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2004-05-27 | 12:35 p.m.

Jesus, I’m a slug. Can’t make myself move today. Hate the Jacqueline Susann effect, dully thinking I ought to take my pills. What a drag it is getting old.

Maybe I should do some jumping jacks? How many? Hmm. Maybe not jumping jacks; those would be hard on my knee. Let’s see. What else is there besides jumping jacks…

Oh, I could do knee lifties and roll my arms in the air.

Maybe I should get on board with yoga. Yoga used to seem vaguely undignified to me, years and years ago, but there is nothing particularly noble about knee lifties and arm rollies.

Fiona told me there is a book called Yoga for People Who Don’t Want to Do Yoga. She stopped short of actually recommending it to me, but I looked for it last night at the bookstore. I say “at the bookstore” because I am embarrassed to admit I was at Borders. That I actually left Black Oak Books, a distinguished independent bookstore, and made my way (gleefully!) to Borders, with only a stop for dinner in between. But Duff was hungry and wasn’t going to let me putter around Black Oak forever. We were there for a reading and we did buy that book. When I say “we,” make no mistake: I mean Duff paid.

I like Borders because they have so much pretty stationery now, and loads of blank journals, and an open area for the kids to sit and read. Also because there is parking. It stays open late and it is close to the freeway and now they even have a computer for looking up books on your own (yay!). But I feel guilty for liking Borders because it is a chain bookstore. The people there are uniformly friendly, friendlier (dare I say it?) than the people I’ve dealt with at Black Oak, Moe’s, and Cody’s, and so on. But I suspect that the people at Black Oak, Moe’s, and Cody’s are unfriendly to me because they see me for what I am. A lover of chain bookstores. Well, Borders, anyway. I still don’t like Barnes & Noble. I don’t know if I’ve ever met stupider book clerks than at Barnes & Noble. I went there one time and said I was looking for a book called The Elements of Style, a book about interior design, not to be confused with the book by Strunk and White.

“Who?” the book clerk demanded.

“Strunk and White,” I said. But it’s not that book. A different book.”

“How do you spell it?”

“Well, elements is E-L-E-M-E-N-T-S…”

“O.K.” She looked up at me.

“Uh, okay, well, style is S-T-Y-L-E.”

“Okay, we have that one. It’s by E.B. White…”

“No, no, that’s the other one. The one I’m looking for is different, it just has the same name.”

“And what’s it about?”

“Interior decorating, I think. I’m not sure. Something like the history of interior design, furniture, something. It was recommended to me.”

“Have you tried looking in our Decorating section?"

Yep, that's where I started, but I don't know the author's name and it's a pretty large section."

Okay, what was it called again?"

Elements of Style.

"Yes, we have several copies. It’s in our section on creative writing and screenwriting….”

“No, that would be the other book. The book I’m looking for is about design. You know, visual…uh, style and…you know, colors, fabric, arrangements, texture, stuff like that.”

“Well I’m getting a lot of returns here on the screen. There's like, six pages of returns.”

“Uh huh. Well, can you get more specific with your seach, or define something you don’t want returned? Like, could you put ‘minus Strunk’ or 'plus design' or something?”

“No.”

“Well, okay. Never mind, then. Thanks anyway.”

“What did you say the book was called?”

“The Elements of Style.”

“Oh! THE Elements of Style!”

This she typed in triumphantly, as if articles mattered, as if she had never searched for anything before in her life, only to (surprise!) strike Messieurs Strunk and White again. By now I was ready to reach across the counter and initiate hostilities. But Duff showed up just then to say it was time to leave and we really had to leave and there was no more time to stay. Which always makes me mad by itself and I regretted wasting even a single minute on this idiot girl, who should never have been working in a bookstore at all. So as has happened so often before, I walked out of there wearing an angry black cloud over my sputtering head.

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