tales from urban dilettantia

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I Hoard Stuff

I hoard stuff. Anyone who has spent much time in my space will know that.

When I look at diagnostic surveys and photographic guides, I find I fall solidly into the ‘you might want to think about getting some help’ category. It’s not reality-television-bad, but it’s bad enough to hurt.

To provide some context, here are a few of the things I have done.

  • Completely lost a room. At least twice. I forget how many times.
  • Avoided having people around without preparatory time to haul piles into spare rooms and close doors.
  • Spent months letting the laundry pile up, buying new underwear instead.
  • Was repeatedly too scared to tackle what’s in the fridge, or in the sink, or in mysterious boxes.
  • Failed to open mail. Piles and piles of mail. (You know what? They send you loads of warnings before they cut services off.)
  • Failed to do my tax for years on end, the paperwork being lost in my piles of clutter.
  • Lost a bunch of clothes when it rained inside and I just…left them there getting rained on.
  • Never cleared my gutters (hence the inside rain).
  • Climbed over piles of things to get to the front door.
  • Slept on half of a double bed, while the clutter napped ominously on the other half.

Now apparently ‘admitting you have a problem’ is half the battle, but I’ve been admitting that for years and you know what? Admitting you have a problem doesn’t open boxes, plug up inside rain, or magically grant access to abandoned rooms.  And, at least in my experience, it doesn’t make you feel much better about yourself either.

Thankfully, I know other people who have done this hoarding thing too. Brilliant, beautiful people who are great friends, great professionals, great human beings. And I know that they are no less great friends, great professionals, great human beings for having hoarded. And on occasion, some of them have been kind enough to let me help them sort a little of their hoard, and I am honoured by that.  It is a hard thing to let people see the piles of stuff, and even harder to let them see one’s emotional reaction to tackling it.

Personally, I’ve fought my hoarding as well as I’ve been able, which hasn’t been all that well a lot of the time.  Occasionally, I’ve had frantic bursts of energy and hired skips and filled them.  From time to time, I’ve bravely emptied a handbag, typically discovering a muddle of medication, old receipts, and oozing nail polish at the bottom.  I’ve researched treatment approaches and developed excellent organisational techniques…and then failed to apply them.

But this year, I think I may be turning a corner. I hope.  I’m taking a new medication for some of my other issues, and it seems to be moderating my hoarding behaviours too, complementing K’s gentle life coaching, and the patience and absence of judgement offered by both my partners.

It seems nuts to think a small pill at night could keep the laundry under control, get dirty dishes into the dishwasher, pick the clothes off the floor, or start chipping away at the deep clutter – the drawers, cupboards, and containers that have been abandoned to their mysterious contents. But it appears that it may well do so.

Just got to clean those gutters. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just got to stop the rain.

Sharing-Share

As promised in last month’s post, here is the mindmap for my 2016 theme, ‘Share’, along with a couple of mini maps about things that block or enable sharing.

They’re all dodgy phone photos, because the perfect is the enemy of the good, and because holding off until I manage to post beautifully scanned, cleaned-up versions in late 2023 won’t achieve much.

 

2016 'Share' Map

2016 ‘Share’ Map

 

Four central questions, or bundles of questions, popped up while I was working on the map.  I don’t have answers for any of them now, but I’m hoping that by the end of the year I’ll be closer:

  1. How to manage overcommitting? How to say no? What not to share? Boundaries?
  2. But who wants to hear?
  3. What does sustainable sharing look like?
  4. Why does this scare me so much?

 

Share Enablers

Share Enablers

 

Share Blocks

Share Blocks

 

2016: Share

Before I die I want to...

Once a year, every year, I choose a theme.

It’s usually no more than a word. A guiding thought for the year to come. A subject of inquiry. A standing piece of advice for life’s decisions, big or small. Once, it was ‘sovereignty’, once ’hearth’, once ’capability’. I think once it may have been ‘balance’, and once ‘the small’, but my record-keeping is somewhat lacking.

So, once a year, every year, I choose a theme. But ‘choose’ isn’t quite the right word. It implies a range of possibilities, when in fact it is a matter of a single idea, bubbling to the surface. Almost always, it emerges when Ju and I meet to discuss the year just gone, and the one to come.

This year, somewhat to my surprise, my theme is ‘share’. I am surprised because it seems more outward-looking, more engaged with other people, and more open than any introvert-who-just-wants-to-be-left-alone could be. Consequently, I have found myself stubbornly pushing back against the idea.

Sharing time? I don’t have time!

