My Own Personal Hell

 

Construction

 

Have you ever had one of those days (weeks, months) where you’re just trying to get shit done, but your whole house is shaking because of the construction going on next door, and you keep having to move things from counter and shelf edges to keep them from falling to the floor and breaking, and the noise is so freaking loud that you suddenly realize your heart is racing and you’re starting to feel physically unwell, but those rat-bastards are gonna keep at it until it’s dark, only to start again the next morning – probably earlier than allowed by law, and it’s been going on for so long (a couple of years) that you’re starting to think you may actually have died and are now doing time in hell, and this is your life now, for all eternity?

 

No? Oh. This is clearly my own personal hell then. Be grateful it isn’t yours.

Bloom

 

Sometimes when I’m out walking, I look around and marvel at how great Los Angeles can be. Our sweet neighborhoods hold every type of house and mostly good people. I love seeing what folks have done to their homes and how they deal with drought in their landscaping. Mostly, I enjoy this city when I’m out walking. I lay claim to it, and it lays claim to me.

 

Road Closed

 

But not always. Los Angeles, like a lot of the country, is injured. And I’m not talking about nature, with her drought and fire damage. I’m referring to our staggering homeless population and city policies that have contributed to it. Rubber-stamping high-priced developments continues to diminish affordable housing here. Hell – the bunkers going up by our home wiped out the character-filled, affordable homes that once added to our neighborhood. The ugly-ass structures now towering over our street leave me wondering which hideous box will serve as the local fall-out shelter. (They really are that heinous, y’all.) And the unprofessional, callous behavior of the developers themselves is appalling. But I guess they donate to the right campaigns, as they continue to enjoy free rein in this town, regardless of their conduct or product.

 

It’s “development” like what’s taking place in our neighborhood that is tarnishing my adopted hometown. Now, when I walk around, I see the cracks. I see the failures of our leaders and the trickle-down effect. The photo above captures this perfectly. When the powers that be dump on their constituents, the constituents dump on their surroundings. It ain’t right and I don’t like it. But there’s no denying it’s happening. And no matter how sweet the neighborhood, no one is immune.

 

I’m trying hard to remember to bloom where I’m planted. And I am definitely planted, y’all. Today – like every day – will find a busload of arriving souls, starry-eyed and hopeful for dreams of L.A. And for her part, Los Angeles will deliver what she can. But she’s not perfect, and those who govern her are as flawed as anyone can be. So while those of us who choose to plant ourselves here get great weather, we also get the weight of the city. And for as long as we remain, we must carry it. That isn’t new. I’ve known that since day 1. It’s just that sometimes, well, it’s hard to bloom where you’re planted when the bloom is off the rose.

Family Heirloom

 

Have you ever had a thing in your life that you just assumed would always be there? For instance, sitting where I am right now, I can see a couple of paintings I anticipate keeping until I die. I see a book I don’t plan to part with. I even see a very old (and very fragile) tapestry pillow that’s dear to me and that I will fight for. (I’m pretty sure it’s not Mister’s favorite, so a fight could theoretically come to pass.) Yes – I’m talking about stuff here, but it’s stuff I like. Stuff I love.

 

It happens. We fall for things. Sometimes we encounter something and know – all the way down to our toes – that we are smitten. Those moments don’t have to make sense. Those items don’t have to make sense. We feel what we feel and that’s that. Other times, however, with other things, the bonds are slow to develop. We don’t realize it’s happening, but those items are endearing themselves to us, day by day, year by year.

 

Broken Egg Plate

 

That’s what happened to Mister and me with our old deviled egg plate. We got it soon after we were married, as I thought Mister’s famous (and secret-recipe) deviled eggs deserved to be presented on a worthy tray. So I found a simple but lovely Indiana Glass tray and that was that. It survived multiple cross-country moves and multiple raucous parties. It has held all varieties of egg and then some. (We are big deviled egg fans, y’all.) And we loved it.

