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Living in Kyoto


By July 13, 2015One Comment

If only my mother could see me now, she would be smiling.  At long last, I have become the neatnik she so tried to train and deserved to have as a daughter.Somewhat to her dismay, I spent a lot more time wanting to be a beatnik!

beatnik 2

I was raised in a household of meticulous order, all generated by Mom.

All dishes in my childhood home were washed immediately after dinner and put away.  The dishwasher would not only be run, but emptied as soon as it finished its cycle.

All clothing worn during the day was supposed to be put away too. “It’s just as easy to hang something up as it is to throw it down,” my Mom would repeat to me on a daily basis.

Beds were made right after getting dressed in the morning, and I ALWAYS got dressed  before eating breakfast.  Lounging about in p.j.’s was never tolerated, unless ill.

Spring and fall cleaning were done regularly.  I’m talking deep cleaning.  vintage cleaningSlipcovers were put on and taken off as the season demanded, and draperies taken down at the beginning of summer, i.e. Memorial Day  and put back up again soon after Labor Day.

Drawers and shelves were always lined with contact or decorative paper.  Linen closet shelves even sported a tacked on decorative edging .

I never shared my Mom’s enthusiasm for such rituals, but I must say our house ran smoothly.  It was a very nice place to live.

Sadly, everything changed when my Mom developed Alzheimer’s Disease.  Cleanliness and neatness steadily deteriorated.  My old home would never be the same. I mourned not only the loss of my mother but also the beautiful world she’d created.

It was about the time of the onset of my Mom’s Alzheimer’s, that I began traveling to Japan.  Steadily, over the years, my visits there have made me care deeply about order and neatness.  At last, I take pleasure from negative space. Organization can be deeply satisfying!

If Mom could see me now, she might be surprised and pleased to find my housekeeping instincts might even surpass her own criteria! If only she’d sent me to Japan as a child….

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.

One Comment

  • Judith says:

    Diane,we must have had the same Mother. I,however, continued her “craziness” and still can not go to bed with dishes in the sink. During this summer’s house construction however I am learning to just walk through the dust,which will reappear immediately anyway.
    Love your writing,

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