Monday September 9, 2019

For the past few days, I’ve felt an urge to “do things around the house” after smoking. This is somewhat out of character for me. I’m not a “messy” person, per se — at least not in a way that ever bothered me. But I’ve over-corrected, maybe, steered closer to messy than was necessary. It’s long been known among my family and siblings that my father is a bit of a “clean” freak, cleaning his house daily as if by ritual. As a teenager, this ritual seemed to be an absurd or at least wildly exasperating “event” always going on around me — and never with any tasks that I could perform sufficiently, in light of his exacting, idiosyncratic standards. We used to get in each other’s way a bit as a result. I’d be watching TV with friends after school and he’d force us all out of the room so he could vacuum. Once I moved out and we were no longer living under the same roof, we were able to laugh and joke about it. But when I was a teenager, it drove me nuts. A friend’s parents had a sign hanging in the living room of their home stating, “A clean house is a sign of a life misspent.” Something of that sentiment was agreed to by Sarah and I, and as a modus operandi, it’s worked well for us. As I prepare to become a father myself, however, I find myself asking the old questions anew.

Sunday September 8, 2019

I set to work reorganizing my office into a sanctum. I handle old books, rearrange them in space. I eye the parts of the space, asking each object that my attention happens upon how it might give me joy. I peek through piles of paper. I pretend to think for a moment in character as a “life coach.” “What do I want with this stuff?” I ask myself while staring at the contents of a tall metal filing cabinet, each hanging folder neatly labeled, organized mostly in accord with topics I studied in grad school. Much of it seems distant and dated: political pamphlets, neighborhood bulletins. Paper-media objects of the past. How much of it is worth holding onto? At the very least, the file cabinet tells a story: eyeing a drawer’s contents, one moves from dissertation chapters and professors’ comments to a final folder (the only one with which I interact anymore) overflowing with bills. That’s why I took to climbing Mystic Mountain. Yet now I’m here, sitting beside a spider on my front stoop at dusk, watching it weave its web. I sit awed by all the little live things, all my kind, beautiful companions, breathing, centering, seeking to do well by all.