March 27. 2015
I have subscriptions to many magazines – and I never have the time to read them. They pile up – neatly – and I keep thinking somehow tomorrow will be remarkably dissimilar to today and I will suddenly have all the free time in the world and I’ll read magazines.
And sales catalogs – Lands End, LL Bean, Jockey, Country Curtains. I once had a thing where I would get the flier or catalog out of the mailbox and assess right then and there – what were the odds I’d ever buy anything from it? If the answer were really low, meaning the simple answer to that question was no, out it would go. It lasted only a few days and then I didn’t have the assessment time and they piled up again.
Now, by pile I mean there’s a stack only about a foot high. So, tonight, I bagged it all up, looked wistfully at the stuff I will not be buying and the places in the travel magazines I will not be visiting, and out it goes. And in the process, I freed up a shelf. Where I left my IKEA catalog without which I choose not to be.
I had been piling them up on the floor until I emptied out my library and created an empty shelf which promptly became the resting place for the pile.
Dumb. Out damned pile!
March 26. 2015
Today, just a tiny bag. Stuff I took out of a hot dog bun-shaped wicker basket I bought to house the remote. Instead of the remote, which was on the couch, it carried a random assortment of stuff like the cards you pick up at Starbucks, thinking you will download the app or the single off the new album, but you don’t. They expire too, I think.
But you know, I realized sometimes it’s about the stuff you don’t toss that is the meaningful contribution that day. I decided to keep all the children’s books. They remind me of the nights I read my babies to sleep and the delight on their faces when we bought them or had them signed by the authors. They stay. With apologies to the library, of course.
The theme is constant now. I am letting go of the shimmer and keeping the substance. The reflections and the fog are gone now and I have the things that matter to me. I’m not yet done but the difference, now that I have unloaded bags and bags of clothing, bedding, kitchen things, bathroom things, is just this: I have more of what matters and so much less of what doesn’t.
I am still handing out my little Baggies filled with the give-away shampoos and lotions and soaps from hotels. That collection is nearly gone. Tuesday, I handed one to a man begging on the uptown A train and a man standing near me asked what I had given him. He was someone who had worked with the homeless and I think he really liked the idea of giving out the spare soaps. It has made me want to keep collecting them after hotel stays – just so I can have something to contribute, since giving out any kind of real cash on the subway is not something I can do.
March 25. 2015
Sometimes you can let go of things and miss them, sometimes you can’t even remember why you needed to hold onto them for so long. And then there’s the shredder.
I guess I am waiting for somebody else to cart it downstairs – it’s kinda heavy, after all. And then there’s the issue of it not really being mine. It was a thing my daughter won years ago – and it served its little purpose, I guess. I know now it is better not to need a shredder than to have one.
I’m going to go through my art history notes tonight before I go to bed. In there is the abandoned hope of my ever finishing my Ph.D. in art history. But I’m cool with that now. I can’t imagine how my life could go better with a Ph.D. now. It would have been nice when I was in my 20s, but now? A nice achievement but not a step toward a better career.
I have the career so many people want. I am a writer. I write books.
March 24. 2015
How could I possibly have more musical scores on the top shelf of my closet?! What was I thinking when I stashed Irish drinking songs, Mendelssohn duets, and the original edition score of Massenet’s Esclarmonde? Really?
In fact, this collection I kept. For a couple of reasons: I do not have the energy to ship out any more music, and I really like these pieces, so they sit, for the moment, in front of my music bookcase.
I also found my college art history books – and I left college in 1975. And my notes from my art history classes at Columbia. Most of this stuff goes, but now I have all the space I need for the books I need. For the first time, possibly ever, I only have books that mean something to me. Two more bags gone!
Now I have to go through those plastic boxes I put on the empty shelves – I need to weed out the drek and maybe get smaller plastic boxes for the stuff I want to keep.
It’s all good. Five days to go!
March 23. 2015
I now realize that my newfound space demands a higher level of organization than I had before when I had no space. When I had no space, stuff could be anywhere it fit, and now, I want it to be closer to my old mantra, “Like objects together.”
Since my new book came out last week, I’ve been setting aside copies and notes because I want to send out a couple of free copies of the thing to my family who I know do not sit all day reading online to see what I’m up to. With my last book, I bought some nice white poufy mailers and I remembered seeing a full pack someplace but when I looked around this morning, quickly, I couldn’t find them so I bought another pack. But tonight, when I started looking at the shelves in my closet to try and plot out the new organizational pattern, there was the unopened pack from the first book. Drat.
This has only served to remind me of two things – 1) to keep like objects together. If that pack of mailers had been with the stamps, I would have found it. And 2) If you ever lose something and then find it, put it back in the first place you looked. I looked next to the stamps first.
I still have to haul the shredder downstairs. I was running late this morning and missed taking it out. My daughters are going through the children’s books I had stashed in my closet – because I didn’t have space. I had already pulled out some children’s books that mean something to me – from both their childhood and mine. When I have finished, believe it or not, all of my books will be in my living room for the first time in five years.
March 22. 2015
I am nearly done sorting out my library. It’s been a long, fascinating journey and I am delighted and happy that it is nearly done. I pulled out three big piles of children’s books for my daughters to go through and I found two Shakespeare books for my daughter’s fiance who is a Renaissance theater scholar,. They aren’t much, but I think he’s enjoy them.
I brought the VHS tapes out to the alley and tomorrow, on my way to work, out goes the paper shredder. It was something my oldest daughter won that we clean up and use for about 20 minutes and then store for months. The truth? We don’t get enough paper in the mail anymore to worry about identity theft.
I found, in the piles of papers I took off my shelf in my closet, my Eighth Grade yearbook. What a moment in time that was! Fifty years ago, I graduated from Eighth Grade with a group of wonderful children with whom I had studied for only two years. I joined their class in Grade Seven. The class photos were taken after we returned to our classroom from attending the funeral on one of my best friends. She was only 13 years old and she died on a Saturday in the spring. It was so horrific for us to go through, as a class – I can only imagine how her parents felt.
So today, I remember the girl in the Eighth Grade – me – who lost a dear friend, who worked on the school newspaper, and who danced. I wanted to be an actor and a spy and instead, I became a mom.
I am still a writer.
March 25, 2015
Copies of my new book, “Prayer Beads on the Train” – along with “A Marshmallow on the Bus” – can be purchased at Q.E.D. Astoria. I will be teaching two more Family History Writing Workshops and will be available to sign your copies.
Please join the class too! April 5 (Easter Sunday) and April 19, 11:30 a.m. -1:00 p.m. Here’s the information.
On Sunday, March 29, I will have copies at Blessed Sacrament Church on West 71st Street in Manhattan after the 11:00 a.m. Spanish Mass. Here’s the information.
Monday, March 30, I will be at Inwood Local with Local Poets. If you would like to read at this Open Mic, please come early to sign up – the food is wonderful and the Local Poets are quite special. Here’s the information.
Thursday, April 9, I will be reading from “Prayer Beads on the Train” with We Heart NYC Writers Night sponsored by Inspired Word at the Parkside Lounge. Here’s the information. There is also an open mic at this event, but there are limited spots, so you should sign up in advance.
“A Marshmallow on the Bus” is also available at Word Up Community Bookstore on Amsterdam Avenue in Washington Heights and the NY Transit Museum Museum Store.
And finally, I have been invited back to the Platform Series at the NY Transit Museum. And yes, that’s me on the bus!
Stay tuned for date and time info!