Winter cleaning

Maybe it's my small apartment; maybe it's the way baby items have overtaken my living room, my nightstand, my office...whatever it is, I've become ruthless about getting rid of Stuff.

Most of 2015's bloodletting has been focused on clothes. I had a lot to get rid of or store away, post-baby. But something else happened too: my style changed when my body changed. I went back to work in the late winter and every day I hated my outfit, even if it had been a staple the year before. Bags of clothes piled up. Every weekend felt like a trunk show. I didn't know how I was supposed to dress anymore. Working mom? Brooklynite? Woman-displeased-with-her-body? (How original, I know.)

So I shopped, and returned things, and cleaned things, and shopped some more. I tried on old things and new things and have been working on figuring out what feels like me, now. I just did my final ("final," ha) sorting last week, though that was just of my closet--not my dresser--which generated three more bags of clothes. A friend came over and picked through, took what she wanted.

Now, with the new year here, I'm thinking even more about what to clean, to parse through, to consider. I scan my shelves and realize even some of the books I wouldn't imagine getting rid of just two years ago have lost their importance. This week alone I've decided to sort through my overflowing jewelry box and the mess under the bathroom sink. (Do I need three hair straighteners, considering I don't straighten my hair anymore?)

After I had the baby, I started to feel like the walls of my apartment were closing in on me. We have a homey, love-filled place but when there's more than three people in it it can feel stifling. I want clean lines, the perception of space. I want to come home from a weekend away and not discover all the empty jewelry boxes I keep next to my earrings (why? Why do I keep empty boxes?) have fallen to the floor in a gust of winter wind from the window I left open because the heat in our building is always too high.

Tomorrow is the last day of 2015, a strange year if there ever was one, and I will eat a delicious crab feast with my husband and pop open some champagne but I'll also be thinking of consolidation, of things I don't need anymore. Of how I can focus all of my apartment cleaning into mental clarity, into goal setting, into continuing to build a life I'm proud of. 

Further reading, if you want it: I like this Refinery 29 slideshow (uh, I know, sorry) on a New Year's Pagan Cleansing Ritual.

Happy 2016!


The privilege of reading

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 9.21.29 AMLast night we put our baby in her crib for the first time. She cried for five minutes and then dropped right off to sleep. We thought we got off easy, but then she woke up an hour later, cried for 38 minutes* (yes, we counted), and then seemed to look directly at the monitor to give us a Look. After a few minutes, she closed her eyes and slept. She slept from 9pm to 5:45am straight, which means--if this trend continues--my husband and I have been given the gift of time.

With all that glorious time, I started thinking about what I should do with it. Not surprisingly, one of the first things that I had to set aside when I had a baby was reading. I knew it was a temporary break, but it was a break nonetheless. (I keep joking that I'm mostly excited about going back to work in February because I'll have an hour of commute time...think of all I can read during that hour!) And I miss those worlds I used to visit. I miss the artfully arranged words, the universal truths, the racing action.

We all know books are a privilege, of course, and entire organizations are dedicated to helping underserved kids snatch some scraps of that privilege. (Like First Book, and Reach Out and Read, and Reading is Fundamental, in case you've got out your checkbook for end-of-year donations). But I started thinking about how reading itself is a privilege. Because, for most people, being able to read for pleasure means you have leisure time. It means you're not working a second or third job during your off hours; it means you're not taking care of someone or something. There might be chores to do or errands to run, but if you're reading, chances are they're not urgent.

I'm staying in this New Year's Eve. My husband and I will put our gorgeous baby to bed and then have a crab cake feast, shipped from Maryland, and finally open that mead we bought on our honeymoon. My sister will be stopping by on her way to a party to lend me her ereader, which is shored up with books she's assured me I'll love. And while I don't know when or if I'll ever get to all of them, I know I will have some time in 2015 to read some things for pleasure. And for that I am so, so grateful.

Happy New Year--I hope it's filled with things you're grateful for too, whether it's books or time or perfect babies or something else entirely.

* We practiced a version of sleep training recommended by our pediatrician. 

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