Friday, January 25, 2013


Books to be curbed.
After a difficult winter last year, I did a massive spring cleaning. Though I try to keep the clutter level low, last year I realized there were many things that had escaped previous cleaning attempts.

I needed a real work space at home and since moving was out of the question at  the time, I attacked my apartment trying to get enough objects out of my life to be able to fit a real desk, one where I would enjoy working.

My old desk went on craigslist as did a few other things. A bookstore was very excited to get boks in Spanish that were not translations and a good amount of my closet ended up at my local thrift store.

I also found that I'd been keeping many things for the wrong reasons. There were many objects I'd kept because I thought they were either valuable or thought they could be useful in some way. But instead of being valuable to me, they just kept me from having room for a desk.

Sadness hiding in the back of my closet ambushed me. There was my cat's IV bag which when she passed in 2009 I'd kept thinking it might come in handy if anyone I knew had a cat having trouble keeping fluids. I couldn't throw that away! I could save a cat's life! It was also one of the last things of hers I had left.

Abby liked reading the New Yorker from under my shoulder.

Out it went. If a cat needed fluids I could administer them, but it would be better off with a bag that hadn't been sitting in a closet for years.

I started inspecting every single object, thinking what it meant to me and wondering whether I wanted it in my life. If the answer was no, then it had no value to me and it went out. I kept finding things to throw away until summer came and with it some welcome distractions. I never made it to the bathroom or the kitchen, but with some trips to Ikea and Benjamin Moore, by the time I'd stopped I was happy with the changes in my apartment.

Now I'm moving. Though I thought I'd gotten rid of all that I could, I'm finding out there's still plenty more where that came from. Though I'm excited about moving, I'm not looking forward to packing and unpacking. The fewer boxes, the better. With that in mind, I'm again throwing away all that is excess.

I spent the first three years of my life in an oil camp in Venezuela. My dad had a job in a rig there and we lived in a little house with a a dirt garage I used to crawl out of so I could go help myself to tomatoes from our local grocery store. When my mom got pregnant with my brother she decided she'd had enough of small-oil life in Venezuela and we moved back to Colombia. It was a hasty move and the new tenants were moving in on the same day we were moving out.

It was some time before my mom realized a box with our family's photo albums with its negatives (remember those?) had been left behind. She never got it back and she misses it to this day.

As I start organizing things in preparation for the move I'm finding many things I didn't even remember I had. Things that if I'd lost in the move I'd never notice. So I'm looking at things wondering if I want to pay to keep them. Three shelves of unread books? Gone. Books I know I don't want to re-read? Ditto. If I want any of them again, I can find them and the cost of getting them again will likely be less than the cost of keeping them. Because keeping them might be holding me back.

Looking forward to whatever is next.

My apartment is on the market. Check out the video the realtor made. Dramamine might be required.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Turn me On by The Grates or Your Welcome to MAJOTV

Welcome to MAJOTV. Nothing original of mine here, just videos I like. Enjoy! Here's one by the best not-quite-flat-mates I could have ever had. One of these days I'll go visit them at Southside.

It's also a good running tune.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Knitty Gritty

For the past few days I've been wrestling with a new knitting project. It's one of those patterns that assumes you know things, which I don't.

My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was about seven. On one of those Barranquilla afternoons when then rain comes and turns streets into rivers forcing everyone to stay indoors until it's done dragging buses to the ocean, she helped me make a hot pink sweater with silver flecks for my favorite doll. That was all the knitting I'd done until a couple of years ago when I thought I'd give it another try.

With the help of a couple of friends and countless of patient youtube grandmas, I was able to learn how to make a wide range of things. This year I even made hand knit gifts for all of Colter's family (three cowls, four hats, one scarf) and got really good at subway surf knitting (the key is using a sturdy paper bag - will try to post a detailed how to soon).

One of the things I love best about knitting is that you start with a ball of yarn, an idea, and a set of instructions. Since I like challenging myself and learning new things, I often chose patterns that include techniques I've never tried before. The pattern as a whole tends to be overwhelming, but if I go row by row and consult with my youtube grandmas whenever I get stuck, slowly something comes out of it.

Modeling one of my creations. This is Jayne Cobb's Cunning Hat, which I made for Colter.

If things get confusing, I can always go back to the instructions and figure it out.  Which seems to be the case with pretty much anything. What seems impossible becomes manageable when it's broken down to pieces. If instructions are not available, you just make them up.

It works for running and it works for pretty much everything else. That's where I am. Making things up as I go.