Tag Archives: organizing

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.

Righting the Wrongs at Casa de Steff

Hi there, readers. I’m just popping in for a boo. How are y’all?

It’s been a slog of a few weeks. I just haven’t been sleeping well.

I’m the postergirl for cunty-when-sleep-deprived. Creatively, I evaporate. My life becomes a little chaotic on all fronts, and my writing has nothing to show for all the frenetic energy that abounds.

Finances have also been thin after a number of little issues dragged on for weeks and weeks. It’s gotten stressful in a “I just want this over with” kind of way, and I think it hasn’t helped the sleep, or the ability to focus. I was slowly unhinging.

Still, while around the homestead, I’ve been picking away at life in an effort to unravel the sleep issues and get back to happy nights.

Lately, I’ve done everything from writing life goals, fitness plans, and cleaning house, all in an effort to generate momentum in a better direction.

I finally slept well last night, so my “solve the life and sleep will come” approach is starting to work. Upon waking this morning, I realized the solution for my stupid money woes is staring me in the face. Thus, problem solved.

Perspective helps

Those periods where the money gets all tied up can be a gift, and I chose to use this past month as one. When you can’t control your life externally, take control internally. Hence the housecleaning and cooking of late.

This month, I’ve finally done that thing I’ve always wished I had the focus and preparedness to do — I’m taking healthy smart lunches to work daily. I haven’t been spending money on coffee. I’ve worked through all my lunches so I get out  of the office earlier. I think I’ve not bought lunch in nearly 3 weeks. That’s a record. Shit, that was a record 10 days ago.

Also because I’ve been strapped for cash, I’ve been spending weekends at home trying to get my house back to the place it was at last summer before I got sick all fall then blew out my back. I’m spreading it out on weekends so it’s not too taxing. I take lots of breaks and rest when I need to. My cupboards are getting cleaned up, my floors, everything’s slowly coming together after three weeks of picking slowly at it.

The further along I get, the less frustrated I’m feeling. It’s only been the last two days that I’ve started to feel like I have a little more control in life, so it’s nice that I feel this way at all, and I know there’s more to come.

It’s not over… thinking ahead

I’ll be picking through my life for the foreseeable future. I’m hoping I have the opportunity to move this winter, and I want my life pared down before I do, as I suspect I’ll have to downsize — they just don’t make modern apartments as big as these ’50s places, and I’ll likely have to have 10-15% less square footage, so I’m planning ahead.

I’ve also been exploring cooking, and my freezer’s full of good food for lunches for a while to come. The master plan is coming together, and I like the direction it’s going in.

Housework is not the kind of thing someone with a back injury tends to spend a lot of time being able to do, so the fact that I’m finally at the point where I can spend a few hours each weekend undoing the chaos of the last several months is a big, big deal. I cannot stress enough how much the chaos interferes with my writing brain and my ability to rest mentally/physically/spiritually.

I figure one more weekend of less strenous, little finicky things and order should be fully restored to Casa de Steff.

Ready for the season, maybe

Last weekend I redid my kitchen and really took the time to think “What’s not working, where does the mess start from, and how can I fix it?” and then I made organizational changes. Then I spent a whole day doing end-of-season cooking, from jam and bruschetta to pesto and butters, all frozen for fall bounty eatin’ now.

Yep. Fall is coming. A season of cocooning, cooking, writing, and resting lies ahead as the reward of all this work.

For today, though, my home’s as clean as it needs to be. I’ve already prepared my day’s work at the office, so I can get right at it when I arrive. Tomorrow, an early start and a long day. But today? Shorter, and bike rides before and after, to enjoy the end-of-season sunshine.

Ahh, autumn. I’m ready. Almost.

So glad I’ve begun recharging. Last year, I never got to enjoy fall. This year’s looking great. Onward and upward.

A Writer’s (Re)Reading Life

In a world with a million distractions and life that moves faster than ever, it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve come — and how many hard grades, sharp turns, trying twists were along the way.

The devil really is in the details.

This morning I’m facing the reality that I’ve gained five pounds in three weeks. I’m not surprised, I’m an emotional eater. I got laid off, then threw myself into the hardest project of my life. Five pounds? I’m surprised it wasn’t 10.

The hardest part of that hardest project is just opening the door — the door to my past and all those crazy fucking worlds I’ve travelled through.

I like my re-runs left on television, thanks.

