Befores and afters

In all the cold places we traveled to, it was chilly outside, but warm indoors. Here at my parents’, it’s just the opposite! I wear sweaters, scarves, and jackets inside the house (and still I spend a good portion of each day with icy fingers), but as soon as I go outside, where the sun shines and temperatures some days reach nearly 70ºF, my jacket comes off. I don’t like this flipped situation. What’s more, my skin seems to have developed a sensitivity to all the lovely wool garments I normally wear for warmth, and so my indoors layers always feel inadequate (or itchy). Insignificant problems in the grand scheme, to be sure, but… bah.

Lyapa on the happy chair!

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One thing about working from home and independently is that I don’t have holidays per se. I didn’t tell myself when we left Houston, “Okay, as soon as we get home, I’ll be on winter vacation,” but that’s just what has happened. It’s been nice — and my extroverted side has really appreciated having so many other people around — but it’s been a week now and I’m feeling like it’s time for something a little more productive.

When I woke up on Friday I was thinking it would be good to return to creative work, but it didn’t feel possible. I looked around at all the clutter in my room — clutter that had arisen in spite of the initial reorganization I did last week, just to make space for our travel duffels and their contents — and it felt as if the walls were closing in on me. Then I realized I could take some of the pictures and knickknacks off my walls. I’d been so pleased when I first put them up, but what use is a gallery that never rotates its artwork? I began unsticking and unpinning paintings and postcards, and once I got going, I just kept on. Eventually I took something like 19 pictures off the walls and tabletops, and then I moved on to the tchotchkes decorating the tops of my bookshelves. When I was finished, I had a sizable heap of ornaments lining the floor next to my bed, but my walls looked great. The room breathed.

With the vertical clutter significantly reduced, I could see clearly that the furniture was overburdened as well. I remembered I had four empty shipping boxes stashed in the garage, so I retrieved them and then started packing up books for storage. I cleared so many of them that I’ve actually been able to repurpose one of my bookshelves for office/art storage, and move it to a less crowded side of the room. I’ve been so happy with this reorganization, I did morning pages on Saturday for the first time in more than a week, and then sat down to write this post.

Of course you want to see before and afters. They’re not the most dramatic comparisons because the “before” pics were taken during a particularly uncluttered time this summer, and the “afters” still involve clutter (I’m flattening the Boston paintings under heavy books on my desk, for example).

before

2013 Jun 26 - Eat Well Travel Often

after

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before

2013 Jul 26 - The oasis of one thing at a time

after

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Eh. Do the “afters” look good to you? I actually think they don’t, not in the photos. To me the “befores” look better – but that’s because they imply an otherwise spacious and unbusy room, which it wasn’t. For all the order you see in the photos, there are piles of clothes and stacked boxes and random detritus (papers, electronics cords) just outside the frame; meanwhile, in the “afters,” much of that stuff has been taken away (i.e., you can see the floor!).

Anyway, the important thing is that the room breathes, and as a result, so do I. There’s space to think and be and work. Now if only I could figure out how to keep my hands warm too.

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2 responses to “Befores and afters

  1. Sounds a lot like Karachi this winter! I freeze in the house, but outside it is perfectly pleasant. I hate having to wear so many layers to stay warm at night, and despite all my blankets my nose is still frozen! Argh!
    Decluttering is such fun though :) But I agree, the befores look better in the pix.

    • Nooooo frozen nose!! My nose has stayed pretty warm, strangely enough — it’s just my hands. >(

      Happy 2014, and I hope you are staying as warm as you can, Munira!

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