“Decor in general left her completely indifferent.”

In this era of “Extreme Home-Makeovers” and “Trading Spaces”, it seems a crime to say so.  Let me be clear: I love a good make-over, be it person (à la “What not to Wear”), room, or home.  But when it comes to my own space, well, I just can’t be bothered.  As long as the clutter’s under control and the dust bunnies (which are really ginormous fur balls) aren’t assimilating the apartment, I’m content.  Some art on the walls would be nice, I agree, but art costs money, and if I have it to spend, I’d rather spend it on books.

Which is funny, because I did own a house for a while, a wee 730 square footer, back when I was single & fancy-free.  The first two weeks after closing, I spent my vacation painting its four rooms, unpacking, screwing together new pine bookshelves (after my LARGE particle board bookshelf [fatigued from 14 moves in 11 years] imploded, predictably seconds after I placed the last book on its shelf), and white-washing them.

But once vacation was over, in the next 5 years of home-ownership I did not tackle one decorating task more. Granted, my energies were taken up by the winter without running water, the long-running water heater issues, the propagating mice…. However, left to my own devices (and Lance will back me up on this, to his ever-loving dismay), even pictures of my family remain stacked on a shelf somewhere.  I love pictures of my family, would very much like them to be hung on my walls.  By someone else.  Because I’m over here, otherwise and much more happily occupied.

* The post title quote is from the novel, That Mad Ache, by Francoise Sagan, in a new translation by Douglas Hofstadter.  The first novel I’ve picked up in a while, it’s set in 1960’s Parisian high society, a great summer read — beautifully written and fun.  Plus, when you flip it over, on the other side is an essay by Mr. Hofstadter on the process of translating this novel, including the title.  Jane Hirshfield, in Nine Gates, also wrote on the art of translation, and William Gass too, in Reading Rilke, and it never fails to fascinate.

4 responses to ““Decor in general left her completely indifferent.””

  1. Eek, how can we even think of the house outside of picking up toys, sweeping the floors, doing the dishes…we have children with a purpose-demolition.

  2. I love the sound of this book. I wish I could get away from feeling that my house could look nicer — but for now, I’m just hell bent on buying a couch of some kind for our living room. We haven’t had a couch since 2006, and really, it’s about time. No one else cares, but I need a place to laze around while I read things like That Mad Ache. xoxo

  3. is this the same Douglas Hofstadter as in ‘godel escher bach?’ francoise sagan has been one of my favorite authors ever since i first came across her in high school, i was looking for salinger at the library (if that’s any indication of when my affair with her begins), and it’s one of few books that have ever really cried out to me from the unknown, pick me up! and ever since then i’ve more or less dedicated my life to finding the prettiest copies i could of her books.

    your lack of running water doesn’t surprise me–i wonder how common it is to live in absolute absurd situations in the Valley–i always seemed to be the only one, there should be a CLUB!

  4. Too true, Victoria — but I was as equally uncaring sans children! 🙂

    Lily, we finally got a couch the day Aidan & I came home from the hospital. That morning (5º & windy) Lance got it for 30 bucks & strapped it to the top of the car. Our “new” loveseat is a recent, free, addition — because, to truly enjoy reading, one must be lounging!

    Yes, Stephen, same one. He also wrote a long tome, Le Ton Beau De Marot: In Praise Of The Music Of Language about “language, translation, culture, and human genius”, that I long to read also.

    And, for clarity’s sake, my wee house was in the Berkshires, so its absurd living conditions, and they were indeed absurd at times!, cannot be blamed on the Valley.

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