If you've visited us, you know this: until recently, Ying and I lived in what can only be described as "squalor". (Ying disagrees: "a pile of garbage" might also be an accurate description.) Thanks to all of our visitors - you are all devastatingly polite, having mustered the willpower to fail to exclaim this to our faces as you walked through the door. However, we did have the opportunity to remodel our apartment's kitchen recently, which provided us with both a moving-out and a moving-in to re-organize some of our stuff, as well as the opportunity to purchase and the room to construct some furniture. We both had piles of boxes that we hadn't had unpacked in literally years - she has stuff from when she was in a college dorm room and there was no space to store it, and I have stuff from when I was in Jersey and then Texas where the only furniture I had was a mattress and a desk.
This is a picture of our apartment, the perennial disaster area, within
about 45 minutes of finishing moving in:
Speaking of moving in, I would be remiss if I did not send out some shout
outs to my homiez who helped me drag all the stuff back into this
place: thanks a lot to JP, Chris, and Itamar, and especially thanks
to Alyssia for helping out even at risk of severe bodily harm and even
though we didn't help her move, and thanks to Dave for crossing 4
states to get here and spending his whole weekend moving our heavy
The place is a bit small, so it's hard to get a good picture, but if you've
been here, even that small patch of empty floor speaks volumes.
I used to think that we must be pathologically lazy or too depressed to do
anything about the problem of all of our junk. While those things may be
true to varying degrees, there is a surprisingly simple lesson that I think
many of the bachelor-hackers who read this blog may benefit from:
You cannot put things away if you do not have a place to put
In the months before moving, TiVo introduced us to the wonders of a simple
show called Small Space Big
Style. Allow me to save you twenty hours of sedative television, because
it has only one message: use vertical space. If you are low on
space, and you have a wall that there is room to stand against, and there is
no shelving or cabinet or desk or rack against it, then you are wasting
space. Ying took this to heart, and we now we have room to not only
store all of our crap (we did, after all, have enough room to stack
up an entire 6x8 grid of packing boxes against one wall) but access it, and
thereby accelerate the process of deciding what's actually garbage and
what's useful. In fact, a lot of the stuff we have that was previously an
undifferentiated mass of garbage is actually pretty neat, and it is nice
being able to get to it and use it on occasion.
After just a little over a week, the improvement that this has made in my
daily life is tangible. Although Divmod/Cambridge will likely be getting an
office soon, I currently live and work in the same space and having room to
move around is really, really nice. Especially, being able to sit on the
couch and play a video game with our fancy wireless PS2 controllers is a
good symbolic end to the day.
So, at long last, rather than a large undifferentiated mass of "misc.
storage / seating area", We now have 3 rooms: sleep area (bed, clothing
storage, small TV for bedtime movies or saturday-morning cartoons), living
area (desks, entertainment center, game consoles, bookshelf, couch), and a
chore area (washer, dryer, household goods storage, network operations
center). I'm particularly proud of the "NOC", which you can visit on the web
at glyph.is-a-geek.org. There is
an aerobed and a variety of nice new guest linens (properly stored) - so if
you've been looking for an excuse to come visit, now's a good time! Our
calendar isn't completely clear but drop
me a line and let me know when you'd like to come up.
For those of you who feel "trapped by stuff", in a situation similar to the
one we were in before: you probably need some shelves. IKEA sells pretty
darn cheap shelves. The little work-top and drawers for the "server room"
has already saved me a few hours of fishing for wires and cramped slouching
over a monitor on the floor:
the whole thing cost less than $30.
By the way - if I weren't such a slacker, I would have taken more pictures
and laid this out in a Tabblo.
Unfortunately I am a loser so you will have to settle for just a few stills
in a blog post. You aren't a slacker though, are you? Check it out.
I really have
to give Ying the credit for most of this. I was tired, I wasn't interested
in interior design, and I don't like assembling or moving furniture. Too
many schleps up and down the stairs with 200lb desks and beds when I was a
kid... at any rate, I ended up helping out quite a bit, but she probably
would have built everything herself if she hadn't gotten injured on the