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Spirit: Bookshelf Porn

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This woman who turned an East Harlem brownstone into a lofty, light-filled home for her family? I hate her precisely because I want to be her.

I will admit to being a junkie for a few things. House of Cards and other serial TV shows. Greek yogurt with honey. And bookshelves. Not real bookshelves, mind you, but the ones in decorating magazines. I hungrily lap up each new issue of Elle Decor and then immediately start coming down on my own organizational abilities. I feel a constant tug between wanting to get rid of all my stuff, and doing some uber-organizing on the stuff I have.

It might be easier if it were just me. I live with a husband and our nearly-2-year-old daughter, they tend to get upset when their things disappear. I am not an extremely slobby person. I occasionally leave a wake of wrong clothes in the bedroom during the morning rush, or the occasional “floor salad,” as I like to call it, when I’m cooking. It’s a space-time paradox: After working 40+ hours a week at my job, being a mom, and writing a book, there are only a few slivers of time to do anything else, such as major organizing projects.

My current fantasy goes like this: I am on paid vacation and home for 10 days, while Grace and Steve are out of the house for the daylight hours. Some of that time is spent doing yoga with a private instructor who comes to my house, napping, and reading the books piled on my nightstand. But the rest of the time I am with a drill-sergeant professional organizer/decorator, who knows intuitively which things we do not need, whisks them into a box labeled “donate” and proceeds to rearrange the few items we have left, and stack the books by color to make my home look like it belongs in a design magazine. And then Elle Decor comes to my house and takes a bunch of pictures, in which we are casually splayed out on our couch drinking lavender-herb lemonade and Grace is playing with a handmade organic Elmo.

Is all this bookshelf porn doing me more harm than good? It makes more 49 percent inspired and 51 percent inadequate. How about we start seeing Jennifer Anniston’s closet BEFORE the photo stylists had at it? Or Jackie Collins’ pantry with the spilled honey on the shelves and the cans of beans so old the expiration dates have faded? It’s almost as if I were bombarded by images of skinny sexy 20-somethings in every ad, movie and TV show I saw, and know I will never be those things.

You can’t be too rich or too thin. Or too organized. How do you do it? How does anyone?

Vanessa McGradySpirit: Bookshelf Porn

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