Waste not, want more

No variations on a theme.

Gandhi: An Autobiography – The Story of My Experiments in Truth

I have terrible recall memory. It allows me to enjoy movies and books again, as well as conversations. It’s questionable how enjoyable it is for others. Because of my memory, I don’t dare brave a review of Gandhi’s autobiography but I can’t help celebrate a few of the items that really had me thinking.

I read Louis Fischer’s The Life of Mahatma Gandhi about four years ago. Reading about Gandhi is an overwhelming task. Those who knew him and have written about him are absolutely exuberant in their praise. Being the constant comparer that I am, it gives me a great appreciation for just how small I am. I am okay with that. Don’t call the self-worth police. Gandhi was just an overwhelming sort of dude. What I find most amazing about him is his personal appeal: people showing up in droves to hear him speak; people actually changing their views on very entrenched ideas; people often disagreeing with him but loving him in a very personal way; and his ability to do it all with such love. That’s a kind of gracious, self-interested power that I can actually get excited about.

Then I read this autobiography. I thought it would iron out the kinks in Fischer’s work, the apparent inconsistencies and idiosyncrasies that I couldn’t grasp. It turns out that that’s Gandhi – inconsistent and idiosyncratic; hard to nail down; hard to understand; sometimes, hard to agree with. The man was an enigma. He evolved much throughout his life. He went from sex-starved maniac (in his own words) to someone who expected celibacy of many, and later lightened up on celibacy for others. He went so far as to say that he would have had time and energy to teach his wife to read if he wasn’t such a slave to his libido. Really!? The term “experiments in truth” is a very consciously chosen, and accurate, title.

Gandhi stunned me at every turn, as much because I didn’t always agree with him as for any other reason. However, his capacity for love, leadership and ideas were endless. But two things stood out for me. Two of his thousands of pearly thoughts stopped me, requiring me to read them time and again.

The first statement, I think, is a fantastic image of or own tendency to judge harshly. While often, we are our own worst enemies and critics, too often we are also far too quick to criticize others, whether we know anything of their burdens.  Gandhi gives us a way to deal with this imbalance:

Only when one sees one’s own mistakes with a convex lens, and does just the reverse in the case of others, that one is able to arrive at a just relative estimate of the two.

I’m struck by the conceptual tool but also by how true this statement is of two people in a dispute. If we looked at the other person’s perspective with the understanding and zeal with which we justify our own, it would be very difficult not to change our point of view. I think about those two lenses all the time now.

The second statement goes more to the substance of his life’s work. Not all of us are navigating the difficult moral maze of civil disobedience on a daily basis. Still Gandhi’s words about when a person can justifiably judge laws rang true:

A Satyagrahi[*] obeys the laws of society intelligently and of his own free will, because he considers it to be his sacred duty to do so. It is only when a person has thus obeyed the laws of society scrupulously that he is in a position to judge as to which particular rules are good and just and which unjust and iniquitous.

This quotation explained clearly to me that we can only judge laws’ value if we follow them faithfully. I also found it a spot on reminder that you shouldn’t piss on anything until you’ve taken the time to understand it deeply. His language here, at least as it is translated, reflects part of his charisma. The words he chooses don’t alienate. They are collective words. They speak of us as one, both in our beauty and our error. To me the choice of words like iniquitous, rings of poise and conscious decisions. In short, I like it.

* Truth (satya) implies love, and firmness (agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement Satyagraha, that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love or non-violence, and gave up the use of the phrase “passive resistance”, in connection with it, so much so that even in English writing we often avoided it and used instead the word “satyagraha” itself or some other equivalent English phrase. – M.K. Gandhi, Satyagraha in South Africa, Navajivan, Ahmedabad, 1928, pp. 109-10.


May 9, 2012 Posted by | Books, Doing it the hard way, Politics | , | 4 Comments

Breaking up with Studenthood – Politely

Dear Studenthood,

We’ve had a long run, Studenthood. There were those early, confident years where I basked in your educational sunshine. I’d never known a more comforting embrace than yours. Math races, Canada’s capitals, weather patterns, silent reading, story time, poster contests, school plays, and in-class performances – I could not get enough. You fostered long-lasting friendships, too. Sports day was always awkward but we powered through. The next day we were thick as thieves, seeking scholastic achievement again. Those were the glory days, SH; the spring of our relationship.

