I’m wary of going home these days. Sorry, Mom. After three years of successfully feigning momentary deafness to her appeals to remove the boxes of my childhood keepsakes and books that languished under her guest room bed, somehow, on a recent visit, they ended up in our car. Books, my elementary report cards, boxes of disposable camera photos from summer camp, of friends in braces, school dances, a portrait gallery of all the pets we ever owned and adored — bonfire anyone? — it was all there. I accepted these gifts under the delusional confidence that I would dump everything in the correct recycling bin as soon as we got home.

It will surprise no one, perhaps, that these boxes did not move from our living room floor for a month. We are the couple who hosts a standing monthly dinner party for the sole reason that if we didn’t have people over regularly, we would never tidy up. In frenzied preparation for one of these dinners, we moved the boxes to the office floor where they remained for another two months. Then a terrible thing happened. I steeled myself and tucked into the long days work of going through them. Finally my cluttered mind and apartment would benefit from the great purge of 2014. No one would be spared. Or so that was my intention. That is not what happened. The unsentimentalist got sentimental. After an entire day’s work, I only managed to carve out one box of throw-away.

“So what?” the sentimentalist says. “You’ve gotta keep that stuff, it’s personal history.” For the person with a mortgage and every intention of staying put for a while, yes, this is a fine solution. The kids you raise in your family home will one day derive hours of mirth and amusement from looking at your school year books and reading your 5 year-old stories about Frisky the cat.

That is not us. We have places to go still, many more years of suitcase living left. Stuff is our nemesis. Storage is a four-letter word. What are we going to do with all this stuff? Where will we put it? These are the questions that torment the nomad. And the most tormenting of all: What are we going to do with all these books? Because, you can’t talk about stuff without talking about books.

Herein lies the great dilemma. For two people who value our impermanence, our pick-up-and-goability, as highly as we do, we have a damn incompatible obsession with printed books. I’ve even changed my tune about eBooks in recent years, although it must be said, I still don’t gravitate to them. Theoretically, I can get down with eBooks, but in practice I know me. I will always buy and read and prefer the printed book. Done. End of story. So, what do we do?

As I ponder this emblematic first world problem (what to do with this stuff that we own because we have jobs and a place to live where we can keep it and money and health and… everything!), I am inspired by the rooted ones who are finding creative ways to live with their books. This family, featured on Cup of Jo today, are the latest. 

Which is all just to say we’re looking for storage solutions for renters. Got any suggestions?

In other news, this guy just wrote another book. I was, no exaggeration, just saying (to a friend at a recent clean apartment dinner party) that I wish he’d write another book because The Imperfectionist was just so perfect and timely and everything I wanted. And he did! Debating whether to pre-order or to wait and buy it as an eBook — :/.

(Photos from A Cup of Jo)


We need a new way of storing our books. Luke is all for contributing them to these, but… eh… I dunno. Would they be loved?

In any case, they’re piling up.

If I’m completely honest, the fireplace method would suit my organization style best — just shove it in and go. But alas, I haven’t a fireplace.

(Found these on Pinterest, along with so many more good ideas.)

BTFPoster0809WEB2SM papersculpture EJExplainingTechniqueCan I confess something?

I suck at math. Growing up I was never the least bit interested in it, which didn’t bode well for me ever being good at it. Blame it on the school system for never (or not soon enough) furnishing us with energetic math teachers, or blame it on my right brain propensity for words, images and stories. Or just blame it on me giving up way too early. The fact is, I don’t remember a single time I ever enjoyed math class. I even remember not being all that wowed at those interactive kids museums that all the other kids seemed to love. You know the ones where they had exhibitions that tried to show math in action, math in real life? You know, the ones that tried to show how math could be fun? If anything, they made me more suspicious. “I see what you’re trying to do here. You’re trying to make math fun. Well it won’t work because I know better.” That generally was and, I’m sorry to admit, is my attitude toward math.

Until last night. (Actually, that’s a bit dramatic. My attitude hasn’t changed that drastically, but it has changed a little.)

Poor Luke. As the maths guy in our small family, he often has bursts of intellectual discovery of the mathematical variety and is just brimming over afterwards wanting to describe it to me. But unfortunately, as soon as that kind of talk enters the room, my survival instincts kick in and I shut down. Try as I might to stay with him — attempt to ask some intelligent question or some such — before long my eyes glaze over and I withdraw. So it was really quite brave of him to suggest we watch a documentary about origami last night, which he admitted, would probably have a math angle. And if I do say so myself, it was really rather brave of me to concede to watching it.

Origami really is pretty mathy when you come down to it. And yet, I find that it’s a visual representation of geometry and physics that’s distracting and disarming enough that you can talk to me about mathematical theories and I don’t want to run out of the room. I’m so distracted by the process and the final product, that I’m not thinking “math is bad, math is evil.” I’m just admiring this crinkly, light-flooded piece of paper and marveling at the life of the character that has emerged from its folds.

In the documentary Between the Folds, writer Vanessa Gould interviews some of the most brilliant artists and theorists (yes, that exists) in the origami community, all of whom seem to have multiple degrees in physics or math. They all get going in their equations and dimensions speak, but, they are definitely artists and their creative energy is palpable. I can latch onto that. I get that.

What do you think: Have you seen this documentary? Have you ever tried your hand at origami? I highly recommend Between the Folds, if you find yourself in the mood for documentary-watcing. Knowledge or interest of complicated math not required. You can watch the trailer below.

library-bathroom-1 modern-bathroom-library old-rectory-bathroom-library bathroom_librarybathlibrary2

(1, 2, 3, 4, 5)

Traveling is great and all, but when we’re staying in other peoples’ homes I feel a little shy about hogging their bathrooms for a long soak in the tub. Is that just me? I have managed to sneak in a few cheeky soaks, which have been wonderful. English tubs, on average, are longer than the tubs in the States — I’m sure of it. Still, a few here and there isn’t cutting it. I’m missing my regular bathtub reading ritual.

Which is why these bathroom libraries are looking especially dreamy this morning.

Do you keep books in the bathroom? Also, my idea of the perfect night in.

(More bath time inspiration on Pinterest.)

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