Sharing energy? I don’t have energy!

Sharing stories, experiences, food, friendship, space? Did you hear what I said about time and energy?

Evidence that I have found a fitting theme.

As usual, perfectionism – ever my companion – intervenes. It appears self-evident that I need to conduct this inquiry on a grand scale, at no cost to all the other things I do. That somehow (if I’m a better person, a kinder person, a healthier and stronger and more organised person) time and energy will rain from the heavens and all will be well.

This is – self-evidently – ludicrous. I have learned and forgotten and learned again that the only way I do things well is incrementally, in tiny, successful steps. (I recorded this knowledge many years ago on The Map of Win which hangs in my hall, but I still forget and re-learn.)

And so, some tiny sharing possibilities.

Write here again – just a little. Nothing epic, nothing grand.

Help organise Cary’s open-house breakfasts at The Workhouse (instead of just showing up at best).

Process and upload just a handful of a three-year backlog of photos to my Flickr.

Give a tiny gift.

Make a date to appreciate a friend’s new house.

I will – as usual – make a mind-map soon to explore the idea of sharing more broadly and deeply. And this year, I will share it here.

 

More Heart Than Me

Two posts in one day!  What is this?   This one is a bit frivolous and retrospective, in line with my lofty ambitions to become more frivolous and retrospective.

Music has, as ever, been my saving grace in an upsy-downsie year, and so I’m sharing a few of the songs that have been stuck in my head throughout. (If everyone could just take a moment to forget that I said I’d compile a playlist for Zoe and haven’t as yet done so, that would be lovely.)   Some of these took quite a bit of finding, being rare/old/live, and the last one I think, is surely one of my theme songs for the year almost gone.

My Friend the Chocolate Cake – More Heart Than Me

Jeff Martin – Love The One You’re With (cover) – I don’t think a good video of this exists, so you’ll just have to go buy the album.  It’s just about my favourite love song of all time.

The Tallest Man on Earth – The Wheel – rare piano version; this just breaks my heart.

The Tallest Man on Earth – The Gardener

Billy Bragg – Greetings to the New Brunette

Machine Gun Fellatio – Unsent Letter

Nick Drake – Time Has Told Me

Pendulum – Propane Nightmares

Manic Street Preachers – You Stole the Sun from My Heart

Radiohead – No Surprises

Tom Waits – The Piano Has Been Drinking

The Triffids – Tender is the Night

Tool – Wings for Marie

Lou Reed – Perfect Day

Warren Zevon – Poor Poor Pitiful Me

Karnivool – Sleeping Satellite (cover)

Kaki King – Pull Me Out Alive

Amanda Palmer – In My Mind

But maybe it isn’t all that funny,
   but I’ve been fighting all my life.
   But maybe I have to think it’s funny,
   if I want to live before I die,
   and maybe it’s funniest of all, to think I’ll die before I actually see
   that I am exactly the person that I want to be.

 

The map is not the territory, but today it will suffice.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted one of my maps.  And now there are two!

The first is a picture of something I’ve been working on since January; namely, the idea of sovereignty.  The idea is a work in progress, and the map is one of many spanning that progress.  I am posting it for Nathalie and Jaunita, who are right there with me when I need them.

The second is a picture of change.  Once upon a time I was the girl who could not walk across campus without tensing every muscle for fear people were looking at her.  The girl who would blush and stammer rather than hold a conversation.  The very queen of awkwardness, the non-phone-answerer, the one who declined every invitation.  Twenty years on, I am the woman who will pounce upon a friendly looking stranger with a ‘hi, I’m an enormous introvert; pleased to meet you!’  How did this happen you ask?  Still trying to work that one out, and I am posting this map for a dear friend who is on the journey too.

Pictures make me feel less mopey about the ten half-finished blog posts in my notebook. Let’s all forget about those posts and enjoy the shiny.  Or else.

And now.

I have all of these fragments of posts; the river, the garden, the mortgage belts, the city, maps, wanderings, chance meetings, the ends of the earth.

And – as so often – I’m not writing any of them, but am sitting around vaguely thinking about life, Rachmaninov, whisky, the universe and kitty.

I imagine it’s something to do with leaving Large Accounting Firm, painting more, raging less, and spending time at the gym and climbing, but I’ve got a peculiar feeling of being on the brink of something. Close to presque vu, but not quite. (If someone can give the correct name for what I’m feeling, I’ll buy them dinner. Fancy dinner. And then maybe we could make out on the couch and…wait, this is not the time nor the place. Ahem.)

