Sunday, December 21, 2008

oh, goodness

so: my house is a mess.

we are having a massive snowstorm in boston and i picked this weekend as the time when i was going to start getting shit together. i salvaged shelves from the trash and i had high hopes of painting them and putting them in my closet, prompting the massive reorganization that is necessary to keep said closet from permanently becoming what it currently embodies (boxes piled on open boxes, a leaning tower of disorganization).

it took me three days to get the shelves painted: setbacks, chaos, nearly exploded pilot flames due to inadvisable indoor use of spray paint. i finished them by hand. i tried to put them in the closet. they don't fit. i tried to take off first one corner support, and then a second, for reattachment once the shelves were firmly in the closet. it's not working. so with scraped, swollen fingers, boxes strewn all over my house, along with paint dust and paint chips and a half disassembled set of shelves that i am now (guess what?) almost certainly going to put back in the trash, i am conceding momentary defeat.

i'm sure i'll come back from it. this is just a particularly low point (right? right?) and with an area rug (read: baby) on the way for christmas, my living room has to turn into something i love sooner than later.

but i hate this room sometimes. my sectional sofa, which i championed and reupholstered at great personal expense (both time and cash monies), is simply too big. it doesn't fit. my great sofa love is the anson, from room and board:

what's a girl to do? i don't have $1700 just kicking around, burning a hole in my pocket (though if i did, i might have a much nicer apartment).

so here i am at the end of december, six months into this project. broke, messy, pathetic, with a half finished sofa that i am already needing to sell off (in fact, i also need to sell the armoire - and possibly also the illest bookcase ever). they just don't work. and i feel like a design idiot.

of the eleven pieces of furniture in my house, two were trash salvages, one is still at the stata center (because i have no money to work on it, no clear idea of what to do with it and no clue where i'll put it when it's done). two are definitely being sold, and two more are in states of deliberation. (the two that are being deliberated over will be sorely in need of repainting and reupholstery if they're going to stay.) one was a gift (and i suppose my bed was also a gift, from my mom). the two salvage pieces are sort of taking up space, and all my grand ideas seem to be absolute crap right this second.

i own:

1) a kitchen island, courtesy of eliza (my awesome neighbor across the hall) and her mother in watertown

2) a scoop chair, salvaged from the trash, that needs to be reupholstered and could also stand to be lifted about ten inches off the ground so it's a comfortable place to sit

3) a vintage victorian settee, languishing in the lair of the infrastructure group

4) a three piece french provincial sectional sofa, which is beautiful and absolutely wrong for the room, and into which i've poured nearly $500 at this point - and i haven't even covered the staples

5) an ikea skruvsta chair in orange, which needs to be reupholstered and then probably sold in exchange for a desk chair with a smaller profile

6) a mid century modern desk, which i heart

7) a vintage bookcase that is cute, but painted the wrong color for the room as it's currently being understood

8) a set of shelves plucked from the trash that is even now half assembled and sticking out of my closet

9) a tall platform bed to which i retreat when times get hard (i am thinking about it right now)

10) a full length mirror that is very cute

11) a danish modern armoire that is handmade, exceptionally well crafted, and also too short and too small to be of any real use to me aside from creating disorder, and which i've swapped for a hanging sweater bag and some cloth drawers. i need to sell the armoire. i need to sell what feels like everything.

i was smart to acquire:

- my full length mirror
- my bed
- my ten dollar kent coffey desk (that was a genius move that is one of the few redeeming choices i've made)

i was stupid to do: nearly everything else, up to and including painting my walls blue, my couch trim yellow, and purchasing a great deal of furniture before i was physically in the space.

i need a design overhaul - and now I CAN'T AFFORD IT, because of the obscene amount of money i've already poured into items for this house that i may never recoup. i am broke and paying off credit card debt and living inside my means, but just barely. and i kind of hate my apartment. so what do i really have to show for all of this? not much. all i can really do is go back to craigslist to look for a couch and hope everything will just shut down or turn off soon. i'm tempted to sell this couch and go back to sitting on my desk chair or bed until i'm absolutely certain something is right. i can't do this again.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


i have been in a bit of a rut, it's true. i'll explain later. but for now, mainly: happy thanksgiving. i'm making a cake!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

just a thought

i've been in boston since june thirteenth. i have had a mini tiny nervous breakdown and a fair amount of anxiety. but it's been five months today that i've been in a situation and a place where i wake up and i am not terrified. i am not crushingly sad. i'm not depressed. life is not a weight on me.

for such a long, long, very long time, i thought that sadness was who i was. i thought i would have to make a life around the fact that everything hurt, all the time, that being alive would simply always ache. i thought if i found enough ways to mock the unhappiness or mask it or ignore it or punish myself for it or, very occasionally, wallow in it, i could get by.

this is the first time in my adult life that i am not just getting by. since i was ten years old. i can't convey how much that means to me in words - i love them passionately and with reckless abandon, but for this task they escape me. i am moving slowly in this town, it's true. but professionally, personally, domestically, even (dare i say?) sartorially: i am thriving. i am so, so proud of myself.

which is not to say i will never be depressed again. i think that would be a bit much to ask and a bit premature to state. but it has been a revelation for me to learn that eventually, it is possible to wake up and repeatedly realize that everything might just turn out okay.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

it feels satisfying; i'm not gonna lie. (this is the before, if you needed reminding. yikes.) piping this weekend. also, area rug, hopefully tables, pictures, pictures, pictures.

apartment bootcamp weekend is over. during it i finally finished my sectional, painted my living room, adjusted to my new bookcase and light fixture, unpacked\sorted\consolidated (everything that needs to be dealt with is in three boxes behind my couch), and maybe started to feel at home.

i'm drawing a bath now; i have worked so incredibly hard this weekend that it is time to break out the lush products. and i opened the tiny bottle of incredibly rich muscat that i bought the week after i moved in, to be consumed when i really arrived. welcome home - i'm so proud of you.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

smatterings: a teaser

my bedroom - which is somehow managing to look bohemian rather than merely neglected.

leaving the bedroom, entering the entryway

the bathroom looks dark and shady here, but is actually quite refreshing

this is my desk, with an ikea chair blocking it. more in-depth photos of it later (like when it's actually organized). the mounds of purple and cream paper are for my sister's wedding invitations

ignore the fact that all the boxes and the illest bookcase ever have been piled into the kitchen for this photo (a dramatic reenactment);

this is what i meant by sitting with my back to an empty room

my lovely kitchen hutch

and not so lovely kitchen cabinets


i will be unpacking later today, hopefully, and putting up my new light fixture. pictures of that, as well as the illest bookcase ever, later on. for now:

this is where we start.

