Trapped in a bookstore late at night? Sounds like a dream come true

Independent book store day

As some of you know, it has long been a goal of mine to shop in a bookstore after hours. The very idea of having all those shelves of books to myself, late at night (my preferred time of day), is just so enchanting.

April 30 is Independent Bookstore Day and I intend to celebrate by crossing this item off my bucket list.

In an effort to highlight the wonderful contributions independent bookstores provide to communities, more than 400 shops across the U.S. will hold sales, giveaways, contests, author signings and other special events. One such festivity will take place at the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass., and I’ve already purchased our tickets.

At 11 p.m. on Saturday night, M and I will attend “After Hours at the Bookstore,” an event that involves the staff locking us inside the store for two hours. During that time, we’ll be offered refreshments, entertained by readings from Samantha Hunt and Kelly Link and given free rein of the shop for some late-night browsing. We’ll also receive a Harvard Book Store flashlight and a 20% discount on all purchases. I only wish I could pick up Joe Hill’s latest novel, “The Fireman,” but alas, it doesn’t come out until the middle of May.

Any other suggestions?


“The Widow’s Lament in Springtime” by William Carlos Williams

plum tree flowers

Sorrow is my own yard
where the new grass
flames as it has flamed
often before but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this year.
Thirtyfive years
I lived with my husband.
The plumtree is white today
with masses of flowers.
Masses of flowers
load the cherry branches
and color some bushes
yellow and some red
but the grief in my heart
is stronger than they
for though they were my joy
formerly, today I notice them
and turn away forgetting.
Today my son told me
that in the meadows,
at the edge of the heavy woods
in the distance, he saw
trees of white flowers.
I feel that I would like
to go there
and fall into those flowers
and sink into the marsh near them.

–Photo by Roger Whiteway

National Poetry Month

Good night, sweet Prince.


I didn’t sleep well today. I tried. I knew the temperatures were going to rise near 80 degrees and that slumber would be more difficult. I even went to bed three hours early. Alas, my time in Morpheus’ realm was fitful at best and broken by strange dreams. Around 3:30 p.m., I gave up the idea of slumber and read until M came home. He crawled into bed and chatted with me for a few moments before breaking the terrible news.

Prince has died.

I sat up and flatly denied the claim. He told me again and I couldn’t fucking believe it. How could that be possible? Prince can’t die. He was supposed to be immortal. And certainly not at 57. It just didn’t make any sense at all. I got out of bed, dressed, fed the cats and brewed a cup of tea. Fortified by Black Pearl, I turned on my computer and starting reading obituaries and tributes.

Bloody fucking hell. It was true. Prince, one of my favorite all-time artists, was gone.

With a self-made soundtrack of Prince tunes playing loudly in my ears, I cried for an hour. Out of all the musicians in the world, this was the one I truly loved.

As a young girl, Prince music awakened my sexual side, and taught me I shouldn’t be ashamed for wanting physical affection. In my pre-teens, Prince inspired me to stand up to my father, who was more obsessed with my loving a musician of another race than recognizing his talent. As an adult, I saw Prince in concert probably a dozen times, half of which I was accompanied by my best friend Amy. Dressed in skimpy black lace, we would sing and dance for the entire show and rave about all his kick ass moves on the way home.

Of course we loved the hits: “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Raspberry Beret,” “I Would Die 4 U,” “You’ve Got the Look,” “Kiss.” Yet many of my absolute favorites rarely received any airtime, like “Joy in Repetition,” “Strange Relationship,” “Starfish and Coffee,” “Arms of Orion,” “Take Me With U,” “I Wonder U” and “Venus de Milo.” And then there were his sexy anthems, the ones I’d play during the three nights of the full moon: “Come,” “Cream,” “It,” “Darling Nikki,” “Gett Off,” “Erotic City,” “Head,” “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” “I Wanna Melt With U,” “Sexy M.F.,” “Tick, Tick, Bang.”

Ames and I planned to ring in the year 2000 by spending New Year’s Eve in Times Square dancing to “1999.” Sadly, she didn’t live that long. Yet Prince’s music kept her memory alive.

As he got older, Prince became more religious and I became an atheist. He did far less grinding on his guitar and piano and far more preaching about his beliefs as a Jehovah’s Witness. He was even known to proselytize door-to-door with former Sly and the Family Stone bassist Larry Graham. While I still admired his immense talent and appreciated the quirkiness of his persona, I just couldn’t take the preaching. At the final Prince concert I attended, he performed a cover of Joan Osborne’s “One of Us” and ordered the audience to pray. That’s when I knew we were definitely on separate paths.

I broadened my musical interests and experimented with new artists, yet my adoration for the Purple One never wavered. When he appeared on TV, I watched. When new music was released, I checked it out. When the Joffrey Ballet created an entire performance based on his songs, I was the first person to buy tickets. I even saw Prince play the rainy halftime show for Super Bowl XLI; it’s still the only halftime performance I’ve seen live. Over the years, he remained a consummate showman.

I loved his oddness, his passion, his prolific creativity, his crazy fashion sense and the way he’d make pancakes for friends and fans at 3 a.m. I loved the fact that he had his own compound, one that was completely wired for sound so he could record any note or lyric that popped into his head.

Earlier this week, I asked my friends what one musician or singer they would hire to perform at their birthday party. I would have chosen Prince, but honestly, I didn’t think I’d ever be cool enough for him to show, even hypothetically. We often throw around words like “icon” and “legend,” but these descriptions actually fit him.

As I scrolled though my Facebook feed today, the sadness was palpable in every posted picture, video and memory. Many quoted the opening lines of “Let’s Go Crazy”:

Dearly beloved,
We are gathered here today,
To get through this thing called life…
Electric word, life

It means forever
And that’s a mighty long time.
But I’m here to tell you,
There’s something else:
The after world.

But the words that kept playing in my head came from his song “Sometimes It Snows in April”:

Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad
Sometimes I wish that life was never ending,
But all good things, they say, never last

10 signs you’re probably a vampire (a.k.a. an extreme night owl)

Full Moon

In case you’ve ever wondered, here are the tell-tale signs:

1. Your body wants to go to sleep as soon as dawn breaks.

2. On the rare occasions that you’re up during the day, you do everything you can to avoid having sunlight touch your skin.

3. Your morning shows are “The Tonight Show” and “The Daily Show.”

4. Your bedroom looks like a cave (cold and very dark).

5. Breakfast is served at 7 p.m.; dinner at 7 a.m.

6. Your favorite day of the year is the end of Daylight Saving Time because it means you get an extra hour of darkness.

7. You actually prefer to work the night shift.

8. You believe all grocery stores and diners should be open 24/7.

9. Holy water and garlic don’t bother you, but leaf blowers and jack hammers in the middle of the afternoon drive you mad.

10. You’re most inspired when everyone else is asleep.

–Photo by Julie Elliott-Abshire

“The sound of the sea” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

lighthouse at night

The sea awoke at midnight from its sleep,
And round the pebbly beaches far and wide
I heard the first wave of the rising tide
Rush onward with uninterrupted sweep;
A voice out of the silence of the deep,
A sound mysteriously multiplied
As of a cataract from the mountain’s side,
Or roar of winds upon a wooded steep.
So comes to us at times, from the unknown
And inaccessible solitudes of being,
The rushing of the sea-tides of the soul;
And inspirations, that we deem our own,
Are some divine foreshadowing and foreseeing
Of things beyond our reason or control.

–Photo by Hydromet

National Poetry Month

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