Belle’s Bookstore (and my first post in a year)

I had a revelation today of the once-in-five years or once-in-a-lifetime kind. It seems so obvious that I can’t believe I’ve never thought of it before:

I want to open a bookstore.

The thought came to me suddenly while I was drifting in and out of the first pages of The Hours on my new (secondhand) leather couch. I was admiring how sweetly the sun hits my dining room table at that time of day and realizing in my contented and sleepy state that this apartment truly feels like home. As I dozed off, flashes of my visits to Food for Thought and Amherst Books earlier that day flitted through my mind, and suddenly I pictured myself as the proud proprietor of a cozy bookshop and café, smiling at customers as I welcomed them to my store and fished a homemade chocolate chip scone out of a tall glass canning jar.

Amherst Books

I sat up sharply. A million ideas fought for my attention at once. Before I could really formulate my thoughts, though, I started crying. Not because I was stressed or overwhelmed, but because I knew that I had found my life’s purpose and what will truly make me happy. I shed tears of pure joy that I’ve only experienced a very few times in my life.

Opening a bookstore in this economy and at this time in the book publishing industry sounds like folly, you say? I disagree. (At least, I disagree now, while the financial realities of accomplishing my goal are a hazy rain cloud in the distance.) The loss of Borders has left some huge gaps in the marketplace, and thousands of bookstores, video stores, and music chains have closed over the last few years. There’s a real sense of loss in small communities across the country; conversely, there’s a real opportunity for someone with book publishing experience, passion, and energy to step into this industry and open a new store—and do it well.

I have a hefty amount of debt and no savings, so I would obviously need a stellar business plan and a slew of investors and business partners to realize my dream. But I don’t think it’s impossible, either. Publishers rely on Indies (independent bookstores and booksellers) to put their books in the hands of consumers, and it’s not unreasonable to think that they would support my efforts by providing me with a significant discount on my initial stock up. Independent bookstores and book publishers are a tightly strung web, and I’ve heard plenty of stories of key publishing gurus chipping in to invest in their favorite local bookstores. The word on the street is that the ABA (American Booksellers Association) and the regional book trade associations are putting more support behind first-time bookstore owners, too, especially twenty- and thirty-something’s like me who have a better sense of social media and what drives younger generations of readers and consumers. Not to mention the success of websites like Kickstarter.com, which could help me raise the initial funding. I also have the great fortune of working with people who have all been booksellers and business owners at some point or another; there is no shortage of publishing mentors in my world.

I have a lot of ideas and a lot of questions, but I also have a vision. My bookstore will be an integral part of the community (which community—there’s the first question). I’ll have an events calendar that’s filled to the brim with more than just author readings and Q&A’s: it will be an active crafts and arts space for beginning and advanced crafters alike that also supports local artists; I’ll bring in experts to host workshops on a variety of topics, from encore careers and writing resumes to women’s self defense and online marketing; I’ll host acoustic live music performances in the coffee shop, and maybe even sell wine and beer; I want a garden that kids can wander through freely, and I’ll hold seed swaps for gardeners and cooking classes for curious chefs (excuse the alliteration). I want comfy couches, old family photos on the wall, and a record player with a stack of old records to pore through.

I’ll carry merchandise other than books, because any bookstore owner will tell you that gift items are a core percentage of their sales, and I’m ok with that. I would love to have a small DVD rental section (“donate your old DVDs” campaign?) and music for sale, too. I don’t need to have every book in existence in stock—that’s what libraries and Ingram and B&T are for. I need a great selection of books paired with an inviting atmosphere and a reason to walk through the door. And a kick ass social media campaign. My ideas aren’t revolutionary, and many of the successful Indies already incorporate all of these concepts. The problem is that there aren’t that many of them left.

Trident in Boston–One of My Favorites

There’s so much to think about, and I’m on the verge of an extremely busy season at my new job, in addition to the hefty fall to-do list that I just made. But I just requested the ABA’s “Opening a Bookstore Kit,” and I don’t want to let this idea fall to the wayside.

Next October I’ll be thirty. If I give myself a year to do the legwork and the research, I could be pitching to investors next fall. In three years, I could be toasting champagne at the grand opening. In five years, I could be running a successful business and making a name for myself.

So, what do you think? Will Belle have her bookstore after all?

Advertisements

Happy Un-Halloween!

I spent my snowed-in Halloween Saturday night watching Funny Girl and Breakfast at Tiffany’s with my roommate, a friend, a big pot of chicken cacciatore, and a few bottles of red wine. It was perhaps the best Halloween I’ve ever had.

I fell in love with Barbra all over again. Her big shiny hair, her powerhouse voice, her sparkling green eyes…I think that I’m going to wear updo’s and fake nails every day now.

