If You Could Read My Mind.

In November 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected president because it’s the 21st century and Congress has STILL not gotten rid of the  Electoral College and while we’re at it, we should get rid of fucking Iowa too.

In November of 2016 I knew these were going to be dire times, Dear Readers, dire. Miserable. Calamitous. Wretched. Depressing. Sickening. Etc.

I knew I was going to need something other than/in addition to copious amounts of alcohol to not let Trump and his sniveling lying cheating stupid evil family and friends get to me during the next horrible four years. So,  in January 2017, I made a New Year’s Resolution that I would keep a Gratitude Jar, which is totally against my personality but, desperate times, desperate measures.

For those of youth might not know what a Gratitude Jar is: A Gratitude Jar provides a simple way to cultivate the habit of being mindful of the good things in your life. Each day, you write a note about one thing for which you’re grateful, and you put it into the jar where they collect as a reminder of the good things in your world.

Vivian’s Gratitude Jar (Mr. Bibs included for scale. My jar is as big as a cat!)

As I type this on Thursday July 25, Trump has been in office for 915 days, the same number of days that I’ve been keeping a Gratitude Jar.

My Gratitude Jar has 2 notes in it.

And now, having listened to the Mueller testimony to the House Judiciary and Intelligence committees yesterday, 2 notes in 915 days of Trump seem like a lot. I know we say this all the time but, just when you think things can’t get any worse, THEY DO.

And now I hate Bob Mueller in addition to everything else I hate about America right now.

The best thing I can say about the Mueller hearings was that the Democrats seemed to be very organized. They couldn’t ask Mueller questions (since Mueller wasn’t saying diddly squat), so they read into the record of the proceedings all the damning findings of the Mueller Report (since Mueller wasn’t saying diddly squat). Made me think of a problem I am having at the used book store (that I manage to benefit the local library). I keep asking the wrong questions and, as we discussed last week, everything depends on asking the right question.

People call me up and say, “I have books that I want to donate.”

I act like this is the best thing that’s happened to me since February 4, 2017 when I heard If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lightfoot on the radio, a song that I had not heard in 9 years (thank you, Gratitude Jar).

And then I ask, “What kind of books do you have?”

You would think that this is not a tough question to ask of someone who collects books. But in my experience, people seem to be surprised by this question.

Here are some of the answers I have received to this question, “What kind of books do you have?”:

All kinds of books.

I have hard books and soft books.

Nice books.

The usual kinds of books.

Books from my house.

And my favorite; Books for reading.

I got a call this morning, and the woman says, “I have books that I want to donate.”

I ask, “What kind of books do you have?”

And she says, Two big garbage bags of books.

I was not in the mood. So I tell her exactly what is on my mind. I say, “Well, I’ve been doing this a long time and I know from experience that when a person puts books in garbage bags it’s because they aren’t very good books.  [Tip: People who really love their books take the time to pack them in boxes.]

And she says, in an insulted tone, My books are really good books. There’s some text books, there’s a thesaurus, I have baby books, and some paperback fiction!

So I tell her that we don’t accept text books, reference books, child raising books, and the fiction has to be in excellent condition. No sound coming from the other end.

“I think you can just throw those books out, guilt-free,” I say.

She responds: Thank you for your time but I’m sure I’ll find a library in the city that will accept them, and she hangs up on me.

Hint: Libraries don’t want your raggedy-ass text books either.

But I have to find a better way of asking people to tell me about their books. Anybody got any advice?

We got a donation at the used book store (that I manage to benefit the local library), an item that was so depressing that I didn’t want to show it to you Dear Readers but, since we’re all depressed anyway (Mueller testimony), I think it’s the right time to bring it out:

This is a small pamphlet published by the New York State Civil Defense Commission in the early 1050s.

Caption: Ball of fire one second after burst.

These survival tips are so ludicrous . . .

. . . could anyone have believed that any of this stuff would actually work?

The guy on the left, the one with his head under his briefcase, makes me laugh every time:

Right: When your city has been hit by an atomic bomb, you want to put on a nice clean frock and tie an apron around your waist and find a cushion to kneel on before you scrub the radioactive particles off your kid.

A while ago we got in a slew of mid-century books:

They were interesting to me because of the author photos, from a time when authors were important people and their likenesses took up the entire back cover of their books:

Note the similarity of the far-Away expressions. The pipe is a nice touch, n’est-ce pas?

Hortense Calisher got an obit in the New York Times:

She wrote a lot of novels about women’s lives, none of which I care to read.

