The book. It got done. Picture #2 is what it looks like bound my way. Let’s hope it looks a lot more appealing bound my publisher’s way. Because I don’t think this way would move the books off the shelves in the bookstore.
When I finished the book and sent it off to my editor, I promptly turned away from my computer with the hopes of staying as far away from it for the rest of the holiday. Instead, over two days, I cleaned out the kitchen cabinets, the built-in cabinets, the kid’s clothes and toys, the coat closet. And I watched a bunch of movies while I did it: 500 Days of Summer, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Akeelah and the Bee, The Proposal, Sunshine Cleaning , and My Sister’s Keeper. The book turned in and clean closets? What a fabulous way to start the new year. I was ready to sit my tail down on the couch and check out for the rest of the weekend. An aside about the movies: we do not watch movies in this house. We used to, pre-child, but, I kid you not, we have had the same 2 movies from NetFlix since last December. A full year of the same two movies. I knocked them out in this watching spree and proudly mailed them off. Somewhere, someone at Netflix is fainting.
Then BF stole a page from my annual birthday list. Specifically, item #18 on the birthday list. Clean out the attic. I tried to put it off– the artic air is here and it’s the coldest it has been in decades. Did he really want to go hang out in the uninsulated attic and hand me boxes down when it was so cold? Why, yes, he did. And so he handed me boxes, suitcases, and crates stuffed with the history of mostly my life. And a whole lot of clothes. Which is when it dawned on me that I am the woman on Page 70. See, page 70 of the book talks about that habit among women to hold onto all the ghosts of sizes past. And, well, in the attic, I had 3 sets of clothing sizes. Tell me that’s not a bit of theatre of the absurd. I can’t very well tell other women to let that stuff go if I can’t let it go. The irony here is that there is nothing I love better than cleaning out a closet. And if you want your closets cleaned out, I am the girl lto invite– as long as you don’t care about liking me. Because I will be ruthless. I will make you wittle your 25 pair of flip flops down to 5. I will clean out your coat closet until you can actually see the wall in between each coat. I will push you to your limits in the hopes of creating a giant donation pile for the local clothing closet (and to give you a closet that actually works for you). And you, if you are anything like my sister, will leave the room and not talk to me for awhile. And, yet, as my attic evidenced, I evidently am not that hard on myself. Nope, I just buy some Tupperwares and stuff it all up in the attic. Out of sight, out of mind. I moan and complain about my mother’s attic all of the time and put off cleaning it out because even I am overwhelmed by it, and, yet, BF looked at me while I was tackling the clothing mound and said, “you are never allowed to say another word about your mother’s attic again.” Whatever. BF’s a total brown noser. And my mom openly calls him her favorite child. He’s just greasing the wheel. So, I started the DVD player up again and started going through years of clothes, creating an enormous Take to Goodwill pile.
But when I was done with that, I still wasn’t done. I had years of notes, photos, yearbooks and the like to go through. And I couldn’t just throw stuff blindly into piles. I had to look, read, organize, sort by years and the like. I found the note one of my ninth grade boys wrote to break up with me (“All summer long, I was hoping that I would meet someone really cute, really smart, and really nice to go out with so that I could be really happy. But that’s not how it works. I mean, you are really cute, really smart, and really nice, but I don’t think I like you more than as a friend. I hope you don’t hate me because I don’t hate you. PS. I am happy to talk about this in person if you want). I found the notes my friends wrote me to make me feel better about the break up (Hey, Ureka, if you are reading this, you drew the funniest diagram of him that had me bent over laughing 20 years later). Then I found notes from the poor guy that asked me out not long after that break up who, from reading these notes, I clearly rebuffed because Ididn’t want “to be hurt again” (code for ‘It’s not me, it’s you’, I think, although I don’t really remember the situation). I also found the autobiography I wrote about myself in 8th grade (“my two dogs and cat are as much a part of my family as my brother and sister”– I’m surprised I didn’t also write that I actually liked the pets better than my sister and brother at the time!), years of Christmas morning pictures (oh, I had some hair!), and the countless novels I started and never finished with characters named Arden, Biv, and Camden, and the speech I delievered when I was running for Sophomore Class President. Good times. During this round of cleaning, I watched My Big, Fat Greek Wedding, Baby Mama, Under the Tuscan Sun, and The American President. While it might seem that the greatest reward of all of this is the less stuff attic or the packages for Goodwill- and those are, indeed, nice- actually, for me it was having some time to remember the girl that I was 20 years ago. I think she was mostly kind (except for the whole ‘I don’t want to be hurt again’ thing) and a loyal friend. She was creative. She had a pronounced personal style (oh, you would love the scarves, pins, and knee socks that weren’t really in fashion but were so my thing.) and a distinct musical taste. She loved to write even then – I found so many old papers I had written and very dramatic poetry. She was hopeful. I loved that I could look back at her with kindness and tenderness, and even a bit of nostalgia (Am I that kind now? Am I that good a friend? Am I that creative? Do workout pants count as personal style?). I love that she’ll be present in my mind as I move into a new year. And I also love that I am now no longer the woman on page 70 and that item #18 on the birthday list is now crossed off.
Finally, blogoshere, you’ve been way supportive this last month while I pounded out the final pages – and cleaned them up- of the book. Thank you so much!