Order in Chaos

I thrive on order and organisation. Both in my work life, and at my home, I like things to be tidy, and everything to be in its place. I have come to learn that living with someone else makes this difficult to achieve, and even more difficult to maintain. I lived on my own for over a year, and I loved it. I had a routine, I was able to do things my own way, and I could freely walk around naked without any fear of someone else seeing me. Though I do think I accidentally flashed the neighbour when I was getting changed one morning. But I digress.

I have always found tidying to be cathartic. I have a bizarre love of watching mess turn into order, and there is something calming about the end result. A neatly made bed, a tidy bench, and organised cupboard; all of these things bring me a kind of simple, and yet enormously rewarding satisfaction. Living with another person has taken some adjustment for me, because my housemate and I are very different people. I have to remember that my space isn’t just my space anymore; it is an area that we both share and occupy. So with no sewing room to speak of, my bedroom has become my space. It is the one part of the house that is just for me.

When I first moved into the new place, I spent two days sorting through my belongings, setting up the bedroom and finding homes for all the stuff I have managed to accumulate over the years. Over the last two months, on the rare days I get off, I am either too busy to clean or driving two hours back home for some reason or other. (I think I’ve been in my hometown more since I moved than I was when I lived there!). So today, after doing a few things, I returned home and finally got around to tidying up my space.

For the first time in my entire life, I have no cupboards. My housemate has the only room with wardrobes, so I had to settle for buying a cheap hanging rack from K-Mart. It’s awful. It is a flimsy, wonky rack made of cheap metal and plastic, and it depresses me every time I look at it. It makes my bedroom seem cluttered and small, it is untidy and frankly, it’s just plain ugly. So today I went to Ikea and picked out the perfect little cupboard with doors and shelves and a hanging rack, and would have purchased it on the spot if it had have fit in my little car. As it is, it did not fit and so for the time being, I am stuck with the ugly rack. However as soon as I can organise delivery, you can bet your butt I’ll be buying it.

Behold, the hideousness.

However I did not leave empty handed. (Ikea, where have you been all my life?) I purchased some curtains for my window, which up until now has been covered by an unused sheet. This was unappealing on two levels. First of all, it looks cheap and nasty. There’s nothing more tacky than a window with an improper cover. And secondly, it meant I had no natural light. I am one of those people who likes to open her curtains and let the natural light in. Especially considering I spend most of my time working in a shop that is situated below street level, and so weather has lost all meaning for me. The addition of proper curtains in my bedroom just makes the whole place feel more open and bright, and therefore a much happier environment for this little neat freak to be in. Now add all of this to a freshly made bed and new throw rug, and suddenly the untidy mess that was my bedroom has been transformed into a pleasant environment that I am happy to do more in than just sleep.

Even just looking at this is calming.

At a time in my life when everything seems to be complicated and troublesome and in large part, downright depressing, it is the small joys that make getting up more bearable. And for me, having a tidy space makes an enormous difference to my state of mind. Maybe now home will start to feel more like…well, home.

On Keeping a Diary, and Why I Write

Me too, Jodi. Me too.

For a few years now, I have kept a diary. As a writer (and aspiring author) who deals mostly with a laptop, I find the act of putting an actual pen to paper quite therapeutic. There’s something different about writing with an actual pen, and in the case of my diary writing, fountain pens in particular. I get caught up in the way my hand moves across the page and the way words form. I think writing by hand is such a beautiful and under-appreciated art.

My diary is the keeper of secrets, like a close friend, or an extension of myself that I tell my darkest thoughts to. Writing in a diary is a way to clear my head of all the thoughts that can sometimes overwhelm it. Those thoughts can be as simple as a five word sentence, or as detailed as a passage that goes for three pages. I occasionally read over the entries and get taken aback by how much negativity I seem to spill out. And then I remember that that is the purpose of my diary.

Sometimes you have things that you feel as though you can’t tell anyone. It’s not that they won’t understand – though perhaps they won’t – but you don’t want to burden them with all your issues. Your friends, your family, your work mates; they all have lives of their own and you have to respect sometimes that they might not want to, or might not be capable of dealing with your problems as well as their own. And for me, that’s where my diary comes into play. It is, I suppose, a way to vent to something that won’t be burdened by the things in my head.

