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.