For the past month or so we have been diligently cleaning out our house, giving things away as fast as we can. Yes, I know, Tidying Up is having its cultural moment. But this effort of ours has nothing to do with Marie Kondo! We are cleaning out the house because we are getting ready to sell it. In order to do so, we need to make the house look uncluttered and spacious, inhabited by people with no discernible personality traits except that they are very clean.
After 21 years here, there is a lot stuff to clear out. Now, I wouldn't really know, because I haven't watched her show, but I understand that Marie Kondo instructs us to thank each thing we throw out, and to kiss it as we let it go. But I am not particularly sentimental about the stuff I'm throwing out. It's just stuff. And I'd just as soon not put my lips on 21 years of dust.
I am grateful, though, to have the option of digitizing the piles of pictures and other mementos with which it might otherwise be difficult to part. Digitization is the perfect option, for example, for the pile of books that I composed for my older daughter, Rebecca, to help prepare her toddler self for a change of life involving a cross-country move and starting full-time daycare. I made the first book when Rebecca and I were traveling east to house-hunt, prior to a move to Boston.
I worried that it could be unsettling and anxiety-producing for a toddler with a well-established and fairly predictable routine to go on a cross-country trip through three time zones, to sleep in a whole series of new and different places, and to spend days in the somewhat baffling process of house-hunting. So I made a picture book, explaining what would happen at each step along the way. We read it together, many times, before and during the trip.
And it worked! Rebecca took the entire event in stride. So I did the same thing for each of the subsequent events in the transition from California to Massachusetts: the cross-country car trip, starting daycare. There are five books in all.
They are full of reassurances: despite the changing faces and places, there will always be people to love and care for Rebecca.
What is amazing to me, as I read these books now (feeding the pages into the scanner, and then throwing them away) is how the series hangs together as a body of work, capturing a particular time and place and set of social relationships. Kind of like Trollope’s Barchester novels. But with pictures! Also my books are twelve sentences long.
I made books for my younger child, too! Well....book. One book.
It’s a saliva-resistant photo album that someone gave her. Mostly I just had to stick pictures in the slots. But I did add some oriiginal text, at the very end.
Maybe it was less of an effort than I'd made for Rebecca. But What’s-Her-Name loved it! At least, I think she did. I wasn’t really paying attention.
Anyway, the whole pile is now digitized and discarded. Does Marie Kondo talk about digitization? I don’t know. I have decided not to read her book until I can do so in the original Japanese (a language I do not know and have no plans to study).
All of this cleaning out is about getting ready to sell our house, which is set to go on the market in just over a week. Fingers crossed that it will sell quickly! And then we'll move out, and go to....well, we haven't figured that part out just yet. We are looking and talking and thinking about what we want to do next. As you can imagine, it's a situation that is a little unsettling and anxiety-producing.
But fortunately, I know just how to deal with anxiety-producing situations.
Laurie and Steve are selling their house!
But first they will try to give away a lot of their shit. They will put big piles of it on the front porch.
Some strong guys will come in a big truck and haul it all away.
And then Laurie and Steve will go out and find a new place to live!
Laurie and Steve will get a little sad because all the really nice houses in the city cost three million dollars.
But in the end they will find somewhere nice to live in their price range. They will find something eventually, won't they? Even though the middle market is totally dead right now? It's gotta open up eventually, no? Don't you think?
When they do find their new house, Laurie and Steve will pack
Laurie and Steve will be very happy in their new house!
They will be especially happy because they will own so much less shit than they did before.
But Marie Kondo will have had nothing to do with it.