Archive for October 29th, 2005

A Busy Week …

I'm just kind of catching my breath today. This week we taped two shows: On Tuesday I interviewed Anthony Swofford, author of the great Gulf War memoir Jarhead, which has recently been adapted into a feature film. Then on Friday (our usual taping day) I chatted with actress Joan Chen, whose filmmaking debut -- Xiu-Xiu: The Sent-Down Girl -- is an incredibly beautiful, heartfelt movie that you can (with some small effort) find on video (though not on DVD). (We had added the Tuesday taping because it was the only day Swofford would be available.) In between, on Thursday, we taped a "Wandering Josh" segment in which I tried to learn to be a Sam Spade-type gumshoe.

And while all this was happening, our apartment was being Agnes-ized. I mentioned in an earlier entry that I'd hired a professional organizer to try to tame the mess I have inflicted on our family's little two-bedroomer. Well, she's been over a few times now, and it's been kind of amazing. New bookcases have arrived from Ikea, many old solicitations for pre-approved credit cards have been recycled, and the mere re-angling of our bed has brought a whiff of feng shui to the master bedroom. My wife's collapsed closet has been sturdily rebuilt by an Orthodox Jewish handyman, nearly bringing her to Talmudic tears of gratitude. And at Agnes's suggestion, I asked our building manager whether the nine years' accumulation of mold on our walls might call for a repainting; shortly thereafter, a very nice painter named Phil (religious affiliation unknown) came over and repainted much of our apartment -- including Sara's closet, which Agnes then re-reorganized. ...

I can sense that Agnes is a very spiritual person -- that she sees organizing people's lives as a higher calling. And I can tell that in me she has found her entropic Moriarty: a person whose genius for creating clutter nearly matches her own for eliminating it. Our messy pad may seem unassuming to the casual visitor (not that we've been allowing any!), but to a world-class de-clutterer like Agnes it's the Holy Grail -- that ultimate challenge that can either make or break an organizer's career. What the late Johnny Cochran was to the O.J. trial, Agnes aims to be here -- defender of the indefensible, poetic conjurer of the unlikely victory: If the mess doesn't fit, you mustn't submit. If she succeeds in her unlikely quest -- and she's already made significant headway! -- then "Agnes" and "Josh's apartment" may come to rival "Hercules" and "Augean Stable" in the heroic literature. ...

4 comments October 29th, 2005


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