Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Less is more, part one.

Lately, I have begun to feel overwhelmed by my stuff. It actually has been a long time coming, but now it just seems like every time I am quiet and with my own thoughts the same thing keeps coming up: SIMPLIFY. I grew up in a pile home. By “pile” home, I mean that everything had its place in very neat and orderly piles. There were not piles everywhere in the house, just special places like the guest room or garage. And when the piles began to creep out of their designated places into the rest of the house, they would be promptly picked up and put back as soon as it was time to have guests over (Or when the cleaning lady came. Seriously.Tthe piles were put away for the cleaning lady. I can share this little tid bit without shame because my mother would admit it herself if you asked her. Thank you therapy.).

Anyway, all of my adult life I have struggled with clutter and keeping things in order, which is not a surprise, I am a firm believer that my surroundings almost always reflect the contents of my brain, which up until now has been mostly cluttered craziness [side note: I am not claiming that my bipolar has anything to do with my clutter issues, but I do believe that it does nothing to help the situation. Besides, if that were the case then most of America would be considered bipolar (hello there is more than one TV show exclusively dedicated to hoarders), which may not be too much of a stretch when you think about it…but that is another post entirely. End side note.].

When ever I stand in the middle of all of my stuff (which is in nice little piles, BTW) and get overwhelmed, I can count on the following happening:

  1. While wiping the tears from my face, I decide that I am going to pull it together and have a “cleaning day”, tackling my madness once and for all.
  2. I schedule said day for the closest Saturday that I have nothing to do (which is usually many weeks from that point.)
  3. In anticipation of said Saturday, I make lists and lists. A flow chart even. That will aid me in “cleaning”.
  4. The day finally comes and I totally sleep in (because I had an insane week and am totally exhausted), but no worries, I wake up excited and ready to go. Workout clothes are put on (duh.) and play list appropriately entitled “piles be gone” is played.
  5. Aforementioned lists and flow chart are brought out and taped up in an accessible place with red marker used to triumphantly cross things off (I LOVE crossing things out in red marker, BTW. Sometimes when I make lists, I will include things that I have already done, just so I can cross them off. Seriously. It’s a problem.).
  6. I drag my piles out one by one and what starts out as a reasonable process involving the ever popular “keep, donate, trash” boxes, turns in to a hurricane of clutter everywhere and before I know it hours have gone by and I am going to be late for the dinner plans that I made (because seriously it won’t take me longer than 6 or so hours to clean ALL my madness, right?!) and I am forced to take what is left and put it into piles that will be gone through the very next day.
  7. I go to dinner feeling all accomplished until the “very next day” turns into months later when I am standing in the middle of all my perfectly piled stuff feeling overwhelmed. Queue tears…

This literally happens about once a quarter, give or take a month or 2. It’s a cycle that I have become very comfortable with. Until yesterday when I stumbled upon a blog via a friend’s facebook post (thanks Katja!): Rowdy Kittens. It is amazing. I started reading and I could not stop, one post turned into 10 and then on to other recommended blogs…it was out of hand. The obvious became painfully clear: IF I DID NOT HAVE SO MUCH STUFF THEN THERE WOULD BE NO PILES. IT’S NOT THE PILES. IT’S NOT THE CRAZY. IT’S THE STUFF. HELLO JLA, IT IS SO OBVIOUS!!! (Please excuse the caps lock, sometimes I need to raise my voice at myself).

Do I really need enough makeup to gussy up a fashion show of 25 drag queens (with eyelashes to spare)? Do I really need 45 pairs of shoes (asks she, cringing)? Is it really necessary that I have enough serving patters to cater a party of 25? Am I really going to wear the “I-had-to-have-it-vintage-jewel-encrusted-micro-mini-party-dress-that-I-need-to-loose-10lbs-to-fit-in”? The simple answer is NO, I do not need all of these things…

So now that I have succumbed to the idea that I need to downsize the stuff in order to deal with the pile issue, I need to process. And in the interest of not making this post any longer (thank you for your time and patience), I will leave you with this. It is an excerpt from a post that I read yesterday at the Simple Rabbit Society (you can read the whole post HERE, it is short and sweet, yet powerful.):

“…So I want to challenge you to love the old [things] you have.

Love the holes in your jeans.
Love the fact that your computer takes a little longer to load.
Love the dents in your car.
Love the dents in your table.
Love the dents in your friends.

