Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

making room

bookshelfI’m giving away my books. A LOT of my books. Even the ones I did my graduate work on. Even the ones that saved my life.

I’m also giving away what scrapbookers call ephemera: my mother’s passport, someone’s international driver’s license from a very long time ago. Earrings I’ll never wear, tea sets I never really used. Even pots & pans & my mother’s table linens.

I’m making room.

There’s nothing to really ‘make room’ for, I confess. But it feels, sometimes, like all this stuff is smothering me. Even books. But the trouble is, a writer never knows what books might come in handy down the road. Still, I’m pretty sure I don’t need 20 fountain pens. I am keeping the dictionary of art terms, a guidebook to Việt Nam (once I spent an hour reading through it to make sure I had a bird right for a poem…), and waaaaay too many books of poetry. :)


Pen on journal pageThe ‘things’ are a little harder. Who will love my fountain pens? I don’t use them much anymore — the older I get, the less time I want to spend doing anything that feels like ‘messing with.’ These days, I can almost achieve that lovely sliiiiip of ink in a good quality rollerball. Which have the added advantage of not exploding in your pocket or purse when you fly…

Still, I love them. Even if they are just ‘things.’ I love their stories — who gave me this one, when, why it looks like it does. The feel of a point scratching a tiny indentation, on a piece of paper, for ink to fill.


2011-02-26 19.17.19And tea sets: do I keep the Beatrix Potter tea set for grandchildren? What about my grandmother’s tea sets (I have THREE)? The silver tea set? And what about the ones I rarely use at all: the celadon green tea set w/ the Korean handle, brought back from one of  Glen’s work trips? The white one that only seems right to use when it’s sooo hot outside…?

And don’t forget all the darn linens! I took half a LARGE suitcase full of linens to my son & DIL last month, and we still have BOXES. I have my mother’s, my own, and several of my mother-in-law’s. Not to mention all the doilies my great-aunt Bonnie gave me, knowing I’d actually use them (yup, I confess: I use doilies w/ tea sometimes — so sue me). 2012-04-11 15.29.01


But it’s the books that my friends deplore. You’re getting read of Virginia Woolf?? You aren’t keeping your Fisher? What about …? And their faces look as if I’ve broken some sacred code.

So why do it? What am I making room for?

I don’t have answers. It just seems time to pass these things on to other lovers of pens and tea sets and books. Even though I’m still buying ‘things’ (well, a book on bees, a brass pencil sharpener, a small spatula… :) ).

Who knows what might show up if I make room?


  • Alan


    • Britton Gildersleeve


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