I had two ideas for this blog, and in contemplating which way to go with it, I remembered that I’m a Rebel Blogger so I’m going to pass along both thoughts.

A little bit of background . . .

Picture this, Blogtropolis. It’s the 1980’s. A time of Reagan, Dallas, Yuppies, Duran Duran. A young girl (that would be me) sits in the bathroom watching her mother get ready for work. The girl watches as mom transforms into Work Mom, applying blue eye makeup, feathering her hair, stepping into heels, and spritzing on the perfume, as she rushes out and leaves her coffee cup half full on the bathroom sink. She advises us on schedules, dinner, whatever, and is out the door, somehow remembering to leave a list of chores for my brother and me to complete after school, before she gets home.

Not all moms worked, especially in fancy office jobs that required a commute and a briefcase. But mine did. For as far back as I can remember. During the late seventies to the mid-nineties, Mom was employed by a large, national telecommunications company in the Human Resources department. The job required her to hire, fire, travel to different branches throughout the country, train, and all that other fun HR stuff.

When I went to college, my mother quit, out of the blue. She was in her early forties; around the same age that I am now. She became sick of it. Or had a freak out in the midst of a mid-life crisis. I don’t know. But she gave up her steady fancy office job, with a decent salary, benefits, power, and prestige to go work in a giant chain bookstore.

Yes, a bookstore. With crappy retail hours, little pay, no benefits, and full exposure to the public. After a brief stint at what eventually became known in my house as the-bookstore-that-shall-not-be-named (you know the one–it’s still in business (:)), she switched to Borders.

She loved working for that company, and I believe she worked harder there than at any other job she’d ever had, even her Corporate America job. She loved her fellow employees. She loved being surrounded by books. She even tolerated the crazy customers. I’ll never forget when years later, someone asked her if she regretted her decision to leave her corporate job for the bookstore. Her response was, “I should have done it twenty years earlier.”

By the time the company closed down in late 2011, my mother was a General Manager with sixteen years with the company, nineteen total in the book industry. Now she misses it– not only the job, but the book industry in general.  As unglamorous as it could be at times, working at the bookstore was her dream job.

Which brings me to my first thought . . .

How many of us are unhappy in our jobs, but stay for whatever reason? I know times are different now than they were in the nineties. Jobs are harder to come by. But I can’t imagine that my mother’s decision, even back then, was any easier.

Although the decision perhaps wasn’t easy, it also couldn’t be any simpler. You hate your job? You leave. Simple.

Okay, maybe not so simple. But it can’t hurt to look around for something new. Dream jobs exist, don’t they?  It can’t hurt to think about what you really want to do with your life, how you want to spend the precious hours of your limited days, ways to maximize your happiness. Being miserable at your job doesn’t log hours on the Happy Meter.

Believe that there is something out there for you. That you have the power to change your life. It may not happen tomorrow, and it may not be easy, but it’s possible. There’s hope for us all.

And my second thought . . .

If the bookstore-that-shall-not-be-named goes out of business, which apparently is a distinct possibility, I’m seriously going to mourn.

Going to the bookstore is so much more than a shopping trip.  It’s a pleasant outing.  The end to a date night.  A girls’ night out (okay, nerd girls like me I guess).  It’s a place for book clubs to meet, and authors to sign, and teenagers to gather.  I personally enjoy spending hours browsing books and magazines, music, DVDs, breaking for coffee, strolling through the bargain section.

And what about rainy days with the kids?  The best cure for cabin fever was a trip to “Grandma’s bookstore” and the “children’s infection,” as JC referred to it.  They’d browse books, they’d run around, they’d eat a cookie, Grandma would let them “help” organize the shelves and used her employee discount to buy them something special.  I wasn’t the only parent sneaking a peek at the bestsellers while her kid sat nearby engrossed in a Winnie the Pooh book.  What are we going to do with these kids?  I realize the library is always an option, but let’s face it.  The library, as wonderful as it is, doesn’t serve cappuccino.  Also, the “SHHH . . .” signs aren’t really conducive to rowdy kids afflicted with cabin fever.  And the hours are weird.

Besides my own self-centered reasons for wanting the remaining mega-bookstore to remain in business, what does it say for society that the bookstores are failing, if anything?  Do we want to live in a world where everything is electronic?  Books, music, conversation?  Maybe we do.  I don’t know.  Even my mother, who resisted e-readers from the start (“I like the way the paper feels and the weight of the book,” etc. etc.) eventually bought a Kobo.

I guess the only thing I do know, is that the world is changing.

R.I.P. Borders.  We miss you.

9 thoughts on “A Mom Without Borders

  1. When we lived in TX, there were live jazz performances during the evening in the cafe at the borders. (sigh.) I miss those days, too.


  2. Welcome to WWWW, Jess. I too gave in to read on an iPad but only after I’ve exhausted all the ink on paper within my reach. The library is the new bookstore, a communion of people and books. I think we can live nicely with ebooks, OverDrive is a good example. Whenever I travel, I hunt for a bookshop, they’re still out there and thriving. But so let’s read screens, we’d not meet without them. Cheers, Toni


  3. I was lucky to have my dream job for 13 years: I owned an indy bookstore. I still seek out an Indy over a mega store, but i agree, it is hard to find any bookstore these days!


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