Well, I’m back in the real world, and on the whole I’m glad for it. The day program maybe wasn’t quite as bad as I made it out to be last time, when I was in kind of a bad mood, but I don’t really think it was doing much for me. I signed out on Friday, and now here it’s Monday and I’m back to transcribing. And I still think I really need to do some writing or something else that would make me take myself seriously as a human being, but it’s not so bad being back at work; my concentration seems to be much better than it was before I left, anyway. I think I’m going to keep my schedule down to six hours a day to try to leave some room for writing. Then all I have to do is actually fucking write something. I have at least three book concepts I could start to flesh out, and my self-confidence is in negative digits, but if I can just do like 500 words a day or something for a start, I could build on that. Lord, here’s hoping. I can’t build a sense of purpose and identity on being a typist.
Books, though! Speaking of books! I have spent the last week organizing organizing organizing books, and now they are finally all organized! We have somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 books, I don’t have a real count, but we have enough that organizing them is a Major Deal, and so for several years they just sat in random piles on the floor of a little enclosed porch in our house that we -- overweeningly, at the time -- called the library. The room is weirdly shaped and has a lot of windows so we couldn’t put standalone bookcases in it very easily, and my brother is a carpenter and he kept saying he was going to put in built-in bookshelves and then kept not putting in built-in bookshelves. Finally, after three or four years, we decided he was not actually interested in putting in built-in bookshelves and we hired someone else to do it. It took them three weeks longer than they said it would to put them in, which given that they said it would take two weeks was saying something, but finally they finished and we had a room with shelves on literally every inch of wall where shelves could be put. There is so much shelf space that we have extra! *Extra* bookshelf space! I never expected to have this problem in my lifetime! We couldn’t decide whether they should be white or purple so we painted the vertical against-the-wall part purple and the shelves themselves white. And when we started this project I really thought our craft room, where we moved all the books while the library was being worked on, was going to stay hip-deep in books for months and months on end as we procrastinated on putting them away, but while that is probably what would have happened if I had remained depressed, I am less depressed now! So λ and I moved ~1,500 totally disorganized books from the crafts room to the library, and then I started working on un-disorganizing them. (Or, um, “organizing”.) Poor λ has been flat-out with a terrible project for work, so the organizing wound up mostly being me, although she was very good about answering Extremely Pressing Questions when they came up (“Does Fun Home go in graphic novel or memoir? Does The Complete William Shakespeare go in poetry or drama or bridge the gap between the two or should we maybe put your copy in drama and mine in poetry or something? Can you Google to see if Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill goes under N or D? Oh, and is Corrie ten Boom T or B? Do you want a Greco-Roman classics section or do you want that scattered through poetry and drama and philosophy and whatever Daphnis and Chloe is? Are George MacDonald fairy stories adult or kids’? Should I hide these three books of erotica or bank on my family not looking that closely at individual books when they come to visit?”*) But most of the organizing was fairly basic alphabetizing; we had split them into rough sections when we brought them from the craft room, so we basically wound up with fiction, kids/YA books, poetry, drama, memoir/biography, women’s studies, queer studies, and then general nonfiction, with a few other small sections here and there. The part I was excited about was the realization I had early on that a.) there was too much space for these books and b.) as we bought new books, no matter how roomily you shelved the books, we were going to run out of space on the shelves already in use and have to shift *everything* over a shelf when we wanted to add new books. So I decided to do face-outs of my favorite books, to add room and to add visual interest. I was super attached to the idea of rewarding my favorite books with face-out status, even if it did wind up becoming a slightly histrionic project sometimes (“Freaky Green Eyes and The Adoration of Jenna Fox and ALL the Katherine Paterson books and ALL the Julie-Anne Peters books and ALL the Susan Beth Pfeffer books are LITERALLY ALL RIGHT NEXT TO ONE ANOTHER, I can’t do FIVE FACE-OUTS ON ONE SHELF, HOW DO I CHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSE”). But I managed to force myself to make decisions and the result was really pretty good. The only problem is that the shelves are too deep for the faced-out books to rest comfortably against the backs of them -- they’re not as visible as one would like -- and for awhile we couldn’t figure out what to rest them up against, as we have like 70 face-outs and buying wood blocks or plastic display things or anything else designed for such a purpose would get really expensive. Then I glanced over at our counter and saw about 30 Diet Coke cans ready for recycling, and realized that if we filled them with sand or gravel or something, they would be heavy enough that you could lean a book against them easily. So now we just have to order like a 50-pound bag of sand and funnel the sand into the Diet Coke cans, and the face-outs will work beautifully! (Less beautifully if anyone takes one of the face-out books off the shelves and reveals a Diet Coke can with its spout duct-taped shut to prevent spills, but, y’know. It’s better than spending hundreds of dollars on blocks of wood.)
Anyway I think λ was going to take pictures of the shelves today, even though the face-outs are still resting too deep, so I might post her photos or I might wait to take my own when my Diet Coke can project is completed. Good thing we easily go through 20 Diet Coke cans a week.
At any rate, I have taken far too much time away from work discussing our bookshelves. But it has been consuming my life, in a good way -- being surrounded by all my books sort of reminded me of who I am, in a weird way; I feel like I’ve lost track of that in recent months/years. Even after the shelving was finally done last night, I was still going into the room just to be surrounded by all my books, so many of which mean so much to me. I found several books in the process that I never actually read but which look really good, so that should keep me occupied for awhile, and there’s a library sale next weekend where we can pick up some more. Our library will grow. But just in general, these last few weeks, it was nice to have all my books be a central part of my life again. I miss bookstore days sometimes.
All right, time to get back to work. Enough bookshelf babble.
*The respective answers: 1. Fun Home is in memoir, 2. Shakespeare is in drama, 3. Ni Dhomhnaill is under N, 4. I still am not 1000% sure this is right but ten Boom is under T, 5. We have a classics section now, 6. George MacDonald fairy stories are in kids’, 7. The erotica is at the tail end of queer studies, since it is lesbian erotica, but I put a sticker over most of the title of Best Lesbian Erotica of 1997. The other two have titles that don’t give them away.