Tuesday, February 09, 2010

lost in a sea of words

I am often a victim of inertia, by which I mean it often takes me a long time to get things done. I'm actually supposed to be doing a great many things right now, and at the very least I should try to leave the house at least once today, but, well... There's these books.

They aren't mine, not really. They belong to my boyfriend, but because his brother and sister-in-law are moving we decided that I would act as a sort of warehouse for the boxes he had in their basement until he comes back from Canada and acquires some shelf space of his own. I've known for at least a month that they were forthcoming, but I didn't figure out the actual logistics of shelving them until last night, when they were delivered to my apartment via dolly.

The arrival of the boxes was the kick in the ass that I needed to start moving stuff around, regardless of the fact that it was about 9 PM when I got started on the project. The thing is this: I live in a studio and I already have more stuff than I need, especially in the "little pieces of crap that I sometimes need but don't have room for in any of my desk drawers" arena, and so shelving roughly five extra boxes of books is not as simple as setting up a shelf and having at it. I didn't even get the new boxes open last night; I spent my time, all the way up until roughly 2:30 AM, taking all the unnecessary stuff of off the shelves and end tables that I was planning on moving, piling it all up on the remaining surfaces in the apartment, removing my own books, moving the furniture, and re-shelving my volumes before collapsing onto my still-book-covered bed. I've somehow lost both of the two tape measures I own--although I suspect I'll find at least one of them when I sort through the rest of my crap tonight--and so I measured using a belt in order to make sure I wasn't planning on moving shelves into spaces they didn't fit into. I felt like a really, really geeky MacGyver.

Everything worked out though, and this morning I started on the most exciting part of this endeavor: sorting the new books. J has eclectic taste in literature, and although I've very much enjoyed all of the books of his that I've read we don't seem to have much overlap; out of the five boxes I received, I had read exactly two and a half of the books I dug out. (They are: Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind, The Commitment by Dan Savage, and Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton by Diane Wood Middlebrook, which I skimmed due to time constraints for a paper in grad school. Hence the half.) The sheer diversity is sort of baffling. I found language books or dictionaries in Russian, Spanish, French, and ASL, and one about how to talk via hand gestures to Japanese people; books on the biology and history of lobsters, cockroaches, freshwater eels, cotton, and honey; there is a book about the Angola Prison Rodeo, and one about a man who built a ship out of wine corks and sailed it down a river in Portugal. You might imagine that my efforts to sort these into slightly coherent piles took a long time, and you would be correct. I decided to take a lunch break when I started giggling and saying things like "Perhaps this could go in the social sciences pile? Historical autobiography? Random Crap Pile?"

But I finally finished, and I shelved the books I had room for and boxed up the rest for the time being. I'm going to be getting more shelves from J's brother sometime soon, which will bump me up to hopefully seven--even though I think I only have books enough for six as of yet, I'm hoping to take an extra as an anticipatory measure. My studio looks like a library exploded in it. It had been suggested to me that I could keep all of the books boxed and leave my apartment as it was, but I sincerely can't imagine doing such a thing. Even though I'm feeling somewhat crazed from the lack of sleep and excess of coffee and sheer nature of the cleaning task ahead of me, and even though I may never be able to move again because, well, books are heavy, I'm incredibly happy. There's so much I don't know, and so much I want to know, and now I'm surrounded by books and that means that the tools to chip away at that are on nearly every wall of my apartment. I feel voracious. Into the froth, my life; into the flames.

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