Friday, October 31, 2008

holy tangible progress, batman!

happy halloween.

i spent the evening tucked up in bed, drinking water and reading design books and websites (always).

this week has been really interesting, home wise. the boxes of stuff various family members sent me - after extensive guilt tripping - have been arriving since last thursday or friday, culminating in the final two, which arrived last night. i brought them up before i left for the party; between those boxes and my fabulous new color printer (i LOVE working at mit), there are seven assorted big boxes strewn around my living room.

more importantly, though: this morning my coworker anthony showed up at my house at 8 am bearing none other than the illest bookcase ever. we put it down and dashed for work; as i was locking the front door, i caught a glimpse of the paint job (the toothpaste color GLOWS in the space with my lighting; i made the right choice) and one finely turned leg. i never really considered, from the point of view of its protracted absence, how furniture gives order and definition to a space. i understand the dimensions of my living room so much more clearly now; i have a plan, my apartment has vision, there's a unifying theme.

my coworker arthur confirmed with me today that he will be borrowing his mom's van to bring both my couches home november 11th, by which time they will be in a state of doneness that will at least not embarrass me. i am definitely okay with putting the piping on here, since that is the last step and relatively non-messy. but i might even be okay sewing the parts and then attaching the fabric here. if there are any unexpected tools i need, those would be at stata; there is also more space there. but if i don't do the work here, i would need to bring my sewing machine and serger in to work, along with the masses of fabric, to work long hours there. i still can't decide; i might do it anyway. the point being that prong one of my three step solution for furniture is over, and the illest bookcase is at home.

everything is here. the building blocks are falling into place. this is the greatest point of the chaos - everything from here on out is forward.

i poached the tig camera for the weekend, so i'll take pictures of all the little projects i do around the house this weekend and also stage some to show how things have changed.

i am now brainstorming; i am surprised by how little space the bookcase really takes up and how much storage it provides. i will be easily able to make a little nook with both my sectional and space for a dux chair (drool) once i find one on the cheap. i need to start rocking estate sales in a serious way. depending on how i organize, i might even be able to make a little reading nook in the shadow of sam the giraffe.

speaking of, here are some things (besides finish my couches) i will do in the next two weeks:

- put my pots and pans away (i finally papered the insides of the drawers thursday night before the party)
- buy sam the giraffe
- make a comprehensive storage plan (like the bailout, except that my storage plan will actually work)
- decide what color i am going to paint my living room and paint it. that will probably be monday the 10th, if anyone wants to have a painting party!

oh and keyse, my new light fixture got here today! i will be putting it up hopefully tomorrow evening, so that i can get any pertinent light bulbs sunday. i got the large size - it seems huge in the box! this makes me happy; i love me some oversized shit.

this weekend my main purchase will be foam and batting. the beginning of the month is a lean time: rent is due, my T pass comes out, capoeira cash monies are due, plus i paid utilities today.

next weekend (i have been saying this for ages, but i swear) i will buy sam the giraffe, SO THAT arthur and i can bring him home in the massive van on tuesday.

i realized what the uniting colors of my apartment are going to be: pale turquoise, wood and gold. (although, if we are frank with ourselves, i came to this realization fully a month and a half ago. i am just a slow reacter.) (and wow - reading that, my apartment is going to look exactly like that, if it doesn't already. but each idea seemed to need to come organically - and slowly - on its own.)

in the living room, this means the illest bookcase ever and my flock of geese wall hanging, primarily. in the entryway, i will be buying a sweet and ridiculous chandelier (probably not until next year) and painting the whole thing a light turquoise, maybe three shades darker than the illest bookcase ever but almost certainly in the same color family. i am excited about that; now that i know what it will look like, the whole space will pop. i am also going to experiment with tiny but ornate frames turned into a display of many chalkboards. i will show you what i mean if it works out in my mind.

in the bedroom, my bedside lamps will be an awesome pale shade of turquoise; in the bathroom, which i want to remain a lovely land of neutral colors and strong contrast, it will just be a single turquoise laminated bamboo bowl, which i'll need to source from home when i go for thanksgiving.

(airfare prices have tanked - if you need holiday tickets, buy them now! i am going from boston to tampa on two nonstop jetblue flights for $200. and my christmas tickets will only be about $233! it's an ill economic meltdown that blows no good.)

(yikes - that didn't even make any sense.)

aaand in the kitchen, i will do this awesome chalkboard door project, spraypainting the door gold first (already have the paint) and then doing the turquoise over it, then gently sanding to rock an antiqued look.

i have super exciting ideas for my coffee table, which i don't believe will be a burl after all, and my bedside tables, all of which include repurposed drawers. (i will also be building a new, wall mounted armoire; another 2009 project.) but i am getting sleepy (lying around doing nothing is exhausting work), so i will leave with this smattering of thoughts:

- apparently i am losing weight, even though physically i am a little heavier than when i got here. i put on the pants i interviewed in, and before i put my belt on i could remove them without unzipping. weird. but i'm relatively happy in my body, even though the actual number of my weight is dauntingly high. so, a little up or a little down is not too much of a big deal to me.

- after all that drama, i am actually not painting the wood of my sectional - meaning that the illest bookcase ever is the only wood painting project i've managed to complete. i just love wood grain too much, it would seem. plus, a great deal of my belongings seem to be walking the greige path, and i want to see where it takes them.

- living room curtains?