In case you’ve forgotten how fabulous Barbra is, here are two clips to remind you–one melancholy but beautiful, one upbeat and exciting. But both are delightful.

It’s bathing suit time, you say?

It’s March 13th, and my non-resolution to lose weight/get in shape is catching up to me. I’ve barely been keeping to a gym routine, and this desk job is further flattening out my already pan-cake-shapped behind. One positive thing I’ve noticed: the wider my ass gets, the smaller my waist looks. Ha!

I’m in two weddings this year, which I’m absolutely thrilled about. It also means that I’m going to be in lots of photographs in short cocktail dresses, and I have a few beach-themed bachelorette parties creeping up. In short, it’s time to get my act together–for real.

To keep myself on track, I’m posting the measurements my mom took last time I was home, and I’m going to measure again every few weeks, to see if I’m making any progress. I think it’ s healthier than just tracking the scale (although I’m doing that too).

I spent (or wasted, depending on how you look at it) twenty minutes of my day putting together a “Be Thin” motivational collage using pictures from the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition (Note: If anyone would like my issues of  SI, apparently my subscription is through October 2011…I swear I didn’t order it!). I admit that this is a little bit of a regression to my less-confident adolescent days, when I had a sign over my bed that read something to the effect of “You’re Fat: Get Up and Exercise.” I don’t recall the exacting wording. But it was made out of crudely ripped orange construction paper and black sharpie, with a big red “no” symbol going through it. Not the most uplifting thing to wake up to.

This time, though, my expectations are a bit more realistic. I just want to make it through bathing suit season without fighting tears in the dressing room. For once in my life.

Here’s my starting point:

 

As of February 27th:

  • Weight: 122 lbs.
  • Bust 37 1/2″
  • Under Bust 29″
  • Waist 29″
  • Abdomen 37 1/2″
  • Hip 38 1/2″
  • Right Thigh 23 1/2″
  • Right Upper Arm 11″
  • Left Thigh 23″
  • Left Upper Arm 10 1/2″

 

My mom says that is a perfect hourglass figure: 37 x 29 x 37. So the object here is to keep the hourglass–just make it smaller. And try not to lose too much boob in the process.

Here’s the dress I just bought for the wedding in August:

 

Bridesmaid Dress, Wedding #1

 

Obviously, I need some serious work on my upper arms/chest. It’s a really pretty, deep “Horizon Blue” from David’s Bridal. I’m not sure if it needs to be hemmed, now that I’ve seen it in my size. (I don’t want my knees to show.) Thoughts? This is what it looks like on the model.

Anyway, if you notice that I haven’t posted updates about diet/exercise or happen to talk to me in real life: please motivate me, and keep me on track!

Thank you.

 

 

And now for something beautiful…

Sometimes I can’t believe how much I love her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is all.

(images courtesy of weheartit.)

I’m as corny as Kansas in August…

(Image posted by Nathalie at weheartit.)

It’s not too late for a Valentine’s Day post, right??

I love Valentine’s Day, even on the years I don’t have a boyfriend (in fact, I usually prefer those years). I love the colors, the glitter, the chocolate. The inevitable pair of multi-colored heart socks I’ll get in the mail from my mom (thanks, mom!), and the excuse to get together with a bunch of girlfriends and drink cosmos. This year I made homemade valentines again. Nothing makes me happier than sitting on the floor with a bottle of glue, cardstock, a glass of wine, and a black-and-white movie. That’s true love.

And since it’s Valentine’s Day, I can’t help but think about men. This is probably the longest I’ve gone without a significant other in, well, a long time. My last boyfriend had serious social anxiety issues, so really it’s been over three years since I’ve been part of a + one.

I’ve honestly enjoyed being single for a change, especially in the last few months. I’ve been grateful for the lack of drama and the space it’s freed up in my brain (boys are such a distraction…sheesh). I don’t like sharing myself, or my time, which is (I think) one of my biggest downfalls in relationships. I’m never 100% there. Even when I am in a relationship, I’m very much a do-my-own-thing kind of person, and I need my space. I don’t want to have to explain that yes, my only plan for the day is to curl up on the couch and read for ten hours straight, stopping only for tea and toast. Being single means I’m not accountable to anyone.

On the other hand, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get lonely. And, sure, not having to answer to anyone or plan my hours around someone else’s schedule is nice, but there are times when it makes me kind of sad to realize that no one would notice if I didn’t make it home tonight. Or tomorrow. (Luckily, Jen calls if she hasn’t heard from me in a few days, to make sure I’m not lying on my kitchen floor or anything.) And once in a while, I get that overwhelming urge to just be held, to fall asleep curled up against another body–nothing more, nothing less. It’s an innate need for human touch–when we don’t have it for extended periods of time we start to feel like mini islands, off at sea. On those days, I’ve almost hugged random people on the subway when we’re packed in like sardines–just to be touched. (Yes, I am on my way to being certifiably crazy.)

