Sunday, July 12, 2015
Today at the library, there were 42 people on the waitlist to check out a book about cleaning the house. Dave put us down as 43rd. He estimates it will be our turn "around Thanksgiving."
I have few opportunities to impress Dave with my frugality, so rather than just shell out $17 for the paperback edition, I am prepared to virtuously wait five months to learn how to declutter my house. If the first chapter is called "Clean Out the Bathroom Drawer Full of Old Toothbrushes, Hairbrushes, Lice Removal Supplies, and Floss Picks," I'd like to think that, by November, I'll be able to skip to Chapter 2.
We started talking about the book because it has such a good title. Whoever's idea it was to take an essentially dull subject ("tidying up") and preface it with the phrase "life-changing magic," I'd like to shake that person's hand. My assumption is that it was some mini-Don Draper at a New York publishing house, but it could have been the author herself. If so, she can add it to her list of accomplishments, which include being an adorable Japanese woman with perfect bangs and the ability to wear (I'm almost certain) horizontal stripes and tiny white shorts, and look great.
Also she seems to have written an international bestseller about -- as far as I can tell -- throwing things out.
The fact that we are 43rd on the waitlist is interesting. I'm turning 43 this year, and when my mom was 43, every time she looked at a clock, it was 43 past the hour. She'd glance up at random moments to find it was always 10:43, 1:43, or 3:43 -- even in the middle of the night. None of us could explain it, but it did not seem good, not at all. At fourteen, I concluded that 43 was a spooky age, when a malevolent universe began at last to take notice of your existence.
Now I am forty-two, and -- whoa! That day is coming pretty fast! Suddenly it seems important to start hitting the gym at 6 a.m., cooking healthy meals, organizing the house --in short, to have my act together. I have always chased the dream of doing things right (at one point, my goal was to write a how-to book called Exemplary Living), so that even while banging the drum, blowing the horn, and squeezing the accordion in the one-man band of single parenting, my instinct is to try to add juggling and card tricks to the mix. Because that would be better.
I'd like to go into 43 with the excellent habits of writing, exercising, menu planning, and -- yes -- keeping the house neat in swift, powerful strokes like a Zen master. If not, though, Dave will still like me quite a bit -- clutter, takeout pizza, and all. And I'll still like me quite a bit.
And that is the real life-changing magic.