All The Post-It Notes

Office supplies

Office supplies (Photo credit: Marjut)

I’ve been in my new job about five weeks now. It may be my favorite workplace out of any I’ve been in so far. All the office supplies I could want are made available without any need for me to cajole or hunt down.

Now that I’ve gotten comfortable with the work itself, I’m starting to attack my file system. A certain amount of it is mandatory – a tickler file for appointments, for example – but for the most part, I’m left to my own devices. So far, I’m spending a lot of time re-sorting the other files in my drawer, labelling and re-labelling as I decide what I need.

I happened to come in at a very busy time, so I didn’t get the opportunity to decide on “systems” for myself as I went. I’m paying for it now as I catch up, but in the long run I think it’ll be good for me – it means I’ve had a chance to figure out how everything works and try several different things before settling into System 1.0. And of course there will always be System 2.0 when things inevitably change.

In the meantime, I have three different sizes of post-it notes in about eight different colors. And that makes up for a lot.

Moving

Well, I suppose it’s time to use this blog space a bit. The hardest part about splitting up, for me, is that it takes so damn long. Things had been over with my husband a while, I’d realized things about myself and he had realized things about himself.

It’s sad to feel like you’re only keeping a relationship because it’s what you know and safe. To realize that feeling is right is draining. And that’s how I can explain this whole situation: draining. I slept for almost nine hours last night – draining.
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Small Apartment Living

My apartment is a mess. I wasn’t really aware I still owned enough stuff to have a mess, but I do. I guess in 500 square feet, it’s pretty easy. There’s the sorted laundry that needs to go downstairs to the laundry room. It wouldn’t kill me to take the trash out, either.

The downside of a tiny apartment is that your chores are always staring you in the face. From my current seat, I can see the laundry, the trash, the mail that’s waiting for me to buy a new shredder.

Sometimes this apartment feels much smaller than 500 square feet. Part of the problem is that it (and all of  our neighbors) were carved out of a single home. This means we ended up with a kitchen that’s quite large, but not large enough to really do anything but cook in, a long, narrow closet that didn’t have any hanging bars at all when we moved in, and my girlfriend’s closet-sized “craft room”. All of these things take up some of the square footage but make it really hard to use that square footage effectively.

Also, just to make things interesting, the stairwell is oddly angled and low ceilinged, so it’d be nearly impossible to get any larger furniture up here. The table was hard enough and it has hinges so it’s barely two feet wide.

I have acquired more books – these things happen! – and more art, which is my real weak spot. Worse than books, I think. I’m okay with getting rid of books. I’m much less okay with parting with art. I’m trying to stick to small pieces, so they’re easier to group on the walls, and paper prints instead of giclee canvas – canvas is nice and all but they’re much harder to move or store if I want to cycle through them. I’m speaking from experience here.

Speaking of canvas, I haven’t painted since the move. I think that’s a combination of factors weighing in – I gave away my art supplies to save space, and I can’t really justify the cost of new ones right now. I also don’t have the space for an easel, or to store finished art.

I also ended up donating a bunch of my paintings with all the other thrift store stuff when we moved. It wasn’t that I thought people would like them, particularly. Just that I didn’t have space for moving them. I didn’t think much of it at the time because I was in a huge, last-minute hurry, and I wasn’t really satisfied with my work anyway, but I think that’s probably at least part of the reason why I haven’t felt like getting back to it.

I should attack my watercolors anyway, though. It might help me feel better. Of course, so would starting on the mess in here. Maybe I’ll go do the laundry.

Small Steps

So yes, I moved. And yes, we’ve picked up a few new things since we’ve been here – a bed, for example, and cookware. And maybe a few more books. But I’m also realizing that I can continually re-evaluate on smaller levels instead of sinking a bunch of energy into major declutters.

Instead of putting together a giant load of books for the user bookstore, one or two books go in the library donation bin. Instead of a massive closet declutter, a shirt that I try on and don’t like goes right into a bag for Goodwill.

It’s not as if things come into the house in massive piles most of the time, after all. In slowly, out slowly, and maybe next time I won’t need to do a massive declutter.

We’ll see how long it lasts, anyway. (Probably until I run across my first $5/bag booksale up here.)

On the Other Side

So, yeah, I stopped posting when we got down to the deadline. Highlights of the last week or so included finding a charity that would show up on short notice and pick up the four or five bins of stuff we were getting rid of, realizing at the last minute that we were going have to ship about eight boxes instead of three, and still panicking to get everything into the car at the last minute. I have never in my life wished we owned an SUV before, but the day we were leaving the apartment, I honestly did.

But we left, that was the important thing. We spent the better part of a week in hotel after hotel as we drove and then waited for an apartment. I watched a lot more TV than I usually do, including my favorite Hoarding Enablers, American Pickers, and not one but two storage unit auction shows.

At that same time, we were using a storage unit for a few days so we didn’t have to drive around with everything we owned packed tightly into the car. The single month of storage payment was worth it to be able to use the rear view mirror while apartment hunting. But every time I punched the gate code in, I couldn’t help but think about those auction shows.

Anyway, we’re now ensconced with all of our belongings in a studio apartment with a craft room. I’m not kidding. It means Amber will have a space for her yarn and spinning supplies, and since that was what took up the most space in the old place, I have no problem with that decision.

In the end, I ended up fitting all my books into a single office file box. However, almost as soon as I was moved in, there were a few I was replacing at Goodwill – my How To Fix Everything guide, for example. I’m still not quite as handy around the house as I’d like to be, but if I’m going to be installing clothes racks and things I need to look like I am!

So, yes, I do have a book problem. But in my opinion, the important thing is that I’ve established that books that come in can go back out again. It’s not what I have, but what I keep, that matters.

Losing It

Ten years ago, when I was getting ready to move out of my first Real Apartment, the receptionist at the office’s front desk gave me the wrong move-out date. My roommates and I made careful plans to stretch the moving out over a week so it wasn’t a huge rush, but the morning after we moved all the large furniture, we returned to the apartment to find “cleaners” throwing all our things into trash bags.

On some level, I don’t think I’ve ever really dealt with that. I lost most of my comic book collection, and it was years before I started following anything regularly again. I’m sure there are photos, art, all kinds of irreplaceable things that went. And yeah, I couldn’t tell you what most of them were, but that’s not the point.

Since then, I declutter as a way to feel like I have control, since I know how easily I could lose it.

Today I took a pretty big leap of faith. Most of the random things in our apartment are going to charity before we move. My girlfriend found a place that’ll come by and pick it all up, and they’re coming today.

While I’m at work.

Yeah, I sorted it all ahead of time and put the things I’m keeping in the other room. She asked me about all sorts of individual things. She’s actually been very, very patient about my anxiety.

But ultimately when the charity truck comes, she’s the one directing it and I’m out here, in the office. I have to trust her. And I have to remember that for all the anxiety and for the comics that I do miss having available, the vast majority of the stuff that disappeared from that apartment, I really haven’t missed.

It’s not the stuff that got to me, it was the loss. And it’s time to get over that too.

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