 

Alas – nothing is forever. The old egg plate made one last appearance at one last party and her number came up. My heart winced, at her loss, but Mister seemed to take it a bit harder. I guess I was surprised by that. But I also understood. I’m a sentimental gal. I can’t help but empathize with the sentimentality of others.

 

Because it weighed on him so, Mister took it upon himself to find a suitable replacement for the old egg plate. Without really knowing it, he tracked down another Indiana Glass tray. This time it’s blue. It hasn’t been christened yet, but will be soon. I’m sure the eggs will be delicious. And I’m sure that in no time our new family heirloom will endear itself to us and our table. Even if we don’t realize it’s happening.

Thursday Memories – Christmas

 

 

This photo was taken some 20-odd years ago at a Christmas Pajama-Jammie-Jam Party. Mister and I threw the bash and darned near every single guest showed up in their jammers. (A few wore next to nothing, so be careful what you wish for when throwing a themed party. I’m just sayin’.)

 

As you can see, I am asleep. And not fake asleep, either. I am full-on, smile-on-my-face, dead-to-the-world asleep. Here’s what I remember: I did a walk-through to pick up stray cups and trash. By the time I went into our room, I thought how appealing and comfy the bed looked. I thought I’d just have a lie down, to confirm how appealing and comfy the bed was. My intention was to simply enjoy the moment, then return to the party. There was a party, remember? And it was going full-swing. There was music and drinking and other stuff, noise and revelry and laughter. It was a good time and I was enjoying the heck out of myself. But then that danged bed caught my eye. Within seconds of lying down, I was out and that was it. Later, I was told that Mister and a whole bunch of people had come in, found me asleep, taken various photos, laughed and made fun of me. Then they all went back out and resumed the party. I didn’t wake until the next morning.

 

Here’s hoping the parties of this Christmas will leave us all filled with joy and good spirits. And, when the time is right, may we all find appealing and comfy beds for our winter slumber.

My Pagan Status

 

 

This past weekend, I was doing some light yard work when a neighbor stopped by with his toddler. I know these folks in the way I know most neighbors – not well at all. But I do know they’re hard-core Christians. And as I’m not, there’s an unspoken understanding between us that we will never be close. That’s just life and believe me – it’s okay.

 

Anyhoo – I was being my ordinary nice self and carrying on light conversation with the neighbor. He was reciprocating and all was well. I had work to finish, so I wrapped up as quickly as I could and got on with it. He went into his house and that was that.

 

Only after I’d gone inside myself and stood washing my hands in the bathroom did I notice the t-shirt I was wearing…

 

 

No wonder the neighbor seemed more quiet than usual while talking to me. I think my pagan status is secure. Thank god.

Butthole. For Reals.

 

 

When it’s 95 degrees at 7pm, a gal is justified in being less-than-herself. That’s where I find myself as I write this.

 

I had wanted to tell you about some of my summer experiences. I’m hoping heat prostration doesn’t keep me from my task. First up, I visited Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa…

 

 

It was pretty fabulous. That hour wait to get in wasn’t anything to write home about, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re the shit, and they surely are.

 

 

I also saw Miss Angie Dickinson at an event. To say I never knew how fabulous she was/is, well, that’s an understatement. The woman rules, y’all. Seriously.

 

 

And then there was The. French. Laundry. I can’t even begin to write about this meal, as it was the most mind-blowing dinner I’ve ever had. I know I’m speaking in absolutes here, but it’s true. I’ve had amazing food in my life, and I expect to have more. This was incomparable. Truly. I’m not sure it will be matched.  I haven’t fully processed that, either. For the record, Mister and I have tried for a few years to get a rezzie to this joint. It finally worked out.

 

 

Did it cost us? Oh, yeah. Big time. Was it worth it? Yes. Bigger time. (Were we our usual dorky selves? Do I really need to answer that? ) Let me tell you this – I would not hesitate to do it again. It was that magnificent.

