Wednesday, May 05, 2010

A balanced life. Not.

I don't do those blog memes except on the rare occasion when the question(s) really appeal to me, but an individual question will occasionally jumpstart me on a topic.

This time, the Wednesday Random Dozen (link is to my friend Catherine's answers - she does it regularly) asked ten things I really have nothing interesting to say about, and two others that struck me. Though they rather annoyingly rub my face in my faults:

1. What room in your home best reflects your personality; and

2. How do you maintain a balanced life?

A what? A "balanced" life? That's one of those "shoulds" that nobody actually does, right? Like rotating your tires, or always tightening the #%$ing child-guard cap back onto the pill bottle even when there's no possibility of a small child around, instead of leaving the cap loose and easily removed.

Seriously, I guess most people try to balance their lives but I gave that up ages ago. I work best when I do one thing that I feel driven to do and neglect everything else, and then change course and do something else.

For a week now I have been pounding at the novel (remember my novel? That brick wall I've been beating my head against for over 4 years?). Nothing else. Kitchen's a mess. I've done no business work to speak of. Barely reading, not writing anything else. Just Total Immersion.

It's not a burst of writing enthusiasm. It's more that I want the blasted miserable thing out of my life. Done. Sunk into that great sea of self-published plankton, never to be seen again. My love/hate relationship with it is on the outs right now, and I'd really rather be saying something else than saying what it ... says. Not that I don't still like my basic world-view as depicted in this college dorm of 1973-4. But I've been there an awful long time.

Which brings me to Question One. My alleged office is where I beat on this and other projects, and appropriately enough, it reflects the Real Me to an alarming degree. It's a chaotic mess.

But part of the problem is tchotchkas. Knickknacks, doodads, thingamajigs. In decorating magazines, you see lots of interesting knickknacks on bookshelves, often in front of the books. You can tell that the space is staged and not designed for use. WHO wants to move a gift shop's worth of stuff to get out a book?

In real life, true Book People have a separate place for tchotchkas. I'd give anything to have one, but aside from a single dedicated shelf on which there's no more room, it's a dream for the future. I'd never have shelves like you see in this post, if there were any other place to put these things. I love my tchotchkas and the people who gave them to me. Each one has a story.

The little wooden Viking is a figure I've had since I was 7 years old. I think some classmate gave it to me for that birthday, but I don't really remember. I love it beyond all reason. The moose is a McDonalds toy from at least 40 years later but it seemed to be just what my Viking needed. Some cool little figures come with model railroad gear, and Larry gave me some that were "me" kind of things.

But they get shuffled into weird configurations as I try to gain access to what's behind them, and, just as each knickknack has a story, there's a story -- at least, a sequence of events -- behind the current position of each one, too. Not necessarily an interesting sequence, no matter how odd or amusing the final placement is. Things get bunched and placed inside other things and then moved off to any stable surface when the shelf behind them needs access.

But the process can create a weird version of Accidental Art.

Honest, every one of these nightmares of clutter that you see is exactly as it was, not staged for the photo. Many people would say, "I could not stand all that clutter!" I actually have a hard time with it too. I periodically organize. Then it slowly reverts to its natural state. These photos catch it at its end state in the process and a cleanup is called for. I see no permanent solution until I have the afore-mentioned tchotchka space. But I can cope with it. After all ....