sprite writes
broodings from the burrow

May 23, 2006

best of the independents
posted by soe 12:39 pm

I have mentioned before how jealous I am of those living in the U.K. because they have access to The Guardian in its hard copy format. It is possibly the best book paper in the world and easily surpasses anything I’ve seen here in the U.S.

This week they look at what makes a successful independent bookseller: “The Best Sellers”.

It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of independent bookstores. I will patronize the national chains when I’m looking for something I know the smaller shops in my area won’t have (crossword puzzle books for Gramma, for instance), but if I’m buying a book for myself, it’s not going to be at a huge mega-bookstore.

Looking for quality independents in the D.C. area?

Olsson’s is a local chain with two stores in D.C. and three in Virginia (including one at National Airport). I’ve not visited their Courthouse location, but I can recommend without hesitation, any of their three other stand-alone stores. Dupont lacks a cafe, but you’re not missing it in that neighborhood. Over the last few years they have expanded from just selling books, cds, and dvds to include renting out art house/BBC movies and series. And they offer a free membership that nets you discounts over time.

Politics and Prose is what you envision when you envision a local bookshop — or what it would be if it regularly appeared on Book TV on C-Span2. It feels cosy, even if it has expanded over the years. New books and an area for readings are located upstairs and the downstairs is devoted to remainders, a great kids’ section, and a tasty coffeeshop.

You couldn’t go wrong with either one.

Via Bookish.

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worst possible weekend activity planned
posted by soe 11:40 am

A preliminary note to my male readers: You likely will not care about this post. Come back tomorrow after I’m done reaping the sympathy of my female readers.

Now that it’s just us girls, let’s talk breasts. More specifically, bras.

In the last two weeks, two of my bras have given up the ghost — one had a strap snap and the other’s underwire broke. I’m devastated. Nevermind the fact that the latter bra was my favorite — the only one that looked good under all my light colored tshirts, of course. Now I have to face the dreaded task of … bra shopping. ::Evil organ chords::

Clearly this bra-shopping procrastination is why the bras broke. With the exception of the black bra I bought in England last fall, every bra I own is three-plus years old and gets worn frequently. It was time. It was time a while back. But I just couldn’t face up to its necessity until the bras literally had to start breaking. I’m sure if I put it off any longer the rest will also give up the ghost.

Luckily, I’m heading to Connecticut for a long weekend, where I have access to Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Target, and Kohls. But I know this means I’m going to have to try on nearly every white and off-white and ecru bra in my size in each store.

And why is it too much to ask for them to be supportive and non-weird and comfortable and pretty all at the same time? I’m no longer horrified by the peek-a-boo bra strap; I can see that it’s not really that awful for someone to know you are, in fact, wearing a bra. Call me old-fashioned, though, but if you can see the pattern on my bra through my shirt, you have too much information about me … particularly if we take the previous post into consideration…

And why would people with larger cup sizes want excessive padding? Please. Manufacturers, please understand: we come with our own.


Okay, I’m done ranting. Just think of me with pity this weekend as I spend several hours under unflattering dressing room lights.

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anyone have a killer line?
posted by soe 2:20 am

You know, the one that shoots down the person hitting on you in a public place?

Guys approach me on the street with some regularity, asking me if I date “brothers.” Usually if it’s that innocuous I just reply that I would, but that I think my husband might have issues with it. I laugh. They laugh. Everyone has a polite out. As if you’d accept a date with a random stranger leering at you from a car window or a street corner.

I’ve learned when I travel alone to wear a ring with a jewel-like stone. It doesn’t stop everyone from hitting on me, but I feel like it cuts down on it.

Other encounters, however, are harder to brush off. There was the guy in a church courtyard/public lunch spot who touched my toe and told me I needed a ring for it. There were the elderly men (old enough to be my father, if not my grandfather) who made dirty comments about me as I sat obliviously reading my book in a “family-friendly” pocket park next to Eastern Market earlier this spring. When I noticed, I bolted, and it freaked me out for weeks. In London, a certainly drunk and possibly homeless man kissed me — with an astonished Rudi and a snickering security guard standing right next to me. My cousin later told me I was taking politeness a bit far.

I used to think I was the only one. But then I talked to a few girls at work and it seems to be a cultural thing. One colleague was so irked by an encounter on her walk to the Metro one morning that she learned PowerPoint by creating a presentation containing her response. Another once had someone come on to her at a bus stop. He licked her. She belted him.

Tonight Rudi asked me to pick up beer for him. I had already passed Whole Foods by, leaving a liquor store as my option between there and home. I knew when he asked that it wasn’t going to be a pleasant experience. I was wearing a skirt. I thought about saying no — particularly since I wasn’t going to drink any of it. On the other hand, Rudi doesn’t shirk from buying personal things for me, so that didn’t really seem to be a fair excuse.

Ultimately, though, I didn’t want to feel powerless. I don’t want it to be my problem. I don’t want to have to alter what I wear and where I go and how I conduct my life just because I’m a woman and some stupid git can’t keep his comments or his leers to himself.

But there’s always one. Sure enough, some guy comes up to me as I’m paying for the beer. “Wow, look at those legs. Are you a kickboxer?”

“Yep,” I replied, remembering Amani’s advice to look as if the person hitting on you is remarkably laughable and inconsequential.

“No, you aren’t.”

“Then why did you ask?”

“I just got out of the army. Where did you come from?”


I bet if I’d threatened him with the drop spindle and US6 knitting needles I had in my bag, he would have left me alone. Of course, I bet if I’d done that the liquor store clerk who idly watched the whole encounter would have called the cops.

Instead, I just walked home, getting madder and madder as I went along until I arrived at home fuming.

Maybe next time I’ll ask him if these sorts of encounters ever work and why he bothers if he’s guaranteed rejection every time.

Maybe I’ll ask him what he’d think if some skeevy old guy were hitting on his daughter.

Sadly, I bet he wouldn’t see the correlation.

So, anyone have a killer line to end those sorts of encounters?

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