Ah Bartleby! Ah humanity! (Minimalism, post 16.)

It was continued home-improvement adventuring that left Sunday’s laundry undone, but I got right into that laundry yesterday. It felt like a good way to start Monday. I didn’t want to drag last week’s laundry into the new week.

Another thing not getting dragged forward in time: three boxes of books!

This is the minimalism post I thought would never happen, guys. This is the one wherein I report that I’m getting rid of a chunk of my book collection, not just a box or two as I’d done previously. From Day 1 of my minimalism journey, I’ve both wanted this and not wanted this. Behold the plot twist chez moi:

 

destination: donation

 

Only after separating out these books did I realize that yeah, they weighed a lot, physically and metaphorically.

It was just a matter of releasing my insistence on keeping all of the books, more than the books, themselves. I had this pre-determined course of action (e.g. inaction) regarding the books, and I finally decided to ask myself why. I could find no good reason for my obstinance.

What I’ve got left are two full shelves of books from end to end in my office closet, along with these stacks of books remaining from my large, stand-alone bookcases:

 

keeping

 

The exercise grew easier as I went. An exhilaration built up in proportion to the growing pile of books to be donated. The question I asked myself with each hard decision: Do I really need this? I know about the significance of Mary Lamb’s accomplishment, so do I need this copy of Tales from Shakespeare? I have a body of this writer’s/poet’s work in a larger volume, so do I need this extant publication? Do I need these classics for any reason other than they’re classics?

Many of these books entered my life during college and grad school, including anthologies and textbooks of literature, poetic theory, and philosophy. I’ve also kept related required readings. The wonderful thing about being an English major and creative writing scholar was that our required reading was largely comprised of novels and books of poetry. I loved most of them. I learned a lot as I read and studied them. Of course I had to keep them! But all of them?

Some books, my reluctance to let go came from what they were. I had this nerdy and pompous idea that everyone should have them. I went back and forth for a day and a half over The Odyssey, The Aeneid, and The Iliad, then decided that I didn’t need to hang onto them because where the ancient Greeks are concerned, I’m more interested in thought than mythology. I’m keeping Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, though, for reference. I’m keeping Aristophanes: Four Comedies for “Lysistrata.”

My decision to keep all of my collections of short stories (from classics to contemporary) sometimes came down to one work within. For instance, I’m keeping Melville’s Billy Budd and Other Stories for “Bartleby” (referenced in the title of this post).

In contemporary fiction, both literary and pop, I have a few collections: Nancy Drew (a pile that I’d purchased at a garage sale in Los Angeles in the 70’s hard-covers published in the 50’s and 60’s) and picture books from Hawaii. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Lee Child’s Jack Reacher, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower. I’m keeping all of Harry Potter, as there are only seven books in that collection. I’m keeping Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series along with my favorite horror novels of his.

As for Lee Child’s Jack Reacher novels? I have them all, and I wanted to keep them all… but there are 23, and while I like every one of them, I like some more than others. Actually, I discovered that I had 28 Reacher books, because I had duplicates of five of the novels. Something I wouldn’t have known! Five duplicates taking up space!

When I went to prune my Reacher collection, I ended up keeping:

  • The Affair
  • Gone Tomorrow
  • Bad Luck and Trouble
  • Worth Dying For
  • Persuader
  • Tripwire
  • Nothing to Lose
  • Without Fail
  • Make Me
  • Past Tense
  • Never Go Back
  • A Wanted Man
  • Night School

 

The Reacher that stays.

 

Plus No Middle Name, a recent collection of Jack Reacher short stories. The first three novels listed are my top three favorites, which might have something to do with the fact that they were my first Reacher novels in the order I bought them from La Fnac in Nice. I discovered Reacher in France, as I’ve mentioned before.

By the time I was finished going through the books, I felt as though I’d escaped a tyranny of sorts. This might seem a dramatic and bizarre way to regard the collection of books I’d so fiercely defended in my minimalism efforts, but I think the tyranny was that of my own stubborn self.

My bookshelves and I feel much lighter now. It’s delightful.

