So we went to Cody's on Sunday to buy books. For those unfamiliar with the Bay Area, Cody's is a venerable indepedent bookseller with an outpost on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. It's got an almost-respectable graphic novel section, an interesting newsstand, and a wonderful assortment of books. We don't go there often because negotiating Telegraph can be a pain in the ass, but since an anti-war protest and the Folsom street fair were both taking place in San Francisco, the sidewalks were comparatively empty, and we were able to make it into the bookstore after getting hit up for change a mere dozen times.
I went nuts buying hardback books. This is something I rarely do; I have a big psychological block when it comes to buying hardcover works of any sort. This is probably due to my early indoctrination, received within the pages of Penny Power magazine wherein each issue taught us about the joys of bulk-buying, amortizing costs, and assessing the price-per-unit of anything. I believe Penny Power may have actually encouraged music piracy at one point by demonstrating how much cheaper it was to have four pals pool their money and buy one record album and three cassette tapes. I could be misremembering; it's been about twenty years.
The net result is, when faced with spending $25 on one book, I'm more likely to put it back and spend that $25 buying two or three paperbacks. This trip was exceptional in that I bought not one, but four hardback books: Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver, William Gibson's Pattern Recognition and Bill Bryson's two latest A Short History of Nearly Everything and Bryson's Dictionary of Troublesome Words. I spent the rest of the afternoon doing laundry and feeling reflexively parsimonious; I wouldn't even spend $.75 on a bottle of water.
While I was at Cody's, I also asked whether Terry Pratchett's Night Watch was in paperback yet, or if The Monstrous Regiment (which got an interesting review in the NYT this Sunday) had been released. I reasoned that so long as I was buying hardcover fiction (which feels as extravagant to me as a diamond-crusted fountain pen might to someone else), I might as well throw all sense to the wind and get the latest Discworld book.
Monstrous Regiment wasn't in yet, nor was the paperback version on Night Watch (that comes out today). However, the nice information clerk told me, Terry Pratchett would be reading at Cody's on October 10.
Ooooh my brain squealed. You can bring Good Omens to sign and you'll have a book signed by both authors! How cool is that?
And that's when the calendar in my brain kicked in to remind me that I had booked a day-spa appointment that evening. This appointment has been what gets me up in the morning. Things have been a bad kind of crazy lately, and this upcoming massage-and-pedicure was going to be my way of closing the book on a very difficult two months and facing the prospect of year-end madness with some equanimity.
(Y'all are all, "Oooh! Bad craziness? Why the hell are you carrying on about cats and abyssal lifeforms and comics when you could be filling us in on the messy details of your life?" And the answer to that is, because this is the Internet, you fool. Anyone can read here. I save the messy for email.)
Anyway, I spent about two days musing at odd moments: "Pratchett? Or pedicure? Pratchett? Or massage?" Then I got irritated at myself for turning a relatively minor scheduling glitch into Sophie's Choice II, picked up the phone and rescheduled my downtime at Azul Spa.
And that's the story of how I created and solved the most enjoyable problem I've had in a while. Tune in for my next episode, where I complain that the pillow of Benjamins upon which I rest my head is causing neck pain and Hugh Jackman won't stop calling me and singing "So In Love With You Am I."