- my coworker anthony told me this morning that i could make my own arco lamp with some conduit and a cheap fixture from ikea. i love the suggestion, but i might pony up to buy this one if it comes with the attachment:


- one year ago today, i started capoeira. i almost went to class tonight as a memorial, but i think i needed to sit still and think more. those first classes were such a revelation for me - to be good at something movement related, and not just good but really an outstanding beginner, to have an instinct in my body for the first time in a long time. that was followed by three months of living and breathing ginga and the roda and another three months of focusing intensely on movement, bodywork, and my physical relationship to other people in a variety of different permutations.

then i came back to boston and the focus has been mainly on my work ethic and my mind - or so i thought. but in fact it feels to me like the time not directly thinking about the body has given my contrary mind some time to process everything that happened during that time. and surprisingly, at some point when i wasn't looking, i stopped automatically saying "i can't."

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

home alone and happy (nothin' brings me down)

tonight, as i sit here, i have four washerloads (only two dryer loads, in all fairness) of laundry to put away. my credit card is overdrawn and i have $12.52 in my bank account. i am surrounded by boxes whose contents i can't unpack because i have no storage and no furniture, and two more are on the way. there is not really any organizational system that i have in place; my (very few) surfaces are constantly cluttered, and i have a sink full of freshly made dirty dishes.

but i just made myself a beautiful dinner, a riff on this, with baby bella mushrooms substituted for porcini and fresh spinach fettucini from a package instead of la swanson's roman handmade. it has just a handful of ingredients: mushrooms, pasta, lemon, cream. (garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper go in almost everything i eat.) i ate it in a beautiful white bowl that i got from goodwill, and i dined using - for the first time since i moved in! - real silverware.

i was in my kitchen cooking, listening to random ambient songs flow one into the next into the next, dosh into tristeza into mum into the album leaf into the ever lovely emiliana torrini (who perhaps i overquote - if that's possible), eating hot green pasta from a periwinkle colander with my bare hands, before stirring it into my fiesta orange and creamy white vintage pan to pair with my discount mushrooms. eating it in its lovely bowl, drinking ice water from a stemless wine glass with a coaster - and even before that in the kitchen, stirring in the cream, fiddling with the heat on my crotchety stove that runs wicked hot.

i realized that times are hard and money is tight and life is completely out of control right now. but this complete mess, this chaos: it's my life. i am broke, but it's MY money i'm spending. (sobering thought!) all through college i was essentially bankrolled by my parents. i worked, yes, and worked hard; i usually had between two and four part time jobs. but i used them to finance great food, vast purchases, and an amazing amount of travel. i may not reach the level of financial freedom i enjoyed as an undergraduate for the next five years of my working life, which is a little bit sad.

but all that time, i was scared in the back of my head that i did in fact have expensive tastes, as my father has always said, and that once i was reduced to the mundanities of having to pay my own rent and all my own costs, i would be completely at sea. i worried that my champagne tastes would crumble under a budget that could support not beer, but maybe water with a splash of orange juice (EWWWW. does anyone else have parents who water their fruit juice? so disgusting).

but i am living a wonderful life. i am stylish and warm on a budget, and my home is going to be the exact same thing. it's funny, because everything feels SO spare and sometimes depressing, but i am already starting to see echoes of how the future will be here. my bedroom, for example, is pretty stark. and yet it is small, so it can't be cluttered, and my bed is already the most amazing haven.

when i walk in from bringing the laundry up, my gaze falls on my entryway, which has maybe four things in it at all times: my bike helmet, my keys (both on the doorknob), my beloved vintage men's cowboy boots that i got last year in san francisco (on spring break, for my 21st birthday!) and this welcome mat from target. it is a place holder until i decide what colors i want in there and get a rug to match. but that space seems vibrant and alive; it's so small that the light is right next to the molding on all the doors, and that fact kind of highlights the structural elegance my cute little apartment has.

and my kitchen.... my kitchen is wonderful. sometimes it feels like i am constantly spending all this money and i don't see where it goes. but it's everywhere! it's in the walls and bones of my home, in the fact that i have excellent sheets and an abundance of pillows, expensive soap and fancy bras and a beautiful, functional mirror/headboard. i love the shape of my radiators and, even though i hate the fact that the only natural storage i have consists of two 17x31 closets and the area under the kitchen sink, i love the funny nooks that are created by the shape of this home.

and in the kitchen.

everything i bought in the kitchen, i bought because it makes me happy. i chose pots because i liked their shape more than the other brands, and the tupperware and vintage pan were bits of wonderful luck. i grilled the flatware selection at goodwill for aesthetic promise, and since i always drink water from wineglasses anyway, i figured i'd skip the extra step and get two sets of stemless ones for everyday use. my silverware is a set i fell in love with and poached from my parents' home - three pieces of everything. (i need to expand and buy more eventually, in case i ever have a dinner party.)

there are awesome trays i bought at ikea (busig, if you're looking - the ones with the elephants) that form a backsplash in my lovely hutch, and my dish drainer was selected to be as unobtrusive and sturdy as possible. it's a warm, vibrant space that overflows with color even though it is in some ways echoingly empty, and it will only be better once i've put in my couch and a sideboard. when i eat, i don't have favorites among my servingware or cutlery, the "nice" or exciting stuff and then everyday things that are plain. my kitchen is always at its sunday best.

i want to try to make sure that that stays true for all of my home. but this particular evening, eating green pasta as finger food and listening to emiliana, i really felt clearly that this is exactly the way my life should be, and that it's going to be okay. (i'm an anxious person; sometimes it's impossible to have too many reminders.)

Monday, October 27, 2008

home sweet home: month one

all right! so here is my day. it has been a day much like any other. boxes have finally started to arrive, chock full of my stuff. while i have no storage for it, that's stressful. but i'm trying to see it less as clutter and more as population, as the ephemera that makes a home.

i also feel like after doing this project for so long, i really don't know HOW to have that much stuff. it is really freeing; once i get my shit together i think i am finally going to be able to start letting things that i've held onto for a rainy day go out into the world and be free. it's almost a lovely feeling, the crowding i am currently experiencing. here is to a bright future in an efficient, happy, loving home that works for me, where nothing is ignored and nothing gets left behind.

room by room, i am going to walk through and see how my house was populated and what has changed, so i don't feel so lame and like nothing has changed. it has, but definitely bit by bit. so starting in the bedroom and radiating out.


