Come March With Me

03/15/2011

what madness is this?

Urgency Day 157

500 Things Items 329-343: 14 Books

  • History: Oldest acquisition (1970’s) Hamilton’s Mythology; Newest (2008) The Fountainhead
  • Value: Lesson learned- Sam will never read Ayn Rand
  • Parting Pain: I truly enjoyed placing Rand on the left
  • Un-possessing: Donations

Beware.

The original quirky book read by our Quirky Book Club, the ad hoc group my sister and I formed years ago, was Calendar by David Ewing Duncan. Among many fascinating subjects, Duncan describes the incredibly cumbersome Roman calendar which is the basis for Shakespeare’s oft-quoted but generally misunderstood warning:

Beware the Ides of March.

Now, I’m usually one to say, if it’s a reference from Mr. Shakespeare, that’s good enough for me. End of discussion.  In this case, however, I must point out that, since I am not Julius Caesar, I am free to enjoy March 15th. In fact, I love every single one of March’s 31 fascinating, meteorologically-perplexing days! Here are just a few of my highly subjective reasons for happily Marching:

  • My wedding anniversary;
  • My darling’s birthday;
  • My own silly birthday (thanks, mom, for the heavy lifting);
  • The beginning of cycling season (usually);
  • Spring Break whoo hoo! (often);
  • March Madness.

Oops, no wait: Make that

MARCH MADNESS!

I am a complete and total sucker for college hoops. In March. Save all those pre-Dance games for sorting out bids; I couldn’t care less. But come March, oh yeah, I can tell you the difference between Big Blue and a Blue Devil; a Patriot and a Commodore; a Hoya and a Husky. Scoffing right now? Is it because my references were too easy (high five!) or too obscure?

Well, that can be remedied.

In an attempt to offset my greatly expanded television viewing during the weeks of Madly Marching—and frankly, to get caught up on my 500 Things Project— I am donating 14 books to my wonderful public library. At that time, I will check out 6 books. These will correspond to each of the six rounds of the tournament.  I will have them read by April 4th, the night of the NCAA Men’s Final. Oh yes I will.

Game On.

Today, on the Ides, I will give you one “warning:” My bracket, my annual attempt to presciently select the outcomes of more than 60 games; to balance the gimmes and the upsets, the fervent wishes of my heart and cold demands of statistics; to conjure the holy grail, The Perfect Bracket, and go on to greater glory with absolutely NO MONETARY REMUNERATION, Mr. Taxman: my beloved bracket? Well, it sucks. Always.

But hey!

My trash talk flows in couplets that rhyme.

This is why March is my perfect time.

(Beware)


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Three other raincoats might be enough...

Urgency Day 288

500 Things Item 213: My 4th Favorite Raincoat

  • History: Purchased on sale despite being too large
  • Value: Hardly used (see above)
  • Parting Pain: None
  • Un-possessing: Donation

I have been discontent for awhile.

Dis: A prefix meaning not.

I am discontent with our employed situation, vis a vis, it being in the category of “un.”

Un: Also a prefix meaning not, apart, asunder; a reversal.

A reversal: I love being dis-contented:  becoming “un” with my contents.

English majors—again, yours truly– enjoy hyphenating words to see if new meanings are revealed. Dis-cover was especially popular in Shakespearean-feminist criticism, with its slightly naughty innuendo and meta-suggestiveness. As we oh-so-clever grad students liked to say, “I never meta-hyphen I didn’t like.”

I knew I was going to love an article I spotted in The New York Times this morning, “Accumulation And Its Discontents” by Penelope Green. If you are interested in the subjects of collecting, hoarding and/or the fear of un-possessing possessions, I highly recommend this article to you. Here’s a section that discusses the very mindset I am considering in my 500 Things project:

I got this from Aunt Maria: I can’t get rid of it. I spent a lot of money on this; I can’t get rid of it. I wore this a year ago, I might want to wear it again; I can’t get rid of it. If I get rid of it, I’ve lost all these opportunities.

It’s the old Rainy Day trap:

  • Just in case.
  • What if…?
  • I might need it.

Some unforeseen event might finally compel us to use something that’s been utterly and completely neglected for months or even years. It might. There’s no getting around it:  It just might.

Or. What I believe happens more often at moments of need or desire? Shopping.

If “mights” speak to you, I truly think you should be content with your stuff. If hyphens are more your thing, you might enjoy dis-covering your inner dis-contenter with me.

Once and for all, I want to be un-possessed of my discontent.


If this picture could talk, would it scream?

