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Monday Ramblings

I've had a hard time writing here lately, not because I don't have things to say. I do, I do. But because I'm just swamped with all kinds of stuff. Last week was a big push to finish the final edits of my book and now we're moving into this really dreadful time of having to sort through and pack up our house.

Ugh. I have moved so many times in my life and it never ceases to stress me out.

I've been particularly emotional about it this go around, as I try to sort through all of my parents belongings. I was driven to tears twice yesterday, just feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of my parents stuff that I have. I'm talking Spode china and Waterford crystal decanters, dozens of beautifully framed photos, art work, boxes of their clothes. I have my father's wedding tux and his army uniform, in addition to his old favorite sweater, a pair of pajamas I remember him fondly in and his large collection of Borselino hats. Then I've got my mother's wedding dress and one or two boxfuls of clothes that I remember her wearing often, and which I just can't bear to part with.

I've got their report cards and my father's airforce records. I have my mom's art work and her sewing machine and the coffee table that was in her living room in New York before she even met my father. I've got my own baby clothes that my mother saved and boxes and boxes of family photos. Yesterday I started crying when I came across a stack of old film reels, the topmost labeled "Claire's Homecoming."

I want to keep all this stuff, I really do. But I can't continue to drag it around with me for the rest of my life. I honestly don't know what to do about all of it. I get so emotional going through it that I don't even know how to pick and choose or repack any of it.

On a lighter note, it SNOWED here last night. Normally this would make me rant and rave, but I just don't care anymore because we are leaving 6 weeks from tomorrow for a new life of snowless winters.

And in good news, the book is DONE. My editor called on Friday to say that my most recent batch of edits were superb and not to touch a thing. She seriously made me promise not to do anything else to it. I swear I could work on this book until the moment it's in your hands and still probably not feel done.

The art department is working on mock ups of the cover as we speak. It may or may not have a family photo on it, which I have mixed feelings about. This potential did cause me to upload a bunch of old photos to a Flickr account, if you're interested though. I'm particularly fond of this one of my parents, taken on their honeymoon in Italy in 1975.


Anyway, I warned you that this would be a rambling post. Hope your Monday is less snowy than mine.



  1. Claire, I know the weight of parent’s and family treasures. My husband has them and we are talking (in detail) about what to do with so many items, boxes and boxes of them. John’s father died when he was 17, his sister and mother when he was 24. He’s been carrying around art and relics from his grandparents, parents and sister since then. I understand the emotional need to hold on to alot of these items. What we are discussing is, is there a story that goes with that item that needs to be written down, and then a picture of that item next to it in an album, because ultimately, it’s the story that is the treasure. And that is what he would want to pass down to his daughter and grandkids.
    We are scaling down, and will be going thru this process over the next 2 months, so he is getting emotionally ready to leave some things to others, give them away if they can be used, or remember the story. If there is no story to remember….out they go.
    In some ways, too many “things” have been weighing him down, but the pain of his losses have been heavier.
    And we need the freedom of less things. The memories we will try to record.
    Good luck to you on your move. I know it comes with pain.
    Looking forward to seeing you in sunny So Cal!

    Comment by Susan Sanford Steyl on April 18, 2011 at 4:10 pm

  2. You will know when you are ready to divest yourself of their “stuff”, Claire. I’m no professional packrat, but I think sometimes we make the mistake of getting rid of things too soon. Trust your heart.

    Comment by Carroll on April 18, 2011 at 5:37 pm

  3. Well, I spoke too soon on this. After reading this out loud to John ( your letter and my comment) I could see a look in his eyes. I then said ” we will always have a place for what ever really matters to you”. I know he’ll sort through and make decisions he can live with. I can’t ask for more than that.

    Comment by Susan Sanford Steyl on April 18, 2011 at 6:30 pm

  4. You write so beautifully, Claire. I’m really looking forward to reading your book!

    Comment by Suzanne on April 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm

  5. I’m sure faithful blog readers will get an advance copy, right? Very excited to read your book as well. From only meeting you a few times, I know you have a valuable story to tell.

    Comment by on April 18, 2011 at 10:56 pm

  6. Aw, thanks Carroll. I think it would just be a lot easier if I knew that I had somewhere good to put it all!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on April 19, 2011 at 6:48 am

  7. Aw, what a sweet man. You picked a good one!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on April 19, 2011 at 6:49 am

  8. Thanks for commiserating. I have a feeling that there are a lot of us out there with boxes like these. Cant wait to see you often in CA!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on April 19, 2011 at 6:50 am

  9. Oh, thank you! Thats really nice of you to say.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on April 19, 2011 at 6:51 am

  10. Aw, thats sweet of you to say. Ive loved getting to know you guys.

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on April 19, 2011 at 6:53 am

  11. Ah, I can relate in many ways to this. After my mom died I moved into her home which was filled obviously with her things, but also tucked in every closet my father’s things (who’d died 9 years earlier). I have found it both difficult and comforting to live among my parents belongings. Lately I’m realizing how much it’s been overwhelming my own sense of self and belonging. To have so little of what is ‘mine’ around me.
    That was the impetus I needed to start to clear out.
    You may find that the things that mean the most will continue to rise to the top and that it’s okay to get rid of that which continues to stay at the bottom.
    good luck with all you have going on!

    Comment by Erin Loughlin on April 19, 2011 at 8:01 am

  12. The pictures are great!! Your mom was so beautiful! And the picture of her holding you as a newborn…priceless.

    Comment by Chris on April 19, 2011 at 10:38 am

  13. Thats an interesting point — how having all of this stuff leaves very little room for what is YOURS. I think my problem is that I have too much of their stuff AND mine. Sigh. :)

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on April 20, 2011 at 7:52 am

  14. Ah, thank you!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on April 20, 2011 at 7:52 am

  15. I may be totally off-base about this, but have you considered donating anything to an archive or museum collection? That way, you could still access them, but someone else would be caring for them, and they’d become part of a larger historical dialogue, which would be a really honorable tribute, I think. Obviously, not everything would be appropriate for this, but maybe some of it? I’m not sure.

    Comment by Meghan on April 20, 2011 at 2:25 pm

  16. Then again, it might be a lot of legwork when you already have tons on your plate.

    Comment by Meghan on April 20, 2011 at 2:26 pm

  17. Thats actually a great idea. Youre right that now might be a bit tricky to embark on that plan, but as I pack I could always pack things into specific donation boxes to deal with later. Thanks!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on April 21, 2011 at 11:02 am

  18. Iam sorry I couldn’t read as often as used to be in last a couple of months. I just opened your blog over the lunch and I really enjoyed it.. I mean, I thank you so much for sharing your life and thoughts. It is all so beautiful and I just cannot stop sending this note to say thank you. Keiko

    Comment by Keiko on May 16, 2011 at 12:41 am

  19. Aw, thank you! Glad you found some time to read!

    Comment by Claire Bidwell Smith on May 16, 2011 at 7:06 am

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