Tag Archives: self-respect

Hey you…get off of my cloud.

The boxes are unpacked, a place has been found for everything, and everything is indeed in its place. The stress of the move has faded like the cardboard paper cuts that hacked away at my hands those first few days in the new apartment. The space feels less like a “new place” and more like home.
Surveying the apartment, it is clear that it will never reach the sparsity that a true minimalist requires, but I think it’s reached a nice balance of stuff to space. Although I still have a few pictures strewn about, a dining cabinet filled with tabletop items, and full size furniture in every room of the house, there is still a good flow. The space feels open and airy, not claustrophobic. As I said in my last post (at least I think I said this in my last post, humor me) my family and I have been very happy since we moved here. There is a completely different energy compared to our last apartment and with that energy, a sense of possibility and an overall feeling of peace.
Ok, I don’t know for sure whether or not it is the new space or lack of superfluous belongings that have brought the three of us to such a zen-like state, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I know that I could probably go even further and purge more of our stuff, but in the short term I am content with the stasis reached on all things material. Though I must admit, I never see myself going 100% in on the minimalist home idea. One tiny chair in the corner of a huge, empty room is a little too “french movie” for my tastes. I like my home to look streamlined, yes, but still feel cozy. White washed walls with a tiny Lucite dining set does not say “cozy” to me.
So, does this mean I fail at minimalism? Ultimately, yes, but fuck that. I may not be the textbook definition of the movement, but when have I ever been the textbook definition of ANYTHING (aside from “fabulous,” natch.) No, like everything else, I am going to half-ass write my own definition. I am going to do minimalism…my way. There are PLENTY of other areas where I can trim the excess in my life.
For example, did you know that right now you could be suffering from “digital clutter?” Of course you didn’t! Who the fuck would?

Has this happened to you?

That is the lamest sounding bullshit EVER.

It’s true though. There are literally tens of blogs written about how people have too much stuff gunking up their desktops, their inboxes, their “clouds,” along with the proper ways to tidy up their digital life, no trip to the troposphere necessary.
I’ve decided this will be my next project. So far, I’m going to be honest, it fucking blows. Not because I have too many errant files or an inbox loaded with garbage, but because I have come to realize that I have dribs and drabs of my digital life all over the goddamn interwebs. Seriously, I am a web-based Hansel and Gretel; I have left bread crumbs all over this virtual forest.
I am not even talking about the now dormant Myspace pages or Livejournals that are out there haunting the internet. Those would easily disappear with a simple click of “delete account” (if I could only remember their passwords!)
I am referring to the various web-based platforms I CURRENTLY use. The website that allows me to bookmark…other websites. The cloud storage website where I store my clouds. The Facebook that apparently houses two of me (don’t even ask me how that happened!) The Twitter page that I still don’t quite understand. The 30,000 different sites I use for photo storage. Pinterest (why!?!). Evernote. My 4 gmail accounts, and (yikes!) my two AOL accounts.
Well, OK I never actually GO to my AOL accounts. One address is older than my daughter and the other was created when J and I were planning our wedding. They’re still out there though…mocking me with their “digital clutter” creating ways.
Or something.
I took a deep breath and decided to start with Evernote, mostly because before this project I forgot I even HAD an Evernote account, so I figured there was no way for it to possibly backed up with virtual garbage.
Much to my joy, I was right. In fact, the account was practically empty save for a few random “to do” lists from 2010 and a handful of blog ideas that never manifested. This would be easy! I deleted the to do lists immediately and quickly perused the blog ideas for any nugget of salvagability. I was about to declare my Evernote house “CLEAN” when I noticed a folder that I missed in my initial once-over.
The folder was titled “READ ME” and it housed one whole document. There was not one part of my brain that could even begin to recall what this folder could be.
Fearing the rabbit hole I may no doubt fall into were I to open the folder, I thought about deleting its contents sight unseen. My curiosity got the better of me though so I quickly hovered my mouse over the folder and clicked on the icon before I could change my mind.
The title of the lone document was “Melissa Makes a List to Prove What She Already Knows.” It was created July 14, 2010. It sounded fairly innocuous, so I opened it. The document fleshed out in one page reasons for staying or leaving my soul-crushing corporate job.

Should I stay or should I go now?

There were 2 reasons for me to stay.

