Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Packrat Manifesto.

I am looking for a book. Two books, actually. Neither of them, in the big scheme, are very important--in fact, neither of them is important even in the immediate, mundane, little scheme. These books are distractions, one with a red cover and one with a green. They are somewhere in this house, and I will find them, probably before I finish my requisite tasks, like responding to all the posts in my online class or finishing arrangements for the giant course assessment that hangs around my neck like a horrible dead weight.

But before I find these books, I will first encounter leftover fashion magazines that I haven't torn up to put the useful photos in my style notebooks. I need to read the three new books of poems that came in the mail today. I should straighten up the room where I've put all the books about art, the body, and alternative spirituality--the room that's more like an archaeological dig (Who Slept Here) with prom dresses, boxes of tea light candles from a wedding, missionary clothes from the previous missionary, the weight bench on which I never lift weights, because of the prom dresses, tea lights, missionary stuff, etc., etc.

I should sift through several notebooks I've kept notes in, and journals I've written in a few times a year. Sometimes the notes are interesting little windows into thoughts I felt moved to record but didn't remember. I will make a little list of my Christmas baking (three kinds of caramels, several kinds of shortbread) and decorating projects (white poinsettias and other white flowers). I will look downstairs, in boxes I moved to the room where I keep my art stuff--paints, different kinds of paper, my easel, my metal working tools (can you believe I have metal working tools? Me either). Those boxes have weird files that didn't belong in the upstairs files, apparently. For instance, odd pieces of paper from my work printer when it was printing test patterns that I might use sometime in an art project. Boxes and boxes of print photos, including a beautiful picture of running son from when he was about ten years old. The books might be in one of those boxes. Could conceivably be in one of those boxes.

This doesn't take into account the true bookshelves that hold most of my books. I have done a scan of the spines, and I can't spot them, at least not so far. But I have found other books I want to read, misplaced cds, poems with notes on them from my writing group. An envelope with red clover seed (to fix nitrogen in the soil, although this presumes planting the seeds in soil). Who knows, maybe those books are behind the other books, though that's a whole nother project.

Sifting through all the stuff under the stuff that lives with the other stuff is a research project into who I am. Sometimes we are composed and put together and the things that support this composition are all in their places. Most of the time we are not, though. I'm avoiding buying a copy of that new magazine Organize ("Doable organization for real people with real lives"), at least for the moment. I don't see how it will serve my purposes, not really. I live in the layers. The atoms of air between the layers? That's where my soul resides.


  1. I hear ya, sister! Though MB is trying to break me of my piling habit, it persists. Perhaps it is better that we don't move into a bigger house where there might be extra rooms ("office") for me to pile and hoard even more stuff.
    But I often have a hard time finding books. MB often knows right where they are.

  2. This is a great post! I must think on it and respond with my own manifesto.

    I must also get a copy of Organize.

  3. I just talked to you a few hours ago. I love you, that is all.

  4. you have style notebooks? May I someday see these style notebooks?

  5. Your much broader interests and creativity (style notebooks! OMG), and hence ability to create chaos, make me feel better about my more modest attempt at creativity and chaos. Thank you. I really needed this as I stare at the vast piles of books, articles, past student work, projects on hold.



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