Pack-Rat Rehab.

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I’ve always been a packrat.

A hoarder of sorts. A “pile-person.” I live and work amongst what I like to call organized chaos. To an outsider, my creative lair may appear to be disastrous. Unkempt. It’s a habit (I’ll call it a habit because the word seems appropriate enough) I’ve practiced nearly all my life. In high school my mom grew tired of seeing my unsightly living space and would leave it behind closed doors. She said it was easier to deal with if she couldn’t see it. When I moved into my own apartment at the age of eighteen, she’d visit and I could follow her gaze from the pile of junk mail on the floor to the sink full of dishes. Her eyes would plead with me but her smile let me know it was alright. She probably began to accept it. I think everyone did.

Even to this day someone can tell when I’ve walked into a room. A few weeks ago I took a trip to Port Townsend. My friend Caleb and I got a hotel room and within five minutes an observation was made. His backpack was sitting upright on a chair in the corner and I had marked the space with my stuff as a hound would his territory. Notebooks fell out of my bag and onto the floor. Clothing poured out onto the furniture. Novel on the nightstand. Bottles on table. It became home. I have no qualms making myself comfortable in a new scene.

I’ve come to believe my workspace reflects my mind. What I mean to say is that for the most part, my mind is on overdrive. Bustling with project ideas, to-do lists, artistic outlets. Blog posts, photography projects. Many times a project gets buried under seven new projects (Literally. On my desk). More often than not, I struggle to bring an idea into physical fruition because my attention is divided among so many tasks. On top of scattered mentality and reality I have hoards of stuff.

This post was initially inspired by a heavy-duty cleaning session. I rearranged my living room (so we could turn our heaters on) and started cutting myself off from things. The roommates and I spent a few hours deep-cleaning our kitchen (that was foul). My room was stripped, organized and rearranged. The past week of tidying has not only been cleansing for the apartment, but my mind and well-being. I feel lighter (and our apartment is as well; combined, Carmen and I unloaded eight bags and two boxes of things from the place). Side note: props to my roommates for simply dealing with me (and my piles). I can be a difficult human to coexist with if you are a neat-freak. We all have kinks we’re working out. And I’m an artist, after all. 

Since I started this mad organizing spree, I went on a rampage and dissected my workspace. My mom and I used to play a “game” (it’s not really a game) where we would clean my office/workspace together. You sit out all of your markers and pens and test each one. If no ink remains, toss it (don’t ask my why I keep mediocre pens but I’ve always had hoards).

I think I finally came to the realization that my clutter has been wearing me down, discouraging and dismantling me. All because I feel bad throwing out (recycling, rather) things I don’t use anymore but keep around “in case I might.”

I believe I (like most of us) require a certain kind of atmosphere to feel comfortable. I tell friends I don’t like hanging out anywhere I can’t put my feet up on the coffee table. Crooked pictures on the walls, subpar paint jobs, dust collecting on jars containing match books, clay pots full of memories in the shape of sea shells. Mismatched pillows clashing with loud quilts. This is my comfort zone. I like visiting houses with character. I enjoy beat-up magazine sitting on the couch and knickknacks on dressers. Comfort over fashion. Always. Plus it’s fun to let your eyes wander.

I still have (and will probably always have) my clutter. In small doses. Mementos, rocks, antiques, trinkets and knickknacks now line the (new) shelves in our hallway (I call it our “museum”). There’s a pile of shells, rocks, fortunes and instant photos on my desk. This is in my nature. But as it stands, I have successfully plowed through this mental block that took the form of old index cards, paint samples and dried-up Sharpie pens. Now onto make some magic.

Next up : Digital cleaning.

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