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January 16, 2013
My birthday’s coming up in a few weeks – 39, darling, why do you ask? – and in thinking about a new blog post, I suddenly remembered the best birthday present I ever got.
My parents had split up when I was seven, and a few years later, my mother began dating a man, let’s call him Charles, who worked for the New York Times Book Review. I was, of course, deeply suspicious of Charles. He demanded some of my mother’s attention – the attention that belonged to me – and while the books I loved tended more toward wicked stepmothers, I didn’t guess that stepfathers were likely to be a whole lot better.
December 12, 2012
As many of you know, I used to own a bookstore. And while Christmas and Chanukah were, no question, big events for us, they didn’t hold a candle (hee! Candle! Chanuk….oh, never mind) to Rosh Hashanah, Easter, and Thanksgiving. Why? My partners and I had two theories about this. One was that on these traditionally family-heavy holidays, people without families wanted to escape their loneliness with a good book. The other theory—and we leaned in this direction—was that after a day or two of enforced togetherness, our customers knew they would be desperate for a little mental refuge. Actually, we used to do land-office business right after the holidays in question: People, we reasoned, felt they deserved some serious rewards after three days of being nice to crazy Aunt Selma.
September 14, 2012
I’ve never understood the appeal of counting sheep. When I can’t sleep, what I need is something safe, totally free of anxiety, with which to occupy my mind. And the key here is occupy: If my mind doesn’t have something to chew on, something to play with, something with which to occupy its little self, it will slip all too easily into some bad old habits, asking why I didn’t do X, why I did Y, what on earth I’m going to do about A and B and C. Those habits are powerful. They would eat the sheep for breakfast, with a nice Chianti.