- armoire arrives (first piece of furniture in home!)
- gilded mirror for above bed gets here; placed in closet
- bed is delivered - box spring and mattress
- full length mirror brought in by me and tony
- pillows bought
- new sheets bought. hate them, so
- better sheets bought
- hamper bought
- bedframe arrives! jenn and i put it together
- armoire drawers lined with decorative papers
- clothes finally unpacked
- all my shit gets stored under the bed
- mirror finally hung above bed, at 11 pm on a monday night. try not to think of how much neighbors must hate me.


- bought welcome mat
- began storing helmet and keys on doorknob (i am broke! but for now it totally works)
- trusty cowboy boots always at the ready in corner


- hung (two) shower curtains
- unpacked cosmetics
- bought small starter rug and lovely trashcan
- bought fabulous soap dish

living room

- brought in desk
- papered insides of (gorgeous kent coffey!) desk
- washed all blinds in house
- bought small orange scale
- bought coasters
- organized cleaning supplies in closet
- cleaned and painted bookcase (coming home wednesday)


- bought trashcan
- stocked pantry
- bought full set of glasses and dishes
- began to buy decorative display pieces and cookware (dark wooden fruit bowl, gorgeous pyrex mixing bowls, vintage lidded pan)
- silverware has arrived!

(p.s. lover man just came on. "got a moon above me/but no man to love me/lover man: oh, where can he be?" good question. that's my boston project AFTER i get my couches done.)

i wish this list were more comprehensive; there are many things lined up for this week and beyond. for example, my fabric for the sectional, although delayed, should show up soon. this is an idea of how it will look on a couch:

but i want mine to have a bright, poppy color for the wood. keyse suggested bright yellow, which i love. turquoise or even bright pink might make a slow play for the win, though - remains to be seen. i also got a beautiful idea for my kitchen couch (if you are thinking aloud "but didn't you already buy fabric for this bitch? and didn't it semi-bankrupt you?" the answer to both those questions is yes. but look!

it's vintage sack cloth! that effect would be SO superlatively beautiful on my kitchen couch, non? so i wrote to apartment therapy to see where to find feed sacks on the cheap.

i also have lots of exciting ideas for adding texture and color to the house, and this may be the week i bring the giraffe home! as inspiration, don't ya know.

so i realized: my entire life is a crusade. luis used to play this song to tease me called perfect, by fairground attraction (and the lyrics are only made more ironic by the fact that it was luis playing the song). but for better or for worse, i have never been able to settle. not happily, at least. i push myself for the best of everything i can have - but i would like to think i have fuller experiences because of that.

remind me of that over the next month when i want to cry because i still have no furniture, okay? remind me why this is happening, what i'm doing, why i'm here. remind me that it's hard, uphill to the finish - but if i'm honest with myself, i wouldn't want it any other way.

paper anniversary?

it's my one month anniversary in my apartment! september 27th was the first night i spent here in my new home.

i want to make it special somehow, and will be back later in the day to post a rundown of what has changed since i moved in (more to make myself feel good about my chronic lack of couch than anything else, but also because i thrive on ceremony and ritual).

in the meantime, happy anniversary, house!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


you bring it with you everywhere you go.

image courtesy of my friend daniel, who bought this table at an obama campaign fundraiser/garage sale for $10, then rode the f train with it all the way back to williamsburg.

real simple has me super excited about food again. i need to subscribe, just because sometimes heidi swanson kills me. i love her cooking, but sometimes i am too broke to get that pivotal ingredient (which is always something like fresh amazonian lavender water for $45 a half-ounce), and it precludes me from making her recipes. also, everything she makes has at least eight ingredients, which is fun when you're feeling decadent, but not when you're feeling poor. which i am. (poor, that is. decadence is for bygone days.)

so here is what i am realizing: living within my means and still doing high quality projects takes time and forward thinking. every week, i will allow myself one splurge (under $40), and the rest of it needs to be focused on clothing and furnishings. i will start with the most important and work my way down.

this week, for example, here is what i've bought or committed to buy:

- internet (coming out of my account soon) $89
- gorgeous overhead light fixture for my living room $39
- 8 yards pale green ultrasuede for my settee $60
- 15 yards muslin for use on couches $15
- adrienne vittadini eggplant dress $39
- bright blue sieve $7
- groceries for the week $45

add that to the money i need to put aside for rent, and i'm out of cash/time. and did you notice that i still don't have any batting for the settee, or piping to cover the staples? yeah, nice.

so here is the plan for this week. i will be cooking and eating at home every night, and packing a day's lunch. i need to start doing one or two massages a week, both because i need the income and because i need to get working on my certification in case i see fit to get another side job next spring, and actually be a bodyworker part time. it's a lucrative skill, and one i enjoy, and i need to put it to work for me. tomorrow night, i will go with a coworker to an area craft store to invest the batting they have there; i know that one bag of one kind is $21. we'll see how many i will need to layer to create a nice cushy couch; i will also look into foam.

friday, i will buy only one house item:

- 15 yards couch fabric (which, if this website doesn't lie, should run me about $180)

the rest of my discretionary money next week - not a lot, as i will have to put a big chunk towards rent - will be used to buy some sweaters. i am also going to try and save up to purchase those frye boots. but mainly, planning is only stressing me the fuck out, so here it is:

next week i will buy couch fabric. when i will buy an area rug or a camera or get started on my coffee table, or any of those things, all of that is up in the air. the fabric, i can commit to. (also, cross your fingers for me that my rebate from my gym membership comes through soon, in addition to my refund from grand central apartments. that is $400 of money in my pocket that i could use for all sorts of things.)

also, i may need to say fuck you to a fall coat, because by the time i start wearing it, it will be winter. instead, i will start rocking my winter coat - which is awesome. once it arrives, i will photograph myself in it. it's salmon colored cashmere, a vintage swing coat with bracelet sleeves and new buttons i put on myself. i might get new buttons for this season, though; i am moving away from the bright gold round ones and more towards ridiculously ornate cream things (like my ring) this year. this is good, as it lowers the number of things i need to buy and ensures that i will be nice and warm almost immediately. heart.