Keeping a diary is beneficial to me in a lot of ways. I can keep up the practice of writing by hand, which I find both calming and cathartic. I have a way to rid myself of negative thoughts, by putting them down on paper. It helps to clear my head, and seeing the things that are worrying me written down also helps to work through them. Many people keep a diary for the same reasons, and there is definitely a reason I started writing my thoughts down so many years ago.

It can be the smallest, simplest things that can be the most rewarding. And that, among all the other reasons, is why I write. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it; writing really is my saviour.

Pretend I’m Ok

It’s been a bad week. Longer than a week actually, if I were to think about it. There was the visit to the doctor that yielded unhappy results. The gut wrenching few hours where I was terrified I was going to lose the most important person in my life. The uncontrollable sobbing. The barely holding it together at work. The fragmented sleep, the bad dreams. And the black dog. The ultimate reason for it all.

It hasn’t hit me this hard in a long time. I almost forgot what it felt like to be here, where it’s damn near impossible to see the light, where the ultimate darkness resides and tries to tempt me with the allure of nothingness. It’s hard, I’ll be honest. I hate being like this. So what do I do? Everything. In an attempt to convince my brain that it is totally fine, and by extension, convince myself and everyone else, I throw myself into everything with a fervour and drive that is otherwise unrivalled by well-adjusted Amy.

I started walking again this week. Exercise always seems to put me in a better mindset, for any number of reasons, and I have been incredibly slack in the months leading up to this week. So, with the new house in a different area, and a new route to explore, I figured now was as good a time as any. The last three nights, I have powered through the cold, the rain and a nagging pain in my right knee. Pretend I’m ok, tone up my butt and thighs.

I finally have a place to sew, so each night after my walk, I have set myself up with fabric, my trusty sewing machine, and a cup of tea, and set about making curtains. My kitchen window was unnervingly bare and I decided that it wouldn’t do, especially given my penchant for being naked. I like to be naked. Open windows are not conducive to this habit, so I remedied the problem. Pretend I’m ok, decorate my house.

Red is a theme in my kitchen. It's cheerful.

I once wrote a blog about how cleaning can be cathartic. So naturally, tonight I threw myself into it. I walked, I showered, I sewed. I began running out of things to occupy my mind. So I put on a load of washing and while the machine ran through the cycle, I tidied the collection of random items accumulating at my front door. I folded my work clothes, threw dirty clothes in the hamper, hung the freshly washed ones once they were done. Pretend I’m ok, compulsively tidy.

And now I’m here. Curled up warm on my couch, writing this blog because despite what I told my best friend this afternoon, I evidently did have something to blog about after all. And now I’m going to watch some episodes of The Knick, as has been my routine this week. Pretend I’m ok, keep occupied with everything.

Cathartic Cleaning

Life can be a very cluttered affair. Over the years, you collect things and hoard things until you look around and realise that you’re suffocating under the weight of all the…things. I’ve gotten to a point where I feel like the mess and clutter in my life is starting to overwhelm me. So today I decided to take on the cathartic task of cleaning.

I started with my car. A tiny little ’86 Ford Laser I have affectionately dubbed Edie, my car is never dirty but lately it has been untidy. Crumbs on the floor from food my friends have eaten, packaging from the air freshener, random bits and bobs and an incredible amount of dust. Today I cleaned out the rubbish, vacuumed the floor and seats, sprayed the fabric with a carpet deodoriser and wiped down the dashboard with a cloth. And as soon as I’d finished, I felt better. Like a subconscious anxiety had eased. From there, it was time to tackle the bedroom.

A few months ago I moved from the tiny bedroom I have lived in for 19 or so years into the bigger bedroom that has gone unused since my brothers moved out/stopped visiting every second weekend. Though I have little floor space due to the bed, I somehow manage to accumulate an excess of crap that somehow ends up on my floor, on my side tables, on my dresser…any flat surface basically. I got rid of about six pairs of shoes I don’t wear, emptied the bin (after I had filled it of course), rearranged anything that I wasn’t throwing out, dusted, vacuumed and made my bed. And once again, that sense of calm and ease washed over me.

It’s funny how just tidying up a few things can make a difference to your mental state. Tomorrow I’m going to take on the back room, and after that, I’m thinking it’s time to start decluttering the harder things, and getting rid of anything that no longer serves a purpose. Like the pointless relationships that I’ve been clinging to. The emotional baggage I can’t seem to let go of. The fears that have the potential to cripple me. The unattainable dreams that are unlikely to ever become reality. It’s time to throw away all the junk I have accumulated, both material and emotional, and start fresh.

Wish me luck.