Lost and Found

27 02 2010

HOW long has it been since I’ve posted here? A long time. What does that mean? That I’ve fallen off the wagon? Was I ever on the wagon? Yeah, it’s that bad.

Being organized and clutterbusting is something that has always been a luxury for me, an “extra” life item that I can only attend to if I feel like I have all of my other ducks in a row. My ducks have NOT been lined up recently and so the clutterbusting efforts have all gone to hell. And back.

Yesterday I felt both a tiny bit of breathing room AND an urgency to deal with some stuff. I needed to find a couple of items so I made it my business to start looking around for some things.

I work for an organization that generates a massive quantity of paperwork. We have to send master copies to some giant corporate office that I imagine looks like the labyrinthine mess in the movie “Brazil.” Well, this week I got an email that one of my pieces of paper from early December is “missing” and that I must find it and fax it to corporate. Hahahahahahahaha! I have to say, this really got my adrenaline flowing. Because in spite of all of my good intentions, I have not ever developed a good filing or organizing system for all the papers. I did try at first, but it quickly fell apart.

But guess what!!! After about an hour of running around the house and picking up ALL the pieces of possible paper, I DID FIND IT. It wasn’t ideal. It was LUCKY. Because if I had had a system, I could just say, “Oh! December 2? Piece of cake! Here it is!” instead of sweating bullets and pulling pink papers out of various bags, boxes, piles on the floor, nooks and crannies in the car, and finally coming up with it.

Then I had to find the receipt for a gift I’d given my husband for his birthday last weekend (thank goodness it was only a week ago!) that he wanted to exchange. I THOUGHT it was in the bag I’d brought the gift home in (when they ask, do you want your receipt in the bag? I always say yes! Yes to more chaos!), but no. Not in any bags. Finally, after much panicking and self-loathing, I found the dumb receipt scrunched up in a ball at the bottom of my purse. Niiiiiiice. But I did find it.

Last thing I found was the special credit card associated with our health insurance, which I am supposed to use when making any medical purchases. It was filed in a basket of Important Papers and Items, but which I did not think to look in. DUH.

Things I have Not Yet Found:

  • Major credit card I lost in mid-December but am loathe to change because it is associated with a ton of online accounts, which I will then have to go and change. I know it isn’t lost OUTside the house because it has not been used (except for online purchases) so I know it’s somewhere inside.
  • Residential parking permit for my workplace. This is a pain because now I am paying $2/hour for parking at meters. Which is stupid since I paid $90/year for the residential permit. Ugh.
  • Armband for my Bodybugg. Which renders it useless.
  • Charger thing for my phone. Stupid.
  • Of course, a bunch of other things I can’t even remember.

So, the state of the Clutterbrained union is: could be better. Could be much, much better. But until I prioritize this, I do not think there is much hope. In the meantime, I will bumble along, losing and finding things at random. Sigh.





Project & Vision Wall

19 01 2010

A few months ago I was introduced to an amazing blog, New Faculty Success, a great blog for graduate students and faculty of color who are working in academia, learning the ropes of university institution and trying to balance teaching, department service, student needs, our own writing and research projects. (whew!) The author, Kerry Ann Rockquemore, has an amazing blog and weekly email called the “Monday Motivator” where she has friendly, practical and gentle support and ideas around focusing and refocusing our priorities throughout the semester and academic year. In her Oct 09 motivator, she talked about her own method for having her office space reflect her semester goals and spoke about her own organization of her work and her development of a “project wall”.

At that time, I had been thinking a lot about the spatial relationship between my own productivity in my writing and research, other projects and my workspace / meditation space, because all of these things, quite suddenly, had meshed, together. I have for a while, much like Ito – in my life and work, been feeling out of control with all of the projects I take on, my inability to say no, how that has an impact on my sometimes lack of focus.

I’ve always loved the idea of a vision wall, imagining things that I want, but as an artist, I just want to put things that inspire me to stay focused or inspire me with beauty or words that move me. But as an academic, my life is filled with deadlines, paper, books and gah! So this struggle to balance all of the work I do without going insane is a major stress in my life, and because I don’t have an office on a campus that is permanent yet, I also do a lot of work from home on my scholarly work AND my projects in the community or in the theater. Thus, my home office is a reflection of my crazy life, and somehow it always, always seems that there are multiple piles (and when I say multiple I mean piles and piles), it seems my project files never stay current, and my bill notices just pile up. (I’ve got a major addiction to paper. For some reason I have this fear of not being able to have track of my bill history and I continue to harbor a fear that technology will fail me and then I wont have a paper trail. I plan to write about this for us soon!)

A few years ago I wanted a separate room for my office, wanted the office door to be able to close, so I could be away from my work if I wanted. But I realized that, (by choice) a huge part of my life was taken up by my work and my second bedroom, was just too small for all of my office materials and project stuff. More importantly, it was constantly a mess, piles of papers, nothing could be found or was organized, and even when I hired one of my undergrads to come over and help me wade through all my crap, I still didn’t get it finished and the room was overflowing. So last year, I went for it, and I exchanged my living room and my tv / chill room because seemed the logical answer was to move into a bigger space, my open living room, so I could spread my stuff out, could be better organizes, thus be inspired to ‘get shit done’.