i am pretty stream of consciousness right now; i haven't eaten yet today. (and yes, you're reading the time stamp right. last night i made this delicious and simple curried rice with shrimp, and i am moving on tonight to the tortellini with eggplant and peppers - although if you are me, it's got mushrooms instead because i hate eggplant. (ditto yesterday's onions.)

i need to start taking better care of myself, and get back on track. i am not sure where that nurturing spirit is going to come from, although my sneaking suspicion is that it is going to come from cooking, sleeping normal hours, and having beautiful couches. i'll keep you posted on that one.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

progress and notions, ill and otherwise

with regards to my last post:

i have been doing things around the house on an almost daily basis. taking down and cleaning my blinds thoroughly (i LOVE j.r. watkins cleaning products!), moving the arrangement of things pretty frequently, trying to set and meet priorities, planning for the future. i am not in a rut anymore; there's motion here, even if momentum is slow. i think all i really needed to do was lift my gaze from the ground.

(i just re-read that paragraph, and while it's all true, MAN! that is a lot of hippie doublespeak :)

when it feels appropriate, i've been having people over. randomly, spontaneously. i have nothing to offer them, and if there are more than two of us we can only ever sit on the floor, but it feels really nice to be able to invite people into my space. i like to see that as a positive harbinger of things to come.

i talked to luis and we decided that he wouldn't call me for a little while. there may have been crying (no prizes for guessing which one of us was the hypothetical culprit - although actually, i think we are pretty much tied right now re: weepiness). but i feel better, healthier.

i am less lonely. spending time working on my own projects or hanging out alone is becoming more of a choice; thursday night i was at an excellent, crazy party, but last night and tonight i have definitely spent at home cleaning and cooking, and both were fun.

today i bought a fabulous new dress, a beautiful adrienne vittadini eggplant colored masterpiece. i will wear it thursday. (i think i should find grey tights to go with it.) my summer palette was very mediterranean and probably influenced by portugal: turquoises, blues and teals and greens, with pops of white, flashes of pink, gold accents. now, for fall and winter, i am leaning towards rich plums and eggplants, dark denim, charcoal grey and warm cream, and caramel.

i am kind of frustrated at not having any clothes, it feels like, and never feeling warm enough. but perhaps i should look upon it as a challenge: seasonal dressing. i have no idea how northerners do it; i am almost certainly going to spend so much more money than i would have needed to in sarasota to stay fashionable/keep from freezing to death.

i need a new pair of boots, preferably leather and preferably a warm, rich caramel. and the heels can't be too high! (my turquoise boots are wonderful, but you know they hurt my toes. i love these ones from nine west:

compare those with my current cowboy boots:

summer palette, painful height. i have another, more sensible pair in a deep cognac shade, but they're men's boots, so when i want to be dainty, i have to suffer.

anyway, so i need the boots and also a fall coat. i saw one in last month's issue of real simple whose cut i am in love with, although i personally would love it in mustard. it is apparently to be found at dressbarn; there is one somewhere relatively close to here. perhaps next weekend i will find a friend with a car and take a field trip.

boots, coat. beyond that, i just need to complement and build on what i already have. i would like a host of sweaters, one blazer, two more pairs of pants and three skirts, and maybe one or two more dresses. this means i will be shopping in bits and pieces from now until december, and that my fall wardrobe will also be my winter wardrobe. i am okay with that; i love my new palette and i want to use and explore it to its best advantage.

a few further examples of why i am perpetually poor (i have semi-expensive taste):

silence and noise legacy coat

ben sherman car coat (ben sherman, who are you? i want to have your babies)

harness tall buckle boot

sam frye pleated boot or, why the world is not fair.

and now, with little further ado: ladies and gentlemen, i give you the illest bookcase ever.





(adam, is this enough images for you? just let me know; i am, of course, entirely dedicated to user friendliness and extreme accomodation.)

next step is bringing it home, which should happen tuesday. (i have been too broke this week to afford a zipcar.) i will then paper the inside back, probably with a textured gold wrapping paper whose existence i have yet to discover at paper source - i will go tomorrow and look; i have faith that it's there. anyway, then i can fill it with stuff! exciting.

aaaaand, i bought fabric for my settee today! when i find polyfill batting somewhere, i will be able to cover it in its new skin: pale, ferny green.

{can i just note that i love ingrid michaelson? i am listening to far away, and the lyrics are so so so cute - and so me!}

as a last note: my friend nic and i had a talk a few weeks ago about boston and why it is difficult to make friends here. he pointed out that there is a definite pattern to meeting people here: you meet them and they are the most wonderful people ever and you decide that you are going to be bff, and you pledge to hang out all the time - and then you never see them again. and this is so true. but i wonder whether this is because it is a college town and people are used to you leaving, or because people are just insincere? i don't think that's what it is, though. i think people mean well and just run out of time. OR MAYBE, we in small towns (we the old me, from sarasota) are the anomaly: we see people and like them, and then we go back to them and hang out because there is no other game in town. hmmm.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

a few thoughts

i am determined to be physically in bed by midnight tonight, so these will be a few quick notes.

- i have not been posting recently. this is because i have been overwhelmed and sinking into a little mini-rut on the home, without even noticing it! this will change.

- i gave my first massage tonight in almost four months. some things i realized:

+i need to spend more time taking care of myself, which translates to finishing things i start and being more nurturing.
+part of my recent dissatisfaction has been NOT that i've been spreading myself too thin socially, but that in the situations i have been in, i'm not taking care of people. i am not cooking for them, making them tea, giving them presents, making them comfortable, giving them, with my home and my personality, the best of life. part of the nurturing of me has to do with being able to nurture people that i care about.
+luis. i need to handle him, in my head, once and for all; he's blocking me in finishing some things i need to take care of. not by design, but just because i'm letting him take up space that he perhaps never intended to occupy. that's not fair to anyone involved.

- people's body types are intrinsically linked to their taste in furniture, i think. i am going to develop this particular thought further, but i think it is true.