 

 

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Weathering. (A sort of fitness update)

I was going to post a fitness update tonight. Instead, I greet you with a weather report. I can’t help it. I sat down at my desk with the warm dusk wind blowing and our patio wind chimes loud in the best of ways, drifting through the open door. I’ll say it again: there’s something truly mystical about this desert, something incalculably powerful. Tonight I’ve been distracted by the wind animating the trees I can see from my office window… our two palo verdes, our date palm’s fronds, the mesquite across the street. I’ve lived in this desert for almost 30 years, and its magic still startles me.

There wasn’t much to report in fitness news, anyhow. Weight-training class (Body Pump): I increased more of my weights today, and that wasn’t even the plan! Kickboxing (Body Combat): it continues to be a different experience at my second gym, mainly due to the A/C and fan. Long over are my days of drowning in a pool of my own sweat as I drive home. Cardio (Step): I haven’t been going. Sunday morning workouts just aren’t fitting into my weekends, and that’s okay. I’ve been doing my 10-minute version of cardio every day here at home, so there’s no cardio deficit in my workout week.

Finding alternate ways to work out usually isn’t a problem. I’m thinking of the time years ago that I went to my then-boxing gym one evening to find it closing early for some reason I can’t remember. I remember what I did instead, though, and I remember it precisely because of the weather that night.

I drove east through a gathering storm so I could make the evening T’ai Chi forms class at the dojo where I occasionally trained. We did the Crane Chi Kung form, which was my favorite of the Chi Kung animal forms. It was a time during which I preferred Crane to the other animal forms, energetically speaking. Crane is powerful, graceful, and deadly. The Crane form’s expansive movements and deep stances felt good.

Wind actually echoed in the darkened sky as the temperature dropped, and hail began to hit as we practiced Crane. In the next hour, there would begin a heavy rain that would fall throughout the night and a few hours into daylight. There would be thunder and lightning.

It was all quite unusual. Later that night, I turned on the television to watch the weather report – this was during a more analog time – to see that it had actually snowed in Phoenix! It was March, and so rare that such a storm would visit Arizona in the spring, or even in the winter. We’re used to sub-tropical monsoon storms in the late summer.

It was March, and the icy edge of that storm sliced through the Valley like the edge of a crane’s wing through water.

 

 

Long sleeves until 120F.

One of those large black bumblebees has been hurling itself violently at my office window on and off for the last two days, and I’m starting to worry for it.

In today’s fluff, I bring you another episode of “Selfie Request Fulfillment.” My minor obsession with background and lighting almost got in the way of this. We’re soon to paint all of our interior walls, you see. It’s hard to notice anything pleasing about your surroundings once you’ve finally made a plan to change them to your liking. It is for me, at least.

We bought this house complete with a fresh paint job, a beautiful paint job done with a color that inflicts a sallow glare onto everything in the path of a camera. When I take pics of food or objects, I fiddle with brightness and contrast on my phone to get the thing to look like its proper color. When the subject is human, I don’t do anything to the pics. I lack the patience for it.

Anyway, I figure that as long as I’m aware of how fortunate I am to have walls to paint, I can wish for them to be a different color without a twinge of first-world-problem discomfort.

Here’s yesterday:

 

Long sleeves until 120F

 

That newly thumb-tacked tapestry behind my desk will be moved to another wall after we’re done painting, as I have a different tapestry meant for that space. Looking at this pic, I can’t help but notice that the walls themselves don’t even look like their own color! The warm glow of the wall seen in the upper-right corner is an impostor. The bit of wall revealed in the bottom-left corner of the pic is more accurate… it’s not just a shadow.

The agony of visual deception! Fetch me my smelling salts! I shall retire to my chambers until the walls are painted, though I could make do with a simple fainting couch.

One morning in January, I sat in the living room convinced that there was a bull in my front yard, the ass end of which I could see from the window. I blinked. The bull was still there. I blinked again, and the bull was still there. After blinking a third time, I beheld a sheet draped over our young citrus tree, wrapped loosely and partially cascading. My husband had arranged this to protect the tree from low overnight temperatures. I was mildly disappointed to see that the bull was merely a tree wearing a sheet.

Thanks again for hanging out with me here, one and all!

 

 

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 3

You know what makes my day sometimes? Missed Connections on Craigslist. I love this collection of writing, these strangers posting missives to one another.