Things got a little tougher in high school. Do you remember, SH? The jerks were a little scarier and a lot bigger. They’d throw pennies occasionally. But even they couldn’t take the shine off of many classroom moments. There was poetry and science, the intricacy of the atom and the shameful history of Catholicism. As long as we avoided the topic of physics, there remained much love between us. You showed me greater freedom and student service. You gave me my weekends to do as I pleased. You respected my autonomy. The dog days of summer could be hard, but it was a great time.

Come to think of it, we’ve had a good run, you and me. As summer turned to fall and I began my university life, we remained close. I was poorer and had to work much harder, but I still loved you then. You woke my passion for knowledge; you inspired me. You drew connections in the world I had no idea existed. I added a degree thinking I could not get enough of you. But our energies waned. You grew demanding. I grew depressed and lazy. We couldn’t be everything to each other; it wasn’t sustainable. We closed out just shy of the Dean’s list. I was angry then. And exhausted. We barely said goodbye. I fled the country soon after knowing it would be years before I saw you again, if at all. I never thanked you.

For a few years I didn’t give you much thought. It was like a long, still winter without your glow. Then, one day, I took a test – a “likes” test of all things. You were drawing me back but I didn’t know it at the time. I accepted the challenge, studied and wrote yet another test. I remembered the comfort of tests. Just me, the stress, and the page. Writing. Insular. I applied for school, unsure whether you’d be there to pick up the pieces. It was months before I knew if we’d meet again. I didn’t know if I would take up the call. Should I work? Live life? Let you go? But when the call came I couldn’t let it be. The opportunity, and the risk of regret, seemed too great. I accepted.

We had found a new spring. I was passionate again, excited, electrified by the privilege of your educational embrace. The material, the ideas and the understanding all seemed to fit. But self-doubt crept in far too quickly. I couldn’t trust you as before. Am I good enough? Can I do this? How on earth will I survive once it’s time to let you go? And that’s the perennial problem between you and me: Studenthood, you are my comfort zone, my four-month cycle of self-loathing. You make room for my linearity but also my quest for change. You’ve become my crutch, SH. I am deathly afraid to leave you behind. It can’t be healthy, this fear, this sense that I am a square peg in an ever-narrowing round hole. I used to think I could do, now I’m not so sure. You have me convinced that I can only survive in your arms. I think about making organic baby food more often than not now. The blossoms are wilting before they bloom.

It’s not right, SH, and I must move on. I’m not sure where I’ll turn in times to come. I may look for you again in that space between life and dreams, but I need time. So I say goodbye to your flexible schedules, your always predictable cycle of stress, your grades, your affirmation and your rejection. I will draw a wage, I will get two weeks of vacation, I will learn on the job. I will do. Wish me luck, Studenthood. It’s for the best.

Gratefully Yours,


January 7, 2012 Posted by | Books, Childhood Complaints, Photography, Self-reflection, Writing | , , | 10 Comments

Reading Catcher and Generation X in Quick Succession

I was lucky enough to read these two book one after the other in the last few weeks. They’re oft compared. Now I’m silly enough to report back on the two books and what I got from reading them together – because I think there are just too few high school essays out there on the subject.

The Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger, 1951

Lest I should completely offend all of this novel’s greatest literary defenders, I’m going to try not to butcher this book while I talk about what I find most interesting. Task: impossible. For anyone whose knowledge or memory is on par with mine, “Catcher” is a story about a disaffected teenage boy, Holden Caufield, struggling with school, people, life, and the world around him. (General enough?) I like to pretend everything is about me so I’ll say that I can relate. I probably identified a little too strongly with this book given that it took me until the last few pages to seriously consider the state of the protagonist’s mental health.

I had read the book before, but didn’t remember much aside from feeling that this was a story about a privileged boy with general teenage malaise taken to a greater extreme. This time, I found the story much more appealing, particularly Holden’s deep concern for people being assholes and “phonies”. I’m probably not supposed to find it more enticing given that I’m older ‘n stuff. While some find his language overused or inane, I found it quite hillarious. Often, “he’s not feeling too gorgeous.” When someone’s amused, they’re getting a bang out of things, or being knocked out or killed. Perverts and depressing conversations are everywhere. One of Holden’s most positive moments was a conversation about books that he struck up with a nun carrying an empty donation basket. I found Holden’s love for his sister heartbreaking and his hatred of his creativity-squelching schools unrelenting. In true boring and typical fashion, my absolute favourite moment was when his sister asked Holden to name something he’d like to be. He described a scene that made me love him in a way that only someone’s vision for doing good in the world can. It also provides the book’s title. I shan’t say more on that.

