Tome Towers (Photo credit: Kieran Lynam)
I looked up and suddenly its Friday again. I don’t know where the time goes. As usual, I accomplished little other than reading this week. I finally finished the Beevor book on WWII and not too soon. I learned many things, and came to have an even greater appreciation of people’s lives during and afterward.
For example, the turmoil and upheaval of that era certainly contributed to many social changes in the 1950s and the 1960s, such as the turn toward families and children (Baby Boom) followed by the new push for women’s rights as they rebelled at the attempt to push them back into boxes. The parallel push for Civil Rights for all is an echo of the wild swings from conservatism to radicalism to conservatism to confusion in later decades.
Thus it seems fitting that I am leaving WWII for a while, maybe forever, and put aside my books on Lincoln and the Civil War, to read something a bit lighter. I have discovered and purchased two new books in recent days:
1/ In Praise of Messy Lives: Essays by Katie Roiphe, and
2/ Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things by Randy Frost.
I discovered the first book from a NYTimes review and the second from Paula Span’s blog, The New Old Age.
I will have more to say about these books in coming days.
The Roiphe book appealed to me because I have led a messy life which is painful to me, even if interesting to others. Over the years, I have given many folks a good laugh, but I find it difficult to share many things today. It is not too much to say that at times my life has resembled a Woody Allen if not a Coen Brothers movie. (Where do you think they get their stuff?)
Most of the people involved other than me are still alive and at least 2 or 3 of them have threatened me with “cutting off all connections” if I write about them. Thus, I must tread carefully or change the names to protect the innocent.
Roiphe says she became interested in why people find the new comedy series Mad Men so appealing. (Or for that matter, why does anyone care about Anna Karenina?)
So far, I have read Roiphe’s Jane Austen essay, and I liked the essay so much I will read more of them. Roiphe sounds a bit like Zadie Smith and I love Zadie Smith.
Randy Frost writes about an ailment that particularly affects older people….hoarding or hanging on to stuff. I can’t tell you how many seminars David and I have attended on ‘downsizing’, junk removal, getting rid of stuff. Slowly this is happening, although we still manage to haul more stuff into the house. Think of Sisyphus.
For example, yesterday, I was looking for an extension cord so that I could plug in my new tree (number 1, another is on its way!!) David looked in his shop and found a handful of cords without heads…just cords mind you. I finally located a working cord in my Christmas stuff.
The Institute of Mental Health designated hoarding a psychological problem in the forthcoming (spring) updated DSM (diagnostic statistical manual) used by professionals to assist in diagnosing mental illnesses. When I read the review of the Frost book to David, he immediately left to buy another box of Hefty trash bags for continuing the ‘big cleanup’ of his room.
Last week we hauled 3-4 huge bags filled with legal paperwork from a law suit years ago involving David’s brother and EX-wife and a squabble over beachfront property in NC. The beachfront returned to the sea a while back, the brother is long dead, and David’s EX remarried over 35 years ago, so we decided it was time to take the papers to the county burn center.
You see, one of the things that attracted David and me is that we both had lived messy lives and have much in common, including a love of “stuff” (with me its books, magazines, letters and old photos, with him its nonworking extension cords).
My next project will involve tackling my office again, although I have already removed 30-40 bags of stuff.