Monthly Archives: September 2008

i pee with the door open…

Meaghan has returned.

A little over a year ago she handed over her keys to the space where I (and now so many others) dwell. In the transition she said goodbye to her own first experience living alone and I said hello to my own. An executive decision made after a whirlwind trip across the globe and a welcome shift to my always wandering, itchy feet. Signing the lease was the first real commitment I have ever made by myself and I did so without a twinge of regret. The week leading up to her installation I forced my mind back to that month of my life. It was exciting and very serendipitious – my heart had been both lifted and broken within a month, I had seen sights I never thought I would be able to see, and at the end of it all I was ready (for once) to focus on the present.

My first night was spent surrounded by my boxes along with a few remnants from Miss Harrison. I sifted through, ate firecracker pop after firecracker pop, paused to laugh at the lame jokes printed on the sticks – all an attempt to avoid the reality of the HEAT. But it could have been 120 degrees and I would not have cared, I was on my own and that was all that mattered. A year later I still feel the same way, but I also have questioned how much I’m living in the present. Have I developed my own set of habits that have yet to be revealed to me? I sometimes feel like all i do is sleep in this space yet alternately I have dedicated a lot of time to perfecting the allocation of space – even building my own shelves! (i actually have to pay tribute to my mom here. what can I say? the woman is amazing with a hand-saw.)

So I reflect much do we actually dwell or do we just give the presence of dwelling? I put my things here, I sleep in that bed, I shower in that shower, but does it mean I’m really dwelling? It feels like it should involve more than mere motions, it should be contemplative. Or is it involuntary like breathing? And if so then what about the moment between breaths? My yoga instructor describes the space between breaths as both a moment of reflection and the point of transformation. In one calm, swooping moment there is awareness of where you have been and preparation for where you are about to go.

This apartment was just that space for Meaghan. A physical vessel for her to contemplate how she got there and position herself for a better, deeper future. She exhaled.

I had my own exhale and it landed me in her “between vessel” and I couldn’t be happier. Meaghan returned to find familiarity and habit as well as a space transformed since she left. Little pink kitty-cat post-it notes sprinkled the apartment with stream of consciousness observations, object histories, imaginative narratives and instruction. Feeling at times apprehensive but always understanding and encouraging:

“No matter how hard i try, i cannot be methodical, only random”

“You broke my heart So i broke your records. You have bad taste in music”

“Standing in the kitchen my leg reached for the chair I used to keep there”

“i pee with the door open”

“These things: I have two different writing styles that I use at the same time”


“i prefer to be nonsensical”

“you gotta protect it. you gotta pay homage to it…”

“aw geez. i don’t know.”

All meaningful objects have been zip-locked baggy-ed pointing to their precious existence and their scientific reality. My books have been neatly organized into piles throughout the apartment specific to Meaghan’s own dewey decimal system. The totem sits in the back with a million feet and nowhere to crawl. My objects are strewn and erected to form a fountain of color and light. Redefining the objects themselves, but also paying them the homage they deserve. The heads up pennies i collect from the street usually sit in a tall, dark cylinder. Here they are laid out as the totem foundation. A foundation of luck. A base of experience. And an inconclusive yet optimistic tower.

Sounds about right.


home coming

As i prepared to leave my house yesterday evening, much later than i wanted to, i felt my environment shift from how i currently dwell to how i used to. You see i used to live in Megan’s apartment, Megan technically took over my lease when i decided to move closer to school. On August 15th 2006 i moved into 2625, i was a single girl. Moving from Towson back into Baltimore excited me and cautioned me. Single white girl living alone, on her own.  While in this transitory state i was not getting along with my family, who thought graduate school at MICA was a bad decision, breaking up with my former boyfriend was horrible and generally my life was headed nowhere. Never had i felt so alone. What did ease my emotional state was my apartment, my very own place to dwell. If the TP ran out it was my fault, dirty dishes stinky trash, it was all on me. No more battles with roommates, no more bad roommates. I did not however have a lot of furniture, even for an efficiency apartment. I slept on the floor on a futon, i had no kitchen table, one bath towel, 5 plants, 5 paintings, a dresser, to many clothes, to many shoes, books, enough knick-knacks and bric-a-brac for 18 people and a bottle of wine. Fine by me i was happy as a clam. My first night i danced to Prince, cried with Nina and contemplated with led. But always dancing. As i stared up at the ceiling that night i could hear the rats in the alley and the soon to be obnoxious wind chime on the neighbors back porch. I considered my new situation, as fragile as it was and smiled. I lived here for 11 months, back and forth between my place and the man i now deeply love and live with. I never truly felt like i lived here, unlike Megan who has made this place into a home. Part of me wishes i would have taken my time here more seriously, slept here more, cooked and had wild parties. Last night was a very strange feeling, i was doing exactly what i did two years prior… walking from my boyfriends house after spending the weekend together to mine. Being back in my old place conjures up how we are creatures of habit, we fall into our old routines so easily. To underscore this i even made a stop at Safeway to buy some snacks, (because i never had food here when i lived here), the liquor store for some wine then back to 2625. As i approached the familiar set of steps and door i did not even fuss with the keys, the building smelled the same, junk mail stacked on the radiator, the downstairs tenant watching TV. So is it true? Do the places we inhabit really not change after we leave them? Walking up the steps i unlocked the door to #3. The door still slid close to the wood floor, the push button for the light was still in the same place. Not sure what to expect i essentially found the same apartment, but now with a new smell, different furniture and a much more lived in feel. Immediately i took to the place as an anthropologist would. Observing and taking meticulous notes, photographing with a disposable camera parts of Megan’s apartment that would be cataloged and bagged. I felt as if i had been given the key to a much anticipated archaeological find. Needless to say i was full of excitement and ideas, and felt very much at home…