 

 

There was also the yard project, which needs some T-L-C, as the goddamn sun is baking the hell out of it. Mister and I will work on that this weekend, though, and we’ll hope for the best. Well, I’ll hope for the best. I think Mister just believes. My inner cynic doesn’t always allow that.

 

Oh! And I had surgery. I’m still under doctor’s orders, but feeling pretty much like myself. So I’m grateful for that. The no-getting-in-the-pool part sucks, as, you know, a hundred and eleven-ty and all. But I know that this, too, shall pass. And I’ll be healthier for it. (See – Mister’s belief is catching.)

 

 

And while I was recovering from my surgery (and dealing with the heat), I watched some telly. What I finished was the third season of “Grace and Frankie.” (Loved the last episode so much. And – you have to be really good to take a photo of the screen and get both characters with their eyes closed. I’m just sayin’.) Then I started “Luther.” I had wanted to watch this for some time, so it was overdue. The first episode hooked me, so now I’m in it. Good living, don’t you know.

 

 

My summer has also taken me to Napa for the first time (not the last, I hope), Park City, Utah, where I was eaten alive by bugs – no lie, Boston, my old stomping ground, and home. I’ve been lucky to get around a bit. And even luckier to have a place to return. Not everyone has that, you know – a home. Mine is filled with love. And a ghost. I embrace it all.

 

Speaking of Miss Harmon, she asserted herself a couple of months ago. Mister said something or other about how her ghost had not been around for a while. I told him she’d popped up a few weeks prior and relayed the following tale. I was entering the front parlor, and the glass door that closes off that room was open, but not fully (it was away from the wall). I found that odd, and proceeded to close it. Or at least I tried. The door stopped about a foot and a half from the wall. As it’s clear glass, I could see there was nothing blocking the path. I leaned into it, putting my full weight behind it, and still nothing happened. That’s when I said, “Damn it, Miss Harmon! If you want to hide some place, pick a better spot than behind a glass door!” Immediately, the door opened fully and that was that. I think she just needed some acknowledgement. She got it and we all moved on.

 

There’s a few weeks of summer left, folks. Sure – school for the kids has resumed (mostly), and vacations have primarily come and gone. Personally, I’ve got some projects coming up, as well as ongoing commitments and responsibilities. That’s life. For most of us. We’re doing alright, really. Remembering that kind of helps to trigger a smile here and there. Compassion is activated, too. For me, I know that I got to live another summer. Not even one is guaranteed, so I’ll take it. Even if the next few weeks are as hot as Satan’s Butthole, I’ll take it. I may not like it, but I’ll take it.

Rats

 

 

A while back, Mister and I noticed a considerable number of dead honey bees in the pool. There are usually a few in there, but not gobs, for cry-eye. What we were seeing was not good.

 

Our next door neighbor has a gi-normous tree in the backyard, and in the top of that tree there’s a big hole. Since moving here, we’ve watched honey bees fly in and out of that hole and we’ve rightly assumed that’s the location of their hive. As a lover of food and flowers (pretty much in that order), I appreciate the heck out of honey bees. Their presence next door has been somehow comforting.

 

 

But, sadly, hives are dying all over the place. We thought the bees we were finding in the pool were coming from the neighbor’s hive. And then the dead bees’ numbers increased. Each day, we woke to find hundreds of dead bees on the pool deck. It was shocking. And heartbreaking. One day we knew we needed to sweep up the bees. We said we would, then promptly put off the task until the next day. But when we went outside that next morning, we found zero-point-zero bees on the deck. Not so much as a wing. I thought there must’ve been a wind in the night or some such. I mean – the simplest explanation and all. I moved on to the business of the day and forgot about the bees. By early evening, the deck was once again littered with the lifeless bodies of those sweet honey bees. And that’s when I saw them…

 

 

The mice. They were coming out of the cypress trees by the back wall and they were eating the hell out of those dead bees. I wasn’t even a little bit happy about it, but they were mice. I figured I could take care of them and not have to worry. (And yes, people – by take care I do indeed mean killing the shit out of them.) After some strategic rat poison-placement, there were no more mice. Granted, there were no more dead bees, either, and the mice may have simply moved on to another food source. No matter the reason, I forgot all about those little mice.

