Friday, August 29, 2008

surrogate nesting

i just realized that in the absence of an actual place of my own, i am going overboard on trying to nest in spite of this lack. i'm skipping a party right now to read design magazines (and maybe watch a movie) in my sublet alone, while all of my housemates are out in various places. i would feel extremely lame if this weren't a massive improvement over the past four fridays, on which occasions i've simply fallen asleep for a good sixteen hours to recoup after the exhaustion of the week.

in other, more positive news, it turns out we have a full woodshop and a ton of space at work (duh!) so my couch reupholstery can take place there! this means i don't have to buy any tools or do anything; what i mainly need to do is tell machine shop ron what size staples i need and bring in some fabric and paint. i may have mentioned that i love my job and everyone i work with, but just in case that wasn't clear: i love that place.

also! we are moving to a different space in the building - one that is three stories tall with an actual glass ceiling. i am not even going to pretend to want to break that one (as a fancy secretary), because this means i will have direct sunlight at my desk all winter long. i had some serious seasonal affective issues the last time i lived outside of florida, so that goes a long way towards easing my mind. (and yes, i was already decorating my new space in my mind. HAVE TO MOVE.)

Thursday, August 28, 2008


so i went out monday night and rocked my shit at the harvard coop, just before it closed. i picked up:

domino (super excited about it! that cover alone...)

real simple (i cave; i love it - although i have to say that i find it ironic that the url displayed when you look at their homepage is not real simple at all)

craft magazine (hmmm. overpriced, but maybe awesome)

aaand one called boho. i would be lying if i said i wasn't a little ashamed that i got suckered by it, especially because i am such a walking, talking advertizement for stuff white people like. but it had such pretty paper...

i tried to buy lucky, but it confirmed what i've suspected for a while: no matter how progressive, no matter how exciting, no matter how fun, i really don't like fashion magazines anymore. i still LOVE fashion and take an almost fanatical interest in how i look.

but i have so much more fun creating looks with what's available on the ground, and i think that other categories of magazine are better inspiration in terms of shapes, colors, textures to juxtapose. fashion magazines feel like the children's abridged classics series of design: totally dumbed down.

hmm... maybe since writing my thesis (on dress and identity in sex and the city), i need more of a challenge. the fashion magazines, at the end of the day, all felt the same to me.

p.s. this past weekend was the first one since i moved to boston on june 13th that i haven't had to look for any kind of housing. absurd, but true. it was such a relief! i went to a lovely italian market in watertown, had friends over for a vat of sangria, unpacked my clothing and other than that, did absolutely shit. it felt so great!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


this is a random opinion poll. i am firing my magazine subscriptions back up, and i am not sure what to subscribe to! good features and articles are important, but also a crazy attention to color and layout, because these are the same magazines i am going to be cannibalizing for my inspiration wall.

i have sorely missed bust since i left for portugal and am REALLY excited to get it back. and domino's features (namely everything that is cheap) are pretty encouraging. but what else? i kind of hated ready made's book, but the magazine is a genius idea (in theory). there was a book i LOVED put out by a magazine that folded, i think, with a title that had something to do with a budget and having good taste.

i love lucky magazine's books (they made my job as a stylist much easier, but will i love their magazine?) and i have a secret love for real simple that verges on obsession even though i am totally not their target demographic (i don't have kids); i would read it on the sly when i babysat.

so: good pictures? amusing writing? what do you read? any thoughts welcome! tomorrow i think i am going to the coop to browse the selection and see what feels like a keeper.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

buying freeze?

and at the worst possible time, too - EVERYONE is moving out and i could harvest their old shit like nobody's business right now. but i've been spread so thin lately that it's been hard to motivate myself to look for couches and things on craigslist and then find a place to store them for a month: that just makes me even more anxious to move in and get started!