Here are my first observations:

1. Megans apartment smells nice.

2. organized

3. vacuum (left for megan when i moved out)

4. Discovered the web cam

5. Discovered the How We Dwell Composition book

6. Same pink leopard print shower curtain

7. Shelf and shower organizer still the same (both here when i moved in)

8. Same garbage can (left for Megan when i moved out)

9. Same pots and pans ( left for Megan when i moved out, xmas gift from family 6 years ago)

10. Same kitchen knifes ( left for Megan when i moved out)

11. Same Michael Graves cooking utensils, (left for Megan, xmas gift, part of pots and pans)

12. Favorite childhood artist on Megans itunes, Cat Stevens

13. You Gotta Have Art Button on Megan’s desk. Photographed and bagged.

14. broken record piece ” Hark the Herald Angels Sing” still on nail in hallway. Found outside the Copy Cat before a 2012 potluck at the old Wham City Space. Photgraphed, not bagged.

15. medicine cabinet still has the same mushroom contact paper, who knows how long thats been there! Photographed, not bag-able.

16. Tester lives! Photographed, not bagged.

17. Black sticky mat in medicine cabinet, here when i moved in.

18. Bodum glass with deflated balloons, glass from house in Towson, Balloons must be Megans addition.

(((Its crazy that i can still recall the stories of these “things”)))

19. Tulip Table from IKEA! Sold to Megan when i moved out.

20. Same green chairs from sketchy thrift store in Fells Point, found by me and my ex when we first moved to bmore.

21. OMG! Single-Origin Subtleties! Stolen off a fridge at a party. Photograhed, not bagged.

22. Megan needs more plants. Perhaps i will buy her one.

23. ame crate under sink. I used it to move small plants when i moved in. Then for cleaners under the sink, still in use today! Photographed.

24. Megan has a great sense of humor. Photographed and bagged her magnetic board by stove. Accidentally dropped a calling card for cory berant, tried to fish it out with Megans T-square, not luck. Sorry.

25. Megan is intelligent (observing her books).

26. She hid the annoying closet doors well.

27. This is Awesome!

we are now leaving observances into creation.

28. Designated artifact holding tank, the ikea vase from megans desk, placed it on the tulip table, preparing for totem creation.

29. Dumbo Keychain in package. Photographed. Brought to table.

30.Cards and Hammer. Photographed. Left on desk.

31. Chinese umbrella. Photographed. Brought to table.

32. Standing Solitude, by Suzanne Vega..Records removed from desk to table, photographed.

33. Megans google bar reads ” Belgian Wheat Beer” (this is an observance)

34. Another observance, Megan saves her fortunes, bagged fortune by computer, “Don’t be afraid to take that big step.”

35. Voter registration reminder….Megan votes! Obama i hope!

36. Bagged everything small on Megans desk.

37. 38. Morning has Broken comes on, my Moms song, sung at her funeral.

38. Megan likes ballons (observation)

39. Wooden IKEA dish rack still here, left for Megan, photographed.

40. My first dinner to mimic my first dinner when i first moved in. Yum! Photographed.

41. i prefer to be nonsensical

42. Tea infuser with ceramic tea cup, fomer towson roommate had the same thing.

43. David Bowie-Changes///in my all time top ten

44. Is that my old Virgin Mary Candle? X related

45. 33 28 35

46. I think my friend J is checking me out on the how we dwell web cam.

47. tired

48. megan has bigger feet than me, she wears a 8.5 i wear a 7.5/8

49. she has some really nice shoes.

50.created short playslist on Megan’s itunes…Coming Home

51. Hung “history” post it, have to photograph first thing in the morning.

52. Its strange how we need all these things around us

53. Garden State soundtrack…love this movie. I will watch it when i go home tomorrow night.

54. awoke to your 6:41 am alarm 1 and 2

55. re-awoke to shane calling me at 9:30 am on Sunday September 14th 2008

56. i made some green tea, ate yogurt with raspberries and brie.