- i am kind of lonely in boston. BUT i think i just happened upon some ways of thinking i can change to work my way back to a healthier place within myself. i don't think loneliness is necessary, and i think i can prevent it as long as i remember the fact that i am new here and life is shifting on what seems like a weekly basis. i don't have to be lonely if i get comfortable in, and even happy with, being alone.

all of this is closely, deeply tied to my home, and i think the fuzziness of emotion i've been feeling recently is because i'm in this place now. i'm not planning and scheming for it anymore; i'm sitting in it now, with my back to an empty room. i need to address that, and i need to listen to myself. sorry all this is vague; it is mainly stream of consciousness for me to look back on later and ruminate on at greater length. but the end point is: i'm proud of myself tonight.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

the illest bookcase ever

so i just picked up that bookcase from yesterday's post, and: the guy who owned it previously had perhaps the sketchiest house i've been inside in boston. total student squat, complete with large sketchy rug, decomposing desk, clothing thrown all over the floor, and pervasive smell of patchouli, pot and unwashed boy. the guy i bought it from came out rocking sweatpants and an undershirt, which is when i knew exactly how excellent this adventure would be. he, in blissed out fashion, proclaimed that when he saw it, he knew it would be "the illest bookcase EVER, yo," and proceeded to buy it in haste.

i'm being unnecessarily snarky because i fear that the disorder of his house may be contagious, but it really made me think about the logistics of possessions and how they change ownership. i gave him $49 (we had to kind of cobble it together because he didn't have change) and carried something out of his home. i felt like it was a mistreated dog that i was taking away to the pound (stata) for a while, until i could get it rehabilitated and reintegrated into healthy, non-filthy society.

i have managed to furnish my entire apartment for under $450. that's insane! not counting a bed, but taking into account:

- a vintage desk
- a desk chair
- a five foot long wall mounted mirror
- a six foot tall floor length mirror
- a victorian settee
- a three piece french provincial sectional.

and just like that! i will need a coffee table and an end table, and lamps, and rugs, and you know. but the big meaty bones of my home are here or waiting to be here, and they all came to me through someone else. strange thought. what kinds of lives does furniture lead? how will i be changing these pieces by bringing them into my life? hopefully i will love them better, be kinder, take more care.

along those lines, i've been doing laundry all night, which means that it is time for me to unpack all my clothing and put it into my armoire. i am going to hold off on papering the inside drawers until i decide what colors i want it to be. (that is, probably until i see papers in the orangey-pink family that inspire me to greatness.) i just need to clean it lovingly with those wonderful method wood wipes and get to stepping, organizationally speaking. when i pack away my summer clothes (soon; those dresses are taking up needless space and i am never going to wear them in the cold), i will probably take that opportunity to revamp the insides.

i am also thinking about what happens when your home has a certain degree of exposure to people online? there is an apartment up now on apartment therapy that looked awfully familiar - and then i realized it was on design*sponge a few weeks ago. i like their sneak peeks because they seem just that: secret. it is so strange to feel like you recognize the inside of a home you've never been in, all because of the internet. i don't think i like it, and i'm interested to see how that reticence and instinct towards privacy will play out in my own redecoration efforts.

i also found out that there is a fall AT cure and it starts tomorrow, for some reason. i don't know why it has to be a wednesday? i was planning on condensing the cure into six weeks and starting it this weekend, so perhaps i will just stagger things out of sync with maxwell gillingham-ryan (i love his shit, but that is a thoroughly unfortunate name. take it from a fellow hyphenate!) and the crew. we'll see!

the terrace

so i have moved in. i am very tired. this is because, although i have had a long weekend off of work, it has rained this whole time. i had adventures. i:

- woke up at 7 on saturday and lay on the floor until the bed delivery men came
- moved all my stuff with my friend tony
- bartered my firstborn child at target for $400 worth of merchandise
- lost my wallet
- panicked
- went to central square thinking i had dropped it there
- walked back (because my T pass was in my wallet)
- found it lying under some shrubbery
- dogsat
- walked easily 5 miles, in cowboy boots, in the rain
- waited for the number 1 bus for 35 minutes, then
- went to a party and stayed for half an hour.

this was saturday. sunday i had craigslist drama: one woman who wanted me to pay her $35 more for a $40 desk that i had already sent her money for; i went to watertown to get my cash back. then another guy had an amazing bookcase/wall unit for which i was going to break the $100 rule. but it goes to show that the $100 rule is genius, because then he got all "i don't want you to buy it sight unseen; why don't you take the commuter rail down to westwood, help me load it in the car, and drive an hour back to your house, alone in the car, with me?"

thaaaanks but no thanks. i kept on craigslist and instead i am buying this:

for $50 from a seller who is in mission hill. it looks kind of janked, but it has atomic mid century legs and i will be painting the body of it a pale minty turquoise and leaving the drawer and cabinet doors woodgrain. i think it will be nice.

sunday i also took a nice drive to norwood with my friend nic; there was no stress and no chance of late fees, which is lovely (day rentals are the only way zipcar doesn't stress me out). we picked up the kent coffey desk that the lovely keyse thoughtfully sent to me earlier in the week. i got relentlessly made fun of by my friends when i told them i was planning to buy two desks and then decide which one i liked better, but that desk was ten dollars and i liked it better than the $40 one, so i figured it couldn't hurt.

when i got there, i saw that it was a stamped kent coffey original.

i can't find an exact replica of the desk i have, but i LOVE it. it is such a great find; thanks, keyse! i will post pictures of it in a little bit - when i've gotten the router i apparently need for my computer to have wireless internet access, and that comcast entirely failed to mention. (bastards.) my desk is not in the ideal spot right now, because the ideal spot would involve stretching cords all the way across my living room; as it is they are already blocking the kitchen door. i am very much looking forward to clipping them all around the various doorways and painting them the color of the walls and then forgetting they exist!

today i was ineffectual until nightfall. i mainly lay around; my internet was installed. but after dark i went to get my bike, had a great capoeira practice, moved my bed to the opposite wall (where, counterintuitively because this is the wall where the radiator is and the closet door opens, i like it better), started deep cleaning my apartment (got through: desk, closet, outside of refrigerator, all non-floor surfaces in bathroom, windowsills everywhere but bedroom, etc), organized closets and started bringing things out of bags and boxes. i went to paper source earlier in the day, so now that the inside of my desk is clean, i can start laying down liner paper tomorrow night.

