Tag Archives: decluttering

All Boxed In

My apartment is a wide chasm between growing seas of boxes.

Each end of my apartment has a mounting assortment of boxes or things I’m to purge.

In those boxes is everything from my Christmas crap through to college books I loved. It’s all there. Boxed and boxed and boxed. I hear the Weeds theme on a loop in my head.

“Little boxes…”

Oh, readers: I am not a patient woman. Lord, how I try.

But I am not. I fake patient. Kinda. I’m a good actor. You know, in high school drama, I did one hell of a mean Norma Rae monologue. Oh, yeah, me and Sally Fields, together at last.

But I am not patient. My life right now is torture, I tell you! SO MUCH WAITING. GAH! GAH! GAH!

Back when I made the big decision to move to the Yukon in ’94, you know how that went down? Let me tell you.

On a Tuesday, I mailed my resumes off at 3 in the afternoon whilst chowing down on a honeywheat and plain cream cheese bagel at Benny’s on Broadway, and at 9:15 that Friday I was awakened by a manager of a photo shop in Whitehorse, Yukon, telling me it might be a sign that his assistant manager put my resume on his desk five seconds before his photo lab manager walked in with her resignation. Two weeks later, I was living there and managing a photo lab.

Seriously, inside of three weeks I had the IDEA of moving to the Yukon and then wound up BEING there. Packed, drove, got the job. Whizz-bang, done.

Less than three weeks to move to a place of fabled wilderness where “silence bludgeons you dumb” and all. I’m taking three MONTHS to move to Victoria? I’m gonna lose my fucking nut here! I AM.  GAH! GAH!

[breathing]

Om.

Whew.

Sigh.

Okay. All right. Look. I decide “Here’s what I want to do,” well, the one thing not to do? GET IN MY WAY.

But here I am, all gimpy-girl, she of mega-long-ass-fucking back injury. Well, here’s a good idea: PACK A LOT OF HEAVY BOXES AND SQUAT REPEATEDLY. MAYBE THROW IN DOZENS OF STAIRS CLIMBED 3-FLIGHTS AT A TIME, REPEATEDLY, FOR WEEKS.

I hear that’s AWESOME for backs.

So, yeah, I thought “Doing that with a month’s notice? Not awesome.” PACE THYSELF, SWEETIE.

And there was a little thing called Christmas. Four weeks to enjoy the holidays? Sure. Good plan.

But now I’m all pissed I’m not moving February 1st, but that secretive logical not-completely-dumb-ass part of my brain goes “THANK GOD FOR EIGHT WEEKS.”

Still, I’m off like a shot in the dark and whatever other speedy-ass-Gonzales allusions you wanna dig up. I got me some 10+ boxes packed, plans made, systems conjured. I am all over this like Oprah on a ham, honey.

You know what’s totally demented?

I like the half-empty shelves. That’s working for me. I’m constantly surrounded by my things, things made by my father, and things I inherited from my mother. It’s a little weird when you’re trying to find yourself after long periods of upheaval.

Back in my would-be-sex-blogging days, I once did this very short and to-the-point sex tip. If you’re a woman, and you have trouble reaching orgasm, and there is a photo of your family ANYWHERE IN YOUR ROOM, then get it the hell outta there.

It sounds weird, but there’s this low-level awareness we have when we’ve got familiar faces around us in picture form, no matter what it is we’re doing, and if it’s of parents who chastise us, people who belittle us, and so forth, then that’s problematic.

As much as it’s nice having family stuff at home to ground us, sometimes it can lead to mental places we maybe should take a break from. I’m sort of tired of having family photos around.

Everywhere I look are books and other things gifted from friends and lovers, and things inherited or received from family. That book on my left isn’t just a grammar book, it’s a book an ex gifted on our first date like they were flowers — but it’s not a symbol of all that I enjoyed in that relationship, but instead of all I lost when it ended. Or so it would seem upon first recall.

At least I'll have to take my head out of the sand when I unpack. Until then: New surroundings! AND SANDY.

And that’s just one of dozens, even hundreds of things. Everything has a connection to some tangible memory.

