Get Your Sh*t Together: A (Very Rambling) Book Review

Warning: there is benign & perhaps humorous swearing in this post. Also, this post is not about gardening.

Sometime after the Marie Kondo craze began and everyone started eyeing their socks and asking if those socks sparked joy, I encountered Sarah Knight’s The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck. I read it. I thought it was hilarious, and also incredibly on-target. It wasn’t so much making fun of Kondo’s book, as turning it into a metaphor for gently, thoughtfully, and with much profanity letting go of the elements of one’s life about which one did not, in all sincerity, give a f*ck. I considered which of my friends should receive this book as a present. I tried to read bits of it aloud to my husband, but was hampered in this by laughing too hard to speak coherently.

This brings us to 2020. 2020 has been a year when it seems impossible not to give, to borrow a phrase, way too many f*cks. 2020 has been a year that vastly overspent far too many people’s f*ck budget, including mine. Early December, and I at least cannot remember the last time I felt this exhausted.

A couple of weeks ago, I was eyeing my bookcase, looking for something suitably lightweight. Did I have any humorous graphic novels I hadn’t read? No – but I did have Knight’s second book, Get Your Sh*t Together, and it caught my eye. I took it off the shelf. I read it mostly sitting in the backyard under a tree, moving the chair around as needed to catch the sun. And once again, I kept trying to read bits of it to my husband, but found myself laughing too hard to be able to get all the way through a sentence.

Partly Knight’s writing is just funny. Partly she’s about my age, and so her jokes referencing cultural miscellanea from earlier decades just make sense to me (also the one about remodeling a house, which ends with: “buy a throw pillow. Throw it at your contractor.”). And partly –

Partly she’s right.

I’m overwhelmed. I’m tired. But the stupid thing is, I’m tired based on dilemmas and problems of my own d*mn making. Is my to-do list too long? Fine. I am a grown-up. Either I can make a plan to do the things on the list, or I can decide they don’t need doing. Use a must-do list for the things that have to be done today. Do just those things, and then move the f*ck on.

The profanity helps.

All of this is a long way of saying: the book is funny. If you’re in your early forties and you share at least some of the author’s cultural context, it might be extra funny – but I suspect it’s funny either way.

On top of that – and this is the part I hadn’t quite expected, but I live in hope and in this case it actually paid off – the book is also useful. I found myself staring at my to-do list earlier today, muttering “strategize, focus, commit.” Then I made a list of things to do, and then I did them.

And then I was done, and I stopped working for the day, and went and ate an ice cream bar.

Also known as, and for the last phrase-borrowing of this post, winning.

I recommend the book.

Meditation on New Mexico’s green chile

The first time I tasted green chile I was nineteen years old

sun-struck

desert-struck

in love with sunburn with the desert with the wide ranges of the interstates with the sharp edges of the peaks standing out against the hot pale sky

in love with the August thunderstorms that broke the sky’s edge sent the red mud washing down the arroyos

sent torrents of water sheeting down the old truck’s windshield so fast the wipers couldn’t keep up and we had to pull over in order to see

in love with the sparse cool grass under the one tree

in love with the need for a sun-bleached hat with cowboy boots with the hard work that started with the drive out at dawn with the dirt on my skin and the way a wheelbarrow angles down a rough-cut path and the fit of a shovel in my hands and the smaller tools tucked into the back pockets of my jeans

If I found myself – one of my selves – for the first time when I reached the Mojave – partway there! – with the windows down and a stubborn refusal to turn on the air conditioning and had to soak my head under a tap at the rest stop to bring the focus and the cool back to my brain

If I found myself – one of my selves – when the oncoming lightning storm lifted the hair from my head and I felt the crackle in the air before running rushing back down the hill to make it down off the peak before the storm struck

If I found myself in the wide cut dirt of working outside and the chile in town just the right heat on weekends at the end of the day when the sky also opened up with stars and we tilted our heads back and there was so much space

then I am still all of those selves

and in these days of less space and less motion I am grateful for remembered heat

remembered past

remembered sun

remembered selves.

Six-on-Saturday garden report: early December

The rain hasn’t really begun, and the roses are still blooming.

I turned the watering system off, then on again when I realized that November’s barely-there rain-slash-mist wasn’t going to become a trend. There are leaks in the system that still need fixing, but that’s for tomorrow.

Today, I’m grateful for the cat that left a dead gopher on the path – a gopher that I assume was responsible for these holes:

which used to be not so much holes, as dill plants. You can see a few fronds of a remaining dill plant in the upper part of the photo. I am hoping there was only one gopher.

It’s very definitely fall. The leaves are golden, and the apples and pomegranates are in the last days of ripe.

The backlit sphere near the middle is a pomegranate. I was trying to capture the light’s late-fall angled slant.

The flowering sage plant continues to be ridiculous. It’s taller and more aggressive than the baby citrus tree behind it – we have to keep cutting the sage plant back so it doesn’t entirely overwhelm the poor kumquat. We keep saying we should remove the sage, because it doesn’t remotely fit in the space or make any sense at all with anything planted near it (a maple tree, two citrus trees, a yellow daisy, two agapanthus, some kind of weird low ball-shaped shrub – admittedly, those things don’t make sense relative to each other either, and the tall ones are all entirely in front of the short ones; this is what happens when a bunch of plants get planted right before selling a house to two poor saps who’ve never had a proper garden and thus don’t realize the difference between mature and just-got-it-from-Home-Depot landscaping – but oh well, we’re learning) – but it blooms year round and the hummingbirds love it, so so far it stays.

Note the very excellent bee also enjoying the sage.

The lavatera maritima which I planted in place of a hibiscus which did not thrive, is thriving:

I love these colors so much. Also, I realized recently, I love pretty much all mallow plants.

And at least to my eye, there are few things more hot-sun gorgeous than a bougainvillea in front of a cream stuccoed wall – even if the weather isn’t actually hot, but just looks as if it might be.

Happy Saturday! I was glad to be out in the garden today. Good weather to you, whatever version of weather that might mean. And if not in the garden, then good dreaming & planning for gardening days to come.

For other gardeners’ posts in the #SixOnSaturday series, complete with lovely or interesting seasonal photos, click through here!