Archive for November, 2014

Clutter

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

downloadLarge_OCR-05 At long last, I may have reached the end of my appetite for self-help books. This is like a trip across a long lake in a Lord of the Rings setting where the other side was shrouded in mist for a very, very long time.

Husband never understood the habit, since I never employed the exercises these books suggest, in their massive, tiny type appendices. For me, curling up to a gentle voice telling me what to do while I eat a bag of popcorn is just like a day at the spa, like being under a hypnotic spell. Someone has a life philosophy, a process; someone else is the boss. (I’m like prime to be a cult member.) I find, or I found, it so profoundly relaxing. On the subject of clutter, there seems to be a gold rush in the book world lately on how to do less, eat less, have less, stress less, a topic I have been enormously invested in. I am a lazy/messy person at heart and now with little time, I live and work in a space that looks like “on a very special episode of Hoarders.” (Exaggerating, but not necessarily by much.)

These books advise to toss out everything. Anything you don’t wear, anything that doesn’t fit, things you haven’t seen in years. For the most part, when I do plunder my things on the behalf of the Salvation Army, I do not miss or regret the dearly departed items. I can’t even remember them, but there was a vintage sun dress dress I wore every day during college made of gingham fabric with a three-tier skirt paired with an ill-advised fisherman’s cap that I miss. I’m sure it’s in someone’s trash by now. I wore that thing in the ground. I think of that dress fondly, and the young, ridiculous, exuberant woman I was when I wore it, that I regret losing it. I have not forgotten that dress.

The most recent addition to the art of declutter is Marie Kondo’s “The Japanese Life-Changing Art of Tidying.” I reserved it from the library with salivating anticipation. I could not wait to get my paws on it. I looked up the you tube video on her special way of folding long sleeve shirts, I read in profile articles how she believes socks should not be balled up; they should lay flat, allowed to rest, in return for all the service they provide us. She is totally escalating housework to a spiritual vision quest. It’s kind of hilarious, but also the type of approach I totally eat up.

I started reading it last guys, and it was so boring, I don’t think I can finish. It may possibly be the most boring book I have ever read. It totally reminds me of the Haruki Murakami books I don’t like, where he goes for five pages on the mundane task of like eating spaghetti (when he makes the ordinary transcendent, his writing works; when he doesn’t, it’s just like reading an air humidifier manual). I also recently read “The Power of Less” by Leo someone, and I mostly felt like how about making this “less boring, less sucky.” So, I will keep cleaning, keep tossing, but the phase of reading about it has wrapped.

It’s the end of an era, people. I wonder what’s next.

P.S. I lost the book the first day I got it. It’s in my house somewhere. Hard to know for sure when I have so much junk around. Husband couldn’t stop laughing.

Frances McDormand

Friday, November 14th, 2014

1.155164

For many years, I was close to my junior high school teacher, my one and only mentor. Once that relationship ran its natural course, I had looked for a guru for years, until finally, like Gwyneth Paltrow, I realized there weren’t any others in the pipeline per se and I needed to become my own mentor. (Well, I’m not really my own mentor — but Paltrow did say in an interview she did a three-day hike alone in Arizona and gave herself advice because she’s the wisest person she knows. Lord help us.) But mentors, or role models, don’t always have to be people you interact with in real life. They can be people you read about too, and so for that list, I nominate Frances McDormand. She is a superb role model.

She’s film and theater actress (she did win that Oscar for “Fargo”), forgoing the spotlight to raise her son in anonymity, which seems very sensible. But if you read the Times arts sections, her name shows up in these random shows off-off-Broadway, in Brooklyn in weird places like St. Ann’s Warehouse. There are a lot of movie stars doing straight plays in Broadway, where their name is critical in generating millions of dollars of ticket sales. This woman has the pull to follow a similar path, but chooses oddball productions that are well-off the beaten path. It’s so not normal. Last year, she did an ensemble show of Shaker Spirituals, where the cast, a mix of millenial unknowns and septuagenarian theater vets, replicated the dancing and singing Shakers did to get down. How uncommercial can you get? How fun. She seems to be doing the kind of theater that interests her, and weird plays like the Shaker thing is something I love about theater — what interests me is less about performing, and more about having a new life experience. McDormand is no spring chicken, but she’s still out there, playing and trying new stuff and that is incredibly inspiring.

On Wednesday, it dawned on me that I am now truly middle-aged – I’m in the middle point of my life (you know, provided I don’t get into an accident, get a tumor, etc.) I felt and profoundly understood the finite character of my life span. Forty years ahead of me or not going to be like those behind me. I will no doubt be a bit physically helpless, not so independent for some of it, and when I’m older, I’m going to need something to do. I am so very fortunate that I have things that I enjoy doing. I was telling Nancy that I could see myself on an improv team when I’m in my seventies and she’s in her sixties. It was her idea that our team would be called the Golden Girls.

What was surprising is recognizing the end of my life did not make sad moment. On the contrary, I feel a little more directed, liberated, like the stars aligning. Because, much like any work of fiction, now that I know the end, I can better figure out the middle.

laundry

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

download Most Mondays, Husband does laundry, Dad and Mom come over, Dad folds all the clean clothes, and I put them away. It’s my least favorite night of the week. In between making dinner for the people, putting the laundry away as soon as possible is necessary because Wonder Twins and First Son love to knock over the piles of folded clothes. Kind of like how little kids like to kick piles of dried fall leaves. But what distresses me about Mondays is seeing how my dad organizes the laundry. The piles he organizes are all mixed-up — adult with children clothing interspersed, and everything folded in a loose, haphazard style. This is a man who was in the Air Force (AF), where he had three minutes to get ready for bed every night in the AF, who always shot me his military stink-eye whenever I showed up 15 minutes late to hang out (I was always late by at least 15 minutes), because I could never be as together as this fastidious gentleman.

dance injury

Monday, November 10th, 2014

download Husband got a call from First Son’s school, that he had to be sent to the nurse due to an injury. Apparently, during Center time, he kicked himself in the head and got a lump. He got ice. I was perplexed how the injury occurred because, I don’t know, kicking high enough so that you reach your head sounds hard. When we picked First Son up tonight from his after school program, we asked him to demonstrate.

He laid down on his back and thrashed around like crazy, spinning his legs in a circular faux-break dance, and his feet, indeed, could reach his head.

Wish I could post the visual. Cannot stop laughing. I told him dancing is usually something people do for fun and to not get hurt. And then I made him do it again.