It’s the entries’ titles that interest me, because those are the hooks. When I come across an entry titled “Asparagus Whisperer,” I smile. Not enough can be said of spontaneous smiling! When you’re alone at your computer and you smile out of amusement or affection, it’s genuine. A heartfelt smile intended for no one is a gift to yourself.

I went to Craigslist Missed Connections today and was rewarded, I guess, by the season… people seem to have been especially inspired by each other lately.

So here – I suppose this really has become something of a series! – I’ve collected my favorite hooks gleaned from about a month’s worth of Missed Connections entries. Credit goes to these strangers who unwittingly stopped by to drop bits of poetry for me to gather and combine.

I’ve probably explained this before, but again for you newer readers: I don’t change anything in these entry titles, save for obvious typos, as “(sic)” would muddy up the poem. I don’t add or change punctuation or caps. All I do is quickly skim through the entries and pick out the titles that intrigue me in some way, and I copy/paste them into a Word document.

 

Missed Connections Exquisite Corpse, 3

Hello, we met in the psych ward.
you switched to pharmacology after seeing a psychic
“They” say tue change purse has all the answers

Punk rock dude on 7th ave and indian school.
Serving up delicious pie
From Albuquerque to Vegas via Phoenix

Roadrunner
Cruisin 7th. You took money for the show
Looking For the Classic Beauty at White Mountain Dispensary on 4/20

Asparagus Whisperer
Missing that comic book girlie
Studying Spanish

Thoughtful woman who stopped at the Clean Freak
Looking for Michael the Bearded Bartender
Silver Cadillac on cave creek

Looking for my up, up, and away
Missed and missing still

Woman crying in car
I was at the movies alone – you were too.

 

La Fin.

 

 

Say it like you mean it, take it how you want it.

As a post-postscript to forever (hopefully) close the subject of the A/C saga at our house, the roofing people showed up today to patch the hole in the roof. The lack of communication with the roofers was an okay reason to miss the gym at the last minute. I wasn’t going to complain about it! I would rather miss the gym than miss the roofing people, whose Next Available is in six weeks.

I did some housework, some push-ups, and some writing. I took selfies for my writing FB page profile, and also for my own amusement. That last was actually a matter of resisting the urge to re-watch my favorite movie. It seemed fine enough to wear the movie, instead.

 

Tombstone. Take it how you want it.

 

In addition to “endure the sun in your eyes long enough to take the picture,” my expression says, “Say it like you mean it. Take it how you want it.” That’s the other thing about today: I’m feeling defiant after reviewing a particular blood lab result. I’m not going to speak further of it yet, as I’ll know more in the near future. For now, can we just agree that the internet has the worst bedside manner? I’m not being flippant with that superlative. I really mean it. The internet does not care. When you have a weird lab result and the internet says it can only be one of two things, and it seems that one of the things is off the table, then you’re left wondering about the other thing.

You know it’s not a laboratory error, because your results came out the same in three consecutive tests since January. So you hope for an anomaly of a test result. You hope to be more anomalous than you already are.

Also, that isn’t a Tombstone t-shirt per se. It’s just an AZ shirt. It shows Wyatt Earp, his brothers, and Doc Holliday riding above the inscription “Department of Homeland Security.” Cheesy, I know, but I love it.

Back to the mention of Facebook, though! I’m thinking of taking inspiration from Callaghan and updating my professional (writing) page more. I’ll continue posting links to these blog entries on my personal FB page for you who anticipate them – thank you greatly for that! – but I’m going to stop saying that I intend to post there more spontaneously. I recently tried to get back into FB from my personal page, and it took five minutes for the nausea to set in. I’m irate enough as it is regarding our current state of affairs!

It may not seem like it from this post, but I’m really doing well and feeling well. I’m not a walking bad mood. Things are good. The roofing people came and patched the hole! A solid roof over one’s head cannot be overestimated.

