Last night, I had a dream of a lush storyscape. Full of characters and beautiful scenery. There were accents and glorious tension. There was physical attraction, and oh the dialogue: natural and unique, the likes of a Hollywood-Dickensian lovechild.
I rose from my bed, grabbing an old book. A library book, bought at a used book fair. I opened to the pages and started to write in the margins, over the words themselves. It felt dirty. It felt so wrong, but I was so happy. Happy that these wonderful characters and their wonderful-er world hadn’t slipped from my nocturnal fingers.
And as I watched the ink bleed through each aged page…as I studied it, relieved that I had it all down…
That, dear reader, is when I actually woke up.
I woke up, realizing that not only had I not, in fact, captured this tale from my slumber but…
It was just a Harry Potter knock-off.
If you are a fan of bohemian.on.rye, you know I love lists of 5 things. 5 things that one can do, 5 things that are awesome, 5 things I learned from some book/movie/etc. So this is my debut “5 things” post for all you lovelies.
1. Kinetic Sand
It’s not just for kids. The soft texture of this substance is extremely soothing to play with. I keep some on hand for when I am feeling especially anxious.
2. Bath bombs from Lush
So this one can be a bit of a slippery slope, because once you try pretty much anything from Lush, you’re going to be hooked. These extremely fragrant, fun balls will make your bath not only smell and feel great, but they look awesome.
3. Try Next Issue
I recently discovered this service, and I am hooked. Because I love buying magazines, but once I read them, I tend to keep giant stacks. For $10 a month, you can peruse a sizable catalog of monthly magazines and download new ones as they come out. Now when I’m feeling a bit too frazzled to get into a book, I’ll find a new magazine and flip through it on my tablet or smart phone.
4. A skein of yarn and some knitting needles
I learned how to knit on Saturday, and I can’t stop. It’s such a mindless activity that can give me a place to focus unwanted energy.
5. A video game on Steam
I love video games. I’m not a hardcore gamer, but I know what I like, and when I’m in a tense state of mind, nothing helps me blow off steam (har har) more than a few puzzle games. One of the great things about Steam is there is something for everyone (Sonic? Dragon’s Lair? Super Meatboy?) and there are frequent sales. You can pick up great games for pennies on the dollar at the right times.
What splurges do you allow yourself when you need to chill?
So I don’t do these very often, but there are a few things that have been going on that I want to tell all my lovely new followers, readers, and fans about!
1. 2nd edition of Cape and Dagger is available on Amazon AND at Rickert & Beagle Books. You can also get it on Kindle if that’s your jam.
2. My poetry collection Pickled Miracles is also available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon.
3. Did you know you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram under bohemianonrye? It’s true. Ask all the cool kids who are doing it.
4. I’m shooting for 100 follows on Facebook. So tell your friends. Tell your enemies too. I’m not picky.
5. You all are super awesome and I love you.
In the southern area of Pittsburgh, amongst rolling hills and long streets, tucked near the winding T rails, you will find a bookstore. But not just any bookstore. This is no Barnes and Noble, no big-box-little-people establishment. This is Rickert & Beagle Books. And it is a magical place. It’s the type of bookstore like in movies where kids find books that transport them to other worlds. It’s the type of bookstore where you get this huge smile on your face from the moment you walk in to the moment you leave.
And obviously, running such an amazing literary wonderland takes hard work. Enter Chris Rickert, who started working at the establishment when it was Eljay’s Used Books. In 2013, after the owners retired, Chris took the reigns at the Dormont shop and paired up with a certain awesome author to reopen as Rickert & Beagle Books!
That’s right. Chris is also a close confidante and social media guru for Peter S. Beagle. You know, the author who wrote The Last freaking Unicorn! And if that wasn’t enough to knock your socks off, many of the books from R&B were featured in the 2014 tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars. And she sells awesome B’nnthulhus!
Okay. Before I gush so much my blog starts oozing, let’s get to the questions and hear about how this amazing lady owns her day job.
What is your current career? This what you love doing that, if asked, you would say, “Oh, I am a ____.” Do you have a day job that supports your career?
I have two “careers”: Bookseller and handcrafter. As a handcrafter I work mainly in fiber arts: tatting & crochet are my main focus but I study all kinds of needle-lacemaking, embroidery/ stitchcraft. The day job that supports my careers is marketing/ customer service. I work as a freelancer in these fields, but most of my work is for Peter S Beagle and his publishing house, Conlan Press.