i am tired and i have spent more money than i would've liked. the zipcar and my student loan payment, which i forgot, along with $130 towards my credit card (which has been sadly abused of late) total about $350, and add $100 of groceries to that and i definitely only had $550 for moving expenses from the financial shot in the arm my mom graciously gave me. now consider that easily $400 of that went to target on the first day i went there (and i went back yesterday! spent much less, but still), and it all starts to make sense. it's good to see it like that, actually; i was feeling very frivolous and horrible for going through that much money in such a short time. but my house is turning into a home, slowly slowly.

my next priority is to finish my couches and find a soft, fluffy 6' round area rug in a light color for $100 or less. i know i can do it... i just need to watch and keep my eyes peeled on other various sites.

i am sick of picking up and moving furniture. i am considering scrapping the handmade coffee table idea and just buying this; the seller delivers!

but silly, stubborn me - i want something warm and lovely that i can look at and feel pride that i made with my own hands. so thursday i am going to rockler woodworking to see a man about a burl.

i have to go to bed now; i am at the point of collapse. but cleaning tonight (with my new favorite favorite products, almond scented method wood cleaner and aloe and green tea scented all purpose cleaner by j.r. watkins), i felt these incredible, slow-releasing bursts of energy and purpose. i cleared up my house. i have a lot to do this week, between stripping the couches and painting the bookcase and all the stuff i have to do here. this weekend will be for buying pots, casseroles, possibly a pegboard, better sheets, some winter clothes, and couch fabric. i will be affixing fabric to couches this weekend.

i feel... harried, but healthy. i walk through my house and i see all the things i'm going to do to make it better. i can't wait until it feels warm and lived in and alive. we're getting there (dare i say it?), twig by twig.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

apartment therapy: for the cure

last week was a bad week for this project; it kind of foundered a bit. my fabric was thrown away, i was having a very hard time finding furniture and making it work, and during my trip to dc i lost out on a heywood wakefield sidetable on chop chop (worth roughly $850) for $19. pain, drama and pain.

but this week i feel re-energized. i picked up my keys on monday and the space feels so, so good. it may be because there is no clutter in it yet. (i dropped off my first piece of furniture yesterday - the armoire! it looks lovely.) but i get so blissed out when i walk in the door. it feels so good and it feels so mine and i love it. and i realized that i want to stay really true to the spirit of this project; i don't want to bring any trash, weight, or even unnecessary packaging into that space. it's too lovely.

so tonight and tomorrow night as i pack, i will be really culling everything i own, taking it out of bags, unwrapping it from plastic, throwing away unnecessary papers and receipts, and dealing with the clutter that i've managed to amass in just three short months in boston. i will also be getting rid of clothing that i hate, don't wear or have no use for; i think it will be good to start clean and pure, and go from there.

i am also reading the apartment therapy 8-step cure book, and so far it feels wonderful, almost savory. i am taking it very slowly because i want to absorb it all. the prose is very gentle, soothing, like a hot hot bath on a cold and tiring day. it feels like being back in massage school - not for the parts with the drama, but when we would discuss the flow of energy, getting emotionally stuck, and a thousand other hippie-friendly topics. i was probably the most skeptical one there, but some things really resonated with me as fundamental truths about life and what it means to be human.

since then, though, i've felt largely disconnected from that kind of deep knowing - until i started reading this book. i got to a line in the introduction about how the amount of things we hold onto and the heavier, not lighter, we travel is a direct representation of how little we trust the world, and others, to provide or simply to be there for us. i started crying in an instant. which was unexpected, but it's true: i hold onto things: people, slights, sadness, sometimes anger. and a lot of the time it's all out of fear. this project was conceived in part to help me move past that.

it's not going to happen overnight, but i am excited to go through all of my things and lighten my load, so that when i move it is with exactly what i need to have - no more, no less, perfect. i am so removed from the massage world right now, and i'm not seeing anyone (in terms of both dating and mental health professionals); i kind of feel like my life is a little devoid of both love and balance. so i want to try and change that. i want to make this home restorative for me. i want to make the whole thing a love letter to myself. i want to curate it and cultivate it and keep it wonderful. i'm energized; i feel renewed.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

i will survive.

i've had some time to mourn the loss of what would have made my life MUCH MUCH (MUUUUUCH) easier, and this week i will be returning to the conundrum of the couch. things have calmed down a little. i have secured an amazing armoire, a great desk (hopefully), and i am about to call about a side table and a bookshelf.

if i get those two things, the only items i will lack are a coffee table and two bedside tables. (then we get into wall decor, which is a whole other can of worms. and i want to start making things as well, notably my own tufted headboard and my own coffee table.)

[update: the side table sold and the bookcase is $200. way too much! so, craigslist, i am back on the prowl, moving like a shark, seeking a mid-century hutch for under $100.]

i am going back up to boston tonight (i'm in dc right now). it has been a really lovely visit, and, as sometimes happens when i travel, it's given me the mental space to face things about my life, rather than having to push them aside to get other, travelly things taken care of. there are some changes i need to make in my life, and it could be the case that this whole moving thing, instead of being a painful scary transition, is the perfect place to start. (a little mini-reset to life in boston, no?)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


someone threw away the fabric that i painstakingly removed nails from, separated and saved so that i could make a pattern from it.

thought one: thank god i measured it and took pictures of it fully laid out.

thought two: what the fuck am i going to do now?

Monday, September 15, 2008


Re: 25 Irving Terrace

Hi Adwoa,

Ralph and Dotty tell me you apartment is ready and if you will put the utilities in your name your welcome to move in early at no charge. Let me know you would like to do this.

