I need to work on sleeping better. That doesn’t sound like it should be so hard, but I have some bad habits that can easily give in to inertia. It often happens to be — especially after a long weekend like we just had — that I get caught up in a cycle of staying up too late, coming to work on four or five hours of sleep, drinking a lot of caffeine and sitting lethargically all day, going, “Clearly I don’t have energy to do anything worthwhile tonight, I’ll go to bed early and think about it tomorrow.” My ‘not doing anything worthwhile’ evening usually translates into playing on the Internet until way too late; this week, I had a little bit of an excuse that on Tuesday, I had a spyware attack on my Internet just when I was (no, really!) about to sign off, and I stayed up late trying to fix it. I didn’t fix it, and then of course last night I was “too tired to deal with it”, which meant I stayed up late on my other computer dealing with some other Internet thing. It’s all really kind of silly, and I need to change some habits to get back on a cycle again. At this point it’s probably going to take until next week, although there’s always the off-chance I’ll behave sanely tonight. I suppose there’s no reason I couldn’t get the computer fixed by a decent hour and then go to sleep, but realistically –? Well, in the face of all evidence and prior experience, I think, “Maybe I’ll just stay off the Internet tonight and read a book.” Uh huh.

Well, actually, I’ll likely be reading something because this is ‘new comics day.’ I buy at least a handful — and sometimes a big stack — of new comic books every week. Usually, books come in on Wednesday, but for some reason related to Thanksgiving, they won’t be out until today.

There are a lot of reasons that going out and buying these books every week doesn’t make good sense (they’re expensive, they take up a lot of space, I could wait a few weeks and order them cheaper off the Internet). But I haven’t been able to break myself of the habit yet, in large part because I like the habit. My supplier is Velocity Comics in Richmond, Virginia. I find comics shops fascinating — the way you’d think that they’d all be the same, yet they each have their little quirks. Velocity is kind of a dream store, though: set up for browsing, well-stocked with indie and mainstream titles, friendly staff who will look things up for you.

This store is a big reason I’m a comics reader in the first place. It sits a few blocks from campus at Virginia Commonwealth University. I was teaching there as an adjunct professor and slowly losing my mind (maybe not so slowly; if you’ve ever been an adjunct, you might relate). I’d been a casual comics reader in the past, but now I found that they made the perfect reading material for the fifty minute breaks between classes. The new-book-Wednesdays also gave a nice ritual to my week, and I could spend my office hours (because students never come to office hours) reading new issues and chatting with my friends about them online.

I eventually quit that job (or, you know, the job quit on me) but by that time I had a weekly comic book habit. I rarely found myself close to the store anymore, though, so I set up a subscription box at a smaller shop closer to my home. It was one of those old-school shops where the sales floor is mostly full of toys and T-shirts, and there are a few racks and shelves in the back. It was good for my needs at the time — I had a pull list so that they would hold a few Marvel or DC books for me every week, and I could pick them up and leave and go have a Starbucks next door. But eventually (thanks largely to the comics internet and podcasts like ifanboy,) I started getting interested in reading a wider variety, and saw the value of a browsable store that carried a lot of indie books and such. To be honest, I still mostly pick up Marvel books and a handful of other things. But options are nice, even if it means a little more driving.

See, I live and work in the suburbs (the land of big box stores), and Velocity is most definitely in the city. But the drive is reasonable — I sometimes do it on my lunch break, but I can go after work and still be home by six — and it’s actually become an advantage rather than a liability. Velocity is a shop that feels like part of its community, and going there is like patronizing any small business or local restaurant. It would be pretty easy for me to do all my shopping at Target, and get all my entertainment off the Internet, and shopping locally helps me fight off that feeling a little bit.

I’ll probably get comics over lunch break today. I still won’t actually read them until after work (but I will be able to pause on my drive back long enough to put them in the order I want to read them, which is kind of like making a mix tape; I’ll blog about that theory some week when I have a longer list). I’d like to say that I’ll take the books home after work and read them instead of going online. But, really, once I’ve read my comics, I’ll need to tell the Internet about them. Post it, or it didn’t happen.

-Caroline

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