When this book came in, it proved to me that some people are using our used book store as a handy book-removal service:

Is there anything about this book that does not scream TRASHCAN????

If you are in the market for a 30-year old almanac I’m sorry, this one is already in the dumpster:

This too:

THIS one, however, is going into my personal library, for obvious reasons:

I wish I could read that dog’s mind.

This is another book that I want to own, but I don’t want to read:

Human Destiny, by Leconte du Nouy, no dust cover.

I found a treasure tucked inside this book, Human Destiny:

Cute vintage card from 1950, called And So To Bed by the well-known illustrator and fairy artist, Molly Brett. This post card is very collectible these days, going for about $10.00 on eBay, but it’s the message on the back of it that makes it priceless:

It looks like sweet Douglas never sent this to Mr. Noel, whose last name I’ve had to erase because a quick Google turns up info about Mr. Noel  being a big deal at the United Nations directly after the war (WWII) for many years, and with the French government, whose 1996 New York Times obit says he had no wife or children who survived him. Gee. I hope Douglas and Mr. Noel got a lot of face time, so that sending the post card was not necessary. That long dash ———— is worth a thousand words.

My next book also has a French connection:

First Edition, The Last Time I Saw Paris, by Elliot Paul, no dust jacket.

Sample of Paul Elliot’s writing: “The rue de la Huchette, in time and place, had a beginning, a middle, and an ending.” I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

This book is too damn boring to read, but too cute to throw out. What a dilemma. Like that’s what I need more of in my life these days, dilemmas.


Speaking of Nazi-esque immigrants from Eastern Europe who married Trump for a green card, remember how Melanoma Trump’s hometown in  Slovenia honored the First lady with a statue of her?

Turns out, the sculptor of this homage is a time traveler, and he made this likeness of Melanoma to show us what she will look like in the future! No joke!

Because look what was in St. Tropez last month — the first Mrs. Trump, with the face that she deserves:

Ivanka, are you paying attention? This is what you get for being a Nazi.

Am I petty just because ugly Trumps make me happy?

Me and a friend were drinking the other day and we decided that it was time for a revolution in America. They did it in Puerto Rico! Why can’t we do it here?!

Trouble is, neither of us know how to start revolution, but, since our combined age is 148 years old, we’re pretty sure we can figure it out by the weekend.

And when we do, I’ll let you know.

Have great weekend, Dear Readers. Remember, a good scrubbing after the news cycle will remove all those nasty Trump cooties. I can recommend a pinot grigio exfoliant.





13 Comments, RSS

  1. barbara

    Your posts are one of the few things getting me thru the God awful times we are living in. And lots of wine.
    Your right on the target humor and cat pictures will carry us all thru to a better day. When you and your friend figure out how to start the revolution count me in.

  2. Felicity Liebert

    Dear Vivian, I have the solution to all your problems. You need a holiday that actually works out. Scotland should’ve been good but wasn’t. You didn’t really get a good rest. You’re still stressed.
    Time to come down under.
    We have more wineries than you can shake a stick at and the warm weather is on the way. We have a mildly conservative government, which is a bit soppyand indecisive but wouldn’t dare do anything too outrageous cos we don’t put up with that kind of thing and really, a good way of life you could enjoy for a couple of weeks and then toddle back home refreshed.
    You’d like our state of Tasmania I think, similar climate to Scotland and lots of Scots helped to develop it. Although in those days they weren’t so much ‘Scots’ as ‘convicts.’ Whatever, potato, potahto.
    Or go further down under and visit New Zealand. Also has a strong relationship with Scotland, both physically and historically and presently has a magnificent female Prime Minister.
    Regarding your issues with the poor quality donations people are trying to foist on you for the shop you manage for etc etc…here’s news for you: there are dickheads everywhere. I think you’re remarkably patient with them.
    Finally, even over here on the other side of the planet, in a little, easy going country no one pays any attention to (and that’s a good thing) there are those of us watching American politics and share your despair. You’re not alone. With all due respect, your president is a shocker but it’s the countless people supporting him that do my head in. He’s just one nasty nitwit but all those others? What’s wrong with them? And now we’ve got that clown Boris Johnson, old Bojo, to tolerate in Great Britain as well. That guy is as mad as a cut snake.
    Like I said, there are dickheads everywhere.
    Love your books, love your blog. Please keep writing lots and lots.

  3. Casey

    You have a very interesting life.