the lovely keyse has been holding down her end by keeping me psyched about the random and amazing shit that people sell out of their homes on the internet. but although this is the time when i have probably the most buying power i am going to have this year (my rent is paid through november first - damn), so my paychecks are entirely mine right now, i am kind of overwhelmed by all of the potential places to spend money and underwhelmed by the selection.

this is not to say there isn't some great stuff out there (um: really?)

i am in love!

but the thing is, i need a couch and some furnishings that are hawaiian funky and space age chic without having to spend a jillion dollars. plus i am so overall stressed that one of the things on my list of things to do tomorrow morning is: "make a list of everything that is stressing you out." holding it down is about all i can handle.

so i am dreaming of end tables, mirrors, sewing cabinets, antique radios, floor lamps and the perfect bedside table, but the largest thing i've been able to commit to since the sofa has been a seven dollar pot. i am putting the begonia i inherited at work in it, and maybe i will work up the guts to bring it home with me one day. maybe.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

porter square for the duration

i found a sublet! and the entire experience has been so lovely that it is kind of reinforcing everything i started this project to embody (and it hasn't even gotten off the ground yet!)

plodding home from the gym friday after work, i idly decided that this would be the weekend i would get this taken care of. i've been looking pretty steadily since i found my new apartment, but i think i just decided that two weeks was enough time, and this was when i was going to make it happen.

saturday i saw a craigslist posting for a sublet ending october 1 (perfect!) but starting immediately - eek! still, i figured i'd get in touch with them and go see the place, and then see what i decided. i spent most of the day hanging out with a friend, and eventually made an appointment to see the place at 9pm. and i loved it! it's a 4 or 5br, 2 bath space that takes up the upper two stories of a three story house. it has two balconies, a nice big backyard, a large kitchen, two living rooms and a guest room, and it's two minutes' walk away from the porter square t station. i got a great feeling from the house and the new roommates, and i have been saying for a couple of weeks that porter square is the last frontier.

i work at kendall, stayed off of central when i was visiting boston, currently live in harvard and was couchsurfing at davis when i first arrived. i am frequently in inman on walks to the cbc, occasionally find myself around lechmere, and have even spent a bit of time in union square. all i need to do now is get comfortable in avon hill, teele square and porter, and all of cambridge will have become my playground in three short months.

anyway, the catch was: how was i going to find someone to take my current room on almost no notice? i decided to work my hardest to make that happen, but not stress about it - if it turned into a big ordeal, it almost certainly wasn't supposed to work out and i'd find something else.

i posted it on facebook, on couchsurfing, on the csail listserv. i asked my housemates. one of them said that she wouldn't mind someone from craigslist, which is the one thing i wasn't doing because i wasn't sure if craigslist could be relied upon to turn up someone i felt comfortable leaving in my place on such short notice. so, i posted it (no pictures) and waited.

i heard from ten people in as many hours, but i made my first concrete appointment with the first person who wrote back. he liked the place, so i canceled all my scheduled appointments and called my potential new housemate to see if her room was still available. and it was! so then i packed up all my stuff. it has only taken me an HOUR; i'm so impressed with that.

i am probably 85% packed and all of this will only take one trip with a regular sized car. (i am putting off renting a zipcar because i am still sore about those late fees from wednesday.) i am waiting for paul to get here and pay, and then i'll figure out the handoff of the keys with him; i am going to porter to pick up my new keys tonight between 4 and 5. this is what i love about boston; in 24 hours, two people have found housing and for me, the transition is getting pretty close to seamless.

this morning i woke up early to clean the house a little. i'm leaving my couches for the moment, so i didn't have to worry about moving any furniture, but i made my bed (for the first and last time) and tidied up the bathroom. then i tackled the kitchen: i put all the dishes in the dishwasher, washed all the surfaces, scrubbed the stove and stovefront, cleaned out the sink, microwaved the sponge full of water to steam off some of the crud and then washed the microwave with the hot soapy sponge (this is a genius idea; i don't know where i got it but it makes everything so much easier), and then swept. it was kind of lovely to be up early in a clean house with no one else stirring - it reminded me why i'm so energized by the idea of living alone! (cleaning is only wonderful if it is up to you how long something stays clean.)