I am given to understand that such feelings have much to do with the temporal lobes of one’s brain having a Moment which is quite exciting in itself, and I do feel it’s kinda sweet of my temporal lobes to troll me with a feeling of something, someone or somewhere soon. Pretty, existential vertigo.

For the moment, shiny illusions have not resolved themselves, and I’m currently working on settling into a new job, enjoying finally getting mobility and fitness back after the Stupid Bicycle Accident, and wondering what the next adventure will be. Oh, and propositioning a lot of people, with the goal of being Vegas-married to as many acquaintances as are willing. And so while the bigger posts simmer, find herein a small handful of links of various flavours.

Read them fast so we can run away to Vegas, sugarcube!

The Oatmeal on Tupperware

A tale of hoarding, in which I’m afraid I heard myself.

A nice idea for vertical gardening and pallet re-use.

David Foster Wallace on life and work.

Just about the best coat I’ve ever wanted.

Derek K Miller – The Last Post

20 Creative Public Works of Art

Random Soup

Hey you guys, blogging – what is that? Something I don’t seem to get around to doing at the moment, that’s what. Let’s all enjoy a nice list of random things:

  1. I’m thinking about pragmatic internet activism. My current idea is basically that we create or find a non-profit organisation with a legal defence fund, have it run a bunch of Tor exit nodes and work to mainstream the practice of safely running middle nodes for everyone else. Ideally this would be done with the support of a sympathetic ISP.
  2. I’ve been watching North Africa and the Middle East closely. I’m convinced that what’s happening there, in its various regional manifestations, is a turning point in history. People all over the region are kicking their dictators to the kerb, and I dearly hope that these events lead ultimately to a better life for many, and not to further violence, fear and oppression. As one Egyptian Twitter said the other day, ‘It’s scary, but it’s certainly not sad.’
  3. I’m brewing, gradually, a post about gender, consent, boundaries and geek culture. It’s been simmering for months. These things take time to cook.
  4. This year’s theme is ‘sovereignty‘. I drew a mind map for it, which I’ll post at some point soon.
  5. I’m (finally) discovering the wonders of snorkelling in Perth; it’s awesome. Penguin Island, Mettam’s Pool, Boyinaboat Reef; wonderful fish everywhere! I’m getting my dive licence shortly, and I’m considering buying an underwater camera.
  6. Virtual evolution is fun; check out Boxcar2D.
  7. A couple of days ago, I was thrilled to discover people are still using Gopher! Here’s an HTML gateway.  Digital living fossils excite me, as has been previously demonstrated by my passion for Amiga and C64 emulators.
  8. The most recent mental health news is that I’ve reached a stage where the SSRIs alone clearly aren’t working as intended, and so I’ve added the mood stabiliser and anti-epileptic Lamotrigine. I’m not sure what we’ll do if this doesn’t work, but I’m hopeful. From years of self-testing, I’m confident that my crazy is closely tied to either my progesterone levels, or the ratio of progesterone to estrogen in my system, and among other things, Lamotrigine has a progesterone lowering effect.

That’s all for now. Sufficient random soup has been posted.

Old Year’s Resolutions

[2007] [2008] [2009]

For the fourth year running, behold my list of retroactive resolutions for 2010!

Refrain from triggering apocalypse.

Acquire chickens.

Become a better photographer.

Run a half-marathon.

Complete a 60km bicycle ride.

Make more genuine friends at work.

Visit Penguin Island.

Visit Rottnest Island.

Become more assertive & confident about my needs, wants & boundaries.

Make time to enjoy gaming again.

Compete in a short-course triathlon.

Do things outdoors. Go camping. Go hiking.  Go snorkeling.  Go fishing. Go geocaching.

Feed a chameleon.

Compete in a 24 hour rogaine race.

Sail a mini-catamaran on the river.

Become a UK citizen.

Learn to celebrate and embrace introversion.

Find a good psychiatrist & work on treatment options.

Survive working on those treatment options.

Go flying in a two-seater plane while said plane does aerobatics.

Begin learning about shibari, in practice & in theory.

Gleefully paint & draw on willing victims.

Complete my Chartered Accountancy qualification.

Cement & grow friendships of intimacy, trust & support.

Get a cleaner once a fortnight & learn to stop feeling guilty about it.

Reconsider my diet to minimise farmed and/or unsustainable meat.

Make more art; sell some of it.

Improve & expand my DIY skills.

Learn to be more comfortable in my own body.

Give away more things.

Be an election enthusiast & electoral education activist.

Nurture, support & engage with my strange little city.

