About a month-ish ago, I was having a REALLY off day. I was crabby about my body - feet covered in blood blisters from my New York escapades had kept me out of the gym for a few days. Furthermore, I was feeling disgusting after housing fully four bottles of champagne in three days, plus drinking all over the city. I was exhausted - 2am bedtimes, hotel sleep, sharing a bed, and going like a crazy person for days at a time had burned me out. I was irritated with just about everyone in my life - near or far. So I decided, spur of the moment, to rearrange my bookshelves.
This may sound like a completely random, absurd action to take in an attempt to soothe myself, but consider the source. One of my absolute favorite parts of moving - one of the actions I have to take before a place feels like home - is to organize my books. When I moved to California, my initial quote was something like $3000, based on the phone consultation with my moving company. Upon seeing my Minneapolis apartment, the mover adjusted his estimate up by almost a thousand dollars. Dismayed, I asked why, and his explanation? "Well, ma'am, you've got...a lot of books. And my guys? They don't like moving books." I eventually negotiated the quote back down...but only if I agreed to move my books myself, in my car. This required paring down my cherished collection by almost half, and even then it was a tight squeeze to get them in the car with our suitcases and the plethora of other paraphernalia I had to fit. (I believe my mom's quote was "You can get to California with clothes and fewer books, or you can get to California with all your books but be naked til the movers come." OH JODES.) Anyway, I digress - moral of the story: for me, books are home, plain and simple.
I am extraordinarily specific about how my books must be organized. Up until that crisis night a month ago, it was, inflexibly, "alphabetically by author's last name." I am a voracious re-reader, and knowing where to find my favorites (Austen in the top left corner cuddling up to the Brontes, Graham Greene hanging out by Hemingway with Ibbotson close by, and my growing J. Courtney Sullivan collection looking down on Meg Wolitzer from a shelf above) is critical for my happiness. Accordingly, making the shift to rearrange my bookshelves was reflective of just how unsettled and angsty I felt in every other arena.
How, though, to rearrange? I stood in front of the shelves for a solid ten-ish minutes, debating the merits of "time period" or "alphabetically by title" or "genre" or "Dewey Decimal" while Dave looked at me like I was an actual crazy person. I dove in and eventually settled on "by spine color." BY SPINE COLOR? WHAT WAS I THINKING? I honestly feel as though I suffered some sort of miniature breakdown or psychotic dissociation that led to this completely asinine decision. But by the time I realized I was NOT pleased, I was midway through, deep in reflection of just how many blue-spined books I own. And at that point, it felt too late to turn back and start over, so I persevered, bitching all the while about how stupid it was to let Pinterest aspirations overcome plain old-fashioned good sense.
And there you have it - the finished product. (Well, most of it - the second shelf is still only half-full because of how few books I could bring to California with me, and it's all the black spines, so...eh.) I stood back, I looked at them, and I decided I loathed it. But I left it, confident that it would grow on me.
Then, last week, I flew through Marisa de los Santos's transcendently lovely "I'll Be Your Blue Sky," and suddenly, fundamentally needed to re-read everything she had ever written. So I went to find her first novel last night before dinner with Kaitlin, thinking it'd be a perfect post-meal wind-down before bed. Problem? I couldn't find it. Campers, I freaked. Not like...externally. But internally? I was a spastic, stressed frazzle of a human. And right then and there, with about an hour until I needed to leave for dinner, I pulled every book back off the shelf, and spent the most relaxing, satisfying forty minutes of my life restoring order in this specific little corner of my universe.
I guess the lesson learned here is simply to not mess with a good thing. Also that I am fully actually insane, but let's be real...we already knew that.