Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tiny Beautiful Things: The Teaser

There it is.  Right there in my lap.

Shit just got real.
That's right.  I went out and bought it.  I'm already going to hell for so many reasons; let's just pile this on top of everything else.  GOOD LUCK SORTING IT ALL OUT, JESUS.  HAVE FUN WITH THAT.
I was dreading the thought of having to purchase this book.  I had even considered buying it online in order to to save myself the embarrassment of having to go to a bookstore, but I was thinking of all of you: I didn't want you to have to wait longer than necessary.  You're welcome.
I hardly slept the night before I bought it.  This is likely because I was incredibly sick, but I enjoy believing it was because my brain was trying to revolt.
"If I don't let you sleep, tomorrow will never come."
Fuck you, brain!  That's not how tomorrow works!
The morning still came and as I was waiting for the local Barnes and Noble to open, I checked their website to make sure they had this piece of shit in stock.  They did.  While I took a shower, I repeatedly practiced shouting "THIS ISN'T FOR ME" in case someone confronted me in the store (this is a perfect example of the sort of irrational fuckery that goes on inside my head pretty much on a daily basis).  I tried to convince myself that this loud proclamation wouldn't be a lie.  This book *wasn't* for me.  It was a gift for all of you.
Before I even left my apartment, I was already mentally playing out the ghastly, imaginary scenario in which the B&N cashier would notice that I was purchasing a Cheryl Strayed book and, incorrectly assuming that I was a fan, would try to start an enthusiastic conversation with me about the super-awesomeness of "Wild."
Filled with an unspeakable dread at the thought of this exchange, I realized that I needed a defense against such an attack.  That's when I came up with the idea for this business card:
(Image courtesy of Vistaprint)
(500 of these are on their way to me as I write this.  Future unsuspecting Cheryl fans: BEWARE.)
At the time, though, I had no defense.  Still, I decided that no matter what might possibly go down, I was still going to buy this fucking book.  I took a deep breath, figuratively adjusted my lady-balls and drove to B&N.
The minute I walked into the store, a new nightmare presented itself: where the fuck was I going to find this book.  What possible category could this book fall under.  Tiny Beautiful Things?  What the fuck.
On instinct, I immediately headed toward the Fiction section and laughed audibly at my clever self on the stroll over. 
"Hahahaha, *fiction*!!!  You're so funny!  I love you, me!"

And yet, when I searched for it... nothing.  I checked three more times because there was no fucking way any Cheryl Strayed book could be considered anything but fiction, but still, nothing.  It wasn't there.
I spent a good ten minutes walking around the store and amusing myself with other (im)possible locations for this heap of crap.  Bible Study?  African American history?  WWII?
My amusement eventually turned into a mild panic when I genuinely couldn't find the goddamned thing anywhere.  I walked up and down every single aisle in the store and it was nowhere to be found.  This is when I wished I had just ordered it online.  It struck me: I was going to have to ask someone for help
I stood there, horrified, motionless, weighing out my options.  Was I really capable of approaching another living being and saying the words, "Can you tell me where I can find 'Tiny Beautiful Things?'" 
I could leave.  I could just order it online.  No one had a gun to my head.
I hesitantly approached the reference desk... and then walked away.  I did another loop of the store, but this time, it wasn't a funny playtime loop.  It was a brutally determined I-will-find-the-Lindbergh-baby-kidnapper loop.  I looked in every likely (and unlikely) section and still couldn't find it.  I approached the reference desk again, hesitated... and walked away for a second time.
I wish I had the security video of me in the store.  I wish I could post it on here so you could witness my inner battle being played out in a Barnes and Noble.
On my third approach to the reference desk-- defeated--I cleared my throat, faced the giant bear of a man who stood behind it and said, "Excuse me, could you tell me wh--" and that's when some old lady walked up next to me and was all I'm-old-so-fuck-you-and-your-question-I'm-just-going-to-loudly-shout-out-my-own-question-over-yours-and-you-can-just-fucking-deal-with-it, and I had to stand there with my embarrassing, partially asked question hanging in midair while Rude Old Lady was given step-by-step treasure map directions to the Cat Calendars, during which time I almost ran away, thinking that this was a sure sign from the universe that if I didn't leave right then and there, I would single handedly cause the apocalypse.
Since I was too horrified with myself to manage doing anything at this point, I found myself still standing in front of The Bear after Rude Old Lady creaked away and was forced to finish asking my question. 
Much like the book "Wild" and the movie "Wild," this story ends very anticlimactically.  The Bear walked me over to the Relationship section (where, I swear, I had looked at least four times) and effortlessly picked Strayed's piece of shit off the shelf.  He was too busy mumbling things about Science Fiction to care about my particular book choice and seemed completely nonjudgmental about the whole ordeal.  I thanked him and quickly walked away.
The cashier, too, gave exactly zero fucks about my book selection (though I did, admittedly, put it on the counter facedown).  Upon receiving my receipt, I took the book, sans bag, and somehow refrained from sprinting out of the store.
And that's that.  I bought the goddamned thing.
I did this for all of you.
You're welcome. 


