The Denver Public Library’s central branch is almost fortress-like, or at least it seems that way when you’re walking around it with a toddler, trying to figure out how to get in. You pass a lot of empty windows of rooms where they store those anti-pigeon spikes people put on buildings. It’s embarrassing that I haven’t been to the main library before now. We entered on the east side of the building and walked around, past the children’s section, past the bathrooms and elevators but no stairs, but couldn’t find the book sale, which I thought was in the basement, wherever that is. I am dudelike in my unwillingness to ask for directions, so I figured we’d go outside, walk around the building, and see what happens.
A dude sitting on a bench looks at me and says, “Excuse me,” and I’m all oh shit, because any time a dude talks to me outside it’s going to be one of two things, neither of which I want to deal with while I’m escorting a short-fused child to a place he doesn’t want to go (“I don’t like the book sale. The book sale doesn’t like me.”):
If you wanna go and get high wit me smoke an L in the back of the Benzie oh why must i feel this way hey must be the money.
Hey, you got any change?
Turns out he just wanted to know if story time was over. When I said I didn’t know, we were just looking for the book sale, he gave me exquisitely detailed and accurate directions and, thus, reassured me that not every stranger who talks to you on the street does it just because he wants something from you. Soren and I found our way into the basement (enter on the west side) and were met with the kind of chaos you find any time something awesome is on sale for super cheap. There were tables and tables with books and books, and boxes of books, and strollers piled high with hundreds of books already snapped up by the aggressive moms. Do you know about the aggressive moms? They’re the ones who hang out by the water feature at the Mordecai Children’s Garden and get to the book sale early and pile their boxes with shit you’ve heard of like Goodnight Moon. I am not an aggressive mom and never will be.
My plan was twofold: books for Soren and books about anything vaguely homesteading-esque. We hit up the children’s books first, where I grabbed things about dogs and gardens. A woman across from us handed me a somewhat gigantic book — A City Through Time — which I added to my pile. She also handed me a book of Disney stories, which I put back once she’d moved on and couldn’t see.
We checked out (as best we could, me being non-aggressive and all) cookbooks (I got a vegetable cookbook from 1976!), sports (A Few Seconds of Panic, which I’ve been wanting to read forever!), and then did a cursory glance over literature and religion (lots of Jesus). This was harder than it sounds because it was like the surface of the sun in there and I was wearing a faux leather jacket (that shit don’t breathe) and Soren was not having it. He complained. He whined. He sat on the ground and made grumpy faces. He splayed out on the floor like a turquoise-jacketed landmine. Is 3 a little old for this shit? I don’t know. It’s not that I find these displays embarrassing — it’s that they’re so tedious. Sometimes raising a child is boring. When Soren is in the throes of a temper tantrumy thing, I just want to poke him and be all, dude, it’s not that bad let’s go home and eat some beans or go to sleep or whatever. It doesn’t work, though. The only thing that works sometimes is when I make him hold my hand, look me in the eye, and take deep breaths. I don’t remember where or why I came up with that (I’m sure someone has already written a book on the subject, the same way someone has already invented Supreme Court Justice trading cards, which was my “brilliant” idea the other day), but it kind of helps. There have even been a few times where he’s been upset and then on his own starts taking deep breaths to calm down. That kind of blew my mind the first time he did it.
I finally made it to my favorite section, home and garden. I found some cool stuff and then the best thing ever happened. I found a book called Raising Chickens. I was all !!!!!! Chickens and I are meant to be. I said, “Soren! There’s a book about chickens!” and for a second I felt a little aggro-mom as I plucked it from the table. I guess we all have it in us. “Oh man,” this bespectacled, vaguely hippie-looking bearded guy next to us said, “I can’t believe you got the chickens book. I totally wanted that one!” We discussed the awesomeness of the chicken book for a while and a dude working the sale even said, “Yeah, that’s pretty much the Bible of chickens.” Of course everybody was kidding, which made the whole interaction even more awesome. It turns out that vaguely hippie dude is currently in the process of raising bunnies. I didn’t ask more about this, because what do you do when raising bunnies? Do you really keep them as pets forever? I don’t want to know. Watching Roger & Me when I was high and in college was one of the most traumatic experiences of my life.
Soon after this Soren looked at my pile of books and said, emphatically, “That’s ENOUGH mommy.” And I was all yeah, okay, because I’m done dealing with your grump ass and I have no idea how much this is going to cost. It turned out I got 12 books (a remarkably tiny haul, judging from everyone else we saw) for $15, which is not bad at all.
Apparently they add books every day, so I think I’m going back, maybe without Soren, to find more hippie and children’s books. Cheap, used books are the best.
In other news, my frames arrived today, fresh from Germany. I was pretty nervous about ordering them, because according to the internet, there has never been a woman to wear the Cazal 623 — it’s all Rick Ross and Sammy Davis, Jr. and 80s rappers and stuff. Remarkably, they have received the stamp of approval from Ben (“I think you can pull these off.”) (“Hey, when you don’t want those any more can I have them?”) and will be going to my glasses people for lenses. I can’t wait to wear them.