Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'm Afraid, I'm Afraid!

I'm moving! I found a place. Things fell through with my dear friend with whom I was going to find a two-bedroom for the summer, so I looked alone for rooms. I found a ridiculously cheap room in a beautiful three-bedroom in Pilsen, where I worked last year. I know the neighborhood well from working there, and while it's not the most hip neighborhood, it's hardly at all gentrified, which is exciting, and also a little scary. My beloved neighborhood is green and lush and rich and gorgeous, with some cheap-ish student housing thrown into the mix. This neighborhood is Mexican and urban and (a lot) grittier. So I'm living the bohemian dream, I guess: cheap cheap cheap rent, hipster stranger roommates, working-class neighborhood, vintage building.

I'm terrified. Not of what could happen (you can get mugged anywhere, even friends can turn out to be annoying roommates) but of... newness, of change, of losing my intimacy with my neighborhood and having lots of friends right down the street. I think it's the alone, cut-loose feeling that scares me the most. And moving away from the lush green beauty that is my neighborhood. I took a whole slew of pictures of flowers one summer in my neighborhood, this rose is one of a profusion.

But, change causes growth, right? I think I need to re-read the Unbearable Lightness of Being, by Milan Kundera, like Jane posted about the other day. When I first read it I was a little too horrified by the main character's infidelities to care about what was being said philosophically. I also tend to turn away too quickly from a philosophy that seems existential enough to give up on striving to be a better person. But, I the questions, as Jane poses them, really resonated with me: "Should life be light or heavy? Should we pursue untethered freedom or bind ourselves to one another and to place? And can we know which is better when we have only one shot at it?" What a thought for a moving day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Empty and Hot

 So one roommate moved out. Turns out me and roommate S have NO furniture. He's got even less than me. I literally woke up only once when A was moving out, and when I woke up later in the morning, only a garlic skin had blown under my door.
And the whole place was totally empty. Ok, I own that bookshelf and the pillows. And most of the crap in the closet.
My stuff too. The light blue velvet chair is from my grandma's house, there's a tall skinny bookshelf I picked up a couple apartments ago, and the little chest that my mom got for me when I started college. This is the room with the dining room table and the rug, all of which is gone now.
It got hot again today, so this is what I'm wearing. It's this hot pink tunic thing with some crazy gold embroidery around the neckline. My favorite part is these little dots on the shoulders. I think one of them is a patch for a rip and the other is just to make it symmetrical. I got it at a thrift store, I'm sure, probably Goodwill in SC. It's a total rectangle, so though I've worn it loose before, I like to belt it. I also curled my hair with foam rollers last night, which always comes out a little messy looking but I like the sort of retro effect.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Moving is Such Sweet Sorrow

Actually, moving is just sad. It's exciting to think of getting a new place, but very unsettling to me to have roommates leaving, a mostly empty apartment, all their stuff in boxes, all before I've even found a new place to live! Yikes. I tend to be really laid-back about apartment-hunting, trusting that something will come together at the last minute, it's not like I'll be homeless, maybe if I wait a bit longer I'll get lucky... etc. And often, I do. But for all this laissez-faire (or laziness?), I'm kind of a "nester." I feel so uneasy in my heart when my home is in upheaval. I'd like to think that I'm ok living out of a suitcase, but I think that's only the case if I know that my Stuff has a Home somewhere. And when I've lived out of a suitcase, I got very into routine and making a room full of someone else's stuff feel nice and like a mini-home. Anyway, here's our dining room, the bookshelves are all packed up and you might be able to catch a glimpse of the kitchen insanity behind it. This room has a lot of my stuff in it so it looks partly normal.
 Except, of course, for this wall of boxes.
The living room is going to be completely empty except for that little bookshelf as of tomorrow. OH MY GOD. I kind of like empty apartments, their white walls and seeing the floor all the way to the walls. It feels weirdly relaxing, free. But yeah, a little lonely.

