some day

Marie Kondo has declared a war on some day in her book (“the life-changing magic of tidying up”). She’s never going to win. No one is. Once in a while we win a minor skirmish, maybe, but the ultimate goal eludes us before we reach the big stockpile in the sky, the ultimate goal being freedom, freedom from a life burdened with surplus.

It may sound scary, and it is. Years and years ago I wrote a major profile for a collection in a hardcover book about important, accomplished Canadian women.  It was a big piece, 30 pages or more, and I went into some detail about my subject’s life.  She was a very busy woman, so there was a lot to tell.  I was fortunate to be able to have a series of in-depth interviews with her closest friend and it’s one of the sorrows of my life that I didn’t know how to define my debt to her.  I was fresh out of graduate school and like any good academic I knew how to quote and footnote and credit sources but I wasn’t, not yet, a reporter, and I didn’t know how to acknowledge interviews.  I took my informer flowers and a copy of the book when it was published but I didn’t make public what I owed her for all the information she gave me so freely. 

What has this to do with Marie Kondo and clutter?  There is a point to my tangent.

My busy lady finally managed to clear her office and mind and engagement calendar for an anticipated relaxing weekend with her husband.  Yes, she had a husband but no children.  So, as she stepped into a long-awaited vacation, she said,

“At last! I’ve done it. I’m free as a bird.  I can go now.”  And she died.

The moral to the story is, don’t unclutter too much. You might need your anchor.

I’m going away for a week but I’m taking lots of baggage with me, not luggage – I always travel light – but I do have baggage to cope with and I can’t leave it behind.

Deadlines are portable and inexorable.


paper paper all around and not a drop of ink

Blog for January 18, 2017

Missed a day again, still catching up on assignments for the screenplay course – and I finished them today!  Yay!  But I managed to clean out a medicine cabinet and took a bag of obsolete prescriptions to a druggist for disposal.  Now, that’s a good feeling.  I’m still inspired by Marie Kondo.

I showed her book to my daughter-in-law; she already had it. I’ve told you about her. She is the most organized person I know, compulsively tidy.  As I say, she already had the book and she said she agreed with most of what Kondo has to say, not everything.  Me too.  When it comes to books and papers, I rise in rebellion.

Look at this two-line heading: Sorting papers

                                                   Rule of thumb – discard everything


Kondo recommends that I dispose of any papers that don’t fall into one of three categories:

1) currently in use

2) needed for a limited period of time

3) must be kept indefinitely

See, I have a secret strength.  The University of Manitoba wants my files for their archives. (There’s no accounting for taste.)  They don’t pay for them but they give me a tax break.  My income is so small these days that the break lasts several years. Anyway, this gives me an excuse as well as an incentive to keep papers.  The onus is on the archivist to decide what to keep.  The rule for preserving papers is wider ranging and more forgiving than it used to be. 

It used to be that the most (only) desirable papers, correspondence or diaries were those of people in high places who had famous names to drop, if indeed they weren’t famous themselves, and who had great events to report.  A second wave of thought brought the lives of obscure, ordinary people like me to the attention of historians and sociologists. It became important to know and understand the minutiae of daily life of the time-whatever time was being examined.  It’s called life writing.

This interest brings with it a certain responsibility: I have to file the papers with some semblance of clarity: dates, names, relations, subject matter, and so on. Right now I’m having trouble figuring out what to do with my blog, how to store it and file it. 

I’ll tell you one thing you already know: ours is NOT a paperless society.  Nor should it be.  Already it is fragmented and telegraphic and twittery.  Nowadays we see delightful collections of people’s letters, famous people, lovers, writers – yes, but where are the collections of the future?  I doubt that a tweet will ever be considered deathless prose.

Letters, cards, and personal notes: What do we do with them?  Kondo says to “dispense with those that are two or three years old, except those that spark joy in your heart."

I  have to think about that.