Urgency Day 295

500 Things Project: An Inventory Before Item 200!

  • History: Highlights (and a lowlight) of 199 Things
  • Value: A pause to remember and refresh
  • Parting Pain: Not any so far (okay, significant unparting pain)
  • Un-possessing: Already achieved– with one notable exception!

Do you ever make a wrong turn?

Sure. Most people do, or at least they did before the GPS autonavigators took over. When you did, did you ever wish you had a picture of the moment you went cruising right by your turn? What would it reveal? Would it show you were looking the wrong way? Watching another person? Singing along with your soundtrack? Daydreaming?

Every time I take a picture of an item I’m un-possessing for this blog, I wish I had a picture of the moment I purchased it.

Man, I would scrutinize those pictures something fierce. Was I looking the wrong way? Watching another person? Singing along with my soundtrack? Daydreaming? I would love to recreate my thinking at the point of each purchase, because I am just consumed with curiosity:

How in the world did I get all this stuff?

I’m at a milestone with the 500 Things project: Item 200. I keep thinking about something my friend Elizabeth said about my project on her blog, that I am clearing out my house one bookshelf at a time. She is spot on. One bookshelf, one drawer, one bin at a time; I will clear out my crap. Individual small items may not make much of an impression, but the cumulative effect is becoming significant. And the shame of it all is, it’s all really unnecessary stuff.

Channeling my inner Lady Macbeth, Out, damn’d stuff, out!

…but I guess a few bigger ticket items might be satisfying, too.

So, today’s “item” is a bit of a departure. Not a big ticket item just yet—those will come! Today I offer a recap to clear out the cobwebs before moving forward.

199/500 Things: The Project, So Far.

  • Clothing, shoes, accessories: 26 individual items (plus 2 overstuffed bags)
  • Household items: 54 items (plus 1 box of assorted school supplies)
  • Kitchen items: 26
  • Books: 160
  • VHS tapes, DVDs and CDs: 29
  • Games, toys, sporting goods: 22

That’s:  26 + 54 + 26 + 160 + 29 + 22 Things.

Does anything jump out at you? I’m a bit over 199 things. I’ve actually un-possessed 317 Things! (Plus 2 overstuffed bags and 1 box.) Even taking out the one day, bookshelf-clearing effort of 127 books, I’m at 190 Things– plus 2 overstuffed bags and 1 box, which I assure you held way more than 9 things.

I really don’t know whether to crow or cry.

A few observations:

I look around at the amount of stuff remaining: the overflowing drawers; the cabinets full of hand-me-downs and still-to-pass-alongs; toys and linens and CDs and papers; the three identical vases stacked behind the other two identical vases; bin after bin, shelf after shelf; mistake after mistake, and I think the only thing I can think:

A reckoning is coming...

Let’s get rid of 199 more!

Or 317, and YES!

I am counting!


 

Thank you, Vicky

Recently, I said that I thought my blog should have been called  “The Laundry Room.”

I don’t really.

 

In fact, every day I realize how much more affinity I have for the concept of process over product.

I’m a Zen-girl, though right now, Zen-like calm eludes me.

I wish I could evoke the serenity of Atticus Finch. How did he do it? Do you think he meditated? Probably not. More likely, it’s in your wiring: you’re either serene by nature or you’re a mess who has to work really really hard most days just to hold it together. I think I’ve used the phrase “blind panic” five times in the last few days to describe my mental state. I’m definitely not in my happy place.

But I do have a deep appreciation for living a life without finish lines, of process not product.

Lots of activities are sharply defined. They have beginnings and endings and sometimes even gold stars and participation trophies. That’s fine, I just don’t happen to do any of those things. And I’ve been asked through the years with varying degrees of interest and pointedness,

“So, what do you do?”

“So, what do you do?”

<deep deep sigh>

When I was a sleep-deprived new mom, I would shoot back, “About what?”

When I was a little better rested, I would deflect with, “Oh, you know, I used to study Shakespeare,” because I thought that would suggest that, despite the enervating whiff of capitulation, at one time I had been clever.

It took me a long time before I learned to smile at the questioner and respond,

“Thanks for asking. I’m the glue.”

I’m really sincere when I thank people for asking. What I realized through a million gruesomely awkward conversations is that people mostly just want to talk about themselves. We are all our own most fascinating subjects. So when someone expresses interest, I am sincerely appreciative.

Gratitude is a universal principal, and this I know for sure:

I am grateful.

I have received so many expressions of love and support– I am tearing up right now in befuddled amazement. But the tempo of loving concern has definitely increased in the last few weeks, as our troubles continue and deepen.

I am fully immersed in the process-phase now, no finish line in sight.

And what do I do?

I say thank you.

(And thanks for asking.)

Here’s a sampling of gratitude.

