How would you describe your job to someone you just met?
Powell's Books for Home and Garden is small and I do a bit of everything around the store, but mostly I match people up with cookbooks and inform disoriented-looking customers that they might be in the wrong place — Powell's on Hawthorne is just two doors down.
Last book you loved.
Bird by Bird
by Anne Lamott. It claims to be a manual on writing, but it's full of guidance for people who suffer from both crippling self-doubt and delusions of grandeur, i.e., me, all my friends, and pretty much every creative person I've known. I could not stop laughing out loud as I read it.
Where are you originally from?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to work at Movie Madness.
What did you do before coming to Powell's?
I went to school and worked in food service.
What's the best part of your job?
That's a hard choice, but I'd have to say our regulars. At my last job, the closing shift in a grocery store bakery, my only regular was Cheesecake Lady and she was never in a good mood. I've loved getting to know the regulars here; they're a kind and fascinating crowd.
What's your favorite spot in Portland?
It's full of guidance for people who suffer from both crippling self-doubt and delusions of grandeur, i.e., me.
Just outside of Portland: the Columbia Gorge Historic Highway. I'm sheepish to admit this, but winding along that narrow road with the radio on is, for me, even better than hiking the Gorge. Within the city, I love Floyd's Coffee on Morrison and Laurelthirst Public House.
What makes for a good book in your eyes?
I just love a good story. But it helps if the ideas are so vivid and honest that they make your heart race.
Recommend an author you think everyone should read.
Oh, Leonora Carrington
. She was born in England in the early 20th century and expelled from two different convent schools, for rowdiness or bohemian-ness or something, I forget. Please check out her short stories. In one of my favorites, a woman makes love to a very dapper boar under a pile of cats. It's good.
Tell us about your first memorable reading experience.
Probably falling head over heels for The Phantom Tollbooth
when I was 8 or 9. I don't think I'd ever been grabbed by — or even noticed — writing style before, and I haven't forgotten that first joy of clicking with an author's voice.
What's your favorite book of all time?
. Fine, that's a play. I'll go with The Crossing
by Cormac McCarthy. I've always thought it's his most quiet and atmospheric book, and this beautiful unpicking of humanity’s relationship to nature. But a coworker who read it on my recommendation has informed me that it's actually just super sad and messed up. There is a lot of death and wretchedness and horrible eyeball stuff.
Do you have any odd reading habits or rituals?
Yeah, destroying books. Not on purpose. I carry them around in my purse, sometimes for years, shoving stuff into their pages and rummaging past them for my chapstick until they're basically sawdust. These are the books I love most, though — the ones I want with me when the friend I'm meeting is running late or the next bus doesn't come for 30 minutes. Right now I'm ruining The Living Mountain
, before it was Dubliners