 

This past weekend, I was doing something or other in the house and a movement by the pool caught my eye. Let me be clear here. I wasn’t wearing my glasses, which I use for distance vision, and still – whatever was out there was big enough to grab my attention. I got the binoculars out and aimed toward the back of the pool. That’s when I saw the biggest, fattest R-A-T I’ve ever seen. (And I’m including the Boston rats I used to mistake for cats.) This asshole was so big, he made me think he’d eaten all the other little mice that had been snarfing up the dead bees. Right then, Mister walked in and I handed the bi-nos to him. He was shocked. That rat’s tail alone was about a foot long, so you can imagine how big the fucker was.

 

I put out more poison and it’s disappearing, so hopefully that giant rat will soon be dead. I certainly hope so at least. That mutha could chew my face off in seconds flat. I do not like rats, y’all.

I Did It

 

 

When Mister and I moved into the new pad, the front yard was decent. I didn’t love it or anything, but I didn’t hate it, either. We live on a corner, so you see the joint from every angle and I was regularly reminded that I wasn’t smitten with what I saw. Still, if it ain’t broke and all. So we lived with it. But then the damned drought and the southern exposure became too much for the front yard. It took a beating and it showed. Here in Los Angeles, we’re limited as to when and how long we can use water for landscape purposes. There simply didn’t seem to be a way to keep that frontage looking decent. Or alive even.

 

So Mister and I started talking about going in a different direction, toward drought-tolerant plants. (Okay – it was mostly me talking about it, but I was talking to him so I’m gonna say he was in on the plan.) And then we learned about local rebate incentives for such plantings. We became more serious about the idea and eventually we set a budget. We talked about things we’d both like to see happen – a low fence, a seating area, a dying tree removed – and rough sketches were made. With our budget in mind, I started getting estimates from a few companies and individuals who did such work. I was hopeful we’d click with someone and the job would get done.

 

 

The very first estimate I received came in at $50,000. I’m not kidding. My response to that was, “Dude! If I had $50,000 for my yard, I’d just move!” A few more estimates came in at half that amount, but they were still way outside our budget. This was last fall/early winter. The timing was right, but the estimates were wrong.

 

The yard kept getting worse, though, and I was none too happy. I can’t imagine our neighbors were happy about the sad state of things, either, but they never said anything to us about it. I kept bugging Mister, while mulling the idea of taking on the job myself. I knew certain aspects were outside my abilities and knowledge, but I thought maybe I could hire folks for those specific tasks and do the rest of the labor with my own hands. The first step I took was re-sketching the design.

 

 

Based on that, I was able to break down the budget and allot money for the various steps – demo, irrigation, fence materials, plants, etc. Once I’d collected estimates and costs for those aspects of the project, I went back to Mister and we decided it was time to begin. Time for me to begin, that is. The estimates were good, but now the timing was tricky. It was getting hot and I had precious few calendar days to complete the project to apply for that much-desired local rebate. Remember the rebate? It was important to receive it and that money would help pay for the project once all was said and done. So I had to get after it. First up was demo…

 

 

I hired a crew to take everything out of the front yard. The struggling foliage and the dying tree were gone. The dead grass was gone. We were left with a pretty magnificent blank slate. It was also daunting. Once the space was emptied, we could see just how much area we were dealing with. There was no turning back and we knew it. The demo happened on a Saturday. On Sunday, Mister and I raked the dirt and made sure everything was ready to go.

