Daily Archives: January 6, 2012

Living the perfect life?

Yesterday was the twelfth day of Christmas, twelve lords a-leaping and all. The feast is over. Time to get back to work. Time for those New Year’s resolutions.

So I spent a few hours today sorting through a collection of old papers, and did pretty well – for me – in getting rid of them. Maybe a sixth of them will be kept for now (and sorted through again later). About a quarter of the pile – say three inches worth – ought to be shredded, so they’re sitting in an Amazon box, labeled SHRED ME, for the moment. And the rest of them went straight into recycling.

Those of you who are naturally organized will just shrug and say “And?” But for us packrats, this is a huge accomplishment. I really am throwing a lot of stuff out these days.

To get to this point, I had to rethink the whole process and learn to ignore the Official Rules. “Handle every piece of paper just once!” “For every item that comes into your house, something else has to go out!” “If you haven’t used it in the past year, throw it away!” Sorry, we can’t all be that efficient.

Yes, there’s way too much stuff in my house. A lot of it – as much as half of it – needs to go away. But I make bad decisions when I’m shouting at myself “Make up your mind, don’t waste time, when in doubt throw it out, blahblahblahblah!”

The rules of thumb we all know, the ones that are supposed to tell us How To Live Organized Lives, just don’t help. Actually, that’s true of most rules of thumb, for me. I wonder if they help anybody? Think about it. If the Standard Advice really, really worked, first time, every time, for pretty much everyone, what would happen to the market for self-improvement books? Who would buy them once we’ve all been improved?

Then again, maybe I’m just weird.

52 books / 52 weeks – Kiffe-Kiffe Tomorrow

Review – Kiffe-Kiffe Tomorrow
by Faiza Guene

A Keeper? Okay story, but probably not

It’s hard to be fourteen years old. It’s hard to be poor. It’s hard to be an immigrant, different in culture and religion and looks from the country where you live. Doria has to deal with all of this, and with the fact that her father has walked out on her and her mother to go back to Morocco and marry a second, younger wife.

As the book cover, and eventually the story, explain, “Kiffe-Kiffe Tomorrow” is an Arabic/French pun…more or less “same-old, same-old good stuff coming”. It’s a quiet little story that follows Doria (and her stoic, hard-working, ambitious mom) through the next year and a bit as they cope with life in their Paris housing project. Things happen – Mom gets a horrible job, a boy Doria grew up with goes to jail, Mom and Doria realize that now that Doria’s dad is in Morocco they can go to the local street fair if they want to, the housing project superintendent’s wife finds Doria a babysitting job, Doria gets her first kiss from the ugly, earnest boy who’s been tutoring her, Mom loses her job and is able to enroll in a welfare program to learn to read French, Doria flunks out of high school and is sent to beautician training….and eventually Doria turns sixteen and decides that her life is going pretty well, thank you. (Readers might disagree – she’s still very poor, many of the kids she knows are becoming drug dealers or thieves, she has to face ongoing discrimination, and what happens if Dad decides to come back to Paris and drag Doria and Mom home to Morocco to live with Wife #2 and her baby? But at least Doria gets a fragile moment of satisfaction.)

I enjoyed Kiffe-Kiffe Tomorrow as it went along, but I don’t think it’s a keeper for me. Why? The big problem, I think, is that Doria is too passive for a central character. Things happen to her, not because of her. Still, it might have more appeal to readers in their teens who are closer to Doria’s emotional switchbacks.