Season of Change

Season of Change

Since I moved on June 10, I’ve been settling into my new home. I had a friend with a house painting business paint the living and dining room with vaulted ceiling and adjoining kitchen. I’ve painted my bedroom and recently finished painting my office. Once the office was painted, I was able to move the bookshelves in and anchor them to the wall. Then I was ready for a moment I’ve been looking forward to since I started packing away my books around the first of the year – unpacking and shelving them.

Notes on paint colors: I chose Ben Moore paint, which is what my painter used on the front part of the house. I wanted Yellow Green for this room because, for me, bright green is the color of creativity, growth and rebirth. The darker color (Regent Green) is a dark green that looks almost black. It reminds me of the dark green gloom of the deep forest even on a bright day. Forests hold life, mystery, and creatures and places that are outside the knowledge of our human senses. This is the room where creativity lives, where I craft worlds and characters, where I experiment. My Laboratory:

For months now, I’ve had this vision: all of my books unpacked, laid out on living room floor so I could take my time going through them, sorting and considering which room and shelves to put them on. There was a fair bit of reveling in books, books, books as well as, rediscovering books I’d forgotten. The feeling I had leading up to this day was high anticipation and excitement. I also knew I’d want to go through this process on my own, allowing myself to spend all the time I wanted on the process, to make decisions and change them as desired. I picked a day my daughter was at her mom’s house and I took the day off from work. It was just me and my kitten boys who thought all the empty boxes in the living room were a gift to them..

That day came on a Monday, and I brought in box after box from the garage, first staging them in the laundry room with the door closed so I could keep my kittens out of the garage. My back had words for me at the end of the day because of all that lifting and carrying. Some of the boxes:

pile of boxes

Once my books were unboxed and arranged in the living room, I took some time to just sit and enjoy the spectacle.

I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted to organize my books. Some were destined for my office, some for the bookshelves in my bedroom. I’d already placed my erotica, kink, and books on gender identity on a small bookshelf in my room.

erotic, gender and kink books on shelves

For my office, I arranged my good-sized sci fi and fantasy collection by author and then by ‘current fave status’. The faves went into the bookshelf closest to my desk, and the others to the corner shelf. And then I sorted through my nonfiction, pulling the technology and science topics out for the corner shelf. My small but growing anti-racist and activism shelf is close to my desk for quick reference.

anti racism books on shelf

As I sorted and grouped, I realized that I’ve hung on to books that may not “bring me joy” any longer. I’ve become increasingly more interested in diversity of writers and themes in my sci-fi, fantasy and fiction, and less enamored of the ‘straight, white, male, colonialist’ perspective. I’ve been collecting sci-fi books for a long time and haven’t read all I’ve got and the majority are written by straight, white men. I’m looking forward to filling my shelves with work by some of the BIPOC, trans and queer writers I’ve been reading over the last couple of years. The books I have that fit this description are on the ‘faves’ shelves.

Culling books isn’t always easy, even if I haven’t read them in a long while. I know some of you can relate to this: books are gateways to other worlds and time capsules back to the time when I read them. Even so, I’m finding it easier now to let go of books I’ve lugged around since childhood. Especially as I learn more about the worldviews of some of these writers, and reflect on the misogyny and racism I missed or overlooked before. As a result, loaded two paper boxes full of books to give away. And you know what that means, right? I have room for more books!

And that gets me wondering, why? Why is it easier now than it has been before? I’ve moved and unpacked these books many times. They’ve been a part of me, my identity, my history and I’ve not questioned their presence in my life. The first collection I parted ways with was two boxes of Piers Anthony fantasy books. I loved those books when I was a teen and young adult. They were silly, punnish, pure mental candy. I wasn’t going to reread them and even that didn’t mean I wanted to part ways. It wasn’t until I started learning about the connection between Piers Anthony and pedophilia that I looked at them with different eyes. When it came time to pack my books for the move, I boxed them up and took them to a used book store rather than stacking them in the ‘keep’ pile.

Interestingly, a couple weeks after all this sorting and culling, I listened to Episode 65 of Our Opinions Are Correct – one of my very favorite podcasts. The episode was ‘We’re Officially Done with Lovecraft and Campbell’ which wasn’t just about HP Lovecraft and John Campbell (Amazing Stories Editor) and their racism and misogyny, but also included writers who were their peers and associates – Asimov and Heinlein among them. I have some books by each of them. So far they remain on my secondary bookshelf and the podcast has given me a lot to ponder about why I hang on to those ‘classic’ sci fi writers and what I might gain from keeping them, or letting them go. Podcast hosts Annalee and Charlie Jane are pretty clear where they stand, but I won’t spoil it for you. Give it a listen. {link to podcast}

I think one of the themes of this move for me has been ‘letting go of that which no longer serves me’. My relationship hadn’t served me for quite a while, and though breaking up wasn’t easy, it was the right thing to do. The home we made together no longer felt like a sanctuary and space for all of me, it was time to move on and make a new home for myself. Letting go of possessions that no longer serve me goes along with that urge to renew and rebirth myself.

Once my books were arranged in the office, I went back to the living room to see what was left. I found my Anne Rice collection, lesbian fiction including a good chunk of Rita Mae Brown books, lots of Stephen King and some cookbooks and books on gardening and home repair. There was also Children’s books from my childhood and my kids’. I knew I’d need another bookshelf or two to accommodate them in the main living area, where I still have space. Some of these are ‘on the bubble’ in terms of whether I’ll keep them or not.

A few days later, I brought home a large bookshelf from the other house and set it up in the living room. The Anne Rice and Stephen King books went into the corner shelf in my office, in the space created when I cut back on some of the white guy books. Rita Mae and the other lesbians fit into my bedroom shelf. That meant the cooking/repair/gardening books would fit on the new living room shelves along with puzzles, games, photo albums and some fiction.

And then there are books I call my ‘catch and release’ group. Books I want to read and then give away. I’ve got them piled in my bedroom. Easy to grab when it’s time for a new book to read.

My bookshelves are Ikea – the Billy series. My desk is also Ikea – Linnmon table top, Adils legs and a Kallax shelf to anchor one end. Most of my desk is taken up with equipment from my paying job and there’s still enough room for my laptop and space to lay out printed pages. The Kallax cubbies hold job related stuff, space for office supplies, works in progress and kittens.

My Lab continues to change and evolve as I use it. This is where I do my paid work as well, ever since going home with a cold in mid-March. It’s the headquarters for my writing work, though I also sit in other spaces in the house and on the deck to work on occasion. I am so happy with the way it turned out, and always feel good and ready to get to work when I go into my office. That was the goal: a space where I could work, and be inspired by the work of others.

Leave a Reply