Tuesday, November 12, 2013

DISCOMFORT ZONE

Walls and woodwork in twenty years of wear and tear from me and the weather inside and outside this flat have accumulated signs of stress which needed to be dealt with but since there's never going to be a right time to attend to it, I thought: why not now? In times past I would have tackled it all myself but since I've been told I'm ageing, I've taken the soft option and called in the workers. Soft option my foot. I deliberately forgot the fact that I'd have to move everything - every single thing - all the pictures, books, records, hundreds of things out of the way, off the shelves and off the walls and off the tops of cupboards covered in ancient dust. I've declared my attic studio out of bounds but my study is where I've piled high many of the innumerable books. Here's a shot of one corner - on the top right are my desk and computer, where I huddle as I type this.







old shower curtain dust-sheet 
 
But you know what? There's something liberating about this disruption of my comfort zone. The clutter is a different kind of clutter from my usual one, which is passive. This clutter challenges me to act, to get rid of stuff, to clean up and make space. I've chosen to have all the walls painted white and the flat is looking bigger already. And letting the workmen in at 7:45 every morning forces me to change my night owl routine. Who knew there were so many early morning hours every day? Who knew that if you get up at 6:30 you're starving hungry by eleven o'clock? And who knew you can get so much more done in daylight than you can in the middle of the night? 

Do I hear scoffing from all you early risers?


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28 comments:

Dick said...

What struck me the first time I visited you was how there seemed to be a place for everything. Yes, there's a lot of stuff in evidence, but it seemed to sit deliberately and comfortably. So I'm sort of comforted to learn that dust and clutter and dust are an issue chez toi as well! As for your discovery of the benefits of daylight, scoff, scoff! May it all go well. I look forward to seeing the transformation.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Dick, it's only twenty past eight in the morning and I'm answering a comment, fully dressed, and finished breakfast an hour ago. Astonishing! Now I'm scoffing too.

Jean said...

Good luck with it all, Natalie! I'm contemplating works at home, pretty radical ones, so will try to draw inspiration from you.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Jean, once the decision to go ahead with such upheaval is taken, somehow it becomes okay. But prepare for disorientation!

Ellena said...

Scoff, scoff!!!
Please, when approaching your desk, keep your eyes on the floor. Stay safe.

Tom said...

So when are you moving out? :)

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Hello Ellena! Too much scoffing going on, just as I thought - you are evidently all early birds and I was the only worm. But no more:I have reformed.
It was worth all the disruption if that what it takes to make me discover early mornings.

marja-leena said...

Natalie, you are brave! Yet, it is all worthwile and wonderful when all the stuff is sorted, cleaned and back in place. I wonder if you will maintain your new early morning schedule afterwards.

No scoffing from here though for I'm such an insomniac that my sleep consists of naps through the night hours, and occasionally in the day. But I'm not making art at night like you!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Tom, I'm not moving out! On the contrary, it feels like moving into a brand new flat - such clean white walls and window frames! Such uncluttered surfaces! Maybe I won't put things back where they were.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Marja-Leena, yes and I'm getting quite obsessive about cleaning up now. The dust on and in the books is unbelievable.

Roderick Robinson said...

I'm one of those sanctimonious buggers who gets up at 06.25. There's no doubt (even if I'm the only judge) I write better (more creativeleee) then but there's a price to be paid. Since I haven't eaten breakfast regularly since my teens, brunch assumes greater importance. After which it's a case of - and here's a bit of UK slang to test your assimilation - Harry flakers. In fact the need to doze is never entirely assuaged until the evening and my French lit homework goes to hell in a hack. Moral: By the time you reach your seventies - late seventies that is - your circadian rhythms are immutable.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Barry bakers? Salt shakers? Eggs and..um..baconers? I thought I had the rhyming slang pretty well assimilated but I give up. What is it you have for brunch?
My circadian was apparently established at birth (born at midnight so maybe that explains it) but I seem to be able to fiddle with it from time to time. Let's see if I can keep up this new rhythm, even reluctantly.

Roderick Robinson said...