57. i wish i had one more day.

58. oh , yes the rules. I forgot to state the only two rules. I cannot use anything not from megans and everything that i consume here stays here, including the towel i used for my shower (green onhook in the bathroom)

59. Its 12:02 i have a long way to go….

60. Began to create totem on megans table.

61. finished bagging.

62. took more photos

63. did some yoga.

64. snacked on more brie.

65. drank tea.

66. dimantled books and categorized

67. arranged books, shoes and bathroom items.

68. more photos.

69. everything is coming together. i will be done before i thought.

70. placed umbrella, turned around paintings.

71. found xeroxs of women and bubble wrap, hung above painting above the bed.

72. Found loose change, arranged on table.

73. stacked sweaters ont op of the hamper to keep it warm from the AC.

74. took a shower.

75. ate some more.

76. drank some wine

77. its now 5:36. meeting becky in one hour at donnas

78. at 8 megan will be here to get her keys

Photos coming soon…

readiness and a grim reminder: salvation

“given the weather and the soil the tree could not have been any different…” – C.S. Lewis

A mixed CD was given to me in college with this same quote scribbled on the top. Pre-google era, I took the obscure quote as a nugget of intelligence from a boy trying to woo me and then I forgot about it. I’m embarrassed to say it took years for me to grow curious and even after finding its origin, I have yet to read the text. Since unearthing the mix the quote has remained something I keep turning back toward. So simple, it reminds me to always pay attention to subtleties and the moments. As much as i may want complete control, the beauty of life is giving it up. Even the bad things take us to a place we never thought we would/could be and it becomes a balancing act of willingness and acceptance.

As in the previous post I’ve been thinking a lot about fate and luck and destiny and how much participation we have with our own. How do we rationalize working toward something we may never reach or believing in something which may not be real? And what about regret? My own personal belief has always been to dive head first into the pool of fate/luck/destiny and leave no room for regret. As I grow a little older I realize I can’t just dive – and i usually don’t – I have to float, doggy paddle even. I have to look around and make sure that I’m at least on my intended path. And I’m sure somewhere down the road I’ll be doing water aerobics in the local fate/luck/destiny pool, lifting milk jugs when the lady with the neon spandex motions for me to do so. But at least I will still be there – still splashing around with minimal regret and some great biceps.

And ONE….And TWO…And THREE….Alright other arm!

And so we dance. Light and Movement. Light movement.

The context of the quote remains my own reality of its existence -what it has meant to me the past eight years and now, presently, as I sit among artifacts of scrap. Like a scene out of Water World or Blade Runner or – dare I say it – the Matrix. I am surrounded equally by steel machine and organic branch, neither serving their intended function. Like Ariel’s trinkets and more recently WALLE’s collection of an evacuated world’s trash. These rusty objects become breadcrumbs, clues sending us back to a world destroyed. Their context is just as important as their history, the ingredients and circumstance of which they are made. Observing these common objects as though we were viewing ancient Egyptian artifacts in a museum – their context completely changes yet they are no different in this new world

The movement of the surrounding headlines, the text, the imagery, the violence vibrating on the wall against collections of light bulbs, film, wire. Pamphlets strewn around the room claiming to hold the light of redemption and salvation. The human desire for these things – for the greener grass beyond the golden gates – even in a post apocalyptic society. It is as though we have created a world just so the only desire is salvation. The menacing violent dance of light.

The character from this world has vanished and I enter from the past. A past where most of these objects and most of this text are relevant and mean something of function to me. I spend time finding moments in the space hoping for an experience. I pick up objects and string a story together with each one. This character has engulfed themselves with what they believe to be wrong with the world as a constant reminder of the suffering which can so easily be ignored. The newspaper clippings spread like fire up the wall, at my feet the lamb of god and on the fridge single-origin subtleties.

Adapting this ideology to the fate trinity, we are all make-ups of our past selves. I’m convinced there is no escaping it. Embrace it, take it with you, use it with a genuine purpose. It’s the only way to move in whatever direction on this circle track you are headed. Yet, as Scrap states:

“I did not however, have the freedom to keep myself from directing this experience of pain at personal perceptions from the past, projected into the present.”

It’s all there and it will all come back to haunt. Acknowledging it’s existence does not reduce it’s ability to do so. My walls are usually collaged with filtered scraps of life: images I like of myself with people I enjoy spending time with, good memories, funny moments, endearing reminders of past events. I do not tack break up letters to my wall just as I don’t frame photos from funerals. Yet these past events may shape our present selves more than anything else. The collage of war surrounding me reminds me just how easily it can all be forgotten.

I stand at the center of it all and remember to Float, Focus, and Dance.