 

 

The next day, Monday, I began digging trenches – literally – so that I could put the edging in place. I immediately set a routine for myself, too, and its name was two-and-a-half-underpants per day. I got up early, before the sun could heat everything, and worked until it was too hot. That was usually around 11:30 or 12. Then I’d take off my dirty work clothes, place them on the side of the tub to dry out (sweaty, don’t you know), jump in the pool to cool down, then put on clean underpants and mid-day clothes. It was during these mid-days that I’d provision for the next part of the job. Or I’d try to take care of pertinent business that couldn’t wait. Like bills or basic grocery shopping. Then, after the big heat of the day had passed, I’d put my morning’s dirty work clothes back on and get after it again. Around 7 or so, I’d wrap for the day, take a shower, put on clean underpants and pajamas and pretty much collapse. It was a good routine, and I knew I’d stick with it, even after I burned my ass that first day. You see, I used a pick-axe (perhaps the greatest tool in my arsenal) to dig the trenches. Then I sat on the ground to secure the edging in place. As a lot of that edging paralleled the existing walkway, I sat on the walkway while working on it. After the sun had heated the bejeesus out of the walkway all day, sitting on it was more than my work pants could handle. It would end up taking a few days for that ass-burn to heal.

 

 

Once the edging was in place, I moved on to the weed barrier. I know some folks aren’t fans of landscape fabric, but I am, so there. Our hope was (and still is) that the cloth would deter weeds from taking over. We know it’s impossible to entirely beat the weeds. We just want to slow them down. We also know we’re battling one mother of a weed: nutsedge.

 

 

Nutsedge looks a lot like grass, but it isn’t. It’s invasive, with rhizomes that spread beneath the surface, sometimes as deep as two feet. Whenever I dig up a rhizome (one of a jillion, I’m guessing), I think it looks like some sort of Alien-Predator-cat turd hybrid. I detest nutsedge and it knows it. But I digress.

 

Anyhoo – we got the entire area covered in landscape fabric. Then it was time for planting.

 

My original rendering called for a lot more plants. But once you start digging holes, you quickly realize that less is more! As a few of the holes dug were for trees (which meant they were bigger), I think 98 holes was plenty. (Seriously. 98.)

 

 

Once the plants were in, the irrigation crew came to install the drip lines. That was one of the jobs I absolutely did not wish to handle myself. And I’m so glad I didn’t. The folks I hired were fabulous and they did a top-notch job. Initially, they thought it would be a 2-day job. But they were able to finish in a single day, which meant I had one day to patch the cloth around plants and to ready myself for the next big step: rocks.

 

 

The morning the rocks were delivered was my 18th straight day of working on the project. I was tired, but I felt pretty good. Actually, I felt “naively optimistic,” something I kept telling everyone who stopped by to talk to me while I was working. I had 2 days to get the rocks in place and I thought I could pull that off. In retrospect, I don’t know why I thought that, but I did. So when the rocks were delivered and jutted out into the street, my immediate goal became clearing them out of the street, as I feared I’d be fined by the city or something wacky like that. I began shoveling the rocks into a wheelbarrow and into buckets. Basically, I moved them any which way I could. But the pile wasn’t getting any smaller. Instead, it was spreading. And it was getting hot. Too hot. I thought I was doing enough to hydrate and I mistakenly believed I’d be able to work that pile down. The heat was getting to me, though. And for the first time since beginning the project, I experienced doubt. I felt like I might cry, but it turned out I didn’t have any available fluids for tears. I don’t remember praying, but I do remember saying to any god listening that I wasn’t gonna make it. That I felt lost. That I knew I needed help, but couldn’t imagine what that might look like. And that’s when it happened. I lifted my gaze from the rocks to the side street. I saw two men walking toward me, with shovels and a wheelbarrow. They said they saw me working and thought I could use a few extra hands. I was stunned. I told them I wasn’t comfortable with that, as I didn’t even know them and the job was my responsibility, not theirs. They smiled and said that they were there, so I might as well step aside. One of the guys was the foreman of the construction going on behind our home. (I’m no fan of that construction, but that guy was aces.) The other guy was a county inspector, in the neighborhood to check some work at the job site behind our house. It was their lunch break, and they chose to spend it helping me. Those guys worked damn hard for a full hour. They moved almost all the rocks out of the street and into place. I continued to try and do my part, but I was pretty messed-up. At some point, I succumbed to the heat and my vision went all white. I’m not sure, but my speech may have become incoherent, too, as I found myself answering random questions about song lyrics and I don’t know how the conversation got there. I was told – insistently – to sit in the shade for a while, and I did. It was awkward, watching these strangers do my work. After they’d put in a shift, they made me promise I was going inside to rest, and then they were gone. I kept my word and used the remaining daylight to try and re-hydrate. Only after a few hours did it hit me that I had asked for help and help had been given.