To think there’s no mental baggage that comes from glancing around my home is foolishness.

In a world where we’re hyper-stimulated by visuals everywhere, having a home filled with stuff doesn’t help that come-down period we’re supposed to have when we’re in our so-called sanctuary.

Decluttering would be nice but I’m not sure how much I can whittle down. As I’m going through and packing, some stuff is getting turfed, but is it enough?

I’m hoping that the quicker I can start packing it up, the more emotional distance I might have when it comes to deciding whether or not it returns to my home upon my unpacking.

I’ve been here for 12 years. It’s among the most lived-in rental apartments you’d ever have set foot in. So totally “owned” by me. A new place will be a big change on the emotional scale.

When I realized this week that I’ve spent almost exactly one third of my life in this apartment, I was a little freaked out. No wonder this move is a big deal. How’d I wind up here for so long?

I got stuck.

So, now, with all these boxes around, it’s a reminder that change is afoot. It’s also a reminder to be in the moment and enjoy each passing day, because life will soon be a 180 of what it is now. No commute, working in my pajamas. More time to breathe.

I want to embrace the break-neck stupid that’s about to come down in the form of manic rushing, packing, organizing. I want to have a moment in some 10 or 12 weeks where I can stop, reflect on this period, and really accept that a monumental change of pace has arrived.

58 more sleeps.

My Recent Decor Blogging: Links

As you may already know, I’ve had a little blogging stint over at BuildDirect.com.

Here are the blog posts I’ve done in the last few weeks:

Rethinking Storage: A Personal Story

A material age presents a lot of space-making challenges. Where do we put all that stuff when urban dwellings are shrinking?

Just last week, a New York writer’s 90-square-foot apartment went viral. Opting to live in the perfect location just two blocks from Central Park and Lincoln Center, Felice Cohen compromised space to live in a convenient neighborhood, and learned to use use every square-inch of her postage-stamp-sized pad.

After watching that video, my 660-square-foot 1952 apartment sounds positively palatial, but living in it, this “palace” feels full. READ MORE HERE.

Urban Gardening for Beginners:

Growing & Using Herbs

A nice patio container garden can really take the cold edge off living in an often-impersonal concrete jungle.

While convenient, urban living is getting more expensive, and, as food prices around the world escalate, it’s easy to cut back on groceries to keep a budget reined in, but there’s a tasty compromise a lot of city-dwellers don’t consider: an urban garden, or kitchen garden. READ MORE HERE.

De-cluttering: Understanding Clutter,

And Why It Needs to Go

Clutter, like most things in life, sneaks up on you. A couple busy months peppered with a few dozens “I’ll get to that later,” and suddenly everything from your fridge to your filing is making you nuts.

Clearly people relate to this struggle, since Rob Jones’ piece on de-cluttering is one of our most popular posts, and for good reason! Getting over clutter will change your life. READ MORE HERE.

Urban Gardening for Beginners:

14 Herbs to Grow Yourself

Last week, I wrote about how to consider your small space for a kitchen garden. Today, I’d like to tell you about all the herbs I think are great for cooking with, so you can start planning how to proceed.

Professional chefs love fresh herbs for a reason: They’re awesome!

I’m no professional, but I can’t get enough of fresh herbs. At $2.50 a pack in my area, a packet of herbs is a luxury item in winter. There’s a recession, you know. READ MORE HERE.

Interior Design Vignettes, Pt I:

Small Spaces Within Large Rooms

Rooms are big! Decorating is a challenge when you’re thinking “big picture” from the start.

Have you ever thought smaller, via creating “vignettes?”

In writing and art, “vignettes” are smaller scenes meant to have more impact. In decorating, it’s an area that’s a self-contained setting within a larger space. A little reading alcove, eating nook, or the stuff you surround your hallway table with — these are all examples of vignettes. READ MORE HERE.

De-Cluttering: Where to Start, And How

Last time, I wrote about the emotional struggle one goes through with clutter, and why de-cluttering is such a triumph when you get it done.