What is the worst job you ever had? How did you get through it?
Telefundraising was a nightmare. Lots of people yelling at me, old people crying on the phone because they couldn’t donate more to gun control or animal rescue, and cutthroat managers. I was so anxious before shifts I started throwing up on work days. That was an easy fix, I quit. I think I lasted about two weeks doing that. That’s how I found out that doing a job I didn’t enjoy, or at least, feel morally comfortable with, was never going to work for me.
If you could go back in time and give yourself some advice when you first started working, what would it be?
“Don’t be afraid to stand up to your bosses when they are wrong” It took me a few times around to understand that my ability to feel comfortable in my working environment was more important than being approved of by my boss.
What would you say has been your master tool for getting through difficult times when working? Is there something that is your go-to tactic for dealing with best-of-times-worst-of-times scenarios?
I have tried to remind myself that I’m there to do a job, and no matter how bad the setting is, I’m getting money in exchange for my best work. If I had a bad day and my bosses yelled at me or I had a problem with a co-worker, I could still say I did the best work I could. But in all honesty, my go-to strategy is to not work in places with a toxic culture. I’ve left high-paying management jobs and gone to work in kitchens just to get myself into a healthier environment, and while my bank account reflects this, I know I’ve saved myself a lot of stress and misery by placing my emotional health above financial well-being. (I also have to point out that my lack of children, a car or a house payment has allowed me to [do this])
With where you are now and what you are doing with your life presently, what is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from working day jobs? Is there a skill that you’ve picked up from a work environment that you would not have otherwise?
HAH! I come from an arts background, so pretty much every single skill I use in my daily work is from the jobs I worked after music school. The most valuable of those are the understanding of running a business from scrubbing toilets to high-level administration, and marketing a product or business. Some of that came from the used record store job I held for a while, but most of it came from running a large indie bookstore. The head of the company made all the General Managers build our own budgets, manage our P&Ls, run big meetings and so on. Basically, we got to try on his job and then get feedback from each other and from him. That’s the kind of experience you normally don’t get until you actually own a company, and being able to do those high-level tasks is often the difference between a failing company and a successful one. It definitely gave me the confidence to start my own businesses.
Are you interested in being interviewed for How to Have a Day Job? Comment below or shoot me an email with a brief description of what you love to do and what you do in the off hours!
Played catch-up a bit here. The themes here were Books I Would Like to Read (or, as I title it, Why I Am Bad at Reading), Inside Jokes, and Trends Making a Comeback (that I approve of).
To explain Day 6 because I am horribly insecure — I have not read all of the HP books. At that time in my life, they got kind of bowled over by life, school, college, etc. And LotR — the reason I haven’t actually read it is because that was, in my childhood, like Grimm’s Fairy Tales. My dad would tell me the stories of those three books, so I was never drawn to read them from start to finish, if that makes sense. The other books are The Pigeon Needs a Bath, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and On Writing (also started but never finished).
This week, I’m sharing five things I am grateful for each day until Thanksgiving. Do it and share with me!
1. It’s almost Christmas. Is that a cop out? I love Christmas. I even went to the post office and bought Rudolph stamps. It doesn’t count as getting into the spirit too early (read: before Thanksgiving) because we needed them anyway!
2. We’ve gotten to the time of year where I can go out on my porch, look across the horizon through all the now-naked trees and just see the UPMC building in the distance, sparking against the sky.
3. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It makes me feel like I have a pretty good understanding of my life, because I meet those things.
4. A great collection of books.
5. Prayer. Meditation. The ability to find peace in a world of chaos. Not all can do such a thing.
I can hear a voice in my head scoffing, but I’m going to ask this anyway: have you ever been in the process of reading a book (or two) for so long that once you’re done, you just feel…lost?
That is my problem currently.
I finally finished both “Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” and “Water for Elephants.” Following up either of those will be difficult, I imagine, because they were both absolutely amazing.
So, dear readers, what is on your nightstand right now? Or in your purse? Or in your hands? What are you reading that I should be reading?
I read about this exercise some time ago on Litreactor
and decided to use this old template to make it visual.
It was challenging to consider, past to present, which
authors and works have shaped me as a writer.
How many have you read?
How many have been important to you?