Madonna, at the height of her career, would famously reject promotional photos with “Ew! Groi!” When asked what that meant, she answered, “Get Rid of It.”

To GROI is oddly empowering.

The only things I have ever collected are books. I have many, many books. They overcrowd my large bookcase and two closets in my house.

Yesterday, I decided to start the groi process with my prized collection. I am keeping my Sherman Alexie and Natalie Goldberg books. I’m sentimental about each since they were the writers who gave me the first sparks to write. Listening to Alexie in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place in San Francisco, I thought, Wow, stories about struggle, poverty and education CAN BE interesting! And I used to write for hours in a coffee/doughnut shop on 9th and Irving, taking Natalie’s advice to heart.

As I place books in my “Bookman’s pile,” I console myself with the thought that the public library is just blocks away. I can always check them out again later. Also, Bookman’s will give me store credit for the books they accept and if I choose to do so (and I do), they will donate the rest to a prison for inmates to read.

Already, the increased space on my bookshelf and closets bring a sense of calm, peace and freedom. I also found a gift card to See’s Candies a former student of mine gave me two years ago. I was using it as a bookmark.