For me, the book was subtle in its reminder of all of the small and not so small traumas of teenagehood. Holden gave dignity to people who had experienced bullying or isolation in a tender but not overly sentimental way that I really believed, but maybe that’s just my teenage wannaluvim self coming out to play.

I stand corrected, Mr. Salinger. I loved this book.

Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture – Douglas Coupland, 1991

It blows my mind that a book like this, by a Canadian no less, even attempts to capture that for which  “Generation X” has become famous. Some have referred to Generation X as the “Catcher of the 90s”, though I find the comparison a little dubious.

I frequently avoid books, and other things for that matter, that I feel I’ve heard about too much. I get annoyed by hype and am bound not to give the novel a fair shake or get a little overly annoyed by those who get just a little too much out of the book for my liking (Hey, Malcolm Gladwell, give me another 10 years and I may get over your anti-Sesame Street ‘no shit, Sherlock’ books. Harry Potter, your time will come). But I quite love Douglas Coupland’s writing and decided it was time to give the generation a whirl.

Gen X is the story of 3 disaffected 20 somethings, their friendship, and quest for meaning and inspiration in a depressing world. I can’t say a great deal happens in this book either, though some stuff happens. 🙂 The three kids pass time telling each other stories on the fly, with a rule that one can never comment on the stories which range from heart wrenching to sarcasm inducing.

The book makes up for any plot defects in interesting insights about that sense of drabness and shame for our culture that Tom Waits conjures so well: “Dag’s roadside diner smells, no doubt, like a stale bar carpet. Ugly people with eleven fingers are playing computer slots built into the counter and eating greasy meat by-products slathered in cheerfully tinted condiments. There’s a cold, humid mist, smelling of cheap floor cleaner, mongrel dog, cigarettes, mashed potato, and failure.” It also includes quite a pile of funny dictionary definitions in the margins like “bleeding ponytail – an elderly sold-out baby boomer who pines for hippie or pre-sellout days” or “clique maintenance: the need of one generation to see the generation following it as deficient so as to bolster its own collective ego: ‘Kids today do nothing. They’re so apathetic. We used to go out and protest. All they do is shop and complain.'”

I do NOT see Gen X the book as an exclusive product of its generation; otherwise, I don’t think I could have identified with it so strongly.  But maybe I’m too young to know better.

Wrap it up, Rose!

Both protagonists ooze insight, though Holden hides his in adolescent expression in phrases like, “[y]ou don’t always have to get too sexy to get to know a girl,” while Andy and his friends slap you with their sophistication at every turn. Neither of these books is a plot lover’s dream (have I mentioned that I’m in a long hiatus in the writing of a plotless novella about a newly minted widow’s sorrow? I tend to forgive lack of plot) but the expression and insights of the characters made it more than worthwhile for me.

What I was reminded most from reading both of these in quick succession:

  • it’s a very lonely world when you feel like people around you are vapid try-hards or plain old mean;
  • it’s very easy not to do anything about people’s junkiness and to want to separate yourself from all peoples’ misplaced energy; and
  • time and culture changes, but the human condition is a bit of a broken record.

November 8, 2011 Posted by | Books | , , , | 9 Comments

Meandering through life keeping fed and watered

I have been lacking focus something fierce. Not just for a day, a week, or even a semester. Rather I feel like I’m experiencing some long slow grind towards absolute focuslessness (deal with it). I’d like to blame it on drugs, malnutrition, the internet, life circumstances, our constantly beeping world, or severe winds, but I don’t think I can.

I’m even struggling to read fiction – something I don’t recall being a problem before.  My eyes move over words like I’m reading for punishment. After a few concerted tries I absorb enough to follow – and enjoy – my beloved Bissoondath. But it’s a tense battle.

Now I’m distracted by Calgary – of all places. I spent five years of my life here and returned only once since. Calgary was my first foray into city life, understanding the province of Alberta, higher education, and parentlessness (I won’t apologize). The story is not new or particularly interesting in itself, but for the person whose life was changed, those moments hold their power, significance and nostalgia. In an attempt to woo me, the weather here is strangely Victoria-like. The humidity is in the 70% range, the window before me is alive with dancing, yellowing leaves, goading me into thinking I like the climate. My friend’s tidy but lived in condo, seamlessly combining simplicity and flair, is like an offering. Her lonely deck cherry tomato, fighting to ripen in peaceful rebellion. Stoic. I remember learning what that word meant.