It seems like I’ve turned into a cliche: I’m perpetually the single girl at the wedding, the loner in a party of couples. I’m used to it–used to being alone. But there were times when I was in Europe this summer, watching couples next to me take in the same amazing sights, that I would feel that pinch. I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things in my life…by myself. My photo albums, from Italy to Beijing to Germany, are all of just me. Me and landscape. Me in the city. Me with food. Me with an occasional friend. Sometimes, the extent of my isolation surprises (and scares) me. Because I don’t feel lonely most of the time.

Here’s where the twist comes in.

I’ve recently started seeing someone–it’s something I started and never finished, to put it simply. So far, it’s completely unlike how any of my serious relationships have started. We’re careful and considerate of each other. There’s definite attraction, but no nights spent staying up until 5 am to watch the sun rise. There are no tears, no bubbles of resentment, no stifling happiness that makes it hard to breathe. There’s been none of the intensity I know myself capable of–the kind that’s hard to keep up at a steady pace for too long.

But that’s not to say that it isn’t new and exciting, or that I’m not filled with a kaleidoscope of emotions. We’re just more controlled about it. He’s a good person, and he makes me want to be good. He makes me feel like my usual tricks are a bit silly, because he respects me. I guess what I’m trying to say is: I’m approaching love like an adult, for the first time, and I’m trying to make the right choices. He’s a little older, and I’m a little older–and smarter–this time.

But I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t take a moment to admit that I’ve been floating on a cloud (just a little…) the past few weeks. Now, when I picture birthdays and beaches and family parties and snapshots in Spain, I picture him there, too. I’m scared by that and everything it implies. But I’m also light-headed and giggly when I think about him; the difference is that, this time, I’ll be better about filtering that out. (A girl can’t lay all her cards on the table in the first round, right?)

And, since I’ve been sooo mature and adult about all this, I think I deserve a moment to indulge you with a song I’ve been humming along to all day. (Skip to 1:13 and you’ll recognize it.) And before you freak out, I’m not claiming to be in love already. It’s just a cute song!

Here’s Mitzi Gaynor, singing Wonderful Guy from South Pacific:

Working at Workman

It’s been four months since my last entry. Looking back at my notebook and the number of blog posts I wrote and ultimately decided not to publish, I realize just what an emotional roller coaster it’s been and how different my life was one month, six months, a year…a day ago. Life’s moving quickly despite this seemingly endless winter.

There’s nothing like starting a new job to strip you of your confidence, whether it’s your dream job or a waitressing gig. Everything is new; nothing comes easy. I relied on the kindness of coworkers and the support of family and friends to get me through it. On rare days, I left sighing a relieved, “Ok, I can do this.” More often than not, I left shakier than when I started. I couldn’t sleep because my mind wouldn’t stop racing. I couldn’t eat because my nerves were so bad that my stomach was clenched into a perpetual knot. I googled “panic attacks” and rushed to the bathroom at regular intervals to slow my breathing. In an all-time low, I broke down on the 1 train headed to Times Square. Big, gasping, runny-nosed sobs.

Over time, though, I started to become more comfortable and confident that I would eventually be able to do my job. In that time I managed to somehow build valuable friendships and not screw anything up too badly. And my bosses started to trust me. (I think I hid my anxiety pretty well–one way in which acting has turned into a life skill. I just acted like what I thought an assistant in an office would act like in a play.)

And something else happened–I started to fall in love with Workman. The kind of love you complain about over a drink with a coworker, but only because you care. Because Workman is family. Because every Amazing Cow, Plush Piggy, Page-A-Day Calendar, Brain Quest deck, and What to Expect I see in stores makes me feel proud and protective.  Aside from random, short-lived jobs, I have a history of loyalty when it comes to the workplace (which is why I always stayed longer than I should have). Four years at MASSBANK,  five at Cheers, etc.

I could be a lifer.

And I love it–love being a part of the book world. I wasn’t sure about starting in sales, but if I had started out as an editorial assistant I would be in a corner somewhere, editing calendars and going through the slush pile. Instead, I email one of the most feared and respected women in publishing on a regular basis (Sessalee H., for those of you in-the-know). I may only be an assistant, but I have the two largest accounts in the company on my shoulders, hence a lot of money and make-or-break sales that I’m a part of. It’s a lot of responsibility–I wasn’t completely crazy to be as overwhelmed as I was. But my bosses appreciate me, and I’ve been praised by people who matter, which keeps me grounded and makes it all worth while. Now, instead of feeling like people are looking at me like the scared new girl, they’re starting to look at me like the hard-working newcomer who’s making a name for herself.