As for my apartment search, my problem, I think, is that I'm TOO flexible. I feel like I could live anywhere, so it's hard to narrow it down. I'm basically like, oh it's cheap? Awesome. Let's take it. No closet? Basement? No problem. I saw this quote from Otto Dix, the German artist, on Eilis Boyle's blog, which I found today via Ill Seen, Ill Said:

"I'm not that obsessed with making representations of ugliness. Everything I've seen is beautiful."

It struck me, what a wonderful problem to have, everything I've seen IS beautiful. The ugly places have charm, the dark points in life have wonderful, resilient people that survive through them. I've wanted to write about this before, but I've really struggled recently with reconciling the beauty and happiness in life with the sadness and harshness that I see, not as much in my own life, but in others. We all have a lot of sadness, and sometimes it can seem like that is deeper or more real than the joy and beauty that is also flowing in and around and through us all the time. Theoretically, I believe they have the same strength but it's hard to be sure. Throughout this last year I've felt like I'm swimming in extremes: witnessing some of the worst parts of human experience but also some of the best. I guess I've always been willing to take suffering very seriously, but it's become important to take joy with the same "seriousness," afford it the same status in my view of the world.

So that's all rather abstract, but has to do with the same empty-apartment feelings: it's sad, but freeing, lonely, but exciting, and you have to just deal with those both at once.

On the Hunt Again

 I'm on the apartment hunt again! This time, I'm finally moving out of the neighborhood where I've lived for almost 7 years (!!!) I love my neighborhood but I'm ready to go. I've been looking at places on the FAR FAR other side of the city, which is a huge pain, but it's a great neighborhood and I think it's time for a change. Unfortunately, as always, apartment hunts are a huge pain, especially with roommates with differing schedules and preferences. Tension always ensues. As I remember from Egypt, it's pretty all-consuming when you're doing it by yourself, too. But on the bright side, you get a glimpse at the kinds of places that people live in all around a vast city.
 Notice how this toilet is at an angle to the wall? THIS MADE NO SENSE. Also, talk about all-white.
 World's tiniest kitchen. I LOVE IT but don't think I could find a roommate who would. But it was a great location. I'd live there, but I have low standards, apparently.
 Oh god, this place was beautiful. Old building, vintage features, lots of sun... but it's also practically in the suburbs it's so far from the center of the city. I am not a New Yorker, therefore, I do not have to live in the Arctic Circle to get reasonable rent. But oh, how I long for this apartment.
 LOOK AT IT'S CUTE SUNROOM! (look at my faithful apartment search - helping friend! the best kind of friend!)
 The kitchen is half-janky, half adorable vintage. It's got no cabinets, but a huge pantry with a window, random shelving, an ancient metal sink, a new stove (actually not yet installed...?), old linoleum but adorable back porch. I don't quite know what to make of it.
It's in a really cute building! In a really random far-away neighborhood! I don't know what to do!!!
Ok, here's another place. It's so hard to tell if a place is nice when random people's stuff is all over the place. Is this a reasonable kitchen? I do not know. BUT the doorway to the outside was taped across the bottom and super old-looking, making me think: drafty, icky, bad. I have a high tolerance for old and crappy apartments, but... life is short.

What's hilarious to me is that this was obviously a Muslim family, but what tipped me off wasn't the Arabic wall-hangings but the sectional sofas. What is it about putting seating all around every wall? The one time I went to an actual Egyptian's apartment, they had this going on too, and it worked because they had like 20 relatives over chilling out in the room. Behind the somewhat excessive seating, you may be able to see from my crappy pictures that there is a lot of windows going on here-- on THREE sides of the room. Awesome. I would lose the curtains.

Again, cute building. Also, it was on like the only hill in the city, which was kinda cool.

Sunday, June 5, 2011


I'm not sure if this video upload will work. I like the flash of green light, though. I took this on a loooong bike ride back from work one windy day, earlier this spring. It was just so beautiful out, and one of those days you feel so full of life you can barely contain it.