But I’ve cracked that door this week and it’s been every bit as hard as I expected. Better than I expected, too. But it’s taking longer, which makes the “hard” part that much more insufferable. The last couple days have been spent poring over the months leading up to what was the hardest part of my life.

‘Cos, as much as I’ve had REALLY hard times in the past, that’s the only time when I truly was NOT myself and couldn’t find my strength and self inside. It was a chemical depression.

I’m rereading these passages and little cracks are appearing in my heart. My heart’s slowly breaking for myself because I can truly remember the pain and horror of going through that terrible, terrible depression. Fucking pharmaceuticals, man. Birth control pills sent me spiralling into the darkest place I’ve known. (I doubt I’ll ever take them again. The right choice for me, but not necessarily for you. Know your options and proceed carefully & judiciously.)

The depression is not there yet in full, but it’s starting to arrive. Bleakness, sorrow, a sense of loss about choices and the future.

I know why it cost me my readers. I understand and accept exactly why people walked away from the blog.

I probably would have, too.

When I write in a “normal” depression, I’m readable. I’m insightful, level-headed, never the victim. I’m determined, I try to be objective about the adversity.

But in a chemical depression? There was nothing to gain from me. I offered nothing.

I was a shapeless, meaningless cloud moving through a thick intimidating fog. Nothing in nothing, with nothing to define it.

That time period is just unfolding for me now in my archives. I’m plodding through, a heavy weight holding down my chest, gulping often.

You see, the thing is, it’s kind of worse than I remember.

Only now that I’m so far away from it can I  admit that I forgot how oppressive it was, how scared I was, how day after day after day after day the struggle to hang on to that last little bit of dignity and hope was so goddamned HARD.

In frequent postings, my desperation of reaching out is hitting me hard. I’m not that person anymore. But I was.

And while I’m re-reading all that, I’m “unpublishing” some of the posts. I’m making them private. They’re there. I’m not deleting them. I’m just being true to my original statement, that I write this blog for me, not you.

I overshared. I take it back.

At the beginning, I felt bad for changing a post’s status to “private”, but as I’ve progressed, it occurs to me: I’ve written about a lot of really important things. I’ve written some really good stuff. Not ALWAYS, probably not even that OFTEN. But I’ve got a lot of good content on this blog.

And I had so much BULLSHIT in between them. Needy, desperate, oversharing little blurbs that you don’t give a fuck about and I don’t give a fuck about, so why’s it there?

Probably because Twitter hadn’t been invented yet, really.

But this tweaking, slimming-down, and weeding-out of my blog is for the best. You’ll get the best of me, or just the most readable of the journalling (because, let’s face it, some of those journal posts are exactly the kind of thing we like to read in a blog — it just depends on the mood within).

Coming up? This weekend I’ll probably read through the darkest part of that chemical depression.

The part where suicide started seeming like maybe it might make more sense than this seemingly-endless waiting for something better. God help me, that’s going to be a hard time to wade through, too. But important to revisit, methinks.

Then it’s a year of reading through just holding on, just trying to stay alive.

Then I start reading about my journey to be 60 or so pounds lighter.

Then the rest of my blog is tagged and it’s the Post-Wordpress era, and I can probably avoid going there.

But it’s been a heavy fucking few days. It’s probably why I got so worked up in my posting from yesterday, because I went from the girl I was before EVERYTHING went horrible in my life to being that kind of woman who needs to respect herself and know her value isn’t in a man — and that’s the part I’ve been re-reading recently.

All the pain and the little moments and the stupidity of that year, it’s just a little too much to take in at once. I’ve been trying to slowly digest it, but it’s still a mighty big meal. I should be through the worst of it in the next few days.

I’m really, really happy I’m doing this, though.

We need to be reminded of how much we’ve really done. As time slips past us and the years blur together more and more, we forget just how hard the day-to-day once was, and how much an accomplishment just getting through that really, really was.

I’m patting myself on the back. Rightfully so.

But I’ll still be happy when this part of my project is dead and buried.*

*Well. Until I dig it up again. Part of this tagging/SEO/editing project is so I’m not as intimidated with researching my archives for my book. Now I’ll be able to just search a “depression” tag or “money” tag and get what I need, and just skim through relevant areas, instead of reading the whole blog post-to-post and trying to figure out what’s worth saving & for where in a herky-jerky by-the-post method. Hey, it’s a book. This shit’s slow going! But it’s going. And I like this method, because I’m thinking a lot of how the pieces all unfold one to another, and the in-the-head stuff’s helpful too. Also… some writing. Just not for you.

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