Become a better cook.

Make some fantastic & interesting new friends.

Become less tolerant where tolerance is not warranted, and more where it is.

Learn about negotiating relationships with love, communication & integrity.

Start working on a collaborative short film.

Be more honest.

Spread more love, more of the time.

Ancora Imparo

Oh, today is one of those days when I can’t write a coherent paragraph, and yet that will not stop me from filling the internet with things. (To be entirely honest, I am a little touchy about this, as I once decided to have hurt feelings upon being told that keeping a blog was narcissistic. For someone who says ‘fuck you’ so often, it’s surprising how easily I decide to have hurt feelings.)

Playing with Google Analytics, and I see that most people who find this blog through a search engine are specifically Googlestalking me, or want to know about demand resistance. Although one person wanted to know about ‘awesome Zazzlers’, which was flattering.  (Hi there, flattering person.  Apologies, people who were looking for information about demand resistance.)

The great medical experiment rolls onward. I was pulled off fluoxetine last week, because I appear to be one of the minority of the population who are hypersensitive to it – it makes me vomit, shake and become incredibly anxious. Sunday, coming off it, was pretty much the worst ever. I don’t have the energy or even the desire to write about it, with all the broken communication, misery and generally implosive overreactions that it entailed, not to mention the numb, dizzying, drooling 50km bike ride, from which I’d been too much of a stubborn jerk to withdraw. However, new week, new experiment: I’m trying a very gradual build up to taking sertraline, going from a quarter of a tablet to a full one over a fortnight. So far, two relatively stable days, no vomit. Perceived improvement. Trying to fix the things I’ve broken and let slide in the interim. Drinking a lot of water. Hibernating. If I say ‘shhh’ to you, it’s not you, it’s me.

Slowly negotiating the possibility of working in overseas next year. Envious of everyone around me travelling for non-work, in the wake of a realisation I haven’t taken more than a handful of days’ leave at a time since I was in Europe in 2008, nor down even been down to Margaret River since last Christmas, largely due to the year of study-separation-housemoving being a major money and time limiter. Want to roam, to not think, to sleep and to read and to play.

Cooked omelettes on the weekend as Boomer and Six have started laying (‘bok bok bok ba-gawk!’ goes the Egg Song each morning) and Sarah (who is new and lovely and very good at telling stories that make me laugh) helped eat them. The possibility of bunnies with earth moving machinery was raised, and so, tiny art was of course required:

Feeling inarticulate.  I think that is all.

Letters from 2009

This morning, I went for my first run in weeks. It wasn’t a long run, or a fast run, but it felt remarkable nonetheless after weeks of Valium and medication-induced sedentary dizziness and vomiting – so good to be strong and springy and back in my body. The running deserves a post of its own, because it’s been such an important part of my life this year, but this one isn’t about the running.

When I came bouncing back through my gate, I checked the post and there was a letter there, addressed to me in my handwriting, and I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that. I’d forgotten that I spent last year helping conduct a mentoring program with some super awesome teenagers, and on the last day we all – mentors and kids – wrote ourselves a letter to be delivered in one year’s time.

I feel a little shy sharing it here, because at the time I never shared it with anyone.  But I want to, and so this is my letter:

My dear,

I want 2010 to be a better year for you, and I promise to do my best to achieve that.

I want to see food growing in your garden, friends dining at your table, and love and forgiveness in your heart.

I want – no, I need – to know that you have actively worked on your mental health and made progress in conquering your anxiety.

I need you to live a year that you will look back upon with respect and peace in the years to come.

Take care, be strong, learn (and re-learn) to ask for help from those who love you, and never, ever stop dreaming, loving, learning and creating.

All my love.

I am surprised (in all my deadly perfectionist glory!) by just how much I have lived up to hopes and expectations of Last Year’s Me; I trust she’d be proud.

Flickr


Tern, Coffs Harbour Coffs Harbour Coffs Harbour Nudibranch, Arrawarra, NSW Sea Cucumber? Arrawarra, NSW Urchin, Arrawarra, NSW Starfish, Arrawarra, NSW Polychaete Worm, Arrawarra, NSW Shrimp, Arrawarra, NSW Shrimp, Arrawarra, NSW Mollusc, Arrawarra, NSW Gastropod, Arrawarra, NSW 

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About

@dilettantiquity is interested in an unreasonable number of things, including the wide and wonderful universe, happiness, well-being, wine, optimal human experience, non-violent communication, complex systems, existential nihilism, rationality, technology, grassroots organising, cacophony, music, creativity, learning and love.