after paul left, i sat around online, calling people and trolling craigslist for cabinets - it never ends. eventually, i got up and very calmly and efficient packed my belongings away. the last things i have to do are:

-pack a small amount of ceramics
-pack my clean laundry
-wash my comforter and stack it
-wash all the linens i am leaving, as well as the ones i have left in my closet this whole time, for paul.

and then i'm done. i just checked out zipcar times and it looks like the lot by my house should be filling back up around 7; i will keep checking with people i know and hoping i don't have to worry about it, but bostonians with cars are in demand and few and far between. if i have to zip, it's not the end of the world.

when i was in the kitchen earlier, packing up my groceries in the boston organics box i received this week (they fit comfortably enough so nothing will shake or move too much, but the box is not quite full), i thought about how elegant, almost graceful this whole move has been. no stress, no sense of wrenching pain or detachment. just me, up in the morning, happily scrubbing down surfaces and subtly redefining my sense of home.

this sublet will be the seventh (yes, seventh) place i've lived in for a substantial amount of time between now and last may, the last time i was living in a place where i had a lease. and that doesn't count any of the times i was traveling and therefore staying with a friend. but it's the seventh and final; lucky number eight is coming up in six weeks, and i feel remarkably calm (not to mention damned efficient) right now. next stop, porter!

Friday, August 15, 2008

dear craigslist: $50 = nice for the price

i seem to be turning into the queen of fifty dollar sofas.

when i scored an amazing vintage settee in newton for fifty bucks, i thought it was a fluke. but when i saw an entire french provincial sectional listed for fifty bucks, i was sure there must be a corpse stuffed in among the springs in pieces; why else would you be that eager to get rid of such a fabulous couch on the cheap?

of course, this particular couch has been a bit of a fiasco: a hellbent cab ride to pay for it in medford before someone else bought it, followed by late fees for the ensuing ziptruck and the actual rental fee itself. with situational inflation, it is totally a $135 couch before i've even picked out new fabric. WHICH IS STILL THE DEAL OF THE CENTURY, if not quite as deeply mentally satisfying.

it has to be said that my new sectional is a violent shade of orange, and that this, along with its dark brown wood edging, makes it look like it was savaged at length by the entire decade of the seventies. but beyond that, it has BEAUTIFUL lines. i am dreaming of it in a popping shade of peacock blue with lime green, sky blue or chocolate brown edging ribbon and spray gold wooden parts, and the effects is two parts audacious to one part chic. here is a vision of one man's trash and my new treasure:

coming soon, if you live in harvard square, to a living room near you.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

my new apartment/twig by twig ground zero

is wonderful.

there are many listable qualities that make that the case, which i'll get to in a minute. but the main reason it's an amazing place is because i found it. it was the 59th apartment i saw.

i was thinking about this the other day, about how good things come to me, if they come to me at all. i am not, and have never been, what you might consider a lucky person. prestigious scholarships, spelling bees and sporting matches, the lottery: you name it, i've failed to win it. what i do have going for me, and what i've been lauding in college essays and despairing of, at times, in my private life since i was old enough to remember, is scrappiness.

i am a stubborn bitch; if i want something, reeeeeeally want it, i will find some way to have it. there are times when i wish i wasn't so immovable; the depth of my perseverance can be surprisingly limiting at times. but, like a heat seeking missile programmed to "good design," i seem to keep pointing myself in a direction and barreling off in search of grace.

so, the apartment - is 500 feet away from where i currently live! it's on a side street extremely close to harvard square (look up the corner of sumner road and irving terrace in cambridge, and prepare to be envious), in a U shaped building with a pretty grassy courtyard area. the building has 30 units, all one bedrooms; my windows look out on my zipcar lot.

the apartment has five main areas for decoration and design. this is all from memory because i haven't been back since the showing, but here they are:

1) the foyer. the first thing you see when you walk in, this is a small anteroom/receiving chamber whose walls hold the doors to the bathroom, bedroom and exterior hallway, along with the doorway into the living room. from what i remember, there are two wall areas on either side of the bathroom door, plus some nice divided wall space to either side of the exterior door (which sort of puts me in mind of the doors in antique schools, with the glass upper half and the number written in gold on it).

