I can see the bottom of my bedroom closet floor! I realize that this is hardly news in the life of most folks, but I’m not most folks when it comes to cleaning. (I’ve written previously about my complicated relationship with squalor.) But after an entire week of schlepping a hamper full of laundry down to the ol’ laundry mat every day for a week, I finally dug myself out of a closet full of laundry—and produced four bags worth of clothes for the Salvation Army! I’m not sure if this newfound cleaning streak is the result of some late-20s crisis, procrastinating to avoid finishing the dissertation prospectus or what, but I hope it keeps up. I am much indebted to one of my commenter’s who pointed me towards “FlyLady”—I find the site’s penchant for self-help jargon to be cringeworthy, but I have to confess that the system does seem to work.
Now that I’ve actually got the closet empty-ish, I’m faced with those eternal questions that arise around clothes. Do I give away beloved clothes that are just a bit too tight, especially while I still nurse dreams of dropping a couple of dress sizes? What about the thing that’s just slightly too large, especially since that seems to be the direction that the weight generally likes to march? And am I obligated to keep clothes given as gifts? (Actually, this question always haunts me regardless of what I’m decluttering: can you give away gifts? I’ve generally answered in the negative, but I’m starting to change my tune out of sheer necessity.)
In other apartment news, my renewed decision this summer to stick it out and not buy an air conditioner has, at last, been rewarded by temperate weather. The midatlantic heat wave finally broke and now it’s so temperate that I don’t even have to run a fan. I’m pretty sure that my delight at this situation is magnified ten-fold in my very fluffy long-haired cat who, at the height of the heat wave, took up near-permanent residence under my bed.
In news outside of my four walls, it’s World Youth Day! You might have picked up some of the oft-ill-reported buzz around World Youth Day, social media, and indulgences. James Martin, S.J. does a good job of separating the facts from the hype over at CNN with a blog post entitled “Sorry, retweeting the Pope won’t get you out of hell.”
This picture of Pope Francis in Brazil needs no commentary because it’s already perfect. However, I did much enjoy Elizabeth Scalia’s description of Francis, based on this photo, as a “big brass band of a pope.”
Confession time—I’m a graduate student who works on English literature and I’ve never made it through a Jane Austen novel. Never. I don’t know why this is, really. I never particularly liked Austen, but I abhor Scott and I made it through Ivanhoe. Frankly, once you’ve gotten through Ivanhoe you should be able to get through any literary text. Anyway, in an effort to assuage my shame I’ve once again pulled up Pride and Prejudice on the Kindle and begun. Maybe it’s just a post-Ivanhoe-reading effect, but I’m actually enjoying it this time around. Hopefully I can make a good dent in it by the end of the weekend.
While I haven’t gotten all the way through Pride and Prejudice, I am far enough to know what’s wrong with the Austen quote that’s now printed on millions of ten pound notes in Britain. The quote—”I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading!”—is, ironically, spoken in bad faith by one of Austen’s characters. The Guardian explains:
The trouble is that these words are spoken by one of Austen’s most deceitful characters, a woman who has no interest in books at all: Caroline Bingley. She is sidling up to Mr Darcy, whom she would like to hook as a husband, and pretending that she shares his interests. He is reading a book, so she sits next to him and pretends to read one too. She is, Austen writes, “as much engaged in watching Mr Darcy’s progress through his book, as in reading her own” and “perpetually either making some inquiry, or looking at his page”. He will not be distracted, so “exhausted by the attempt to be amused with her own book, which she had only chosen because it was the second volume of his”, she gives a great yawn and says the words that will appear on the bank note.
She is interested in books in one way. She and her brother are nouveaux riches, who have inherited their wealth from a father who was “in trade”. Now they have a big rented house – but no books to put in it. You can display your status with an impressive library (Mr Darcy has one), so she is keen that her brother procure some volumes as soon as possible. “When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” But she won’t be reading any of its contents.
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