Probably the most satisfying aspect of uncrating the books, aside from the relief of bringing the creative process to a final fruit, was putting seventeen copies of the new book on the top shelf of my bookshelf of happiness alongside copies of my other three books. I know it is seventeen copies because I just went and counted.
Before I describe the other contents of the bookshelf of happiness, I want to say something about the bookshelf of happiness itself. It's black. Very ramshackle. I know it's ramshackle because I assembled it. Upon first standing it up I doubted it would ever bear the weight of even a slim volume of my poetry, let alone five shelves of assorted keepsakes. But it does. I didn't want the black one because i have two others that are walnut colored and black was a compromise.
On the top of even the top shelf of the bookshelf of happiness are three paintings by my friend and fellow Leaders of Something Horrible Member, Jesus Correa. The first painting, and the last one I procured, has professional wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper asking "You wanna banana? Have a banana," the second painting has various skeletal characters in different scenes during The Day of the Dead, and the third has creatures too surreal to describe in a hellish scene. This artwork makes me all kinds of happy for multiple reasons. The primary reason being Jesus Correa is an enormously talented and unique artist who is one of a kind. Also, having his work in my apartment, and on my bookshelf of happiness, reminds me how I have overcome the ravages of hard times and both a crippling personality and mood disorder in order to have this space and time to collect such magnificent objects around me. In the past I've lost all of the things that were important to me several times.
On the top shelf are my four books. My first book was written when i was a teenager and published by The Press of the Third Mind in 1991. For over a decade I hadn't gotten one out, but when Submerged Structure arrived Tuesday I decided to get them out storage and put them on the shelf, too. I decided to put seven copies on the shelf and leave the other seven in a box for safe keeping. I say safe keeping mostly because the book's only real value is as a proof that i once existed and wrote those poems.
To the immediate right of those seven copies of my first book, which I neglected to tell you was titled Concave Buddha and Other Public Dis-Service Announcements, are 79 copies of my second book, titled Detached Retinas. I will now tell you both why it is entitled Detached Retinas and why there are 79 copies. There are 79 copies of the book on the shelf because this June the roof of the building I live in was being repaired and the roofing crew decided not to cover the roof with a tarp or listen to the weather reports and a storm that developed suddenly dropped hundreds of gallons of water into my apartment, including the closet where most of my treasured keepsakes were stored. The deluge further diminished the amount of items I cherish that are still in existence, including several copies of Concave Buddha, a poster my friend Tim Stotz had given me of a Giant woman, the only picture of my mom that I had left, and a crate of Detached Retinas. By the time I pulled everything out, another significant portion of my past had been destroyed, this time while I was right next to it. Anyway, I saved as many of the least water damaged copies of Detached Retinas as I could and later they were the first item to be archived on the bookshelf of happiness.
Immediately to the right of the 79 copies of Detached retinas are 17 copies of my third book, Flesh Wounds. It's a good book of poetry and a damned honest accounting of a lot of wasted years spent in the service industry, but not one of my favorite things to read. You may feel differently. And to the right of that are the aforementioned 17 copies of Submerged Structure, a book titled for my Scizoid Personality Disorder.
I should tell you I make a point to make the title and my name on the of each book a different color. I decided fifteen years ago to do this, anticipating a day when they stood side by side like a rainbow. yellow, white, green and orange so far. The next book will have the title and my name in red. But let me tell you why the second book's spine is white. Because it was cheaper. I had mistakenly received a very high limit credit card in the mail that summer, well maybe it wasn't a mistake as much as a godsend, and I could have gone with the more expensive four color separation, but the artist I wanted to create the cover decided to give up art and join the Navy, so in frustration I drew a stick figure drawing at the last second and told the printer to reverse it so it would appear in white against the black cover. It's poorly done but once I decide a thing is getting done it gets done.
Shelf two down from the top contains two items. The first is a framed printing of fifteen renditions of the logo for my literary press, Zombie Logic Press, designed by my co-creator, Jenny Mathews. They are in all different colors. The first thing I can say about this is that I knew what this logo would look like when I was twelve years old, but it never came to be until 27 years later when Jenny created it. And it looked exactly like what i knew it would when i was twelve. Let me say additionally that as far as I know I was the first person on this planet Earth to use the term "zombie logic" and certainly the first person to have any entity named Zombie Logic anything. I say this because of the many things I've lost, one of them is the domain name, zombielogic, which someone snatched after I couldn't afford to renew it during one of the hard times. To the right of the logo is a painting by artist Jenny Mathews of the Midway theater, which I can see from my window. It is the theater in Rockford, Illinois, that the city decided not to restore. I may or may not have ever seen a movie like Race For Your Life Charlie Brown there. The only person who could answer that question is gone.
A shelf down from that are the VCR tapes I continue to keep even though I no longer have a VCR. Some have been played dozens of times and remind me of the years when scouring the aisles of a video store looking at the same tapes over and over hoping to see something new were a diversion from hour upon hour of studying developmental psychology. Some of these are the very same tapes I had rented many, many times over many years and was able to buy when all the video stores went out of business. The one tape I wanted very badly and couldn't get was the copy of Zombiethon that went from a local store named Dollar Video to a national chain called dollar video, and it was the same tape and I know because it had a label on it from Power Video. I was lucky enough to get a copy of revenge of the Dead I'd been renting for twenty years and copies of the two Dark Shadows movies.
Below that are just books. The most recent books I have purchased on Ebay. These are interesting because I've found a site where I buy ex-library books auctioned off to raise funds for the libraries that are still open in America. One of these that I'll single out is The New Oxford Book of American Verse. It's a book they had at the Byron Public Library and was most likely the first anthology of poetry I had ever read. I was very happy to find it and put it on my shelf. Also on the shelf are several anthologies that are titled things like best young and best best and best whatever anthologies. Although I'm not in any of these and most likely never will be I like to read them to see what other people think is.
Now, the bottom shelf. And appreciate this. A man who has lost everything more than a few times showing this kind of trust in fate to assemble such a thing believing he will never lose what he has again... a complete first edition, first printing of all the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons player's manuals. Even when I was fourteen I was many years away from having anything like first printings. The Player's Manual itself took two years to locate, and that pouring over Ebay nightly and searching out every rare and specialty bookseller who dealt in RPG manuals. Nothing. No sight of a true first printing for two years. Then one night I'm doing the same search I did almost night, more out of habit at that point than expecting to find anything, and there it was. I had to decide fast. A true first printing has only a minor difference that distinguished it from a first printing, so I decided to just buy it. And it's on the bottom shelf of the bookshelf of happiness, and is the only one I know of anywhere.
That's it. The contents of the bookshelf of happiness. On the side of the bookshelf I have posted the results for the last two years of my fantasy football team. I'd have taken a picture but i wanted to write down all the things I have.
Jan. 25, 2013 update: It just keeps getting better and better. I've had to add a third bookshelf to contain the bounty. Here's what it looks like now...
|In the background you can see the Zombie Logic Press Christmas tree that Bombadee sent me.|