Sunday, October 10, 2010


In the house in which I live, which is too big for me, I've spread papers over too many surfaces and in too many rooms: poems and pieces of poems and title pages and rough drafts and section titles and then, just blank pages. Some of the blank pages are turquoise, and I have no idea where they came from. It's far too easy to do this -- spread everything out -- when open spaces beckon. In the bedroom this morning I attempted to consolidate and tidy. I moved the many piles into fewer and larger piles. I threw out. I boxed-up. (Better than throwing-up and boxing-out.) Arranged and rearranged. Folded. Put in storage. Put inside of. Into the kitchen I carried more bags of food and put things in cupboards and the refrigerator and then began to take other things out because there was stew to be made. It's constant, isn't it, this shuffling of the implements of our lives. In my camping days one of the things I found so enchanting was the fact of so few possessions for a week or two, just enough to fit in the car along with fellow humans. How little we needed & how much we thrived with the little we had. A friend once told me to get rid of half of my possessions. I've pondered this. I am not a hoarder. But still the detritus accumulates and fluffs itself.

There are more boxes of more things in the other house and I've successfully pretty much ignored all of them for nearly three years now. Today I needed a poem for this manuscript I'm working on, something I wrote in 1998, and realized that it's in a box 19 miles away, or possibly on the hard drive of a computer in pieces in the basement, also 19 miles away. It was published in a now-defunct magazine called Heliotrope, the paper copy of which I thought I had in a box in this house but I was wrong.

I am going to scream now.


  1. Keep it down T. I can hear you all the way over here. I'm afraid I can't comment on tidiness; our house is shambles, but NOTHING can be thrown away.

  2. I fantasize about living in a very spare, small space, with few 'things' all carefully chosen. When I stay at the Zen Center, I love the bedroom and simple bathroom. Only what you need, nothing more. My mind becomes clear and spacious in these kinds of environments.

    Tackling all the 'clutter' is a huge task. A lifetime's work. Maybe when we're 80 we'll have it paired down to our liking.

  3. October 22-28, 2010 at the Northwest film Forum 1515 12th after the opener at the moore last week there will be a run of a film that took 20 years to make about Steven J Bernstein -box office opens 630p.m. showtime 7 p.m. $9 - so Don Glover has 70 of the love letters- I gave him in l983? to keep safe-he has consolidated his three book store down to one across from the comet tavern downstairs horizon books- and has not located those yet - I on the other hand after nine million moves have "all of my cassettes" in one place - except of course the one jesse bernstein
    now that Linda Freid is archiving three thousands pieces of work of jesses for the suzallo -and requesting jesse material- article in real change will mail copy t-
    the poem more noise please is published in the issue - i was the lover of which he wrote - so sccrreeeaammmmmmmm!!!!!!! love shell 206 522 0639 9am -9pm

  4. Oh T - soon it'll be my turn to face what you're facing now. I know I'm going to need a few months to sift through papers, poems, outlines for projects, letters, photographs and the like. It's not a task one can tackle in a day or two, is it?

    Like you, I don't see myself as a hoarder, but stuff gathers as fast I try to clear, shed, eliminate, circulate it. . . eeurgh. It's maddening. I'd love to live in Zen-like simplicity. What will it take to get there, I wonder? (Ideally one would live like that, rather than visit it?). Antarctica 'did' it - does it - for me for this very reason. Everything's pared back there, reduced to the absolute minimum. Here, in 'normal' life, having a tidy room or drawer or shelf in a cupboard helps . . . and I love, love, love the look and small of a freshly-mown lawn.

    I'm excited for you re; your manuscript, T. Do you have a title for it yet?

    L, C x

  5. I rant and rave about how I will NOT be managed by my stuff and yet I'm sitting here, right now, tied to my house while the coffee machine is being fixed AGAIN!

  6. Cro, isn't that why you're building the new space?!!

    Shelley, I never knew him, but his name is synonymous with the Seattle counter-culture of the 1980's.

    Claire: good luck. It's a lifelong project. I am SO BAD at it! There is something so compelling about the blank canvas....

    Jacqueline, at least you're repairing something instead of just replacing it! You get points for that.

    Note to self: reduce, reuse, recycle.