I’m not saying let things fall into disrepair. I’m asking you to unlearn the constant dissatisfaction we’re taught and exchange that negativity for affection for the things that have been with you for a month, a year, a lifetime.” – Chloe Adeline of the Simple Rabbit Society.

More to come on this revelation. Consider yourself warned.

Monday, August 9, 2010

On friendship and Lady Gaga.

Two weekends ago I traveled to Arizona to celebrate the birthdays of two very dear friends (one of which is actually today – happy birthday bestie!!!). As part of the festivities 10 of us got all gussied up and went to the Lady Gaga concert (who was amazing, BTW). As you can imagine the evening was a glitter filled wonderland complete with fake eyelashes, a vintage feathered hat, a romper, and lace tights (not to mention the real life hair-bow I managed to create on a friend’s head, the fishnet-body-stocking clad boy [yes, you read that correctly] who we made friends with on the train and the middle aged man dressed as Alejandro, who wore a cape and home made shirt that read “Hot like Mexico”) it was everything that I had hoped for and more. Here is a photo of my ode to Gaga followed by Gaga in all her glory:

So, I moved to Arizona in 1999 at the start of my 3rd year of college. I decided to leave my private religious college to venture into the heathen unknown of Arizona State University to join the speech team. They gave me trophies for talking. It was brilliant, cuz heaven knows that taking is the only thing I was getting trophies for, considering that they did not hand out trophies for drinking. Not even at ASU. But I digress…

Living in Arizona was an interesting time for me. I grew up a lot, which is a natural function of moving away from home in your early 20’s. This marked the time where my crazy really started manifesting itself in a way that it never had before. Manic highs were quite convenient for all night crash studying and in my post-college world all night “pull together what you have been procrastinating for months and months” sessions. Depressions were easily masked by hangovers or being really really really “busy” (read: I lived alone, so no one would know that I was sleeping 18 hours a day). When things were good, it was spectacular! I had amazing friends and we had the best time EVER, each escapade being better than the last – we knew every bartender, bouncer and shoe guy at Nordstrom (at least I did. In fact, I went to my Nordstrom shoe guy’s wedding. Seriously. It was absurd. and I digress, yet again…) – we went out night after night (ah, to be 21 again…), it never got old.

On the flip side, when it was bad, it was awful. I flaked on things constantly, I lied to cover up the flaking, I convinced people that I could do anything (with the intention that I would google/learn and in fact do it, of course), I drank, I shopped, I went out, I became the queen of barely pulling it off, I stopped opening my mail, I flaked some more, I lied, then I lied some more to cover up those lies, I cried a lot, made some more stuff up, I took on projects that I had no business taking on…and the cycle went on and on. The truly crazy part was that because my intention was never to “flake” or “lie” or “fill in the blank”, each time that it happened I had a hard time seeing it as such. I told myself that it was just this time and that I would learn and do it differently the next time. But the cycle continued and I began to cling to it like a life raft – it became part of my identity. A part that I hated with everything in me, yet a part that I could not let go.

Now you may read this and wonder why on earth anyone would tolerate any of these things or be my friend or date me or do business with me – I wondered this constantly. It was like I walked around holding by breath, waiting for someone to figure me out. I still wonder it sometimes. There are things that will sneak into my brain and instantly my stomach turns. I am mortified that I would have ever behaved like that…My parents did not raise me to behave like that…That is not who I wanted to be…and when this diatribe starts, I have to stop and remember that it was partly the crazy and partly the way I survived because it was all that I knew. And in fairness, there were good things about be during that time – very good things, beyond the jazz hands and rounds free of martinis – I know that I was a good friend and I tried hard to be the best person that I could be. And when ever I question why on earth people remember me and those times fondly, I am certain that it is those good things that managed to shine bright enough on the not so good things and that is what is remembered. Or maybe they just remember the free martinis, either way, I am grateful.

The point of all this is that I have incredible friends who loved me through the good and bad, and who continue to do so. They have taught me so much. And while our lives get busy and maybe we don’t talk as much as we should or visit as much as we’d like to, we are all there for each other, no matter what and that is what true friendship is.

So, thank you Lady Gaga (and the aforementioned gentlemen for having birthdays), for giving us the perfect reason to get together. The Gaga-tastic outfits, the fake eyelashes, and the “Bad Romance” encore were good times, but the best parts were the quite moments that I had catching up with my friends. BFF’s indeed!!!