April 15th: Managing Time… and Books


We woke up to glorious sunshine this morning and while a nuclear confrontation seems to be looming on the Korean peninsula, or god knows, the West Coast, one has to switch off sometimes, and that’s what I’ve been trying to do this week.

For the record: I didn’t have much time anyway to dwell on world affairs because once again, I’m astounded how much work still comes in. After Boston, there was stuff to do for two new clients, which is good, as it takes me out of the conflict queue at Nextdoor, and then there are maybe two more future clients in the making as we speak. One is a an English translation of a biography on a famous Dutch-American, so I hope that one will go through.

On top of that, I started a GoFundMe campaign to kickstart my research and the writing of a Henry Miller book (see http://www.gofundme.com/henrymillerrocks) for which I have now raised almost $700. Holy smokes!

By doing this, I see how the psychology works. I mean I was raised never to ask for any money so I was practically perspiring when my index finger hovered over my mouse to SUBMIT, but by actually doing this, I’ve realized this is not just about raising money but making yourself accountable to the people who support you. By those donations from Kyra, Hans, Marian, Melanie, Jeff, Sander, Ruud, Denise, Lucy and Dani I felt incredibly energized, and I feel utterly committed to this project now. Every donation counts and increases that feeling, so thank you all for giving me the faith to reach for the stars, together with Miller… on… who knows… a lonely ridge in Big Sur somewhere.

I will launch my Henry Miller blog tomorrow, so stay tuned.

But with all of these projects and commitments, I’ve also realized I need to manage my time better. Or manage it in a way that time gets divided equally. Jon taught me the notion of time boxing, where you say “Today I’ll spend two hours on this and then I’ll move onto the next chore.” And that’s the plan. The weekends I’ll use to immerse myself in Henry Miller, while time boxing certain chores. As you know, we live in an old house that needs constant upkeep but I’ve pledged to work for 1-2 hours on the house every weekend, so that we don’t get overwhelmed (and consequently do nothing) which may turn into a vicious cycle of total apathy.

So this morning I mowed our weedy lawns again, which actually look much better when they’re cut (lol) and I pruned here and there because the rains have turned our garden into a wilderness. Fighting with blackberry bushes (the story of my life since we moved into this house) I then proceeded to pull out some dead lavender bushes and I noticed the rich dark soil. Since replanting my lemon trees in bigger pots, I was short on soil and I was going to go to the store today to get some more potting soil but why go to the store for soil when you have it sitting in your garden, duh…

I remember when we bought the house that someone told us that the original owner who built the house in the 1930s trucked in tons of rich dark soil to plant a garden, and voilà: it’s still there… The original owner, who actually planned and built much in Orinda when it was still a summer resort for people in the city who were tired of fogged-in summers, didn’t skimp on the soil but saved on wood instead, which there was a shortage of in the 1930s. Our first contractor used to tell us: “Your house is sitting on toothpicks” which is a reassuring feeling in earthquake country…

But I digress. I have another time-boxing chore ahead of me: getting rid of stuff, and in particular… books. I have read much of Henry Miller but not his entire oeuvre… and we have run out of shelf space:


I used to have friends in Mass. The guy was a Harvard professor and bibliophile and when I visited them during my first Thanksgiving in the US, I noticed the entire house was lined with books. Very little wall space left. When they got older, they wanted to downsize. There was one house in their community that they had fallen in love with and they had promised each other: when that house comes on the market, we’ll buy it. So one day, the house did come on the market and they hurried over to see the house on the inside. When they both came out, they looked at each other and said almost simultaneously: “No can do, because where would we put our books?”

No– I ain’t that bad, although I must admit: getting rid of books is hard. Not just because every book has a story to tell and because I know how much blood, sweat and tears go into the writing of a book, but I also have an external relationship with a book, as in, oh I remember I bought this book in a quaint little shop on a beautiful Fall day etc etc. More on that in my Henry Miller blog, so don’t tune out.

But the books are calling so I wish you a Happy Easter.


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