The Poetry of Unpacking
Sleeping 8 hours a night? Cooking elaborate meals? Catching up on long-lost projects?? What?!?
It’s been so long since I’ve had the time to do any of these things. But since moving to Bowling Green, I’ve been blessed/cursed with a bit of free time. Free time also equals anxiety on my part, as I’m bred to be a workhorse and am always ancy about cash$money, but I’m trying to get caught up on backlogged projects until I find a more fulfilling occupation. I am teaching Art Appreciation online, and that takes some time, of course, but it’s nothing compared to the over-full 4-class schedule I beasted through last semester while working an additional part time job on the side screen printing.
I’ve been in Bowling Green for exactly 2 weeks today. I’ve spent most of that time unpacking, cooking, applying for Full Time jobs and Fellowships for next year, working on a big crochet project and looking for part time work in town. My only lead so far is I think I’m also going to be working a few hours a week for the graphic design professor at BGSU, assisting her with some letterpress equipment she owns. I’m very excited about that prospect!
In the meantime, here are some images of the unpacking and setting up of the main living room, a long room with one long window and double access to the kitchen. The carpeting smells like the old smoke and food of an outdoor generic “Asian” market. It is rough but clean. The walls are that familiar apartment-complex-beige. Plastic linoleum in the kitchen and bath, strange metal folding doors on the thankfully copious closets, and vent fans everywhere to circumvent the ever-vigilant apartment smoke detector. Typical apartment living, and I am decently satisfied with the place.
There’s nothing a few knicknacks, stacks of books and a fine art collection can’t fix.
When I was packing up in Kentucky, I found this moving tip online: “Tip #4 How to survive a move emotionally. Leave the knickknacks for last.
This is what makes a home feel like a home. Pack up closets and dresser drawers that you seldom use first. Knickknacks can often be saved until the last day of the move.”
I posted it to Facebook with my own comment, “IT’S ALL KNICKKNACKS!!!!!,” which is how it felt, at times since Blake and I own very little furniture. Our belongings largely consist of a plethora of art supplies (wood, linoleum, assorted tools, several lbs. of beeswax, rolls of paper, wire, litho crayons, colored pencils, etc. ), a burgeoning print collection, too many books, and various knickknacks that I’m largely responsible for. I know I should downsize the knickknacks, but it’s true that they can make a home. And the line between “knickknack” and “art” is very blurry for me, not to mention the “family heirloom” variety.
In addition, I have some inner drive to constantly create what I call “still lives,” arrangements of various objects on any available surface. Its an impulse I’ve had as long as I can remember. I spent countless hours arranging miniatures and figurines on shelves and in various indoor and outdoor environments. And I still “toy around,” so to speak, with these arrangements today.
I got a library card yesterday and checked out Seasons 1 & 2 of ART: 21 to rewatch/listen to while I work.
I also unpacked all of our books yesterday.
And hung up some of my favorite pieces from our art/stuff collection.
Please note the new addition of an Ann Flowers Gosser original flanked by toy metal guns beneath the Midwest Pressed Real Real Housewives Screen Print.
I also love my little “Who Do You Love?” house made by my friend Carol A. of Lafayette, LA. It has some secret animal teeth hidden in a box inside.
The well-loved love seat, decked out in smashed pillows and throws crocheted by someone. Don’t forget the delightful touch of the shade-less lamp. I need to get around to making a shade for it sometime soon. One more thing for the list!
The coffee table bench my grandfather made with years of wax chipping off of the surface. A postcard Aunt Pe sent us from Japan, and an old atlas I’ve been cutting apart for collage supplies for years. The remotes, of course. And a favorite little tea bowl, a second I found on sale in Farmington, Georgia by the talented ceramic artist Geoff Pickett.
Checked out some Audubon from the local library, as well.
And here’s my current big crochet project pictured here in front of a painting by Jane Fox Hipple. It’s starting to overwhelm the space. I’d like to make at least one more switch-back on it. Then I’ll hang it up and see where I’m at.
Below are a few images of the fabric piles I grow across the floor as I process scrap fabric into strips for crochet. I used to roll them into “yarn” balls, but have since quit wasting my time with the rolling; I just leave them in piles and untangle them as I go. Crochet is always what I turn to when I have a few spare minutes or when I’m stressing about something else. It calms me down and keeps my hands busy. Plus, there’s just something extremely satisfying about ripping up useless old scraps and clothing and turning them into something useful/beautiful.
Sometimes I’ll get sentimental about particular pieces of fabric, such as the green and white check to the far right in the image below. I bought that dress near Chapel Hill, NC during a trip to a thrift store with K. Bozarth and A. Weeks. I loved the heck out of that dress for years. I even got grandma to add a little extra space in the waist by sticking in diamonds of fabric she recovered from the hem so that I could wear it even longer. Eventually, last year I decided I was never going to be able to fit into it anymore and threw it into the “clothes I’m too fat to wear,” pile. This pile will become an art project of its own at some point, but for the time being I just process and incorporate the fabrics into my crocheted “foot prints.” I’ve since lost a fair amount of weight and could probably wear the dress again, so looking at it as a pile of fabric worms is a bit sad. But it had its day! There will be new thrift shop dresses to haunt me in the future, I’m sure. I’ve yet to check out the GoodWill store in town, and I’m looking forward to it.
The off-white fabric is a scrap from the quilting fabric I used to construct the lining in my wedding dress.
I’ve recently received a couple of requests for custom crochet projects, and I hope to start on those soon. I’d also like to revamp our Etsy shop. I renewed a couple of old listings, but I’d like to photograph some more work and make a few small things to sell on there, as well. We still have a bunch of t-shirts that we also need to list and sell.
Well, now that I’ve given myself this pep talk, I’d better get to work! I’d like to get a few more things done today before Blake gets home at 5:00pm and we start work on our Dating Anniversary Dinner: roast duck! Yum!
“I hear there are people who actually enjoy moving. Sounds like a disease to me – they must be unstable. Though it does have it’s poetry, I’ll allow that. When an old dwelling starts looking desolate, a mixture of regret and anxiety comes over us and we feel like we are leaving a safe harbor for the rolling sea. As for the new place, it looks on us with alien eyes, it has nothing to say to us, it is cold.”
― Jan Neruda, Prague Tales