 

The next day, Friday, was tough. I was still out of it from the near heat-stroke of the previous day, but work had to get done. Those rocks needed to be settled and checked off the list and that was the only day to get through it. Mister took the day off and completely kicked it into high gear. Not only did he finish the rock job, but he made sure I didn’t do more than I should. (By the way – did I mention that Mister was working his regular job and kicking ass on the project each weekend? Because he was.) By the time we fell into bed that night, a bit of my faith had been restored. My body was still hurting, but my naive optimism was back.

 

 

The following morning, Saturday, the mulch was delivered. I’d love to tell you it was all sunshine and roses, but it wasn’t. It took 2 hard days of work to get that mulch spread and in place. By Sunday night, the mulch job was finished and the only remaining task was spreading the river rocks around two trees and by the walkway entry. And that was handled Monday evening. The next day, Tuesday, I submitted all my documentation for the rebate – 4 days ahead of the deadline. It was done.

 

 

I’m really pleased with the decision to take on this job. Yes, it was a gi-normous task. And yes, it nearly took me out. My joints are still recovering, and that may take some time. My sleep schedule is still a bit janky, but that will level off soon. It was a big project and though Mister did what he could, when he could, the rest fell to me. And y’all – I’m not a kid. This was a big deal and I’m pretty sure it will be the last time I take on something of this scale. I’m still processing that. It doesn’t feel like defeat really, but it does feel heavy.

 

 

I’m also processing all the good I experienced during this job. You cannot imagine how many folks stopped by to comment on the work being done. Some were just curious. Some told me they were proud of me and that they were rooting for me. Some asked if they could have our business card, in case they might want to hire us down the road. Some thanked me for adding this beauty to our neighborhood. I’d never even seen a lot of those folks. I recognized a few, but the rest? Who knows.

 

 

And then there was one sweet neighbor who stopped by each and every morning to say hello and to cheer me on. He’s 93 and just darling. On the last Sunday, as Mister finished the mulching, that sweet old man came by with a gift of apple cider. He told Mister he had never seen anything like me and that he was really proud of me. I drank that cider with joy.

 

 

I hope I never forget the strangers who showed up to help me, just when I needed it. I hope I never forget the strangers who told me I was their hero for doing this myself. I hope I never forget that Mister and I worked really well together (mostly) and that we accomplished our goal. I hope I never forget that sweet old neighbor who kept calling me a one-woman crew.

 

The yard is finished. I’m more proud of myself than I can convey, because I don’t have words for how I feel. I’m not a kid anymore, it’s true. But I am one hell of a woman. And though I’m not sure how long it will last, for now I keep experiencing a bit of Clark W. Griswold’s final line from the very end of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”: I did it. I really did.

 

So. Lizards.

 

 

The lizards are at it again. (Rats and squirrels are at it, too, but I don’t care to discuss those little fuckers right now.) So. Lizards.

 

Since moving to the new pad, it has been lizards – not the vernal equinox – that have indicated the arrival of spring. I know this, because when lizards show up in the house, spring has sprung. And this year the damned lizards were doubly determined to make sure I got the memo.

 

It started in the morning. I walked into the kitchen and saw a very long piece of something on the floor by a cabinet. I word it this way because I wasn’t wearing glasses and for all I knew, I could have dropped a blackened banana peel on the floor. Of course, I hadn’t done any such thing, but hey – it was possible. So I left the room, donned my specs and returned to the kitchen. Nope – not a banana peel. I was looking at a lizard, about 8 inches in length. I didn’t just meet these lizards, so I got a big bowl and did my best to catch the little dude.

