Sunday, June 28, 2015

Postcard to Papi - from Eva

Hola Papi, soy la Eva. we have a piano here so I can practice piano. at the lake I found a feather, a big one, a shell, and a smooth rock. We swam in the lake too. when we were at the cat shelter, we saw a cat named qwint, he was soooo cute and really playfull.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Purging Paper - A Boy Named Peter

I've whittled down two Ikea cardboard file boxes full of old letters down to a stack that easily slides into an 8 by 11 manila envelope. Am I defeating the purpose if I stop here? Then again, what 48 year old woman, faced with smile lines east and west of her lips and thinning hair framing her temples, just for starters, wouldn't want to revisit letters from old college friends like Vikram, addressed to "Megababe"?  

Peter, a German/Argentine transplant whose father worked for General Motors in Mexico when we first met freshman year of college, graduated before me and headed to Toledo, Ohio for his first job as a court monitor. I knew he would end up in law school, he just had argumentation built in to his system.  He was cocky, good looking, smart, and knew his Latin American history.  So I put up with his arrogance and learned a lot from our conversations.  His sidekick, also Peter, was his antithesis: small town Rhode Island, second generation Italian, pot bellied, blue eyes that sparkled with mischievousness, but mostly kindness. 

Life in Toledo was tough for our friend Peter V (I won't divulge more, but I will say that he intimated that the Zur part of his surname was indicative of blue blood), as he expands upon here in his letter of September 30, 1991:

"When you wrote in your letter that you were "worried just a tad" about my living here, given my "taste for the cosmopolitan life", you expressed a gross understatement. Olivia, I never knew that ordinary, provincial Americans could be this dull and ignorant. I don't want to offend you, of course, but I never thought it would be so intellectually dead. Don't get me wrong, people are nice here, but in three months I have had no conversation that went beyond cars, football, bars, money or jails (the last because of my present calling). Can there really be such a wasteland?"

A simple Google search reveals that our friend Peter is a lawyer in New York now.  I guess he couldn't hack Toledo.

In addition to his keen intellect, I miss his sense of humor- "I was astounded to learn that you're picking up men in bars, Olivia! What would your mother say?  The sheer shamelessness of it makes me blush!" I even miss our somewhat unbalanced friendship "You, who listened to my endless laments in freshman year".

And now I fling his letters in to the nautical blue, plastic recycling bin, manila envelope poised for its next mission.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

What's Your Vision? The Kondo Method

We removed the upper hutch of our antique side board and made it a headboard
for our bed.  Then we put up Claudio's latest piece, "The Dome of the Rock".
Our dining room nicely represents my vision of "modern meets antique".

It may sound a bit weird when Marie Kondo, in her bestselling book, The Art of Decluttering, suggests talking to your socks and treating them tenderly, but no one ever said you had to share an author's religious orientation to recognize spectacular ideas when you see them.

Want to declutter, once and for all?  Really see that vision of, in my case, modern meets antique, in perfect, clean lined harmony?  Forget the tried and true room by room, project by project approach, which mostly serves to move stuff around and eventually end up where you started.  Instead, go by category.  

Start with clothing, the least emotionally charged category for most people.  Put every last pair of pants, shoes, handbags, scarfs, underwear on to the floor, and then pick up each item. Yes, pick up and touch, because this multi-sensory experience will help you answer more definitively the mantra, "Does this give me joy?"

Now in our house it was more practical to go family member by family member.  We started with the two youngest, and then Claudio and I followed. Lucia will close the circle this summer after school lets out. Clara and Eva repeated the mantra, item by item, and were able to go through large piles of clothes in minutes.  True to Kondo's prediction, I eliminated about 80% of my wardrobe.  The walls of my closet are now visible, and I know that every item hanging in my closet will contribute to an outfit I want to wear, today.

I've been "kondoing" for the last couple of months, which is a slight departure from her method, since she suggests taking a week for maximum success. Nevertheless, I've gotten through phase one (clothes) and am now in phase two (books) of her program, with only about five left.  

That, my friends, is progress!