Clean Up Your Side of the Street!

snowplow at workWe continue to make our way through the chaos at our new home. Last night Jim started putting up the beautiful new sliding panel blinds on the patio door. I couldn’t begin to tell you how much time we spent agonizing over how we wanted to have those done.

I went in and spent at least an hour with this nice woman in the window treatments department at Lowe’s. Then Jim and I went in. Then we went back home and re-measured. Then we went in yet again

(so a third time for me) and actually placed the order. We wanted the panels to pull back all the way outside of the doors so that the glass was unobstructed and the handle on the door wasn’t behind anything. I had gone over this point several times. I had been assured that the measurements were correct for what we wanted. I remember asking specifically if the numbers included the side panel clearance and I was told that they did. But when we finally put them up . . . they’re wrong. They only come to the edge of the door frame. When we looked at the order that we submitted we could see that the width of the actual top frame didn’t include the clearance, and that’s the form we signed. But I asked!

Now, to be honest, I was always a little uneasy about having the panels be that wide. It seemed to me that the whole thing was going to look too heavy, especially once I put up the cornice that I have planned. There were tradeoffs either way. But Jim was adamant that he wanted the panels to clear the door. He was not a happy camper last night. “I hate this!” he said. So guess what? I’m leaving the whole thing up to him. He’s the one with the strongest opinion, so he can deal with it. I’ll just stay out of the situation. In the end, whatever happens, we’ll have something nice. I don’t have to stick my nose into the affair.

This whole exercise of moving into the in-laws’ house, which started almost a year ago, has been a great course for me in the fine art of keeping my mouth shut about things that don’t concern me. Every time I get into a mood where I’m thinking, ‘I have to solve this! This needs to be done!’ I get myself into trouble. So just this week I decided that we had to go through and get rid of most of our books. We have two fairly small bookcases in the downstairs office space, plus, if we cheat, some space in the room where Gideon stayed before he went off to grad school. He took several boxes of books with him but had to leave quite a few of them behind. So there they sit. We should box them up and put them in the shed, and that would give us more space for ours. But we don’t need to keep those books, in my humble opinion.

Here’s the thing: I’ve already gotten rid of my own books, the ones that I decided were unnecessary. I no longer have any college textbooks, or novels, or matched sets that I bought before marriage. (So farewell to the Will and Ariel Durant set, and to the Trollope set, and to the Dickens set.) I took a carload to Goodwill before we moved. Most of the books that are left have at least a tenuous connection to Jim. He has a much stronger connection to actual physical books than I do. So now there are piles of books all over the floor downstairs, books that I want him to give me permission to donate. And he’s pushing back on this. You know what? I need to quit trying to get him to do what I want him to do and instead just take care of my own stuff. I can neatly shelve the very few books of my own that I’m keeping. (Including the dozen or so books on ancient Rome that I think are going to inspire me to write my novel set in that time period. Jim would never, ever say to me, “You know you’re never going to write that novel. Why can’t you get rid of those books?” Never.) I can purge my cookbook collection. I can set up the files I want. I can carefully move the desktop monitor off my desk so I can use my laptop on it. I can exercise what I call “selective blindness.” Again, has Jim fussed at me for having my bathroom stuff strewn around all over the place while we’re waiting on getting a new sink, vanity and wall cabinet? He has not. Yesterday I finally got that stuff sort of under control, and we should be getting the new items soon, but there’s no need to have unnecessary chaos while we’re waiting on them.

This morning I got to thinking, ‘You’re doing it again, Debi. You’re focusing on what you want someone else to do instead of on what you need to do. Just leave those books alone! Jim will take care of them in his own good time. It’s not up to you to set a deadline for him.’ And, as has happened so many other times during this process, I felt a surge of relief. Yes, exactly! I don’t have that burden. It’s not up to me.

Hence the title of this post. Sometimes it’s phrased as, “Stay on your own sheet of paper.” But I like the “cleanup” aspect.

Are you straying over onto someone else’s side of the street? How can you get back onto yours?

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