Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Junk Room

My apartment in San Francisco had a small back room, which I imagine had a washer and dryer at some point because there was a hook up. There was a small window and built in shelves. I put all my cook books and magazines back there. I put two file cabinets with a board on top for a desk and there was a time when it was a fun little office. I sat there reading recipes and smoking cigarettes. I paid my bills and wrote in my journal. 
The first computer I got didn't fit on the desk so I ended up with a desk in the living room and the back room became a never ending battle zone in which random trash built up. Mostly cardboard boxes waiting to be hauled downstairs and lots of silly little decorative (sort of) things. A few of those things are hanging in my living room now. 
I really did work to keep it from being a junk room but it was hard. It was a room that was out of sight so as I cleaned the rest of the apartment stuff got dropped in the back room. I'm pretty sure I wrote about it from time to time. 
When the idea of moving to Hood River sparked I began working on the back room. Even before I was absolutely sure that I was going to move I started sorting and discarding. In the end I hauled the filing cabinets here filed with papers that I knew I probably didn't need, or want. And lots of other stuff.
The nest was sold as a two bedroom. I think it had been rented as a two bedroom. But it is also a "loft" and neither of the two "bedrooms" has full walls. Both are smallish. One has a shelf that opens above the kitchen sink so if someone is washing dishes when another person is trying to sleep ... well. I don't think roommates could be comfortable here but these places are rented out during the summer to people who come for the river sports. Most of them are out the door early in the morning. I've seen a few families. That probably works for short visits. 
The room behind the sink is my library. It's a room that will be years in the making. I've already had a wall filled with built in shelves and replaced the carpet. I might have a new chair for the living room soon so I'll put my old chair in the library. I already love being in there but it will be nice to be able to sit comfortably.
Because it wasn't a clearly defined room it has been the place where the junk gravitates. As I unpacked last year it was where boxes waited. And more than a year later there are things waiting. 
Since the new carpet was put in I am driven to keep it from being the junk room. I am going through those piles of papers. I can only do it for an hour or so at a time. I get completely overwhelmed. I have a copy of My Emily Dickenson, which one of my teachers spent hours xeroxing, breaking all kind of copy right laws. I also have the book. But how can I just toss the copy? Doesn't someone want to read it? Someone? Some where? I have a folder of old scripts from the classes I took in my attempt to become a voice over artist. No problem tossing them into the recycling bag. I have copies of my own writing and the writing of many of my former class mates. Those are miserable choices. Photos. Promo posters, my own and other people's. Menus from places I worked. I decided to keep them yesterday but I may be changing my mind today. In fact I should plan on doing this again in six months. I should just keep letting go. It's really not that much but it feels endless. 
And then there is the crazy amount of silly little things. Plastic animals from drinks in New York and San Francisco. Ash trays about which I am sentimental. Troll dolls from my teens that Mom saved and sent to me. A small plastic doll that a minister gave me when I was a child. Mardi Gras beads. I've never been to Mardi Gras. Match books. Rocks and shells. A stick that a small boy gave me in a park. Candles and incense. It's just crazy.  
I have a full box of cassette labels from the wanna be voice over time. People don't use cassettes anymore. Do they? I have note books and note books and note books. I really have to think about these. Will I use that much paper in my life time? I barely go through the stacks of scratch paper.  I filled the recycling bins in San Francisco several times before I left and I already have a grocery bag full here. 
The library is looking better every day. I moved all the books off of my old shelf and put them on the new wall shelf. I sit and stare at them. I move books around. I find an author on two different shelves and adjust everything to put them together. Auster needs to be next to Hustvedt. Someday they will all be filled and I'll be in my recliner reading. 
Years ago I read that Findhorn had lots of beautiful gardens but they always allowed a certain amount of space to grow wild. Something about leaving a place for spirits to express themselves. I've used that as a rational for my junk drawer. Every kitchen needs one. But I don't want a whole junk room. 
We'll see how it goes. 

Tuesday, September 02, 2014


I spent about an hour yesterday trying to find this article. I read it a few days ago and intended to write about it. Intending to write is my daily fail.
In the final days of my writing program we did a graduating class read. As I stood  reading my little offering I noticed an error. The piece I was reading had been read by my workshop: eight or ten people including a teacher, a friend in my program who was (is) a great editor, my thesis adviser, my goddaughter, not to mention myself during multiple rewrites. And yet there it was. A typo. I don't remember what it was. I do remember having trouble continuing because the urge to mark up the paper was overwhelming.
Not all of the edits I got in workshops were useful. It often seemed like my classmates were trying to convey literary sensibilities, usually giving me a feeling of futility. Generally speaking, I did not feel like they were getting what I was trying to do. I remember once writing a scene in which the dialogue included a repeated expletive that I ended with in rather than ing. One classmate circled all the ins and added the "missing" g. Seriously.
I have always taken comfort from a moment I saw on (maybe) 60 Minutes. Toni Morrison was looking at one of her books in a display case and she noticed a typo. She also talked about an ongoing argument she has with her editor regarding the Oxford comma.
It's nice to know there is brain science to explain typos. Comforting. It's frustrating though. Because, as it says in the article, other people catch them. When I was writing in school I put way more energy into editing than I do when I'm writing a blog. But I do make an effort even in a blog post. I usually walk away from a post for awhile. I read it out loud, which I usually find helpful. I've tried reading backwards and it does work but it's annoying. Blogging is fast writing, for me. I'm OK with some raggedy-ness. But I reread something after I publish and see something really stupid, often after I know it's been read by others and it just drives me crazy.
I know when to use it's and when to use its but I mess it up now and again when I'm writing fast. I regularly misspell their. I can spell it correctly out loud if you ask me but almost every time I type it I reverse the i and the e. I use made up words like dunno. I over use the word and on purpose although I do edit it out sometimes. I use ellipsis in ways I am told are incorrect but I don't care. And there are things I really just don't know.
I always got As in English but I went to a hippie high school for the last two years and I doubt I was corrected much. If I'd gone to college right out of high school I might have been learned more, or had correctness ground into me.  I went to college in my forties at which point I'd forgotten what I may have learned. And I went to a hippie college where teachers liked to talk about how the students didn't write well but no one seemed to want to teach a basics class. Within my reach there is a copy of Strunck and White and The Chicago Manuel of Style. They're pretty.
And then there's the problem of my ageing brain and the great fuzz in which I live. And my horrible typing.
Really some of my typos really are physical typos and some of them are just my brain glitching. I notice mistakes in other people's writing occasionally. I usually shrug it off but sometimes I feel judgy.
I just finished The Snow Queen. It is a lovely book with wonderful writing. And he used the word rampancy multiple times. It's a word that I may have read before but was compelled to look up every time I came across it and still am not sure I could use it correctly. I understood it in the context of each use but it's a wonderfully specific word. I felt like it popped up at least one time too often. Or maybe it just stuck out to me because I didn't feel like I had a grasp on it. Inscrutable is another word I look up every time I read it and still feel like I could not use it well.
Honestly,  I've given up. I will make mistakes. when I write. Some of them will be intentional. I just did a reread on this post and found two mistakes one of which was glaring and would have pissed me off if I'd clicked publish before I caught it.