If you're like me, your soul was crushed on Election Day, too, so you've had a rough week. I hear you. So I thought I'd tell you a funny story in hopes that it makes you smile. Here's the funniest thing that's ever happened to me as a book blogger.
Every year I go to NYC to visit two of my favorite people on the planet: my best friend and his partner.
A little over a year ago when I visited I was on a mission to check out some cool NYC bookstores and share them on my blog. One night while Ethan was at work, Kyle and I happened upon the most adorable used bookstore.
It looked like something out of a movie: tall, slim building with bookshelves floor to ceiling and rolling ladders on nearly every shelf. The shelves were so tall---two stories or more---that I had to crane my neck to see them.
Of course this was my kind of place! And all the books were used, so I piled my arms high with a stack of titles I wanted to buy. I probably had six or seven books in my arms.
I wanted to get a couple of pictures of the inside of the store if I could, so being the respectful book blogger that I am, I asked the elderly lady running the cash register.
I approach her, my arms full of books. "Hi! Is it okay if I take a couple of pictures for my bl--"
"Not unless you're buying something!" she yelled in my face. I guess the stack of books I was holding didn't strike her as me shopping? I was taken aback. This wasn't your stereotypical New Yorker abrasive; she was straight up snarling and foaming at the mouth.
"I get people all the time just wanting to come in here for pictures!" she snapped, and I wondered if those people normally 1) asked for permission and 2) had stacks of books in their arms when they asked. About the time I dropped the books on the counter and walked out, Kyle, who is a comedian and ROCKS at improv, jumped in.
"Do you know who she is?!" he asked the woman. "Do you have any idea who you're talking to?" The woman looked confused. I looked confused, too.
"That's Mandy Shunnarah and she runs a famous book blog that gets millions and millions of views every month and she was going to feature your store," then turning to me. "But I guess she doesn't have to do that."
He's opened a can of worms, so I decide to play along. "Oh, Kyle, you didn't have to mention the millions of views a month. We can just go." I start to set the books down and turn toward the door.
"Wait!" she says, kinder. "You want to take pictures for your blog?"
"Well, I don't have to, if it'd be too much trouble," I said, looking at Kyle, who's in full on improv mode and it's too late to turn back.
"Yeah, I guess I could take you to some other bookstores," he said. "I mean, there's always Barnes & Noble." I shrug and nod, trying not to laugh. The woman looked horrified. Plus, I hate Barnes & Noble.
"Wait, wait, wait," she says, even kinder now. "Take all the pictures you want, just don't get any customers in them. I'll hold your books up here."
I was quick about it; less than ten minutes, but I got the pictures I wanted and bought my books.
We managed to keep straight faces until the next block, then uncontrollable giggles took over. If you're reading this blog you can probably guess that I don't have anywhere near a million views, much less in a month. At that point I'd never even broken a thousand views a month.
But the point is, having a friend who'll stick their neck out for you is invaluable. Having someone fight in your corner who is totally willing to do ridiculous things to support you is priceless. Kyle was my junkyard dog---I didn't have much worth guarding, but he was sticking up for my little blog anyway. Even if I hadn't gotten the pictures, I'd still remember that day with fondness.
And it's thanks to Kyle that you can see the pictures of that bookstore (as well as other literary places in NYC) in this post.
Hug your friends. Tell them you love them and you'll stick by them. The world is a terrifying place right now. Let's be there for each other.
One of the ways I'm doing that is by launching a social justice-themed political blog called Politically Literate. You can find it in the navigation of Off the Beaten Shelf and posts from there will be added to your weekly OTBS newsletter if you're a subscriber. For an example of what you'll see there, check out the first post, "I Will Fight For You," which is dedicated to the people we love who are most vulnerable and least protected.