The Books

 

This morning the baby and I had to go to our local Barnes and Noble (something I don’t do nearly often enough) to get a birthday gift for my nephew. As I walked into the large building I was transported back to my childhood summers. Spent with a weekly trip to the local library because I loved to read and my parents wanted to instill the love of reading in us. Each summer they threw down the gauntlet and issued us a challenge… read 10 books over the summer and write a report on each and they would reward us with a trip to Great Adventure.

In today’s society this might not seem like a huge deal. Summer vacations are the norm now, which can sometimes cheapen the actual monstrosity that planning and executing a vacation is to parents. But for me, in my childhood, summer was spent at the beach or camp and a vacation (especially to an amusement park) was a major deal. I’m thinking that along with the Minecraft book he wants, maybe I’ll also get my little brother’s son his first Harry Potter book for his birthday. A reading-right-of-passage for sure.

As I’m standing in this bookstore I could feel that feeling…  exactly the same way as when I was a kid. All of the stories that live inside these pages, all of them at my fingertips, the choices… it’s one of the most exciting adventures you could go on. The written word is indeed powerful and storytelling is an art. The fact that someone can paint a picture with their words and allow you to step into the world they created is the ultimate fantasy. I think we all need a bit of fantasy in our lives. It helps to keep up with all the mundane bullshit. We all have things we “have” to do… a small escape can be the difference between enjoying the ride or dreading the journey.

I love technology. I love the practicality it brings to my already cluttered life. But I will never love an e-reader the way I love holding an actual book in my hands. Just feeling the pages in my fingers and the weight of its spine… No Nook could ever replace an actual book to me.

This makes me think about the summer I was 12 years old and my Mother introduced me to the Thorn Birds. I was a confused tween who felt like every adult (especially my parents) had it in for me. Reading that book, knowing how much my Mother had enjoyed it too, felt like I had been indoctrinated into a secret society. One where we had something in common other than our DNA. It was a marvelous feeling that makes me always appreciate when my Mother points me in the direction of what she thinks is a good read. I must hand it to her, she has never given me a bad book. Wurhering Heights, Anne of Green Gables, Beach Music. Mama’s got skills that rival the New York Times Bestseller list.

While all the promise of the bookstore is laying right in front of me along with the joy when I realize I actually have time to browse, I am brought back to the real world from my amazing trip down memory lane by a 19-year-old kid with dyed, jet black hair, skinny jeans and boots on in the middle of Florida summer…

“Hello… {while shaking his head}”

Um, yeah Hi. {I smile, what does this kid want?}

“Could you move your stroller? {Then mutters under his breath} Didn’t you hear me the first time?”

Oh, I’m sorry, I must have been somewhere else…

As I move my stroller out of his way he reaches over to grab a skull and crossbones patterned case for his Nook and walks off saying to his friend… “I swear, these Moms act like they own the place. Let’s go get a latte.”

Back to reality.

I doubt he knows where to find the Harry Potter.

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Bad Birthday Cake Karma

My oldest is about to be 9….

While I’m still trying to wrap my brain around the fact that I’m going to have a 9-year-old, I’m also trying to plan his birthday party.  As everyone knows, one of the most important parts about being a kid, is desert, and so birthday cake is a big part of the whole birthday party spectacle.

This scares me.

Frightens me to my very core.

I have Bad Birthday Cake Karma.

It all started back when my oldest turned 1.  Although I do like to bake, I wouldn’t have even attempted to make a cake for the 1st birthday of my 1st child. Way too much pressure. So I instead did what every overwhelmed parent of a 1-year-old does… I went to the supermarket and ordered the coolest and prettiest cake I could find. It was this three-tiered job that looked like The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party had mated with Joseph’s Technicolor Dreamcoat. We ordered it in advance and when the day of the party came around, hubby and I were way too busy finishing up the house for all our guests. So we sent a relative to pick it up. When they arrived back at the house I attempted to pay the relative for the cake…

“You don’t owe me anything.”

Of course I do, it’s for the cake.

“I didn’t pay for the cake.”

You what? You didn’t pay for it?

“I thought you had already paid, so I just picked it up and left.”

I looked at the beautiful, AND STOLEN, cake. The one that I picked out to celebrate the birth of my wonderful son. “Shit, I’ll go back and pay for it tomorrow”.

Months later my hubby and I joked about the cake…. and I couldn’t recall if I ever did pay for it. I still can’t recall.

This was the beginning of my Bad Birthday Cake Karma.

Fast forward to this past December. My middle child was turning 3 and I, once again, ordered a cake from the same store. By now we’ve gotten a bit older, and wiser, and lazier, and decided to have the party at an indoor play-place. I went to set up the venue and sent hubby to pick up the cake.

An hour later he walks into the party empty-handed.

As I looked at him with complete disdain….

Really dude? You had one job???

“There was an accident.”

Are you okay? The car?

“The cake.”

Oy Vey, Bad Cake Karma strikes again…

It seems the bakery only had VERY LARGE boxes. So large, in fact that the box couldn’t fit in the shopping cart and had to be rested on the top. As my hubby walked to the checkout another shopper accidentally rammed him with her cart. The cake fell to the floor in a mangled, sugary heap… leaving hubby and the other shopper to stand over it in wonder.  As he scooped up the now, totally unrecognizable cake and brought it back to the bakery department to be fixed, he was told the cake decorator was on lunch break and they “might” have a new cake ready in an hour. Of course, the party was starting in 12 1/2 minutes. Isn’t that always how it goes? So hubby ran back to the party and once again we sent a family member to pick up the cake.

This time when I went to pay for the cake…

“No, the receipt said, no charge.”

What do you mean, “no charge”? This is getting ridiculous… We don’t take things without paying for them. We aren’t fucking thieves. 

And there it was in black and white, “No charge”.

This time I was going to investigate…

When I went back to the market on Monday, receipt in hand and story in mouth, the cashier looked it up for me in the computer… it seems the stranger involved in the cake-tastrophe had PAID FOR OUR CAKE. A simple accident and she took responsibility that wasn’t hers to take. It was a lovely gesture. But I still get a bad taste in my mouth when I think of cake. Actually, just the words “Birthday Cake” make my hairs stand on end and I break out in hives.

You can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Fingers crossed that my Bad Birthday Cake Karma comes to an end this year. Cause I can’t take this shit 3 times a year for the next 20 years.

Cake Karma Update…

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My son turned 9 this year… Not 7.
And the Bad Birthday Cake Karma continues.