Sunday, January 17, 2010


Today as I vowed, I took everything out of my study in order to sort and throw and give away. By "everything," I mean, "a lot of stuff" (i.e., and to wit, not everything). And lo, I did sort, and I did find things to give and to throw away. And, in my post-sorting analysis, I identified the following categorical fails in my efforts to tidy up:
  • magazines. Too many of them, kept for too long. They are stacked. They are filed. They are in tidy bags from forever ago when I read them on a road trip.
  • books. So, so, so many of them. By the way, that "shelve your books by their color" idea is stupid. It's pretty, but it is stupid. This idea is not pretty on the inside. No, it is pretty on the outside, but a moron on the inside. Of course, that's only if you want to be able to find your books.
  • arts and crafts miscellanea. Pens, pencils, paints, paper of all sorts, crayons, oil pastels. Ink, in pads and bottles. Stamps. Stickers.
  • notebooks. I have a box of notebooks, labeled "NOTEBOOKS." I don't even know where to start with this, except it feels strange that notebooks should be that meta. But did I throw them away? I could not, except for this one legal pad from when I was taking notes at work like a decade ago. I figured I could let that one go.
  • kid stuff. Well, you can't throw any of it away, because it's, y'know, your kids. And you love them. And it feels like throwing their--and your--life away.
Let us pause to ask ourselves this question: is your life made of your stuff? Before you answer, all high-minded and enlightened like I know you are, let me add this: aren't we stuff? at the cellular and flesh-ular level? I am definitely of the "I am my stuff" camp, though I am trying to be a critical thinker about that. And by "critical thinker," I mean "a person who doesn't hold onto so much stuff."

Any more categorical fails, you ask? Why, yes:
  • technological appendages. Cords and mice.
  • cds. I buy far fewer actual disks these days. But I sure do have a hell of a lot of them.
  • the documentation of my writerly life. Oh. my. God., I have so many rejection letters. I have so many of them, I think it might be the universe telling me, "Stop trying to get your poetry published." Seriously.
Let me pause to ask you: if you had so many rejection letters that it caused you to consider that the universe might be telling you to stop trying to get your poetry published, would you (a) cut them into the shapes of celestial objects and make a mobile out of them? or (b) paint them in a million shades of gray, then make wallpaper for a Room of Doom out of them? or (c) make them into pretty, pretty snowflakes? or (d) build a soul-releasing bonfire out of them? Please fax your replies to the Megastore Hotline: 1.801.WHY.WRTE.
  • boxes. Yes, boxes. Some of them have stuff in them, sort of semi-organized. Some of them don't, as in, some of them are empty. Why not recycle those boxes? I don't know.
  • stuff that really belongs in my office at school. This includes a bulletin board I took home when I was (a) on sabbatical and (b) the roof fell in; a beautiful retablo that I kept there before (a) my sabbatical and (b) the flood; books, journals, student work; textbooks. Except, truth be told, my office is cold, as in, literally, there is not heat. And, the people, in the winter, that means I really, really really hate working in my office. So taking my stuff there seems like a bad move, except then it lives in my at-home study, where there are boxes, rejection letters, books, magazines, technological appendages, notebooks, kid stuff, arts and crafts stuff.
I think that, one day, when I am organized, there will be a perfectly capacious, but perfectly sorted, office. It will be of a temperate temperature. It will be both here and there, at home and away, and there will be a calm and orderly intelligence guiding it. There will be a place for everything, and everything will be in its place.

This kind of sounds like heaven, I think. And you know what that means, the people: I'll be sorted when I'm dead.


  1. Get. Rid. Of. The. Rejection. Letters.
    THE END.

  2. I'm with Amelia. Get rid of them. Stuff them in the recycling bin. Light them on fire. Whatever.
    also, there is nothing wrong with piles of paper, as long as they are in your space. No matter what MB says.

  3. I heart stuff. HEART.

    The only room I have where everything truly has it's own place and home is Kaitlyn's room. Which is good, because damn, those kids can trash it.

  4. As any rejection letter of your writing must be manure - the wisest course by far is to get those papers back into the natural paper cycle ASAP.

    Then write on recycled paper.

    Let the manure do its proper fertilizing function and not stink up the atmosphere.

    We are indeed our stuff, but aren't we always sloughing it away. Think if we had to contemplate the drifting piles of every dried skin flakes that ever . . . (ugh, no don't think!)

  5. I agree with the destruction of the rejection letters. The very words inflict pain. How, how, how does one open and read that drivel after courageously offering one's soul to some drivel-writing editor with no sense of good--strike that--superior poetry?

    I don't think rejection letters can be used even for scrap paper. I like the bonfire idea.

    Say, if you had a bonfire in your cold office, would that a) warm up the place, and b) convince some administrative type that you need heat, dammit, heat.

  6. Ah, the bonfire we could make if we joined forces! Think I'll start with the ones that include a patronizing little handwritten note, e.g. "Fun stuff!"



Related Posts with Thumbnails