Saturday, February 25, 2012


I'm craving the new right now. I've had it with winter, even though this winter was a non-event; I'm tired of all the same old food I eat, I wear the same damned outfit every day, I'm even tiring of Coke Zero (gasp! Would that day ever really come?). I want to shake my world up. I keep looking at pictures of Iceland and Patagonia, and wishing I could astral project myself there. I think this is just a result of the late-February blahs.

I adore my friends and I like my job, my boyfriend is terrific and my family is top-drawer. But I'm simultaneously nesting and desperately clawing at the walls to get away. I reorganized my bookshelves the other day, and that made me feel a little more soul-healthy; I think I need that on a cosmic scale.

I do so many things out of habit (like Coke Zero), or out of a sense of obligation to the person I wish I was. I have a stack of clothes that don't fit, that haven't fit in two years and thirty fat and fleshy pounds, and I keep them around on the off-chance that I magically lose all that weight. I have pairs of shoes that have never been worn out of the house, dresses that don't button over my stomach, pants that are too long. It feels like clutter, and I want to throw it all away and start again. Clean white walls, a few carefully chosen outfits, a fridge full of organic produce and nourishing legumes, and a sense of lightness. I feel heavy, bloated with self-loathing for not fitting into my clothes, for neglecting friendships, for working too many hours in a week.

There are so many things I take pleasure in - the heft of a new-old stoneware vase, the sight of my boyfriend's feet dangling off the end of the couch as he watches TV, and a great chunk of chocolate. But I feel restless. I need to work more with my hands, or spend less time in front of a computer. I want my body to feel stronger. I want to eat less, and better. I'm tired of reading tweets: I want to devote myself to a novel, an epic. Something with heft, real intellectual weight.

Not all of this can be chalked up to February.

I feel this way from time to time, usually when I feel especially far away from the person I want to be. I've moved away from things that I used to - knitting, beading, crafting, sitting on boards, thinking about housing, reading novels and short stories for my degree, drinking in bars. Friends have moved away, both geographically and emotionally.

I just want to feel less overwhelmed and more maker-thinker. More like the person I was, the person who used to make things and write things and talk in loud voices and who was skinny and pretty and simultaneously more and less involved. Is that so much to ask?

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Room Of One's Own

I feel like nesting - I've been perusing online shops for stoneware cereal bowls and decent rates on framing, because I'm feeling like all my stuff is going to cave in on me and I'm going to have to dig my way to the surface with a flattened Coke Zero can. I've been wishing especially hard for someone to swoop down and fairy-godmother some gorgeous antiques into my life, and to make sense of the thousands of scraps of paper I have lying around my room. I swear to God, it's a tinderbox in here.

I'm trying to figure out my home decor aesthetic. My mom is an interior designer, so I grew up in these beautifully laid out rooms. They would be washed with colour and texture, and her personal quirks, like hiding the TV in a big cabinet or wallpapering the bathroom with black paper printed with African animals, became normal. I stopped seeing the Japanese garden statuary, and the vintage childrens christening outfits hung on velvet hangers decorating the bathroom became part of the scenery. I don't mean that my mother's style is boring - far from it. She has an amazing ability to see the bones of a thing - a chair, a room, a colour - and tweak into a form more glorious than it could have rightfully dreamed. What I mean is that I sort of take her style for granted, and then I wonder why my own rooms don't look as nice as hers.

Part of it is undeniably a cash flow thing: I don't have hundred of dollars to pour into paint or furniture whenever the mood strikes. Part of it is laziness, because redecorating and renovating is hard work and I am...well, I'm lazy. And a big part of it is a total lack of formal training - growing up in beautiful homes doesn't make me any more adept at creating lovely spaces than any other schmo. But I want to! I'm feeling suddenly interested in antique stores, with their jumbles of globes and vintage magazines. I'm yearning for stoneware cereal bowls and metal egg baskets. I want great big posters of old Japanese films, and 1960s-looking space-age mixing bowls. I grew up reading my mom's design magazines, so I'm not afraid of colour or pattern, but trying to figure out what I want everything to look like is pretty daunting.

My wardrobe is pretty plain: lots of black and grey, some red and white. I play a lot with texture and proportion, and I accessorize with cleavage on the weekends and big scarves at work (yes, I know, I'm about 40 years too young to be dressing like a funky art gallery owner, but here we are). Over the years, though, I've developed a pretty solid sense of what I like. Some harder-edged elements, like a pretty skeleton pendant or subtly gauged earrings, can combine with flowier looks, like floor-length skirts and linen pants. I die for texture - give me a handmade pair of socks, and I am swooning - and I like a little bit of dirt. Do we have smudged eyeliner, rat's-nest hair, and a crooked smile? Then we've got the beginnings of a great look.

But translating that into a design for rooms is tough. There are colour palettes I love, like the brights-on-white of Dia de los Muertos, or the warm nostalgia of buffalo plaid. But do those look good together? No. Maybe I should take a page from my mom's book, who had the African safari wallpaper in the bathroom and a a huge floral motif in the living room. There are things I love wholeheartedly, like hardwood floors, brick walls, and transom windows that I would be lucky to have. There are things like lush plants and great art that I would bring in myself. There are the constant, non-negotiable, room-filling books. And then everything else is just blank.

I feel like a switch has started to turn in my head - for the first time in my entire life, I'm interested in keeping plants alive. I'm making pancakes for Shrove Tuesday. I'm sending letters in the mail. I'm feeling more and more like I'm becoming a person I want to be, rather than just stumbling through life with a collection of goofy, ill-advised accessories and habits. It'd be nice if the rooms I live in felt the same way.