Don’t expect things to be different unless you do things differently.

I’ve been finally attacking the extra stuff in my house, much of it left here by other people or from a time when I lived in a house instead of a three room apartment. It helps that poor people buy less, so the influx of new things has gone from a slow trickle to almost zero. Plus, unemployment may be depressing, but it certainly makes for a lot more “free” time.

My cleaning method is fairly simple: clean what you have time for, put everything else in boxes to be sorted later. The idea is to separate the mess into smaller, more manageable chunks that can be sifted through later until everything has either found a home or been put aside to be sold or recycled. The upside is a tidier apartment, the downside is that I never quite know what’s where. The other problem is that the boxes pile up in closets and spare corners when life gets busy, untouched for weeks or even months, a perfect example of out of sight, out of mind. If I need something, where is it? How much space am I using up with things I don’t need?

The first step to conquering the boxes is to actually set aside some space and open one. (Or even better, two). It’s often surprising what I’ll find inside. Anything small enough to fit in a box has probably been fit into a box. Anything! So usually when I decide to tackle one, I lay out some tools – a recycling box and a garbage bag. I also like to have a space set aside for things to sell or donate. That way, no matter what it is I find, I can immediately sort it into place. Is it something I missed while it was packed away? Then I find a home for it in the apartment. If I can’t, back in the box. If I didn’t miss it or it isn’t important, it’s discarded. Eventually, the boxes begin shrinking. Five to three to two to one.

Some of what I find is difficult to place, though, so I have to ask myself harder questions. The broken things I find, the ones I always intended to fix – are they worth keeping? It can be hard to let go of broken things, especially if you’re like me and tend to mend rather than replace, (save the environment! save money!), but will I actually get around to it? It’s hard to admit, but unless I fix something within two weeks, it might as well be never. The flash of guilt I get for discarding something that could have been saved is overwhelmed by the fact that I will never have to feel bad about it again. The same with gifts I never use that I’ve received from people I like. They meant well and that’s what counts. The thing itself can go.

Given my recent progress, my goal is have all the boxes emptied and dealt with by the end of October. The rest of the plan is to go through the rest of the apartment and get rid of everything else we’ve been meaning to sell or give away, like the unwanted-stuff pile that’s swallowed our front hall. List it all on Craigslist. Apartment yard-sale anyone?

Epistemology, the study of the properties of knowledge and truth

Bag, a photo of his daughter by Hendrik Kerstens

Perpetual motion, like a spring wound in a heavenly kingdom. I can feel potential building, the tension of seasons, of thrilling decisions, of a grand tipping point somewhere near, almost as touchable as the closest horizon. Somewhere soon I will find a solution, the magical arrangement of pieces that will let it all out, create an escape for the pressure, allow me to blossom into the next incarnation of exquisite useful flower.

My internal barometer is, in part, my hair. The farther I neglect the colour, the more I know something needs to change. Now, for the first time in many years, I am only negligently dyed off my natural red blonde. Another is my music. When was the last time I practiced the saw, running rills, songs, and scales meant only for me?

David comes home, our lovely neighbor Randa in tow, “Why do you have a colander on your head?” “Oh!” I say, disingenuous, whisking it off my head, “I had company.” I spend eight hours on the bus every weekend, waiting in travel to see Tony or to get back to Vancouver in time for work, and close to five hours every week waiting for Michael, who gets out of the office around an hour after I do, so we can travel home together, but to myself I only seem to find a handful of ten minute increments where I can feel creatively infected, ripe with the mental control of whispering ghosts, where I have space enough to make.

This selection of habits grew so slowly, so organically, that it was confusing me, how little time was suddenly available. It wasn’t until I counted the hours on my fingers, waiting at a street corner for a light to change, that I realized what started as moments few enough to blink away has expanded, accumulated into enough minutes to fill an entire day a week of my eaten time spent stilled, ineffectual, accomplishing nothing, creating nothing, being merely a body, adding nothing to the world but a physical space.

This, among other things, perturbs me at the level of bone.

To that end, however, as I cannot afford a tool with which to fix this problem, and the other things are other stories, what colour should I dye my hair?