Despite the recession, despite living in a (gorgeous) apartment that cost more a year than the average person makes, despite my total lack of plan or safety net, the “Reasons to Go” column prevailed. I gave my notice two days after that document’s creation.
Looking at the list almost two years later, I feel as though a completely different person wrote it. I can’t believe I allowed myself to be that miserable for a (shitty) paycheck! I can’t believe I let myself be defined by my house and my “things” instead of my character, my actions, and my relationships. I can’t believe I didn’t set my cube on fire and lead the publishing proletariat to freedom (or at the very least smack my boss upside the head with an Intro Spanish textbook.)
So much about my life has changed since I walked away from the “security” of the corporate world. I have made the most amazing connections. I have taken to the streets and been arrested fighting for social justice. I have been a part of HISTORY, for chrissakes! Only one year ago my daughter and I sat in the NY State Senate gallery and watched as the Marriage Equality Bill was passed. You don’t get to experience anything quite like that sitting in a cube creating “one pagers” for fucking textbooks.
The connections I’ve made, the experiences I’ve had, the relationships that have been renewed and deepened, the life I have built in less than two years time feels more mine now than any other time in my life.
I thought about saving the list. Yeah, it’s intended use had passed and could now easily be classified as “digital clutter,” but so what. It was also a reminder of how far I’ve come and keep going on the crazy road that is my life. I may be more sure of myself now than I have ever been, but even the most confident person sometimes needs to bring to mind a time when they weren’t so sure.
I kept the list…in the trash. I figured at the very least deleting the original folder it was housed in gave the illusion of less clutter. Minimalism my way. It may not be the spartan internet presence a true minimalist requires, but who cares, it works for me, and that’s really all that matters.
So far I haven’t really felt the sense of ease one is supposed to feel as they wipe their web life clean…maybe after I delete the 24,485 emails on AOL…
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Mea Culpa Runneth Over

Deep audible sigh.

A week. A fuuuuuuggggin week. 7 days. 168 hours. 10,080 minutes.

That’s how long it’s been since I’ve been to the gym.

That’s how long it’s been since I’ve attempted to write anything substantial.

That’s how long it’s been since I felt in the groove of my own life (whatever the fuck that means.)

Don’t get me wrong. I have completely legitimate reasons for why I not only lost my path; I went careening into a ditch. For one, I have been fighting a major infection. My husband, my gym partner in crime, was also fairly ill last week. Tuesday was a busy day, complete with a final trip to criminal court for a civil disobedience arrest that occurred during the NY marriage equality push, an incredibly intense interview for a new field placement, and a rally in front of Governor Cuomo’s office for homeless youth funding that lead up to, yep, another civil disobedience arrest.

I have had some serious anxiety and mild depression over wanting to move, and the lack of affordable apartments in my area. This culminated in pretty much a major, albeit brief, nervous breakdown on Thursday, where I blamed

every.

single.

mistake.

I have made over the last 10+ years for the shit show that my life is now. J’s illness + my melodrama = big ol’ fight in the Casa de Us. We’re both Italian and stubborn as fuck, so needless to say, that pretty much ate a good portion of the weekend.

Saturday, I had to go put on a happy face at an event for my daughter’s school.

I am the President-elect of the PTSO (pause for raucous laughter) and had to serve as a judge’s assistant for a chili cook off (pause for even more laughter.)

Fortunately, sneaking in a 6 pack of Hoegaarden makes EVERYTHING better.

Oh, and I watched about 9 hours of Shameless. (Which EVERYONE should watch, and commit certain scenes to memory.)

So, in 7 days my routine jumped the tracks, slammed into the side of a mountain, and caught fire. By now I should be into my 3rd week of this new routine. I should have posted a recap about Week One’s progress (not to mention, Week Two.) Instead, I am sitting here pissed off at the lost time, angry at the fact that I have to basically start from scratch, and scared that I will get derailed again because classes start up next week, and my schedule will get pretty serious.

These are all feelings that I didn’t want to feel. When I set out to accomplish 12 life switches in 12 months, the last thing I wanted was for it to make my life more difficult. These changes are supposed to ENHANCE my life, not cause more problems. I stewed in these feelings for a while.

Then I watched another episode of Shameless.

As I sat watching William H. Macy drink himself into a stupor for the eleventy-billionth time, I had an epiphany that had absolutely NOTHING to do with watching William H. Macy drink himself into a stupor for the eleventy-billionth time.

And you thought I was going to make a connection to the show…

Seriously though, I realized that, to quote Shakespeare, “Shit doth happen.”

Illnesses will happen.

Arguments will happen.

Sudden mental breakdowns and feelings of utter inadequacy will happen (although Christ, I hope not that often).

Chili cook offs will happen (see above).

Life.Will.Happen.

We can make the choice of going all shrunken violet emo crazy chick who throws her hands up in the air (and waves ’em like she just don’t…wait, what) and gives up, or we can acknowledge that much of this crazy little thing called life is out of our control.

The best we can do is move forward.

I am sitting here with the sinus infection of the ages. I did not make it to the gym today.

I already know that I won’t make it to the gym tomorrow morning either. I have to be up at O’Dark:30to get on a train and head to Trenton where I will be rallying for Marriage Equality and NOT getting arrested (I promise.)

There is still a part of me that feels like I am failing this whole project. I could honor that dark voice and let it take over my thinking. Or I could tell it to sit the fuck down, and shut the fuck up. I’ll go to the gym when I get home in the evening.

And if I don’t, that’s OK too. Wednesday morning is another day.

We’re all doing the best that we can on this rotating sphere of water, rock, and gas. We face obstacles. We make mistakes. The last thing we should be is our harshest critic. We can do our best, but understand that sometimes our best just won’t be good enough, and we will always have the option of trying again tomorrow.

Having a pity party for what should have been is about as useful as tits on a nun. So the next time you feel like going all William H. Macy and drinking yourself into a stupor of shame, get the fuck over it.

The sun will come out tomorrow, Annie, and with that flaming ball of gas, a chance for you to try, try again.

What are you going to do with your new day?