  1. Hi ! I just found your blog, after googling for "Critiques of Cheryl Strayed." That book was so disappointing -- and so obviously embellished by details that appear to be fabricated. (Can't believe that book is the # 1 best seller in the category of "Trail Guides and Hiking".) Anyhow, I love your blog ! You're a great writer, and you work is very funny, as well as poignant. You're very talented. I read most of your posts, and I think it's wonderful that you're planning a hiking journey on the ADT next year ! I am hoping that you will consider writing a book about it. You have wonderful writing skills.
    Thanks for your account of your trip to B and N -- that was hilarious. Looking forward to your review of "Tiny Beautiful Things." Best wishes to you.

    1. I think finding this blog (I found it the same way you did) is the best thing to happen to me in 2015!

    2. Isn't it amazing how the Cheryl devotees are so quick to dismiss the critiques of backpackers by claiming that it isn't a backpacking book? Yet, it is on REI bookshelves, it has inspired people to go hike, and, as you mentioned, it is No. 1 in camping and hiking guides. AMAZING. In a bad way.

    3. dharvey-- thank you so much, truly, and welcome. Your comment made me smile. I appreciate your belief in me; I will try to avoid letting you down.

  2. God damn, I love you so hard. I can't wait for you to start reviewing it!

    Just remember that your pain makes us giggle and giggle and giggle. And pain is merely weakness leaving the body. And what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. And blah blah blah trite trite blah.

    You're the best!

    1. YOU'RE THE BEST for enjoying this so much, Good Cheryl. I really mean it-- it brings me so much joy to know that I can make any bit (heh heh, *bit*) of a positive difference in someone's life. Thank you for letting me make you laugh.

  3. I am so happy that you're starting this NOW! We won't have long to wait!!! Good Cheryl is right^. You are bringing joy to the world (all the boys & girls) and getting stronger & stronger! I empathize with you about buying it. Sometimes the BN people DO talk to you about what you're buying. I bought a Montreal guidebook when I was planning a trip there and the sales clerk-guy told me he used to go to Montreal all the time when he lived in Vermont. I got some good tips from him on things to do, so that was good. I can just imagine some giddy sales-girl blabbing on & on, commenting like those idiots on Cheryl-Cheese's FB page,

    Erin, even what you wrote about your trip to BN to buy this book is entertaining as hell! You've got a gift.

    1. Thank you so much. You bring me joy. So I guess we're even.

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  5. Uhm... WTF is with the inner cover flap?

    "Let yourself be gutted. Let it open you. Start here..."

    That's not how books work, Cheryl. That is, unless you are advocating the use of successive paper cuts to help put someone out of their misery. :-(

    I thought this was a self help book? Since when is gutting one's self considered helpful?

    "Let yourself be gutted." Good lord - could we be a bit more melodramatic? You're brave, Califohioan! I couldn't do it. Good luck, sister! :-)

    1. Damnit, Horus, don't start writing the blog for me...snicker, snicker.

      So glad to have you along for the ride. I can tell already that we're going to enjoy one another.

    2. Ahh, no - I wasn't thinking! Delete my comment immediately! (Cheryl would... ;-) )

    3. Gutted: adj. disappointed and upset. Yes, Bad Cheryl. I do believe I will have no choice but to allow myself to be gutted by your book.

    4. I should just retire and let you fine people take over.

  6. Okay, I have read this blog from start to finish, and now I'm disappointed that I've come to the last entry and there is no more to read... That is, until the chapter one review. I have laughed out loud so many times! And I'm not even a distance hiker, or really a hiker at all, for that matter. I have done some 45 to 60 minute hikes on occasion. So that doesn't really count. And I haven't read any of Ms. Strayed's fictional works, although I was thinking about seeing the movie before I came across this review, which has convinced me not to throw away two hours of my life on it. So even though I have no connection to hiking, or Cheryl Strayed, I'm thoroughly enjoying watching you rip her to shreds. Does this make me a little weird? Carry on, Califohioan!

    1. It just means that you'll fit right in on here. Welcome, friend. I'm glad to know I saved you from wasting two hours of your life. Of course, I had to waste about 50 hours of my life on the goddamned movie, but I was able to amuse you, so... fair trade.

    2. I thought of that as I was writing my comment! Consider it a contribution to humanity? A public service effort?