The First-World Problems of an English Major.

A fact of life: One never knows how many Stephen King books one owns until one moves. And yes, “Stephen King” is an adjective.

Decent progress has been made in the unpacking arena. I’ve now arrived at the books part of it, and… and nothing. I’ve just arrived. And I’ve taken the books out of the boxes – go me! But that’s where my victory dance ends, because now I have to decide how to sort all the books, and for some reason, I’m overwhelmed.

Well, I know why. It’s because this move is the last move for the foreseeable future; as far as I’m concerned, this abode is the forever abode, so my OCD-tendency-leaning self won’t let me get away with shoving books on the shelves every which way “because we’re going to move one day anyway” anymore.

I’ve carried books around with me all of my life. Over the years, I’ve sold, traded, donated and given away hundreds of books. I’ve lost some; I’ve “lent” some. But somehow, I still always move with at least ten good-size boxes of books.  My current collection includes some that I’d left in France (a pile of Shakespeare and some Russian lit, some of them duplicates, mysteriously enough) in my attempt to bring down the weight of our overseas shipping, and I have a small stack set aside for a garage sale we’re planning in the upcoming weeks. Still, I’m now confronted by piles like this:

 

Book piles in the living room.

Book piles in the living room.

 

And this:

 

Piles of books on the desk in the guest bedroom.

Piles of books on the desk in the guest bedroom.

 

And that’s not all of it. I also have a pile of books about Buddhism/eastern philosophy beneath the Butsudan, a pile of cookbooks tucked away in the kitchen, a pile of random books on the big bookcase in the dining area and a smattering of books in my office. And these are all just my books we’re talking about… Callaghan, too, has lots of books in his office.

This is what the inside of my mind looks like when I’m standing before these books:

Should I group them by century? Should I separate the American lit from the British lit? Should I separate them by century and group the Americans and Brits within the centuries? Should I group all the anthologies together, or should I put the poetry anthologies in the poetry section? Should I mix the pocket-size books with the trade paper and hardcover books? If I lump all the pocketbooks together, should I organize them by genre, or alphabetically by author, or both? Should I categorize the books by genre, only? Should I nest genres within nationalities within centuries (i.e. 19th-century British Romantics)? Should I mesh poetry and prose within those groupings, or should I keep poetry and prose separate? And which groups should I position where in the bookcase? Should I group the Russian lit alongside the British lit alongside the American lit, or would the Russian lit make more sense neighboring the philosophy section? Should I line the entire top of the bookshelves with poetry volumes, using them to bridge the two? Should I shelve the poets in alphabetical order? How should I organize the poetry… by era, or by style? If the era and style are inseparable (as with the confessionalists, the post-modern poets, the New York School, the avant-garde imagists, the Black Mountain poets, etc.), should I attempt to merge all the books similarly? What about my textbooks and essays about poetry and prose… should I put them with their authors, or in a category of their own? Should I put the surrealism section next to the magical realism section, or should I put the surrealists next to the poets? Should I put the biographies and autobiographies of poets and authors with the books those poets and authors have authored, or should I make a separate category for biographies and autobiographies? What about the smaller sections like classical Greek lit, medieval lit and non-Shakespearean drama? Should I separate Shakespeare’s poetry from his dramas, or keep them all together in the Elizabethan section? (Would it be weirder to have a poetry section without Shakespeare’s poems, or to have a Shakespeare section without his poems?) What about the contemporary literature? The non-fiction? Should I separate the political non-fiction from the general non-fiction? What about creative non-fiction? What about my western religious texts? The feminist texts? Should I group my books in French together, separate from the books in English, or should I merge them?

Etc., etc., etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

I’ve been staring at these piles of books for a few days now.

I’ve already decided to put reference books and instructional books, including all of my French grammar books and dictionaries, in the big bookshelf in the dining area.

I’m hoping that somehow, my collections of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Lee Child, J.K. Rowling, Anne Rice and the like, along with random other books, will all fit in the tall, narrow bookcase in the guest bedroom. I like the idea of stocking that room with brain candy for visitors who are on vacation (Callaghan’s going to add some books in French for our visitors from France).

