December 3, 2010

Stephanie Paulk, 1972-2010

Last time I saw her is when she delivered a copy of her wacky and wonderful book, Tiny Bedtime Stories, for my daughter and I to enjoy.

I worked with her, a hundred years ago, at a Barnes&Noble bookstore.  I jumped that ship and made my home at a much more fun Borders Bookstore up the road and eventually got her to come up there for a while before she went off to law school.

We bonded over books, movies and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  She could read whole mystery novels between her scheduled lunch and two smoke breaks.  She often talked about writing historical romance bodice-rippers.  She still has (or had) my copy of Snow Crash but I may still have her copy of Gormenghast.

There are few people in my life who I would read anything they recommended to me and I would always enjoy it immensely. She was on that short list.  I was proud of being able to recommend Bleak House to her when she told me she'd just gotten into law school.  I told her I thought every lawyer would benefit from reading it and she agreed.  Of course, she finished the book in two days and it had taken me weeks to get through in college.

I will never forget the day we were at the World Congress Center here in Atlanta setting up the tables and registers to sell books at a huge convention.  It was the summer Smashmouth's "Walking On the Sun" was in heavy rotation and she had mentioned that she'd heard the perfect summer song the other day.  It came on the radio as we were unpacking books in this vast room with many boxes and tables.  We had a lot of work to do but as soon as that song came on, she cranked it up and made me and another guy helping us stop and dance around with her like goofballs.  For that four minutes or whatever it was, she was totally into that music, that moment, and dancing around as happy as she could possibly be.

That's how I'll always remember her.

Tiny Bedtime Stories

Stephanie Ann Paulk, 38: Lawyer, poet and performer