newsletter #23: apartment thoughts
cool house, clear eyes, can't lose.
Hi reader. If you need something banal to divert your attention right now, read on. Earlier this week, I wrote about my apartment, which I love. This is just an amalgamation of my thoughts on the place and how it’s come together since moving in, which might read as trite at certain points in this email. (Sorry.) Ultimately, I attempted to make this about me learning to consume “things” more slowly, about my efforts to part with a capitalistic desire for aesthetic perfection. If none of that comes through I hope, at the very least, I’ve entertained you for the time being. Thank you, as always, for being here. Let me know what you think. '
I was texting a friend the other day about how shopping online while stoned is one of life’s greatest thrills right now. And it is; There’s nothing quite like scrolling through IKEA’s barebones website after smoking a bowl at night—thinking about all the wonderful imagined selves I could be if I only had this rug for my office, or one more bookcase for my living room. (As of late, I’m particularly drawn to this one wiggly lamp that is just slightly too expensive for me to justify purchasing.) It’s addicting. Though lately, I’ve been refraining from actually buying anything during my virtual browsing. I’m trying to be a more mindful consumer.
Moving into my current apartment was one of the more exciting, joy-inducing things to happen to me over the last few years. I’ve lived in a bunch of places around the city, but this was the first apartment that really felt like my “own.” This is probably due to the fact that it’s my first time living with a partner and, because I now live in Brooklyn, this is my first encounter with having actual living space.
Finally, my bed isn’t touching the walls. (Which I prefer.) I have a dresser. I have an office! And even though that office is more like the size of a large closet and there’s no door, I’m still grateful to have a working space that’s distinct from my living one. In my kitchen I have actual storage, with cabinets that sprawl across the entirety of the wall, which means there’s room for my abundance of browning pots, pans, and random tupperware from college. My landlords even let us use the basement area to store things, which spares my apartment from having that bursting-at-the-seams look that often characterizes New York small spaces. Most importantly, though, there’s my yard. My beautiful yard, which we share with the building owners. I love this apartment so much. I’m grateful.
With “so much” space at my disposal, naturally, I was excited to decorate, to fill the empty rooms with so many glorious objects and treasures. For the first time I could operate uninhibited by measurements. I could pick things without wondering whether or not they would fit. It was more a matter of “where” I would be putting them, if I wanted them, if I could afford them. My eagerness to fill the space often manifested itself in me aggressively scrolling through whatever niche decor website I’d become enthralled with at that point in time. (Check out Yowie or Humble House, two of my favorites lately.) For a short period, I’d become obsessed with making my house beautiful.
Shortly after moving in, when I bemoaned my frustrations with living in an unfinished home to a caring friend (who was honestly acting like a saint in listening to my frivolity), he urged me to “go slow” with the place, that the right objects have a way of showing up if you refrain from searching for them. (A polite way of telling me to calm the fuck down.) He assured me that apartments look better imperfect, when a newly purchased vase sits atop a table from an old apartment, when a shelf you found on the street is home for all your knick knacks. And so I listened, and my apartment—and my bank account—is better for it.
Now, one of my favorite items in the place is an enormous mirror that we found sitting on Halsey Street outside of a pizza joint. It was originally attached to a dresser, but we unscrewed it from the base so that we could put it on our mantle. The wood-trimmed mirror is so tall that it almost reaches where the wall meets our low ceilings, making them look ever-so-slightly taller. We live in a bottom unit of a brownstone that doesn’t get an abundance of light but, with the mirror, undulating sunshine refracts off its glass each morning, giving the room, the plain white walls, just a touch of iridescence.
Ale and I enlisted the help of our friend Oliver, who has a talent for design and other fine things, who studies at RISD. (And made the hey howie logo.) He helped us pick out IKEA shit that (almost) didn’t look like it was from IKEA, sift through the massive store (so big it’s in Red Hook), make our way through showrooms of made up lives. (The one where you have the perfect, boat-like kitchen sink.) (The one where your bedroom has puffy hotel pillows and an always-clean duvet.) (The one where your hardwood dining table is always set with dainty silverware and shining napkin rings.) When we finished shopping, we took a huge minivan home in the pouring rain, running toward the car through the droplets, trying to keep our newly-purchased home goods dry.
Ale and Oliver built the table that night, lying in uncomfortable angles on the floor to fit the various pieces together. When they finished, I was proud of the way the black-painted wood stood tall and dark against the white walls. I was happy with how my new home was coming together. I showed Oliver my phone to get his opinion on chairs. Ale was sweating from the assembly.
In the past, I’ve easily succumbed to the urge to make a place perfect. I had little patience with that in-between time, where you haven’t worn in the rooms yet. There are ugly brown boxes that reach the ceiling. Pots and pans in your bedroom. I’d liken it to when your new jeans are still stiff. You need time for an apartment to adjust to your presence. But I’m a homebody. I enjoy feeling settled. It’s hard to let your home be in that purgatory state—especially when Instagram ads are telling me I need a runner with quirky geometric shapes printed on it.
Lately it feels like there’s even more pressure to possess an interesting living space, and corporations are responding to our newfound social anxieties about having the perfect home by shoving even more products in front of our faces. With our social lives whittled down to the confines of apartments and houses, we’ve run out of ways to document ourselves and instead, we’ve turned the camera outward, grasping at the last source of content we have: our homes. Capitalism has responded accordingly. Evidence? A home goods line from Pretty Little Thing.
Other things this week….
Obviously I read this.
I really liked reading this conversation between Lisa Taddeo and Emily Ratajkowski about My Body.
If you like short stories, this one by Taddeo was so lovely to me.
I am almost done reading The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante. It’s beautiful.
I saw Clairo at Radio City. Amazing.