 

An hour or two later, I spotted a second lizard. This one was creeping into the kitchen, along the same path as the first. I went for the bowl, but was too slow. That little asshole climbed into a book case and cocked his head at me, as if to suggest there was no way I was ever going to get him. I swear – at one point he actually lunged for me. Lunged, I say! As I was in no mood to play games with some lizard I barely knew, I told him he had pissed me off and that he’d blown it. I went for the vacuum cleaner.

 

Two lizards in one day was too much. I started looking around, trying to determine their entry point. There was a gap beneath the doors in the sitting room, but it was so friggin’ small! Still, I figured the little assholes were coming in some place nearby, so I went to my supply box, grabbed some weather seal and stuck it on the bottoms of the doors and that was that. It must have worked, as I’ve not found another lizard in the house. Either that, or they’re getting better about sneaking around. And if that’s the case, could they please eat a few of the damned spiders? Come on, lizards. Work with me here!

 

That was a weird 2-lizard day. It was also the first time I’ve been able to catch a lizard without injuring it or cutting off part of its tail. At least that’s how it went down for one of the lizards. For the other, it just went down. All the way. He really shouldn’t have pissed me off. And he sure as hell shouldn’t have lunged.

Stuff

 

 

I’m trying to get rid of stuff. It isn’t that I’m becoming a minimalist or anything, I’ve just reached a point of accepting certain realities. Namely, stuff and stuff cannot occupy the same space. Practically, that means I can’t squeeze one more book onto an overburdened shelf, nor can I ram one more hanger onto an already packed rod. I’m not sure, but this urge to purge may be seasonal. It’s getting to be that time of year when we hunker inside. That means the inside of home needs to be comforting, not stifling.

 

I’m a big fan of stuff. Truly. Like most folks, I tend to appreciate some stuff more than others, and that’s okay. Some stuff is so dear, I wouldn’t dream of relegating it to a goodwill pile. Certain books are like that. Sure – after I read some books, they simply don’t belong in the house (or in my memory, for that matter). But once in a while a book comes along that needs a permanent spot on one’s shelf. Maybe it deserves to be reread. Maybe it just needs to be touched or held once in a while.

 

Other stuff can be meaningful and important to a person, too. And those things are worth holding on to. Those are the things that, when someone asks to borrow them, we waver. Personally, I’ve had to learn hard lessons about precious things. Like when someone asks to borrow a few of your records, then moves away, taking your vinyl with them. Or when someone borrows one of your nicest dresses, rips it, and blames you for the damage. Yes – this is asshole behavior, and perhaps one shouldn’t be loaning stuff to jerks in the first place. The problem, though, is that you don’t always see that kind of behavior coming. Some folks are trustworthy right up until they’re not. And once I learn that about someone, yet continue to trust them, I’ve no one to blame but myself. Fool me once is enough, y’all.

 

Now that I’m getting better about knowing when to lend things out and when to not, I’m happier. For me, my new basic rule is this: If I ever want to get something back, don’t lend it in the first place. When someone asks to borrow a book (or anything else), I think about it long and hard. Is it a book that needs to reside with me for all time? Or can I let it go – for all time? If and only if the second question’s answer is yes, do I lend it. Short and sweet. Because here’s the deal, friends – no one will ever appreciate your stuff as much as you. Even if they openly cherish and respect their own belongings, they will probably not extend the same courtesies to yours.

 

So as I prepare for the end of the year and try to make more room in my life, stuff is being sorted and discarded. It feels good, and because I’m honoring my needs, it feels honest. I will always be a gal with stuff. It’s in my nature. But if it isn’t useful or beautiful to me, I needn’t keep it. Here’s hoping I can purge the right things, and that I don’t even notice their absence.