I remember walking out of the classroom on a crisp fall day with my heart singing because a window of understanding had been thrown open before me (by a man named Fabio no less). Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, I was sure, was written for me. The power of words, ideas, awareness and education was like, I’m convinced, what others feel when they find religion in their hearts. It was all consuming, the pinnacle of my optimism. It’s been some time since I thought of those  moments. I more frequently recall the loneliness, my weirdness, and a battle of wits with a cold March of persistent -30 degree weather tempting my sanity.

Like I said, I can’t focus. But I’m hoping that getting this down helps.

October 9, 2011 Posted by | Books, Self-reflection, Travel and intrigue | , | 11 Comments

Stack of Something

I can’t say that I’ve accomplished a lot in the three months since my last post. Life’s been rather crazy but without any discernable reason for its craziness. I find myself thinking that I must simplify and then I scrounge around the recesses of my mind looking for what actually  needs to be simplified. Recycling? Eating? Communicating with other life forms? All 3 of them?

All that said, I do have one physical sign of an accomplishment for this year (maybe some people have kids because they too need physical signs of their accomplishments):

Defying physics

Somehow, the stack hasn’t wavered even when I add much bigger books to that flimsy pocketbook base, but that’s not what I’m all in a knot about. I meant to start a list of books I had read at the beginning of this year but failed miserably. On the upside, I’m so disorganized, all the books I’ve read are stacked and waiting to be put away in the too full bookshelf. At least now I know what I’ve read. And I know that sleep trouble pays off in one form or another. Usually I rely on the library more, so I’ve never had a reading time capsule before.  It’s dorky fun, I have to admit. ButI just realized the Grapes of Wrath snuck in there, last year’s read. Oops – how embarassing.

My ill-informed, from memory, quick and dirty thoughts on these are as follows:

1. The Merchant of Venice – William Shakespeare. Reading a play in bed is not really the intended strategy and I’ve never really enjoyed it much but I was interested in two things about this one: a) The famous ‘is it anti-semetic?’ debate (I know nothing, but my most generous reading would be that Shakespeare is critiquing rigid cultural stereotypes of Jews, of people) and b) the theme? trope? metaphor? use? of a pound of flesh. It came to life (ew) for me.

2. Something I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You – Alice Munro. I’m not much for short stories but I’m learning to love Alice Munro’s ability to create characters that are neither too perfect or too pathetic, that have palpable strengths and weaknesses. She also helps me recover from a sad story by following up with a funny one. But her penchant for infidelity always takes a bit of the fun out of it for me.

3. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo. I really loved this book. There’s crime, wretchedness, salvation, last minute confessions, war, survival, confrontations with closeted skeletons, and a sewer scene. The survival parts are my favourite, though I always stress when people struggling to survive spend money on pretty dresses. I’m not big on musicals but reading this made me want to see the musical adaptation. Biggest lesson: some people can change and some people don’t.

4. This is an anthology from a days of yore comparative literature course. I did not read it all but I did read about half of it including Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. Reading books about selfish people who never have to face their own idiocy never goes well with me. I’m preachy by nature. Also, more infidelity. Sigh.

5. Islands in the Stream – Ernest Hemmingway. Hemmingway does not exactly get my pants in a knot, though I did love For Whom the Bell Tolls. There’s three separate sections of this book: relatively happy, less happy and much less happy. I enjoyed it: the lively descriptions, the house on the beach mirroring the inhabitant’s isolation, and the protaganist’s familiar way of speaking with anyone that crosses his path. I especially loved the scenes including the three young boys, it felt like family. On the downside, I get bored with drunkeness and regret.

6. The Log from the Sea of Cortez – John Steinbeck. I do enjoy Steinbeck though I think he needs to check in with some women – he seems to have thought they make good props. This book is among the weirdest I have ever read. The first part is a description of Steinbeck’s deceased friend, Ed Rickets, who is also a character in Cannery Row. The second part is an introduction and explanation of the third part, which is actually a log from a species collection trip in the Sea of Cortez. I’m not much of a biologist, but somehow the combination of debauchery and nerdiness really cracked me up. Steinbeck also draws some interesting analagies between humans and sea life.

7. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho. I’ve been meaning to read this book for a while, in part because I thought Coelho was Portuguese and I should read a Portuguese author’s work at some point. However, he’s Brazilian. I had of course also heard how wonderful this book is. This should have been my first clue. Perhaps the problem is me, but like the Celestine Prophecy, I felt this book has had a ton of buzz without much to back it up. Yes, wonderful things happen to the protagonist when he opens himself up to them, but for me the story had no complexity and when it comes down to it it did not get me in the gut. I’m not sure how people found it earthshattering.

8. Family Matters – Rohinton Mistry. I love reading fiction written from another cultural context. I feel like I’m learning slowly, by association, without reading a textbook. Apparently I need a human story in order to absorb anything. It provides conflicts and shared moments between generations that struggle to understand and refrain from tongue-lashing one another and cope with happiness, obligation, duty and morality. Lesson: the impossibility of making others happy if you don’t make yourself happy.

9. How Bad are Bananas? – Mike Berners-Lee. I was worried about the carbon footprint of bananas, so someone special bought me this book. It’s simplistic. It’s meant to be. It skips analysis for some items that it gives in others and I felt it really missed a few opportunities, but it’s a great way to get a sense of comparison. Buying bananas is not so bad as buying asparagus, which travels poorly and has to be flown in unless you’re buying it locally. Flying is like burning up mad swaths of forests for fun. Shopping for carbon footprint is not the same as shopping for other environmental concerns though. Bananas may be more devastating for soil erosion, deforestation, or methane. Life’s complicated.

10. Such a Long Journey – Rohinton Mistry. A rare double dose of author. Another story of family conflict that had me on the edge of my seat. Somehow readings books like this helps me understand my own relationship with my parents by showing the humanity of both parent and child trying to fumble through life without answers. It’s also just dark enough not to make me nauseous.

11. The Worlds Within Her – Neil Bissoondath. I have a severe love on for Neil Bissoondath, and it’s not just his name either. It’s to the point where I actually want to be friends with the guy, like I think I know him or something. This book is not my favourite but I still loved it. I wish I were better at t his because this novel really deserves it. What can I say? He takes a hundred potentially cheesy moments and makes them leap from the page with their simplicity and believability. His characters are cracked rather than shattered. They leak badly but find a way to keep it all in place.

12. All Families are Psychotic – Douglas Coupland. I find this guy hillarious and uncannily brilliant. How he can make a story so funny, so completely ridiculous and such a page-turner all at once is beyond me. This book contributed to my insomnia. I read it in 4 before bed sittings (lyings). An astronaut, AIDS, illegal surrogacy, inter-family gunshot wounds and Florida have never been so funny.

Obviously I haven’t done any of these books justice and you can’t possibly know anything about them from these terrible tidbits. But I feel better.

July 19, 2011 Posted by | Books, Consumption | | 4 Comments

Just Overshoot Me

What follows includes an offensive amount of cheese and brackets. Today, I will not apologize. Check back tomorrow.

I am a hesitant reader of non-fiction. Like opera, I can appreciate its value but reap little enjoyment. Despite my desire to be truly post-modern, I really enjoy a “clear” but fictionalized narrative. I want a story, with a beginning, end and a bunch of intriguing thoughts sprinkled throughout like candy at a parade. I don’t mind intriguing thoughts being thrown at my head. Such books feel like pure Creation with a capital rainbow. (I am currently resisting the urge to link to Kermit the Frog singing the Rainbow Connection. Thank me later).

Despite this fiction obsession, I was telling some aged environmental gentlefolk of my interest in hearing from or reading something of a different sort. I had spent months reading environmental and political news without seeing anybody discussing the fact that there is a finite amount of everything on this earth (except maybe love and road rage) and that we are quickly working ourselves into some potentially dreadful results (this is me avoiding terms like “mass hysteria” and “earth-sized mound of chicken poo”). These two dudes recognized my ignorance and my failure to be around in the 70s and took the opportunity to recommend a couple of books for me to read: Limits to Growth and Our Ecological Footprint. And oh, did I read.

Our Ecological Footprint introduced the mainstream to the idea that everything we do leaves a crap-patch on the earth the size of which is within our control, to put it in articulate terms. Despite all the cartoons and “let me break it down for you” moments, I found it difficult to read. For me, reading about science is like sewing about sex. I do not compute. That said, I did get through it in a few weeks with some new tools and language to use when discussing that thing I’ve never been able to describe beyond saying, “stuff can’t just keep growing.”

