I’m expanding my content by featuring a friend who recently moved from Berkeley to Seattle, Jacqueline Volin. We have similar interests, including books, food, and theater. Her first post refers to an event that is close to my heart. Read on…
After work the other day I went to the University Book Store to pick up a book recommended to me by an acquaintance. I’m between books and have been disappointed by the ones I’ve chosen for myself recently, so I thought I’d give this one a try. I like the University Book Store—“Indie since 1900”—and tend to buy all my books there, notwithstanding the many options in bookstore-rich Seattle, for partially selfish reasons: It’s convenient (right near work), it has an impressive breadth of offerings (it’s big, being both the bookstore of record for UW and a reliable go-to for the general public), and it gives me a 10 percent rebate once a year just for having a UW ID card. It’s like an REI dividend, only I actually can buy the whole of something with it.
On my way to the sci-fi section—the book recommended to me was to be found there—I got waylaid by the wealth of calendars stacked three-deep on shelves wrapping all around the stairwell. It’s that time of year when I am on the alert for gifts to send my niece and nephew (twelve and nine, this time around), and I thought a calendar for each would be a nice start. I enjoyed perusing the selection, arrayed according to those time-honored categories: fine art, idealized foreign countries, nature, humor, animals (and the inevitable subcategory, baby animals), gardening, outer space . . .
I chose one for my niece (wolves), one for my nephew (photos from the Hubble telescope), and one for me (Japanese woodblock prints), and although I’m pleased with them, after spending forty-five bucks on three calendars, I find myself keenly nostalgic for Earth’s Biggest Calendar Sale.
When I lived in Berkeley, I walked past Pegasus on Shattuck most every day. It was my go-to bookstore. New, used, remaindered: most of the books I bought came from Pegasus. I still have the little scrolled certificate, tied with ribbon, that I was awarded by Hogwarts–East Bay Campus for buying Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince there. I think it also was a coupon, but I couldn’t bring myself to use it.
Anyway, Earth’s Biggest Calendar Sale. I have a friend whose New Years Day tradition is to go to Pegasus on Solano and come home with an armload of calendars. Little ones for the bathrooms, poster-size ones for the dining room, regular-size ones for the kitchen and bedrooms . . . It wasn’t till I saw the calendars all over her house that I realized what a nice idea it is, hanging lots of them around. Not out of an obsessive preoccupation with the passage of time, but for the fresh burst of visual art it brings with just enough frequency that you get to enjoy each image before it comes time to turn the page.
I never managed to get to the sale early enough to score the high-quality Matisse poster-print calendars and other fabulous editions my friend does, but I always came away with a pleasing selection of three, and it cost me less than half of what I just paid. I don’t begrudge the University Book Store its forty-five dollars, and $14.99 is not a lot to spend for a splash of art. But I miss the singular joy that is Earth’s Biggest Calendar Sale.
As for the book I bought? Old Man’s War, by John Scalzi. I’m starting it tonight.