best friend having a birthday six days ago. Cool, right?)

I wanted to do something special for the blog today, as a sort of gift-to-my-blog-and-me, but time has gotten the better of me and before I knew it 17 became 18 and 17 was gone.

In any case, I might do a part II to this post, partially because it’s actually 8:37 on October 3rd and technically I have three and a half hours of 17-ness left. But I know I will not have time to blog tomorrow, and so I have decided to write this beforehand.

And since it is my birthday, I thought I’d share some me-related things.

It makes me very happy that my birthday is on a Friday this year. Fridays are my favorite days.

I was thinking of talking about music in this post, but I am very moody when it comes to choosing favorites. I was considering talking about some Ellie Goulding/Piano Guys/Coldplay/Paramore/Florence + the Machine/someone else I probably forgot, but today I settled with Marching On by OneRepublic, which I think fits me and my year quite nicely:

(I chose this video because I liked the picture and it has the original song that isn’t all remix-y.)

I have no idea what I’m doing for my birthday. I literally told people who asked me what I wanted to do to “surprise me,” because I like surprises.

And with that, I have nothing more to say. Or at least, nothing more that I can think of. As I write this it is 10:01, with exactly 1 hour and 59 minutes left of 17. Wish me luck guys. I definitely wish you the same.
Friday, October 4, 2013. I am 18 today.
Much love,
Jackie