Thursday, May 26, 2011


Save it for a rainy day

What a strange few weeks. Many many consecutive days of rain and fog had me feeling disoriented and a bit waterlogged. I kept doing things like, oh, drilling into my finger with a power drill while framing paintings. Or, say, dropping a just-finished painting face-down in the sand. I couldn't seem to get my bearings. But the sun has finally reemerged and the garden is mostly planted and I have been out painting again after all the weather, so I can't complain. (Can I?)

I did put many of the rainy days to good use. After taking a long look at our so-called guest room, I decided the time had come to clean it out. It was full of all the stuff from the bookshop, all those things I didn't know what to do with that wouldn't seem to go anywhere else in the house. Extra bookcases, chairs, supplies, and around forty cartons of books and paperwork and things from my old studio, which was in the back of the shop. The guest room was basically a giant pile of stuff with walls around it. I am haunted by the thought of being or becoming a hoarder, so I took action and spent a few days unpacking, sorting, giving away, throwing away, pricing books for my book booth at the antiques mall, and rediscovering neat bits of this and that from twenty years of book buying and selling. It felt like an episode of This is Your Life. I found my teenage diaries, correspondence from college, souvenirs from my first bookstore job, broadsides and books I'd made when I was obsessed with letterpress printing, old photos of all my punk friends, artwork from the guy I was engaged to before I met Ryan (we now call those years BR - Before Ry), abandoned projects, and of course everything from my book business - beginning, middle, to now. Also back-issues of magazines - Firsts, OP, Fine Books & Collections, even some of the old AB that I'd saved, plus the first several years of The Believer, and many fabulous old booksellers' catalogues. They are so heavy and they take up so much space, both in my brain and in actuality. But I love them. What to do? What a mess!

In short, over the course of a week I ended up revisiting most everything I've experienced thus far in life. Some of the boxes were like Andy Warhol time capsules. I even found some money - the first dollar I made at the bookshop. The room is not clean yet, but most of the stuff is gone. The boxes, well, they are half gone, but to be honest some are only sorted out and repacked. Some stuff is just so sticky - so hard to get rid of. The magazines are still hovering in limbo but I've dealt with most everything else. It was a weird project, and at first only served to contribute to my general feeling of disorientation. But as the room cleared out the skies cleared too, and so has my head. Today I am humming that Jayhawks song and feeling pretty good.

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