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Rites of Getting Ready

August 02, 1993|MARY ANN HOGAN

Nesting takes many forms, whether the person is preparing for birth, death or life's experiences in-between.

* A San Diego writer of children's books has to straighten her desk, iron her shirts, water her plants and tweak the dead leaves off before she can write.

Says Georgeanne Irvine, "It's a necessary part of my process."

* An Oakland woman about to undergo abdominal surgery spent her last moments fussing over household details.

"Up until the moment they were pulling on the surgical booties, I was literally paying PG&E bills and wondering whether to call the roofer to fix the leak. I drew the line at the roofer."

* A San Francisco man who died of complications from AIDS furiously redecorated his apartment, creating the perfect environment for his family and friends to admire after his death. Another, a duck decoy enthusiast, "nested" by adding to add to his collection during his final months.

In each case, "you're starting something fresh, focusing on something new," says Rutgers University psychologist Jay Rosenblatt, a painter who goes through the ritual of cleaning away evidence of the previous painting--wiping the slate clean--before starting a new work.

"It's metaphorically related to what you do in pregnancy, which is getting ready to break away from your previous life, to start a whole new phase," he says.

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