December 1st, 2012


_It's All Too Much_, Peter Walsh (kindle)

Subtitled: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff

I understand Peter Walsh to be the guy from "Clean Sweep" on TLC and also to be part of the Oprah empire. This book is one of his earlier efforts, dating from before the bust. The title is from a phrase he is accustomed to hearing from clients.

Walsh's entry in the decluttering/organizing/get-it-together genre has a lot of moving parts. There's the usual: get some bins or bags, pick a shelf, figure out what to keep, what to throw away, what to give away, what to put somewhere else, along with how to turn doing a shelf here and a drawer there into a house-wide strategy for decluttering and organized living. There's the not-unusual: figure out what is important to you (for this room, for your life, for the other people involved) and use that as your guide and goal. There's a chunk of cognitive behavior therapy, which is probably why a bunch of reviewers thought the book could be shorter because it was a slow start even tho they felt it was personally beneficial (whenever I see reviews like this, I have to scratch my head. So, _you_ liked a section and thought it was useful, but you think it shouldn't have been there? Hunh? Usually it means that a book is doing something well, but the reader lacks a framework for understanding what just happened.). There are a bunch of stories about Walsh's experiences with clients, which some reviewers perceived as tooting own horn, but which on balance I thought were useful (altho the one about the woman with the brain thing who died and whose daughter killed herself was devastating to read -- forewarned is forearmed, right?).

Because Walsh actually knows what he is doing and why and how he is doing it, the book works quite well. And it's the closest approach to something I have been looking for, which is a process-oriented book about being organized. Process is still a little bit lost-in-the-middle -- prioritization/goals/guides are established well, and implementation is handled well, but process is still a bit of a just-do-it enterprise, with some tips-and-tricks (the box of cards with 10 minute tasks was pretty brilliant, and a potential replacement for signing up with FlyLady).

If this is a genre you read, Walsh is on your list. I'm marginally more interested in some of his later books, but the reviews of those said you should read this one first, so I did.

If you would like ideas for having a less cluttered, more functional home, Walsh is pretty good. He respects beauty, but does not implement it -- which at least is an improvement over some of the decluttering/organizing books.

_Lost at Sea_, Jon Ronson (kindle)

Subtitled: The Jon Ronson Mysteries
Published by Riverhead

This is another Ronson collection published (either some or all) in other places previously. Ronson's a bigger deal in the UK than he is in the US, but I've been reading him since _Them_ and consistently enjoyed his work. This particular collection may, oddly, be one of his strongest, even tho the theme is not necessarily as strong or as consistent as, say, _The Psychopath Test_ or _The Men Who Stare at Goats_.

The titular essay is the last one, about people who disappear on cruise ships, one in particular on a Disney cruise ship. There's all kinds of goodies along the way, including Jesus Christians and their efforts to altruistically donate kidneys to strangers in defiance of then-British law, British pedophiles, income inequality and home chemistry enthusiasts who run afoul of the law despite not necessarily actually breaking any laws.

It's really good. It's hard to summarize, but Ronson is very compassionate and humane, without being a mark. Which is admirable and difficult to accomplish, but something I aspire to. It is occasionally profoundly disturbing.

The Surprisingly Persistent Temporary Chairs

On the 17th of September, 1994, I bought a table and 6 chairs. I wanted the table, but I was broke. My then-husband and I were in the process of getting a divorce and he had cleaned out our accounts. While he ultimately put that money towards paying down credit card debt he had racked up, the effect at the time was to leave me with whatever I had from the current paycheck and any future ones. Fortunately, I had a good job at DEC at the time. Anyway, I needed a table and chairs, since my parents had demonstrated their true colors by responding to me getting a divorce and ceasing to be a Jehovah's Witness by asking for a bunch of furniture they had given me back, along with the keys to their house. Sort of the opposite of supportive.

In any event, I needed a table and chairs, and I was at my favorite used furniture store, Nasty Jack's in Anacortes. I wanted the table. It was perfect in every way, but a little more than I thought I could spend, if I wanted to have any left for chairs. I sent a friend off to negotiate, and he came back with an even higher price tag -- that included six chairs. It was a reach, but I took it, figuring I'd replace the chairs in a year or so when the divorce was final and I'd saved up some money.

The chairs _finally_ permanently exited my life today. For what it's worth, I did not actually live with them for the duration of 2004-2010. Still, I had more than enough money to replace them -- I actually _had_ replaced them -- but hadn't made them go away affirmatively.

They are gone.

We are glad. And HGRM was really happy to receive them.