Warning-housewife-y post to follow

Remember the organization mission? I bought the book that added to the clutter that overwhelms our living space and irritates my irritable spouse? Well, the book, as it turns out, may be more than just more clutter in an ugly orange cover. (I like orange. But not "Books for Dummies" orange. Their graphic designer should be--I don't know. Forced to look at pictures of puppies in flowers and motivational posters with his eyes held open a la Clockwork Orange. But that's mean, and as usual, I digress.)

Today, motivated by avoidance of an even more onerous task, I decided to clean out the bathroom cupboard. This is really almost a closet--six feet high, three feet wide and nearly as deep. It stores our towels, assorted toiletries, lots of OTC medication, random freebies from cosmetics counters and hotel bathrooms, a footbath, a heating pad, a hot water bottle...I could go on, but I'll spare you. With much of our house looking so good (it being on the market and all, and therefore needing to be presentable at the drop of a broker's cell phone) the bathroom, the ugliest room in the house by far, has really been bugging me.

So the book says, when cleaning out a space, here's what you do. Promise yourself at least fifteen minutes with no distractions. (I almost got distracted when I found the magazine basket that we'd shoved into the cupboard at the last minute before the open house--there was a Rosengarten Report in there, after all, but I held myself back.) Get five boxes (I used grocery and garbage bags) and label them--trash, fix it, put away, pass on, mystery. (I love that last label. I could use more stuff for that bag, but that's a subject for another post.) This seemed dopey, a waste of time, but I was following directions today (maybe inserting order into my life as a defense against the stress brought on by the impending State of the Union Address? Bush speaking always makes me twitchy--the H and I dealt with it by ignoring the speech entirely and going out for sushi and sake. Ahhh.) and so I did it. All except for labelling the trash bag, which seemed like overkill.

Then, you take everything out, and one item at a time, place it in the appropriate bag. If you haven't used it in a year, maybe you should throw it away. If it's broken, can you--will you--really fix it? Or is it trash. If you haven't used it in a year, and cannot bear to throw it away (I hate throwing stuff away) can you pass it on to someone else who could use it now? And so on.

Ok, the dopey system--genius.

In twenty minutes, I threw away a giant bag of trash. Loaded a small bag of stuff into my car to give away to a thrift store. Sorted kids' meds from adults', organized my and the H's toiletries into separate sections in the cupboard, put all my hair stuff (I have lots of hair, and therefore lots of stuff) in one drawer, put all my nail polish (for someone who gets manicures about five times a year, I own a shitload of nail polish--what's that about?) Do the rest of you know about this? Is this one of the obvious, un-secrets of the universe that my mother failed to share with me? Have I been going through life like someone with lettue in her teeth while the rest of you point and stare, because I just cannot see my own insufficiency? Ok. I'm breathing.

I found all the extra cotton pads (five sleeves of them), the missing box of Q-Tips that led me to buy a new box last week, three (three!) bottles of a hair conditioner I like (I guess I kept thinking I'd run out and bought more? Who the hell knows.) You get the idea. If I were more of a freak, I'd take a picture of the damn closet and make you look at it. It's that good. But I'm not that bad. Yet. But who knows what will happen when I read Chapter 3.


Where I am these days

At long last, the site I'm writing for has gone live and public. Please, visit culturecloud, not just to see what I'm writing about (it will all seem familiar to you, I'm quite certain) but to help build the site. There are a lot of cool people already writing and posting (not just me!) and you should be there, too.



My life of late has a whole lot of counting down, of numerical series. The last week of December, I decided I'd try to work out 84 times by the end of March. (The fact that that's almost impossible unless I exercise every day, or sometimes twice a day--unlikely--is beside the point. The closer I can get to that number, the happier I will be.) I was clicking along at 4-5 workouts per week, but then the end of last week, and this weekend, things fell apart a bit. Today, if my recollection is correct, got me down to 73. I'm sure I don't need to point out that there are exactly 74 days to go until March 31.

Then there are the house numbers. How many days until we close on the new house? We must close by March 2 to keep our loan, the sellers want us to close around February 5, the ever-accomodating state of New York gives us an automatic 30 day extension on our escrow, as they should, given the two (2) separate 1 (one) percent taxes they will levy upon the purchase price of our new home (let's not discuss that number, shall we?) immediately upon said close.

Ah, but we're not done. What number describes our house's worth? Where does its putative price fall in the spectrum of local housing inventory? There's not much for sale at our price point (again, let's just not go there) which might be good...or, might be bad. Interest rates are low again, though, and that bodes well...And what date will the listing officially begin? When will the house be open? How many of the thousand (yes, you read that right) photographs the lovely architectural photographer took will he use in the house's very own website? Welcome, my dear ones, to the realm of mid-range Los Angeles property sales. It's the wild west, with lots of zeroes.