 

 

April Favorites, of sorts. (ft. zombies et al)

To those of you who look forward to my “monthly favorites” lists, I must apologize again this year. I have no list for April. This isn’t to say that there were no “little things” to be enjoyed last month, because there were… mostly simple things, which often feel the most satisfying, anyway. Dried apples and fresh strawberries. Spring cactus blooms and perfect Arizona in-between weather. I discovered an exceptional hairstylist at the Supercuts down the street. Body Combat at my alternate gym seems promising in terms of consistency. Mundane little things like this make a big difference in the day-to-day, I find.

On the writing front, I’m crafting a plan for my second novel. It’s been too long since my last writing update, I know! I’ve been writing poetry all this time between novels. Poetry explains the world to me, and these days, there’s a lot of explaining to be done. Let us not speak of the explanation-resistant world here. This is a place for serious stuff, like witches and zombies.

If nothing else, April was a month of enjoyable horror entertainment. We went looking for it on Netflix and found ourselves catching up: we had the second season of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and the second and third seasons of Santa Clarita Diet. I delighted in the revelation that the former got darker, and the latter got funnier.

On the cinema side, we went to see Us, which left us adequately spooked and contemplative. Us exemplifies psychological horror done well. I love a film that makes you say, “Now that I know what I know, I want to see this movie again.” But I haven’t re-watched it yet, because the next movie I went to see was Pet Sematary. My thoughts on the re-make? I enjoyed it, but I prefer the original. I still get cold prickles recalling the image of Zelda dying in that bed in 1989, whereas Zelda in 2019’s re-make didn’t terrify me at all. Also, 1989 zombie cat creeped me out more effectively than 2019 zombie cat. See? I’m a simple and low-budget horror fan, happily freaking out before simple and low-budget horror flicks.

At any rate, I suppose April could be summed up with witches, the dark lord, zombies, and all other species of the undead.

May is looking good. It’s an odd-numbered month, which means it’s a Grand Sumo Highlights month!

I love this sumo slogan:

 

[art by sumofish]

On that note, Happy Friday Eve, all.

 

 

 

The eye of the tortoise. (Desert tortoise update!)

Again, I didn’t plan to post about Geronimo so soon after the last time. If it seems that I’m obsessed with my scale-baby, it’s because I totally am.

 

All clear in the laundry room, mommy. You’re welcome.

 

It occurred to me recently that our sweet, funny little dinosaur looked familiar. He reminded me of someone famous, an idea that became a matter worthy of serious investigation. Geronimo has a celebrity doppelganger! I must find out who! An image came to mind, and from that, a suspicion. I dug around online and confirmed it. Either Godzilla (1998) was deliberately created in the likeness of Geronimo’s kind, or the likeness was a coincidence. It’s that distinct shape of the face… the nose, the chin, the slope of the mouth, nearly everything!

 

Godzilla 1998 was inspired by someone, it seems.

 

Geronimo’s eyes are prettier, though.

 

Eye of the desert tortoise.

 

To use a well-worn cliché, I believe I’ve waxed poetic about Geronimo’s eyes before. They’re stunning. They’re green – often greenish-gray in appearance, depending – with black accents and a luminous white ring around each pupil. Geronimo’s eye looks like a total eclipse, and I do feel like I’m falling blindly into it when I stare too long. Gazing into Geronimo’s eyes is like an astronomical experience.

 

Eye of the desert tortoise

The eclipse that sees all.

 

Also, Geronimo is a much cuter monster than Godzilla, in my admittedly biased opinion. Godzilla wouldn’t love hibiscus flowers, now, would he? We would never see Godzilla devouring flowers. Hibiscus flowers remain Geronimo’s favorite food. Behold this video from today:

 

 

Geronimo’s continuing with his daily spring pattern: he emerges from his burrow in the mid-morning, eats, and retires back to his burrow for a nap at around noon. He comes out again in the late afternoon, often just to sit on his patio before going all the way in for bedtime.

 

Calling it a night in the early evening

 

He sleeps through everything, including theatrics such as yesterday’s: a micro-burst hit our neighborhood and felled our neighbors’ mesquite tree, the broken part of which ended up partially on the pavilion covering Geronimo’s burrow.

 

Fallen mesquite

 

That was a strange and magical bit of weather; we were surprised to have our first mesquite tree weather casualty as early as April. I have a feeling that Geronimo’s going to be ecstatic when this year’s monsoon season arrives!