"Nothing can be done/but by inches."-Adrienne Rich

I keep thinking of this line from the first section of the poem "Incipience," by Adrienne Rich:

"Nothing can be done/but by inches."

It's been a calming mantra.

I spend almost every other weekend in Philadelphia, visiting my 89-year old mother; waking up at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday to take a 7:14 New Jersey Transit train to Trenton, where I transfer to a SEPTA train to 30th Street Station, Philadelphia. When I get there I use the restroom and stop at Dunkin' Donuts, then take a 10:19 train to Wynnewood, where Bob, the man who drives my mother when she needs to go to the doctor or the store, picks me up and takes me to my mother's apartment. The following day he takes me back to the train station at 11:30 and I get back to my own apartment around 4:00.

The reason I'm offering all these boring travel details is in the hope that you will be able to appreciate the anticipation I feel when I'm spending the weekend in New York. I can sleep late--and I do, sometimes until 11:00. I sleep late despite the fact that I have a long list of "things to do."

Of course, many of the items on that list have to do with decluttering: recycling," "thrift shop," "go through paper."

What I'm starting to accept is that there really is a limited amount of time that I can focus on paper. Lauren Rosenfeld (co-author of Breathing Room) suggested that I develop a "ritual practice"  that I can commit to. She said she was thinking of my apartment as one of those hand-held slide puzzles we had as kids--where there was one empty space so you could move the other tiles around. I knew exactly what she meant, and it was a great analogy. Lauren recommended that I have a specific place to process paper--a clearing space, perhaps 2 x 3. Rather than going through an entire bag, Lauren thought I should just work with small piles at one time, not walking away until I had cleared the space, and each piece of paper was either gone by intention or staying by intention.

Incredibly enough, I didn't have so much as a 2 x 3 space to work in. But I have an idea of where I can create one--I just have to move some things off of it.

Another thing that Lauren suggested was to hang some curtains that I told her I'd bought at a street fair a couple of years ago. The curtains are a very sheer, golden/coppery color. The first time I saw them they were glimmering in the sun, and I pictured light shining through them into my apartment. I told Lauren I was saving them to hang after the apartment was free of clutter. But Lauren urged me to hang them now--she thought it would change the energy in the room.

So, on Sunday, I tried to hang the curtains. Here's the thing: the wall the window is set into is brick with just a thin coat of plaster. Since I can't hammer a nail or screw a screw into that wall, I have attached the hardware that holds the curtain rod with various adhesives. None of them last very long. As I was trying to hang the curtains I noticed one of the hooks for the rod was separating from the wall. So I folded the curtains up and put them back into their bags.

"Nothing can be done/but by inches."