    Yes, please, please lead us in a revolution. maybe that’s when that book on Home Welding will come in handy. And if you get the opportunity to read some of those outstanding hunting stories, please share.

    And today is Helen Mirren’s birthday!! I’m going to read the wonderful post you did about her last year and tonight’s glass of wine will be a toast to our dear Dame Helen!

  4. Marg-o

    If Douglas’s post card was in Noel’s book, wouldn’t that mean that it was hand-delivered and then kept as a treasure all these years? I hope that’s the case. Do you get the back stories to the donations you receive? There must be so many stories behind each one, even the junky stuff.

    Maybe the question should be, Tell me about the books you want to donate. Or, maybe you could just go right into reciting the kinds of books you DON’T take?(I liked that person who you asked What kind of books do you have? and got the reply, Books for reading. Big laugh.)

  5. Margot BOYER

    One thing I learned as a college instructor (English 101, etc.) is that many people can’t handle open-ended questions. I think you’d get more information about the books, with either/or questions, or yes/no questions. EG: Are they mostly paperback or more mostly hardcover? Are the mostly fiction or non? Are any of them textbooks? Do any of them have writing on them? Would you say most of them were published since 2000, or earlier?
    Characterizing books and what kind of shape they are in is a skill. Most readers don’t have that skill. I’ve learned a lot from buying & selling books as a customer, and reading your notes and *The Diary of a Bookseller” and I’m getting better at figuring what books are worth hauling to a reseller. the answer is: not many.

  6. Re. the revolution: I’m in!

    I hope you saved the atom bomb pamphlet. That thing has got to have historical value.

    As for book donations, we have the same problem. People were bringing boxes of junky books in to the library to “donate” them, and we ended up disposing of almost all of them — textbooks, dog-eared paperbacks, old out-of-date nonfiction and technical manuals. We finally made a policy that we don’t accept donations and we refer everyone to the Oxfam used book shop. Obviously you HAVE to take donations, so it’s not quite the same. I think you’re asking the right questions — it’s just that you’re dealing with human beings and all their delusions about the value of their reading material!

  7. Megan

    Your post was hiding from me, so glad I found it. Hi Taffy you look very very gorgeous. I think that You and the Atomic Bomb, looks fantastic. I would like to buy it off you, I think I need all that priceless advice. I admire Felicity’s view of life and Aus but I think it is much worse than that here our PM is not the brightest bauble on the Christmas tree, but he seems to be fitting in all too well… still I do agree that you should come here for a holiday… I have two spare rooms and Clive who is a very interesting feline and his pet dog Molly. Please come! You can bring Taffy and the gang too, I’m quite happy to have the whole gang. Let me know what you want for the Atomic Survival Booklet.

  8. Tucson Tana

    I know, I know, I know! You need a script to follow when you and/or your co-workers answer phone calls, like this: “Thank you for thinking of us, but we are a small store and can only accept books which will sell within a week or two. We accept only current fiction, kids’ books and (insert whatever else you want). We don’t take outdated non-fiction titles or texts, and all donations must be in perfect or near-perfect condition. Do you have any books that fit that description?” Good, right?
    And thanks from the bottom of my heat-blistered, desert-dry heart for your brilliant and entertaining blog, your precious pet pictures and your wonderfully illustrated works which I enjoy over and over.

  9. Leslie

    Dear Vivian, I am rereading Le Road Trip and loving it all over again. You were such an energetic traveler!
    Then I laughed out loud more than once while reading this week’s blog. If I had a Gratitude Jar, your books, and your blog would be in it.

  10. Put the Atomic Bomb on ebay and start high — at least $35 but maybe more. What do you have to lose? People get into certain niche things and atomic bombs and 50s preparedness is definitely a niche thing. Might to well for the library. Love the Molly Brett — always liked her work and the sentiment to Mr. Noel is so dear. I hope they had a lovely life together. (Did Mr. Noel have an obit and was Douglas mentioned? I wonder!) That would make for a wonderful book or story — finding a postcard in a donated book and its story… Not unlike The Red Notebook only maybe even better!

    Rambling but so good to catch up again. And add Michigan to the list of your invites. Although I wouldn’t drive. The roads are terrible. Our governor ran on the platform to “fix the damn roads.” So far, she can’t get the R legislature to do what they have to do to fix them.

  11. gina in alabama

    I would like to buy the Atomic Bomb pamphlet and the Elliot Paul book The Last Time I Saw Paris if they are still available. Thank you.

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