Series One/Post One—Jacki and Will's Basement
Client: NPR Correspondent and Host, Jacki Lyden and Washington Post Photojournalist, Will O'Leary
Caitlin's Project Diary
For me, finishing an organizing job is a double-edged sword.
When you really love working with a client, you miss your time together when you have done your job and they are, well, organized. This has been my experience with Jacki Lyden.
Jacki is an incredibly talented reporter and host at National Public Radio. She is married to Will O'Leary, a gifted photojournalist at The Washington Post.Given their respective professions, I knew that their basement would reveal buried treasures--and it did. Over the next weeks, Jacki will recount in her own wonderful voice our memorable, hilarious and creative hours together taming their unruly (though not unusual) basement.
Enjoy and let us know what you think!
Jacki's Project Diary
I met my husband, a photojournalist, after he'd had nearly four happy decades of bachelor guy hood. He'd been based in D.C. all those years; I'd traveled the globe. So, you might think I'd have more "stuff." But my husband had been a filmmaker and photographer; the center of his "men's" club. Our basement was chock-a-block with photos of everything from his enormous clan of a family to mademoiselle--shall we say, temps perdu. There were photo posters, negatives, paint cans, the contents of drawers, tools and twenty of years of newspaper clippings. Quaintly, once upon a time, those were called tearsheets.
Sometimes, upstairs writing in my second floor office, I'd distract myself by wandering down to the basement to see what I could "curate" into the recycling bin. A new bride, this did not make for matrimonial harmony. I had never had either a house or husband before, and the entire undertow of both seemed to consist of a tide of objet left over from the '70s. We got the house looking like ourselves, but what about the basement and garage? The Dungeon of Dark Despair; that was my name for it. And as two active people in the creative trades- I could be spreading out maps and documents and so on in the basement; he could be matting photos and creating cards-- we just needed the space.
When I read of Caitlin's "Sorted Affair," I felt she'd be amusing and understanding. Today she came, and she was both and much more. It was a delight.
She discovered my husband's 20 years of negatives and photos nestled up against the furnace. My husband had devoted his considerable handiness to the upper house since we got together--downstairs; there laid a netherworld of lost lore. Caitlin didn't flinch. With ceiling panels gone and wires hanging everywhere? Hey, she admired the window light. A collection of grey industrial shelves? Why not paint them a cute color? She was acting as a curator and as a journalist, I understood that-- take the best parts to tell the story. And moreover, she couldn't ethically throw anything of Will's away without him being there. That ought to make him happy.
My husband comes from an Irish family that saved every last thing. And I mean, every. last. thing. His father found precious things in his trove-- a triple A ball club invitation, speaking awards, photos of the family in Ireland, and so on. We haven't found those things downstairs yet. But by separating our basement stuff into his and hers and making two work zones-- well, low and behold, order began to emerge from chaos. Plus she gave me a tip: sit there with your husband while he tries to release some of those old clips, term papers and the good times of his '20s. I'm going to try that.
But in the meantime, I feel I have a partner in the draining decisions of what to move and throw first. For the first time I DO think that basement will one day be the beautiful storage, guest, and project space I intend for it to be.
Thank you, Caitlin!
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