Tim Moore


(update: problem. i don't have very much furniture, any soft goods, any utensils, pots or pans, or a bed. crap. things i absolutely must buy sooner than soon:

- a good mid century desk
- a bed
- a funky mid century dresser

stat! craigslist, i am looking at you.)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

why it pays to be scrappy

because: when you see a mirror and you fall in love with it, and it's on craigslist boston but it actually lives IN KINGSTON, which is treacherously an hour away, and you call the seller and she won't deliver unless she receives advance payment....

if you are scrappy, you are still thinking about it the next day, and you call her back again and ask if she has paypal or if you can mail a check and generally make it clear that you are pretty much obsessed, and then she will drive it up once your check arrives on tuesday!

in short: the scrappy bird gets the worm, especially when the annelid in question is fabulous.


i just took a little design quiz that helped me pinpoint my style and what i automatically gravitate towards. "what?" you cry. "but when have you ever needed help forming an opinion?"

well played. but while i can appreciate a lot of things, what i GRAVITATE towards when the options are unlimited is something else entirely. what it told me about my palette was nothing i didn't know before, but looking at the home i created on this random little website has given me food for thought with regards to the home i'll be creating on irving terrace in a couple of weeks. it was incredibly strong and united, and NOT necessarily the direction i was going in with my new apartment before.

things i move instinctively towards:

- pale turquoise
- ferny green
- faded orange as an accenting pop of color
- bright, vibrant blues
- extreme wood tones: rich, mahogany, blonde, ash
- natural colors: i am endlessly fascinated by white, off white, ivory, bone, muslin and ecru
- texture texture texture! the more undyed, the better - yarn, felt, burlap, ceramics
- sleek, matter of fact plants in unexpected places
- old gold in unnecessary places
- quirky bits of nature: antlers, twigs, shells, all in places you don't expect them.

the bedroom, bathroom, and now living room were all falling in line with this. but my kitchen may be dangerously out of whack... the color of the settee is now in doubt. i don't know that i necessarily want a saffron couch or a moroccan kitchen. i do want all white or off-white dishes and cutlery, though, so the kitchen needs a big exciting pop of color somewhere, some way. what color DO i want? navy? teal, since the other couch will be blue? a neutral? it will stain pretty badly though! grey? i need to think about this carefully... while i do that, wander on over here and check out your style profile. it might stop you before you staple.

kitchen couch

this time i brought out the hazard team.

my couch didn't stand a chance.

i am kind of endlessly fascinated by the insides of things. taking it down to the springs, coiled and held in tight, made and makes me feel like the kind of craftsperson who would know what to do with a bellows or a last or a strop or some other manner of old school mechanism that no one uses anymore. elderly metal and burlap and twine - now that the horsehair, funky padding, and straw are gone, i am passionately, burningly in love with this couch.

when i was younger, i took everything apart. everything. pens, calculators, cameras, etc. i think if i had been a boy, i would have been encouraged to take apart things like cars, bikes, radios - the sorts of things that have a ton more moving pieces, that you need precision and memory and skill to put back together and make functional. instead, i went the cooking/sewing/bookbinding route. i won't say that couches aren't fundamentally seen as women's work, but i love finding out the secrets of construction too much to care.

besides, while it would really help me to learn how a bike goes back together (a LOT, actually, as my own bike crapped out as i was riding down mass ave today), i don't own a car and i don't care much for radios. this is what engages me; women's work or not, it's too cool for me to get offended. i am also hoping to learn some woodworking; perhaps i will give up and make my own midcentury-inspired coffee table. (craigslist is disappointing me.) what about kidney shaped butcher block?

i almost want to let the bones breathe for a while; they are so beautiful. that is what i will be going back to on monday; my coworker will help me with the wood, and then i'll diagram out the way the couch needs to go back together, do it, and that will be that. i meant to do that tonight, but i am pretty sleepy. i took pictures at every stage, though, and it's pretty self-explanatory, so i'm not too afraid anymore.

it is amazingly empowering to know that you can take something like this apart and understand it. granted, i haven't put it back together YET, so i should probably zip the lip on this. but i have an incredible sense of accomplishment right now. and i'll enjoy this couch so much more because i haven't cut any corners, because i'm doing it the right way, and because i fully understand what's going into everything that i am doing. if i needed to, i could restring those springs. i maybe couldn't intuit the shape and tension necessary to build the wooden frame yet - but maybe that's the direction i'll go in next. anything to have this kind of raw beauty, to work it with my hands.

Friday, September 12, 2008

kitchen couch - the saga begins

oh man. so, i finally started to take my couch apart. it is a beautiful, gorgeous, sweeping and stunning piece - and it is going to be SO. MUCH. WORK!

after taking a moment to gaze upon it and admire its beauty (faded, but more poignant because i didn't have to do anything to make it one whole piece), i get into it and i start taking it apart, diving in with the tools my awesome coworker ron scrounged up for me. when he handed them over, i was very blase, thinking i wouldn't need them. after all, it was before staples, right? i would just pull them out by hand. what could possible have been used to tack it down that was so very bad?


those are wicked, possibly rusted but definitely very old, nails or pins of some scary metal variety. the types of metal-borne diseases i could have contracted doing that by hand (and the shots i would need to make sure i didn't die from that) are legion.

so i kept digging down and down and down. note to self: next time, start unhooking the fabric from the bottom. otherwise you will have an ungodly mess as the fabric starts to collapse on you since the top pieces are already unsecured:

not the way.

i finally got it stripped down all the way in the back:

or at least, as far as i thought i was going to go. but then i got around to the front and made an unpleasant discovery:

ladies and gentlemen, we have horsehair.

i thought i could just leave the basic parts of the couch intact, but the fact is that i've opened that shit up, now. i KNOW what's inside - and it's disgusting. i won't be able to sit on it happily unless i know that what i'm sitting on is not incubating hundred year old parasites, and the only way to be sure of that is to buy it new and do it myself. so i stripped out all the padding, and i'm going to have to take out all the burlap, all the muslin, all the webbing, and start again fresh: new foam, new padding, new couch, essentially.

chicago's "only the beginning" is playing perkily in my head. i'll be back in to work tomorrow to rip out everything else, clean it up, and hopefully start cutting patterns.

also, my friend alisa and i had a brainstorming session and i decided (for you purists) that i am not painting the wood. i am reupholstering the couch in saffron yellow velvet, which should be rich and ridiculous enough to offset the dark brown wood. after this, bright blue couch with old gold wood and, possibly, bright obnoxious buttons.