And that’s a role I love to play.

Thank you for your patience. Your love. Your support. For not caring that I sent my thank-you notes months late (or not at all). For understanding when I didn’t answer calls or emails for days or weeks at a time. For talking me through the panic attacks and the Sunday-night freak-outs. Even though work is still my top priority, I finally feel like I can be good at my job and have a life.

I’m back.

Just because it came out really cool, here’s a video my friend Phil made for our Papertoy Monsters book:

Turn the page…

Tomorrow I start my new job at Workman Publishing.

What I really mean is: tomorrow I start my first job. Sure, I’ve had a lot of jobs in the past, but this is my first, real, I-went-to-school-for-this-and-now-I’m-on-my-way job. And it’s scary. Scary, but exciting.

Scary because, in true Adrienne fashion, I keep thinking the worst and over-analyzing the millions of things that could go wrong and/or make me seem unqualified for this job.  Scary because I’m already a little intimidated by my two immediate bosses. Scary because it’s been so long since I’ve worked in an office setting. Scary because I’ve waited so long to use all this schooling and imagined myself in this role so many times that it might turn out to be very anticlimatic.

Exciting because this is it. This is my do-or-die moment. I made it to New York. I found a job. And…that’s about as far ahead as I had thought this thing through.  Ok, so it’s just an entry-level job. But it’s still my first entry-level job, and I had better do a damn good job of it. I need to.

I’ve prepared like it’s my first day back-to-school in junior high. I put a few outfits together (I believe in never choosing until the actual morning of), went through my notes from the interview/application process (I even rewrote them so they would be neater…I’m starting to regress to fifth grade Adrienne, who would tear up an entire piece of homework if I made a mistake–I couldn’t bear the eraser marks), and packed my bag. Here’s what’s inside–just because I love lists:

  • Static-cling spray
  • Hairspray and extra bobby pins/clips (just in case)
  • A new case of Altoids and my travel toothbrush/toothpaste for after lunch/coffee
  • Flats, for the subway ride there and back
  • An extra pair of nylons, just in case
  • My wallet, newly organized and with the addition of my social security card and checkbook, for filling out paperwork
  • Lipstick, Blistex, foundation, hairbrush with mirror
  • My agenda book
  • A copy of 10-Minute-Banagrams for the ride (which we publish, by the way)
  • Snacks, in case I’m hungry before lunch (I was going to pack my lunch but figured I’d need the air by noon/one)
  • Airborne, because I’m fighting off a cold with all my might
  • Tissues & Vicks Vitamin C Drops (” “)
  • Ibuprofen

Sound like a good list? Do you think I’m missing anything? I just wish my cousin Allison were here to do my hair and makeup in the morning! Then it would really be like middle school. 😉

This afternoon, after coming back earlier than I expected from babysitting in New Jersey, I took a three-hour walk through Queens to clear my mind and stock up on the above mentioned items (plus 12-hour Claritin-D –can’t forget that!). It was an absolutely beautiful fall day, so I just kept going along Queens Blvd under the BQE until I could see Manhattan. I visited Doughboy Park, which I read about last week in NFT’s online section of Woodside/Sunnyside, Queens, found the local cinema in Sunnyside ($5 Tuesday nights!), stumbled upon the Woodside Library (closed on the weekends–gotta love the lack of funding for libraries these days), and finally reached the 24-hour CVS I’d heard about (such a breath of fresh air after a month of frequenting Duane Reeds). For some reason, I sang Bob Seger the entire way: Ah, here I am, on the road again, here I am… I stopped to get a manicure (I’ve been biting them again so they’re really short–but at least not embarassing now), a 10-minute chair massage (she said that next time I should book an hour), and a $5 eyebrow threading (God, I love it).

Sometimes, it’s the shallow things in life that give us confidence. I’ve always been a fake-it-’till-you-make-it kind of girl, myself.

Along the way, though, an amazing thing happened: I started to shed some of the insecurities I’d been building up since accepting the job on Friday. I started visualizing myself walking into the office, polished and put together, with a confident-yet-friendly demeanor, and wowing them. I started thinking: I’m going to be the best damn National Sales Assistant they’ve ever seen! I even started smiling back at the creepy Spanish guys who were, in turn, smiling at me (seriously, it’s getting kind of ridiculous–I get hit on even when I’m in work-out clothes and no make-up…that’s just insulting). I’m going to channel what my cousin Lauren introduced to me as the Insentati Method: I will allow good things to come into my life; I can visualize myself being succesful…

Now I just need to hit up my netipot, my Vicks Steam Vaporizer, my nebulizer, and let the Nyquil that I took an hour ago do it’s work…

Wow–what a catch, huh?