Limits to Growth was a more formidable challenge – I want to say 3 or so months – that included a lot of swearing while holding the book. And that’s a book I wanted to read. Just imagine what I was like when my boss handed me The Tipping Point, a book that still sends my pulse soaring, probably mainly because of Malcolm Gladwell’s slam on Sesame Street (or maybe for other less personal reasons). I got a lot of really good sleep during the Limits to Growth period, though that eventually ended when I finished the book. That said, certain ideas really clicked for me. I earned the language to further discuss my irritation with the meta-b.s. (google it) of never-ending progress that normally gets me incoherently, um, RAGE-rific. There were a couple of pieces that really stuck with me. In one particular spot I found the explanation of “overshoot,” a fundamental concept when talking about the world eventually wretching all over me (as I picture it), particularly useful. Maybe I liked the not-quite-irony of it too. I have sat on this quote long enough that it has lost some of its lustre. Though the a-ha moment has dimmed, I still find it really comforting, but not.

“The final contributor to overshoot is the pursuit of growth. If you were driving a car with fogged windows or faulty brakes, the first thing you would do to avoid overshoot would be to slow down. You would certainly not insist on accelerating. Delay in feedback can be handled as long as the system is not moving too fast to receive signals and respond before it hits the limit. Constant acceleration will take any system, no matter how clever and farsighted and well-designed, to the point where it can’t react in time. Even a car and driver functioning perfectly are unsafe at high speeds. The faster the speed, the higher the overshoot, and the farther the fall.”

Limits to Growth the 30 Year Update, p. 175

November 6, 2010 Posted by | Books, Brackets, Childhood Complaints, Consumption, Doing it the hard way, Irritated, Uncategorized, Waste | , , | 5 Comments


Oh, how I have been craving this time. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, too!

After an unexpected busy semester at school and feeling like summer happened without my usual supervision, I have settled nicely into my two and a half weeks off. The hike to a deep, dark place accomplished, I’ve moved on to trying to get this new apartment in some sort of order. I mourned being unable to sort through my boxes of junk and purge as needed before the move. Besides hating moving more boxes than necessary, I love and usually spend a month on the opportunity that moving provides for cleansing the closet, and my cluttered heart. I swear, I can feel clutter in my heart.

2 days of this process has left me elated. I’ve emptied/recycled about 15 boxes/tubs, from elementary school assignments to candles and a shower curtain, much of which is being freecycled. I learned that most of my bulk exists in the form of education-related materials. Other people have trophies and toys, I have paper and a few books. Rather I had them, with the exception of a few samples for the potential curiosity of any future progeny (I always wished my parents had stuff like that I could look at) and all of my papers, which I just can’t part with as I’m kind of possess-y over intellectual property. With reckless abandon I’ve finally figured out how to deal with that random stuff from childhood that I just can’t get rid of. I get 1 box that might as well be labelled “nostalgia” (to me nostalgia is purple) composed mostly of childhood drawings and writings, it also includes a pair of my aunt’s platform shoes which technically fit but will never be worn. Now, I’m almost ready to paint the bedrooms at least. I may even accomplish that this week, though probably not.

But first, I must explain my excitement over my pièce de moving and organizing résistance, my tv cabinet turned bookshelf. I’ve been dying for an awesome bookshelf, but guilting over being broke and having other furniture that was underutilized, like the cabinet (the TV, VCR, and DVD player were all disposed of in the move). My experiment of using the cabinet as a clothes dresser failed miserably but I was determined to keep this thing that I love. I knew I could make it work if I could just find a free-standing shelf that fit into it. After a number of attempts to find one, I realized I was going to have to make it myself.

I can now say that I know how to go to a hardware store, explain what I want and have them explain it back to me like a tool (because that’s how dumb I am, not because they were being belittling), get the wood cut, and drive off with it in my car. $14, 5 pieces of wood, 8 nails and 300 hammer swings later, I had exactly what I needed + a lovely pine smell.

After a couple of rearrangings, I managed to get all of our books in and am very pleased with the results. I feel particularly Masterpiece Theatre when I swing it around to look at something in the back.

Innocuous furniture supporting uber-dated stereo. (Aside: As I was taking this picture the radio broadcaster I was listening to discussed the green book, Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay).

Front - Books!

Back - Slightly messier books

The swing-away effect

August 30, 2010 Posted by | Books, Childhood Complaints, Consumption, Excessive organization | , | Leave a comment