I’m not an organizational expert, but I’ve made it happen anyway and so can you. These techniques worked for me, and continue to work. Here’s how to start. READ MORE HERE.

Interior Design Vignettes, Pt II:

Home Decor Themes

When we were talking about creating vignettes for larger rooms, “themes” came up.

“Theme,” used in art, writing, and other areas, is generally defined as a “unifying subject or idea.”

“Theme rooms” get a bad rap because too many people abuse them.

You know how the standard “seaside theme” looks, right? Walking in, it’s like being slapped upside the head. Oh, look… How nautical: Rope ceiling trim, a porthole, and lots of blue and white. It’s like being visually assaulted by the Love Boat’s set decorator.

That’s not a “theme,” that’s a cry for help. READ MORE HERE.

I HAVE A HAMMER, Therefore I DIY Blog

HEY, people.

You know what I haven’t told you yet? I’m blogging over at BUILD DIRECT, your building supply geniuses on the web.

There, you’ll find me doing home improvement and DIY blogs on a whole range of topics.

If you like the content on the following posts, please comment on the Build Direct blog, not here. Share it, like it, tweet it — whatever you like.

Here are the summaries of my recent posts, and stay tuned for more.

  • 6 Ideas for Balcony Privacy: Honestly, sometimes the best thing about apartment living is spying on the neighbors. The flipside is, sometimes the worst thing is knowing neighbours are spying on you. In the summer, the world’s a fish bowl when it comes urban apartment balcony life. It doesn’t have to be that way. With creativity and crafty splurging, you too can enjoy a special outdoor space while not letting yourself be a spectator sport… READ MORE HERE.
  • Picking Paint Colors: It’s Personal, Not Theory: Committing to a new paint color can be nerve-wracking. A friend once taped 15 paint chips to the wall, and asked her visitors to choose their favourite — of 15 variations on beige. Her inability to break the Bonds of Beige isn’t unusual. Embracing color is a lot to ask in a neutral world… READ MORE HERE.
  • Area Rugs as Wall-Hangings: A Magic Carpet Decor Solution: It’s the oldest of decorating truisms: a house isn’t home until something’s hanging on the walls. It’s personalized touches like artwork or family photography that define your space. Today, it’s rare to see original art hanging in a home, or unique knick-knacks. As a result, we have a crisis of decorating identity… READ MORE HERE.
  • Rethinking Storage: A Personal Story: Space: Everyone wants it, but in a square-foot world, it’s increasingly a luxury. A material age presents a lot of space-making challenges. Where do we put all that stuff when urban dwellings are shrinking? READ MORE HERE.

Coming up in May, I have a whole series on DECLUTTERING the home. I also have a two-parter on growing a kitchen garden. And there’ll be other stuff coming up as well.

Are there DIY stories you wish were getting covered? Are there home-improvement ideas you’d like my thoughts on? Here’s where you can tell me that. Thank you! Enjoy the reads.

Choices: Living with Regret to Get Reward

Being a photographer and loving light, it’s going to be a long time before I get over the regret of missing the sunset-lightning-fireworks for the ages experienced by Vancouver on Saturday night, all for more work on the home, but I will get over it, and then I’ll get to live with the results generated by that loss.

Deep down inside, I know I’m shit company when I’m distracted by things I feel I need to be doing. I get obsessive and focused, and conversation isn’t very conducive to making me on anyone’s top 10 to-hang-around list anytime soon when I’m in that mode.

Which is sort of where I’m at. I know I wouldn’t have been “present” wherever I was on Saturday, I know the price I’ve paid will ultimately reward me more than the regret will haunt me. Continue reading

Everything In Its Place

I sometimes forget I’m a writer. I get out of practice, and then it doesn’t occur to me that, to be true to who I am on any given day,  I should be playing with a few words. Sometimes I forget that wrestling hands-on with my experiences and my past is what makes me the person I am, and it’s best undertaken in writing.

But it doesn’t always need to just happen on the page. My Sunday was an infinitely illuminating day, and just the beginning to what I think will be a strange but profoundly fulfilling experience.

I’m undertaking a MASSIVE restructuring of my home. Continue reading