All numbers. My whole life, at least the part I can remember, which is mostly the part since I started school, I have envisioned the calendar as a physical thing, a visual display of quantitative information la Edward Tufte...my calendar starts with 9, or September, in a nice corner on the right. There's a left turn long about October/November (ten, eleven) moving into twelve, at the upper left corner of the square we're forming. January, one, is around the bend, heading down through February, March, and around April, we start moving across through spring until summer takes us up the right side of the square back to September, where it all starts again. The shape formed by this sequence isn't always precisely square, but it is always precise. I always envision the passage of time along a geometric path, and the beginnings and endings are always the same. But now, with the cliched acceleration of time increasing along with my age, the path through the year feels more and more like a race. Do I need all these numbers to gauge my progress?

Numbers are hugely important to both my children, it seems. Dido is obsessed with age as a relative notion--in the preschool set (maybe more because his school has a multiage classroom) who is older than whom is a great predictor of pecking order and playground power. The Babe is excited by numbers, and starting to learn what they mean, though when it comes to her own identity, her number is fixed: if you ask her how old she is, she will always, always respond "Tree!" No discussion of her upcoming birthday number TWO will change her exuberant reply.

I'm not sure what all this adds up to, if anything. I have a suspicion that the recent imposition of organization and order upon my normally chaotic life (thank you, pending real estate transaction--nothing like having to show your house to strangers and snotty brokers to get you to throw shit out) has something to do with the comfort I am finding in lists and series. Of course, I also worry that as I run from the fear of leaving my home and friends, I am retreating to this world of easy labels and quantifiable achievement in order to hold tears at bay. We'll see.


Attention span = 0

What is with me lately? Before the chaos of the pre-Christmas painting and home repair mania, I felt pretty focused and in control, by which I mean, most of the stuff that needed to get done did, and I managed to do some writing I liked (at the site which I will, I promise, eventually link to here--I think we go live in about two weeks) and feel like mostly, I was paying attention to the people I needed to and even, a bit, to myself. But the last week has felt like a windstorm, one in which I'm hanging on while debris blows past my ears and renders me deaf, blind and dumb. My focus is terrible, I'm having trouble finishing articles I've already started for the other website, and just sitting down and paying attention is excruciating.

At the risk of disappearing into a sinkhole of self-deprecation, I will announce with pride that I exercised five of the last seven days, in spite of a fly-by by the flu over New Year's. Sadly, today's gym experience was cut short when my friend's son, who was having a playdate with the Babe in the glorious free-with-membership childcare at the Hollywood Y, was bitten--in the face--by another child. Oh dear. Ironically, my friend's son (if not my poor friend, who was pretty shaken) was ultimately nonplussed and eager to go back into the playroom, but the Babe was having none of it. So after 25 minutes of cardio, off we all went to the Griffith Park pony rides. "Ha ha" has finally evolved into "horsey" for my uber-verbal little darling, which makes me both sad and proud, and she got her equine fix today, taking eight happy laps around the ring ("Again!" Again!" So sweet.)

I realized a few weeks ago that in order to maintain health (and we'll leave sanity for another day's discussion/post) I need three things, at a minimum: sleep, exercise, and meditation. They work together, meaning, just one of the trio is ok, but when I have all three, all three work better. When I exercise, I sleep more easily, more deeply, and better. Ditto with meditation, though regular, twice a day meditation does seem to produced the effect (advertised by my teachers when I learned the techniques in August) of reducing sleep requirements, and/or, increasing energy levels. When I sleep enough, I eat more healthfully, since sleep deprivation often creates a feeling of hunger (trying to pump up energy by consuming more of it.) Sleep deprivation also, I am certain (and this is my theory, one that I've never read anywhere but after having two kids, and dealing with massive sleep deprivation while they were babies, it makes sense) lowers my metabolic rate, while regular exercise, even the bare minimum (which, sadly, for me, is 45 minutes five to seven times per week) has a remarkable upward push on my metabolism. The meditation gurus swear that meditation does the same; I don't know, but again, there is a real increase in energy when I experience "quality" meditation on a regular, twice a day schedule. Ah. There's a rub. "Regular?" "Twice a day?" I can count the number of times I've had two full, twenty minute meditation sessions in a single day during the last two months on one hand. Sad.

So...I'm going to work on that one. One of the bloggers I most treasure reading, Lisa of A Bird in the Hand, has a journaling project this year--she's got a new journal, in which she'll write or make art on one page, every day (or, at least, that's her goal, and she seems incredibly disciplined, so I expect she'll do it!)--and I'm trying to figure out how to emulate it. My darling friend Dorrie gave me a beautiful gold-bound blank book for my birthday this year, and it's sitting here, next to my bed. I used to start making my lists for the organization project, but maybe I can find a way to expand its use in some Bird-esque way... I'm not much for journaling (um, aren't you blogging? isn't that the same thing, but lazier, because it's on the computer? Yep. Ok, maybe I do like keeping a journal...but apparently only a public one. Private journals (and this is just me, I know they're incredibly important to many, many people, including people I adore) always seemed so navel-gazing to me. I mean, I wasn't that interested in all that self-examination. Of course, then I went into analysis, and....

And, now I ramble. Publicly. On my blog. But at least I was able to write this entire post without getting distracted, clicking away to Defamer, or Perez Hilton, or The Superficial, or The Wednesday Chef. So maybe I'm making progress after all..