Brunch: Three spoonfuls of granola with three canned pear sections, the lot moistened with orange juice; two slices of Polish bread, buttered, Bovril-ed, and scattered with dried onion flakes; a Braeburn apple and a satsuma; two mugfuls of black coffee from the percolator.

Harry flakers was unfair; it wasn't widely used though I did hear a British secretary, working in New York, mention it on the David Susskind chat show in the late sixties. The phrase is derived from "flaking out", meaning to faint or pass out. Harry was a briefly modish prefix that could be attached to anything. I suspect many people born here would have difficulty remembering it (in fact they'd almost certainly be having memory problems) and your assimilation remains unaffected.

Hattie said...

Your morning is my evening, since I am on the other side of the world, so now we are out of synch, since I always get up around 5:30 Hawaii time! I think your clutter is a lot neater than my neatness!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Roderique, that's a very strange (to me) and very British brunch, apart from the Polish bread which I approve of. But buttered, Bovril-ed and onion-flaked? You cannot be serious?

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Hattie, you get up at 5:30 am *every* day, even when you don't have to? Is that even possible? Is it because you don't have winter in Hawaii?
And I can't believe your neatness could be more cluttered than what's around me just now.

Dominic Rivron said...

There's hope for me yet. I've just tried to get into my "workspace"... the clutter!

As for getting up early, I generally do (sometimes 5.30 - getting up at 7.30am would be an indolent lie-in). I don't feel hungry later as hunger usually drives me out of bed and I stuff myself with a huge bowl of porridge...then toast...

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Dominic, some kinds of clutter seems part of one's life and some is just an obstacle course. Yours seems to be the former and my current one the latter.
I envy your early-bird habit which to me seems heroic, especially in winter!

Beth said...

Well, I see all my friends have been here before me, bearing news of Bovril-ed bread (OMG!) etc. Natalie, I am astounded to see your flat looking like this, since it was the picture of order when I visited you. But even more so by your accounts of early-rising! Nothing is more disruptive than a crew of worker-bees who arrive at dawn with their hammers and coffee thermoses and cheery loud voices. But I am sure the results will be well worth the interim chaos and forced changes in routine -- which are not always a bad thin. Bon courage!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Beth, order will be restored as soon as work is finished, everything newly clean and bright. I hope I can keep up my early rising routine though dark, cold mornings don't encourage it. The workers (just one at the moment) Eastern European, very polite, asking permission to listen to Roumanian pop music on portable radio. I provide coffee and biscuits.

Lucy said...

Bugger, just wrote a big long comment and lost it.

Bon courage, it's looking great!

Clive Hicks-Jenkins said...

Oh dear. I get pangs looking at this, because I know know know my studio needs the biggest clean-out. I suspect there are dead bats hiding in various corners, not to mention a fly cemetery on the window-sill and piles of books, boxes and unsorted drawings have toppled and spread in avalanches to the point where it's almost impossible to walk around. You have grasped the nettle, Natalie, and are an inspiration. (AS ever!)

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Lucy,that is a damn nuisance, losing comments. Does anyone know why it happens? There should be a mass protest to Blogger or whoever. Anyway thanks!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Clive, even though it was crazy to have the work done now, the result (even in its unfinished stage) is surprisingly beneficial, both physically and psychologically. I feel much more energised to get on with my real work now.
If it's the right time, go ahead and grasp the nettle!

redondowriter said...

Haven't been by in ages. Good to catch up.

Roderick Robinson said...

Hey, I was neither trying to proselytise, nor court your approval. Criticise my brunch and it's like saying you don't like my nose (which is long, straight and Roman-ish; easily my best feature.) Keep going like this and I'll end up cut-and-pasting Christmas card verses under an assumed name. And what's Beth's problem re. Bovril.

Natalie said...

Fran, welcome back, it's good to virtually see you! I will go and check your blog too - see you later.

Natalie said...

Roddie, I'm sure your nose and brunch are perfect. I meant to express astonishment, not criticism. It's not every day that one comes across Bovril and onion flakes on Polish bread, innit?

Christmas card verses mash-up under assumed name would probably be a best-seller.