None of these considerations came into play in the apartment we’d just vacated. I knew it was temporary, so I created double rows of books in some parts and didn’t care that the ones in the back rows weren’t visible. In this house, though, I want to be able to see every single book, and I want to be able to find books easily. In the past, I’d typically arranged books alphabetically, by author. I’m craving that level of organization in my life again because I’m craving rootedness. I feel like if my books are in order, then my life will be in order. When I was a kid in grade school, some of my friends used to tease me about my reading, saying, Kristi’s going to turn into a book! Maybe that’s finally happened.

On that note, I’m off to spend the day away from the office, going to appointments, seeing people, running errands, and so on. Happy Friday, All!

Transitions! (New Schedule)

I’ve been inconsistent here these last few weeks as I’ve been adjusting to a new schedule, namely, having one again.

 

My agenda (Franklin-Covey)

My agenda (Franklin-Covey)

 

Naturally cut out for a structured life, I thrive in the rootedness that routine provides. Living with a crazy spontaneous artist has been a healthy counter-balance to this, but I’m happy to resume the habit of setting the alarm and getting out of the house by a certain time in the mornings. This has required re-calibration of my inner clocks, which have been at liberty to run amok for a long time now, it seems!

While I personally enjoy mapping out my day, it’s been a while since I’ve done it on a regular basis, so being able to ease back into the practice as my current circumstances allow has been a fortunate thing.

My inner clocks are usually in need of re-calibration, anyway. For one thing, they often tick at odds with other peoples’ inner clocks. I’m remembering how my X had been put-upon by my middle-of-the-night inner clock when it would clang, “YAY ENERGY!!! IT’S PAST MIDNIGHT – NOW IS THE PERFECT TIME TO CLEAN THE BATHROOM!!”

“I just don’t understand it,” he’d mutter with annoyance, pillow half over his head as I whizzed around (though silently, ninja-like, so I never really understand why it bothered him) with the all-purpose spray cleaner. “It’s like you get a second burst of energy in the middle of the night.”

“Energy” was the operative word, I guess. He was sensitive to the energies of others; regardless of my earnest attempts at silence, the underlying waves of my stirred-up, midnight oil energy disturbed his own sleep schedule. The poor guy had a hard time getting me to sleep “early,” but over time he did manage to cure me of my inability to resist the urge to clean things at 2:00AM.

Now, I hardly clean at all.

See how that works? My X had to put up with me cleaning the bathroom in the middle of the night. Now, Callaghan has to put up with me not cleaning. (I exaggerate. Of course I clean… every once in a while. He cleans the bathroom more often than I do, though.)

In my defense, I don’t think I ever actually planned to clean the bathroom in the middle of the night. It always started rather innocuously. I’ll just wipe this area here around the sink. Then, since I’m doing that, I might as well do the mirror. A process would emerge. Next thing I knew, the whole bathroom would be underway.

Where my X had to deal with my late-night cleaning inclinations, Callaghan has to deal with my late-night, over-active train of thought. Such as it is that he’s established what he calls the “11:00PM Rule,” meaning, he’s placed a moratorium on “thinking about things” at 11PM. That’s right… 11:00PM is Last Call for “freaking out” at our place. “Otherwise, you wouldn’t ever sleep,” he says, reasonably.

And it’s true… I’ve had a hard time falling asleep for years now. Recently, too, this all changed, but not because of the 11:00PM Rule. The change just happened to coincide with when I started oil-pulling exactly two weeks ago. Somehow, I haven’t experienced insomnia since Day One of experimentation with that ancient and now-trendy practice. This was not an effect I’d anticipated when I started. It’s been completely wonderful.

 

My alarm clock. It's 11:00PM!

My alarm clock. It’s 11:00PM!

 

Anyway, all of this to say that my schedule has changed, including my writing schedule here… I’m in a transition phase, and things will even out eventually!