2) the bathroom: it's a beautiful bathroom! those small hexagonal bathroom floor tiles, large window, lots of space (it's a long rectangular room) that is built to accomodate the piece de resistance of the space: an antique soaking tub. i have had a hard time finding pictures of the exact style, but it is essentially a clawfoot tub without the clawfeet - same shape, but the tub sits directly on the floor. and LOTS of wall space outside the dedicated bathtub area, which has one of those oval suspended rails that means i can make floor to ceiling, super dramatic curtains that will wrap around the entire bathtub.

3) the bedroom: windows, soaring space behind the bed (this place has fairly high ceilings, which is really lovely), what seemed like way more closet space than i'll actually use, room for a queen size bed! for someone who has lived in studios for years now, i can't stress the importance of the fact that i, at 5 foot 10 and 22 years of age, am FINALLY going to have a bed that's tall enough for me to sprawl all over it. i always favored having large sitting furniture over large sleeping furniture (my red couch, therefore, is longer than my mattress), but now i can have my cake and eat it too!

4) the living room: it's a relatively small and cosy living room, which i'm okay with. it has funny dimensions and sort of cuts in and out at one point; i can't remember if that's because there's a built in bookshelf, or not. but there is more than enough room for a good desk with lots of storage above it on a wall (there's the teeniest indentation in the wall forming a suggested alcove, actually), and then leaving the rest of the room for seating and some book storage. i have my eye on so many things for this room: an antique hutch, a french provincial sectional, a set of pigeonholes for sitting on the desk even though i'm really almost sure i want wall-mounted storage for craft supplies and things... i will need a stud finder to make this space work!

5) the kitchen: the kitchen is vast. it's another long, rectangular space, with an exit down to the laundry room. right now it's set up as an eat-in kitchen, but i think i will put my settee there once i get it finished and reupholstered (it's at the end away from the bulk of the cooking fumes, plus i've always thought it would be nice to have a seat in the kitchen and now i can do that!) also, if i remember correctly, it has glass fronted cabinets that rise to almost ceiling height.

that, in a nutshell, is it. there are so many period details that i feel like it encourages an audacity that boxier, more contemporary designs might not support. i'm turning over color palettes, inspirations, feelings for each room. i want them all to feel welcoming, quirky, intelligent, fun.

i am leaning towards an updated funky schoolhouse feel for the foyer: coathooks, mirror, clock, entryway table (made of what? a telephone bench, a sewing cabinet, an old time radio?); a kind of decadent victorian lounge feel for the bathroom; sparse, comforting minimalism and large, simple shapes in the bedroom; a curio shoppe meets louisiana carnival vibe in the living room, and a soda shop/apothecary feeling in the kitchen.

the last thing about this apartment: i have no lease; it's tenancy at will. this means that this project is already changing and growing. i think this is still going to encompass all of my time in boston, which makes it a bit more mutable. i don't know when i'm leaving, and the indefinite nature of that will make it so much more of a challenge to think of this as a transient situation. i love my job, i don't know when i'll go to grad school, i am in love with this space... these are classic signs of city-nesting. my challenge is to do all that and still know when it's time to go.

buying a new camera; the photo guy at work tells me that my old one would cost more than it was worth to fix.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

i found it

and it's beautiful and perfect. i am exhausted right now, so more on this later, but: i move into my new apartment on october first.