Why I Will Miss Borders

I feel like I’ve been grieving Borders all year, like it’s had a long, drawn out suffering period caused by a fatal illness. Even this last round of store closing sales has gone on much longer than was originally reported as the liquidators try to suck every dollar out of those who are trying to gain from the death of these bookstores.

For many years I’ve had a fondness for Borders. In middle and high school, I would always stop by to visit them in the mall, probably spending more time in the music section than in the books section (before that industry was completely obliterated by Napster and iTunes), though I often wandered among the stacks, staring at book spines and dreaming up Christmas wishlists of all the books I wanted to read.

Then I moved to Chicago and there were Borders everywhere. I’ve lived a few blocks from a Borders store for the past five years. That was a my go-to place to look for books, buy journals and escape sudden monsoon-like summer rains. I even applied for a few seasonal jobs there during college and bouts of unemployment afterward, though the competition was always pretty stiff. I was always worried about the store near my apartment. There was rarely anyone in it, never a line at the check out, though the employees were friendly, the exact cliche of writers and quasi-artists you expected to work there. Most of the people who frequented the Borders did homework or wrote in the coffee shop, or hid between the tall shelves reading books they never intended to buy. Part of me always suspected that the store wouldn’t last long, and it was one of the first to permanently shut its doors earlier this year.

Then there is the beloved gigantic Borders on the corner of State and Randolph downtown–the last one in the city to go. I can’t count the many hours I’ve spent there, waiting for the announcement of the Wicked front row ticket lottery (and winning a few times) or killing time between dinner and a show. I was there last night, checking the shelves for any winners that were worth buying at 50-70% off. The store is not so barren, but the selection is not that great. It’s nothing compared to what it was. The check out line was nearly a half hour wait. I didn’t find anything worth waiting that long for.

The funny thing is, for all the time I’ve spent in Borders, the amount of money I spent was minuscule in comparison. The reasons are all the reasons Borders went out of business. Even during the early days of their store closing clearance sales, the 30% off books were still cheaper on Amazon. I don’t have an e-reader though–I’m still clinging on to my dead trees. I did still shop there. I bought books, gifts, journals and music (back in the day). The last CD I ever bought I purchased at my local Borders.

Now that the store is a few weeks from no longer existing and as I remove my Borders Reward card from my keychain and this grieving period final ends, I’d like to remember the few things I will really miss about Borders.

The Magazine Racks Both for just browsing and also because, depending on the location, they actually had some of the more popular and widely distributed literary and science fiction magazines. I will miss that convenience.

Paperchase Journals I discovered them in college and have used them exclusively for my writing ever since. Unfortunately they were always sold out before I could get to any of the Border stores that were closing, so I had no change to stock up. I haven’t been able to find them anywhere else in the US (they’re a UK based company) but I hope to find them soon because I don’t know what to do with myself.

Taking Pictures with my Cellphone of Books I’m Interested in Reading but Cannot Afford to Buy at Borders Sorry. I still discovered a lot of great books by browsing Border’s shelves. I still haven’t found a new bookstore in my area (I think the Borders we used to have here may have killed off or scared away the local competition).

Blizzard 2011 in Photos

I’m a couple days late with these, but it was just one of those kinds of weeks where I didn’t I have any spare time.

The boyfriend and I went out in the morning while the snow was still pouring to photograph the mostly untouched tundra. Here’s two of the photos.

Since then most of the streets have been clear, but the sidewalks are a mess. It’s like hiking the Himalayas if you want to walk anywhere. The plowing left snow drifts 4 feet and higher along the side of the road. Such a mess. And to make everything better…it’s snowing right now.

Blizzard 2011

I don’t know what I love more: the way the local news is sensationalizing everything (complete with flashy CGI promos) or the fact that I get to work from home tomorrow.

I don’t recall ever experiencing a blizzard before and so far it’s kind of meh. I mean, it’s just a lot of snow and wind. It’s nature. There’s not much we can do about it and it’s not like it’s a surprise (the local news has been pretty excited about this for a week). The best part about it is watching everyone lose their minds with fear.

Last night the boyfriend and I walked to the grocery store about a block and a half from our home. We did our regular shopping on the weekend but forgot to get peas and romaine. I expected the store to be busy, but I didn’t realize Armageddon was starting this week.

We waited in line for the check out for about 30 minutes. There was a couple ahead of us in line that had an entire cart filled with food, bottled water, shampoo, hair styling products, laundry detergent…it was amazing watching all of the things they pulled out of their cart. It had to be at least a month full of supplies. And there we stood with a bag of dried peas and a couple heads of romaine. It all seemed a little silly.

It remains to be seen how bad this blizzard with be, but I walked through some snow drifts on the way home tonight that were 2 feet deep. Maybe it will make for some interesting pictures tomorrow.