Friday, May 13, 2011

More Sorting...More Subterfuge - Part 3 of the Re-Do

Ok, so here is the thing. I don't read comics in the newspapers, I don't lick the wooden stick in the middle of ice cream bars, and I do NOT discard books.  Not saying there is anything wrong with other folks engaging in these activities, but they just don't work for me.

However, in re-doing the guest bedroom it became obvious that something had to go.  Several somethings - dozens actually.  And some of those were going to have to be .... gulp...I can hardly say it (much like the Fonz could not say llll-liver) some of the things leaving the house forever were going to have to be books!

There, I said it and lightening has not struck.  I am trembling, though.

The LOC (Lovable Old Coot), whose hoarding tendencies have already been alluded to in this series, could not believe his own eyes.

"Are those books you are putting in the give-away boxes?" he asked in much the same tone he might employ if he were asking, "Are those two-headed puppies in the front yard?"

He knows I love books.  Yes, I love to read, and I love to write, but I also love the books themselves.  I like the frontispiece (isn't that a great word?), I read the acknowledgements, I peruse the footnotes, and sometimes I look at the bindings just to see what kind they used.  I run my palms over the embossed covers, I examine the artwork on the book cover, and then I take off the paper cover, and checkout the hardcover to see if they went cheap or upscale.  You know, did they put a great outfit on over cheap underwear?

Ok, now that you officially know I am weird when it comes to books, as in yes, I always check out the published date, and the paperback re-issue date, and even the Library of Congress ISBN, you can begin to understand why the LOC could not credit his own eyes, when he saw me packing up books to give away.

Granted the "give aways"  were not Longfellow, or Twain, Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, or even Robert Frost.  But Drucker, Peters, Covey, Kozner and others of their ilk were definitely going elsewhere.  For those who have never made their living in corporate America, or in a management role somewhere, those may not be familiar names.

But for a person who taught "What Matters Most" for years, and pretty much lived by Warren Bennis (Dean of the UCLA School of Business) and Max DePree (CEO of Herman Miller and leader extraordinaire) - well, it was hard.  Senge was sailing away, along with his Fifth Discipline. 

I am no longer a corporate consultant, telling others how to "get it done" - and thus, of all the books I have accumulated over the years, I decided that the business management books were the ones I could bear to part with. 

The LOC said, in cautious amazement, "But don't you want your library anymore?"  It is a moot point. 

"There are only so many square feet in this room" I say airily, "and if I want guests to feel welcome and able to breathe in here, something has to go."  I say this with little pointy darts shooting out of my eyes toward his office-cum-man-cave.

This is the" sorting" part of the re-do which, while temporarily painful, feels better and better with each passing day.  As to the subterfuge portion, that involves "out of sight, out of mind" planning.

When our VHS collection topped 1200 movies, and we still had all of them, years after we, like the rest of the nation, had switched to DVDs, I began to discard the old tapes.  The LOC came in unexpectedly one day, saw what was going on, and said, "Just don't tell me.  If I don't see it, it isn't happening."  Yep, he and his first cousin Ollie the Ostrich.

That little episode, however, taught me that it isn't that he minds so much if I toss things away, he just can't bear to watch it happen.  So over these past three weeks, during the re-do, I have quietly placed some things in boxes and bags, and set them aside.  If he asks about them, I retrieve them and he inevitably keeps them.

(No matter that he is unlikely to ever be a waist size 34 again; if he wants those cuffed slacks in the strange plaid, so be it.  It was not that many years ago that he finally relinquished his white sport coat.  I had tossed the pink-carnation years before, but never had the heart to tell him or Marty Robbins.)

However, if after a week or two, there is no inquiry about the absent extraneous items, then I figure I am home free and off to the Goodwill store I go, grinning like a lunatic all the way!

Life is a series of trade-offs - never more so than on the domestic front.  So in the spirit of, what he does not ask about/he does not wish to know about - I am clearing this place to the baseboards.

Don't you just love it when a plan comes together?  Hope your "do", or "re-do", or "make-do" is a happy one today.

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