So its been a few months now I’ve had my workspace in the living room, and I keep finding myself constantly rearranging the space because its not working for me. there are still piles and piles still on the floor, and while I feel the “openness” that I had hoped for, my organization system still sucks.

The Goal of this office / creative space:

Four spaces:
(1)altar/ meditation space, vision wall, project planning space

(2) computer desk

(3) work desk, books, readings, some files

(4) file storage / office supplies

So far, I finally did what I wanted and started a vision wall / project wall! yay! BUT my first attempt at my project vision wall didn’t work out well. I used giant paper stickies, tacks, photo stickies, I wrote out each of my projects, future projects, deadlines, goals and my ‘how to get there” plans. (sorry no before photo here) A lot right? But somehow it ended up being nothing but a project wall, with no room for visioning and beauty. and the flexibility of it was all wrong because things were written in pen. If I had changing deadlines or changing goals, it just wasn’t functional. Additionally, it just looked messy with the big giant stickies and things written in colored pen, and I kept feeling self conscious because its so extremely personal and since I’m constantly having meetings at my house, it just wasn’t working.

So taking Kerry Ann’s idea about creating an organized project wall with my writing projects only on it, I rearranged and came up with this. My mediation/ vision wall on the left and my project wall on the right. I need a lamp but over all im totally happy with how it turned out.

You can see I am still and will be constantly in creation of the vision wall, as I want it to grow as I grow. The other photo is a moveable, changeable project wall with deadlines and projects for this semester attached to each clip.

now if I could just get the rest of the office. These are photos of the entire office with a below closeup of ONE of my piles of papers. If you look carefully, you’ll see the strategically places table and table cloth to cover up the files when company comes. and the left side… the red bookcase, yeah.. no organization there, I just picked up stuff off the floor and put it in the bookcase. It only looks cute.





The Dream of Simplicity

18 12 2009

I have piles. Giant piles of papers. Boxes of papers from classes, research I’ve done, research I’m doing, projects I have, bills, taxes past and present, scrap paper, art paper, post its. I have piles of books that don’t fit into my bookshelves, I have piles of papers and articles in my closets just crammed on top of each other and those big giant plastic bins that are NOT see through piled on top of each other filled with more crap. My office, is in my front room. There is a constant and growing pile of papers littered on both the left and right sides of my desk from the projects I’m working on.

I have a bunch of bins that supposedly hold all of my tools and household hardware ‘thangs’. Please. I have no idea what are inside those bins. They are piled in the guest room closet.

My bedroom is a constant pile of clothes, clean clothes never make it into my closets. I have about 4 or 5 clothes baskets that you cant tell what is clean and what is dirty. My hamper is always full to the brim with dirty clothes. When people come over, I sweep the clothes off my bed, onto the floor and then shove them into my closet with the baskets piled on top of them.

I have a storage that I’ve had for about 6 years. Why? I don’t even know what is IN there aside from my camping stuff which makes sense because I live in an apartment without a garage or outside storage space. Its packed from the floor to the ceiling with … stuff. I don’t know what’s in there! Stop harassing me!

oh… sorry.

Whenever I’ve traveled out of the country, or gone on extended vacations or been somewhere for more than a few weeks, I always come back to my house wishing I could just gut this thing and start over. I look around, having lived with nothing but the clothes on my back, my computer and a few toiletries, I always think, I don’t need all this shit. Yet, somehow I hold on to it. My style is not a sleek, modern style, I’m definitely a gal who loves a little shabby chic, but messy and cluttered – NOT. However, I know there has to be a way I can marry the lessons from modern style and its simplicity to help release me from all this stuff. I’ve always been someone who believes the way that someone cares for their space is a reflection of themselves in some way. If this is my reflection, um, ew.

Its time to let go, release and get down to the simple things. I’m finding it hard to focus on my work with all these things piling up around me.





I Can’t Find My Stuff

17 12 2009

First blog post of the new blog. Emotion: overwhelmed but marginally hopeful.

Problem: I have too much stuff and can’t find any of it. Almost had a breakdown this week when I could not find:

  1. our Birthday Hat (shaped like a cake with felt candles on top) which I needed to make a Bday video for a friend. Never found it.
  2. DVD of a film that filmmaker loaned me so I could publicize her work. Status: found it in a stupid and obvious place but could not “see” for days because there was so much other junk around it.
  3. book that I know I own but cannot find in the midst of 3,000 other books we own. May have to break down and buy 2nd copy. 😦
  4. Working flashlights. We do have about half a dozen broken ones.
  5. Maroon sweater. Where IS it?!?!?
  6. My mind.

I am writing this blog out of sheer desperation. Earlier this year I had similar success with a problem that also felt utterly hopeless, that I had spent years struggling with, and partially through blogging, managed to overcome it.

Tomorrow I will meet with a friend who has promised to meet with me to help deal with this issue. I am hoping she can help me on a long term basis. Thus this blog, to describe progress (I HOPE), setbacks, challenges, success? Is there any hope for me??