Thank you, Donna and Jim

Thanks, KK (and John)

Thank you, Sherry

Thank you, Sheryl

Thanks, Erin and Phil (you too, Bodhi)

Thank you, Laura and Sam

Thanks, Elizabeth (htam tuoba).

Thanks, Sean and Syd.

Thanks, Mom (you too, Mel)

Thank you, Paul

Thank you, Lois

Thank you, Toni

Radiant Laura

05/05/2010

When you look at this picture, what do you see?

I see radiance.

That’s Laura with Sam. My niece, our niece, Sam’s cousin, Laura.

She’s also one of the amazing Lamp Lighters.

In truth, Laura radiates light herself.

I have never met anyone who loves knowledge as much as Laura. Not just the knowing, but the pursuit of knowledge. The sweep of her interests is astonishing. For proof, here are but two: Shakespeare and Astronomy. In celebration of that, I offer her this:

12 of the moons of Uranus bear names from the Bard’s plays.

  • Titania, Oberon and Puck
  • Miranda, Rosalind and Portia
  • Juliet, Desdemona and Bianca
  • Ophelia, Cressida and Cordelia

She will delight in that, but none, not one of those heavenly lights, compares to our lovely Laura.

When Laura arrives,

there is adventure;

there is excitement;

there is fun.

Sam learns to swing dance.

I learn Russian (ya teebya liu-BLU!).

Paul learns “he ain’t all that.” (No, not really; Bad-ass Laura loves her puzzle buddy!)

When Laura arrives,

we are movie stars.

Laura writes movies. And directs them. And creates props for them. And sings in them. And dances in them. And we are lucky enough to get swept up in her magic.

We become

  • pirates and Klingons,
  • princesses and rogues,
  • travelers and castaways.

In our plodding reality, we are hardly any of these.

But the real cherry on top?

Because of Laura, all the excitement is documented. Preserved and captured and set to music.

And password protected.

The first time the poet Petrarch saw his inspiration, Laura de Noves, he wrote that her radiance obscured the sun:

It was the day the sun’s ray turned pale.”

Our Laura is that kind of sun-obscuring radiant.

Happy birthday,  dearest Laura.


Urgency Day: 483

500 Things Item 18: Vacancy Light Sensor

  • Left behind by previous owners
  • Never opened/used
  • Zero parting pain
  • Donate or yard sale

Happy Shakespeare Day!

Officially, the 394th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Unofficially, but by tradition, the 456th anniversary of his birth. Neat, huh!

The unofficialness of his birth date has to with our only having official documentation of his baptism on April 26, 1554. But during this time, it was customary to baptize babies three days after their birth. Hence, the very cool opportunity to celebrate both biographical details conveniently on one rockin’ honorificabilitudinitatibus day (really, Love’s Labor’s Lost, 5.1.41)

His birthday is, of course, a matter of some controversy, as are so many things about the Greatest Genius Who Has Ever Lived. And why is it that so many small-minded people make much ado about nothing over birth certificates!

And what the heck does all this have to do with the light sensor I listed today?

Initially, it suggested to me using a quote such as “What light through yonder window breaks.” But then I realized the function of the sensor is to turn off the lights in a vacant room, which wouldn’t have helped poor Romeo much.

So then I thought, maybe a quote about deception, since the point of the device is to deceive people that you are home when you are traveling. Try, say, Iago, “I am not what I am.” But upon closer inspection of the package, that’s not at all the function of this sensor. It simply turns off the lights if you leave a room and forget to turn them off. Only I was deceived there.

Well, I am all for controlling the electrical “ghost load,” the number of unnecessarily plugged-in and/or turned-on electric devices in our homes and offices.

Fellow Earth-Day-is-EVERY-Day Believers:

The ghost load is a huge drain on the grid!

And Lord knows, I am the member of our household who acts as the light police, turning off abandoned lights and chastising, admonishing and encouraging my housemates to do the same.

Good, a ghost quote then. “I’ll make a ghost of him that let’s me,” wherein I am making ghosts of left-on lights? That’s a stretch, and of course, Hamlet meant “hinder” when he said “let.” Yikes.

Oh bloody hell. I tell you what. Celebrate Shakespeare Day however you wish. With a favorite quote or movie version of a play, or any of several Star Trek references (my fave: the gang rehearsing scenes from Midsummer in “Time’s Arrow, pt. 2”), some Bard-inspired music (I love Mendelssohn’s Midsummer and Prokofiev’s R&J), and most certainly with a toast:

It’s not enough to speak, but to speak true.

(Midsummer again— recently revisited, so on my mind)

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.

(All’s Well…)


I wish all of you, and especially my friend Cable,

a very happy Shakespeare Day.


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