There’s one thing I love about NYC apartments, there’s no room to hold onto stuff.  I have a 2 bedroom apartment that’s roughly 800 square feet.  There’s 2 adults, 1 baby and 1 dog – needless to say we are comfortable but cramped.  We have a small storage unit in the neighborhood and keep a lot of stuff at my mother’s on Long Island.  But still, there is a finite amount of space and stuff that can be kept.

I have fond memories of cleaning out my closet with a good friend (who actually was a professional closet organizer as an adult!) when we were little girls.  First you dump out all the stuff onto the floor, sift through it all, and judiciously decide what gets put back, what gets thrown out and what goes to the needy.  It’s usually a somewhat fun task because you get to comb through the memories of your things (love letters, achievements, pictures) while also crossing “cleaning out the closet” off a to-do list.  There’s nothing in life I love more than crossing something off my to-do list.

If the experience can be fun, even cathartic, then why do I avoid it like the plague every 6 months or so?  I clear things out, throw away the non-essentials, tuck away the important pieces and then slowly let the beautifully organized closet devolve into a mess of crap.  I can never seem to maintain the beautifully organized closet, or underwear drawer, or bookshelf or junk drawer even.  Invariably it always ends up back in a state of disarray that needs hours of time devoted to its upkeep.

The past few weeks I’ve been really experiencing fatigue.  Droopy eyes, slow moving limbs, and fantasies of going back down for a nap like my toddler does.  Granted, little Dylan has been giving us a hard time some nights, but my fatigue seems a little extreme regardless.  So I think to myself, “what is going on with me?” First thought, “Am I pregnant?” Because as any woman who’s been pregnant knows, THAT is exhausting!  Nope not pregnant.  “Do I have the flu?” No symptoms of flu – just fatigue. “Am I eating right?” Yes and No.  We all know I do battle every day to eat right so I’m essentially eating my usual diet.  I don’t think this is a factor, though I do start to notice a few things. When I’m tired I crave sugar and carbs and when I eat carbs (especially at lunch) I long for a nap around 3pm.

Last question, “Am I depressed?”  Hm, interesting question.  I don’t feel depressed, in fact I’m more free and happier than I’ve been in years (maybe ever!)  As someone who has battled depression, I have to give the question some thought though.  I have been through a lot of changes lately: new home, new career, new way of life as a partial SAHM.  But these are all changes I’m happy about – so why on earth would I be depressed?

After some though and a lot of introspection I come to the less than sexy conclusion that I”m bored.

Yeah, that’s it – just bored.

And I think to myself, “Marie you are one selfish, vapid human being. You have SO MUCH to be grateful for and now you’re BORED.  Bored with LIFE? Life, the most amazing thing in the world and you are BORED. What’s wrong, not enough new episodes of Mad Men left to watch? Too much time to spend with your son?  Too much time to go to yoga? Geez, Marie, get back to me when you have some REAL problems.”

Don’t you love the voices inside your head? I spent a few days going over these questions in my head and tried to get at what was the source of my boredom.  I also tried to find wonder and excitement in the mundane – which I admit is a lot easier when you have a toddler around to play with.  In the end, I came to the realization that since leaving my full time job 7 months ago I have a lot less to be distracted with.  Less emails coming through on the phone, less meetings to attend, less fires to put out, less office pals to chat with, less office pals to bitch about and less money to earn.  Without all that stuff, it’s kinda just me, myself and I a lot of the time up in here.  Of course there’s time with family and friends which I love, but for the first time in my adult life there’s space.  There’s 3 hour long stretches when the baby sleeps and I think “Now what?”  (There’s only so much laundry one can do.)  That’s when I’m forced to look in – “Now what, Marie? Now what do you want to do?”

Those moments of space can be glorious, but they can also let all the bad stuff come up.  (See earlier discussion with the voice inside my head.)

Trying to drive out the bad or mask it is really exhausting!  It takes a ton of effort and when it doesn’t work and you are forced to try and eat your way out of it you get REALLY tired.  “This box of Entenmann’s cookies isn’t going to eat itself, so get chewing Marie!”

So after a nap on Wednesday (for both me and Dylan), I thought, “Okay NOW WHAT?”  It was 5pm and there were hours to fill before dinner and bedtime.  So I opened my closet.  “This closet isn’t going to organize itself, now get cracking Marie.”  I pulled everything out, made piles (keep, store, give away) and rediscovered some of my possessions (I forgot about those shoes!) and started to make some space in my mind and in the closet.

It felt good.

Today I tackled a book shelf and the corner of my living room where my desk is.  The poor desk has been buried in crap for months.  Happy to report I am sitting at the desk now actually typing this blog post (progress, People!).

I know it sounds silly, but sometimes the clutter in your head and the clutter in your space are connected.  It’s like with all that crap taking over your apartment it also takes over your mental space and soon you are double fisting cookies while watching Downton Abbey and wondering who you’ve become.

I believe this is why stores like Container Store exist – because sooner or later we all have to turn off the TV, put down the cookie and clean out some shit!

When I do these projects I always try and remember 2 things.  1) It’s a work in progress, so don’t try and be perfect and 2) It’s not gonna stay this way for long, so don’t get upset when it get messed up

And with that, I think I hear Dylan waking up from his nap.

…and turned off the television.

As you know, I’m taking the summer off from many things and one of those happens to be sitting home night after night watching tv.  First of all, there’s nothing good on.  Secondly, it’s summer! and I don’t want to sit home doing nothing and being tempted to eat.  This is why I started doing theatre back in January 2009 again – gotta keep busy and outta the fridge every night.

Tonight, I had plans to come home and hop in the car to take a quick run to the beach club for a dip in the pool.  Unfortunately, it started raining, and the weather took and unfavorable turn even once the rain stopped.  No pool for me.

After a pretty sensible dinner at home and a solid hour and a half of TV shows we had DVR’d, I was bored.  I told Ran, “Okay, I’m done with TV for tonight” and we turned the sucker off.

Let’s face it – TV is great because it’s the ultimate tonic.  It lulls you to sleep, it distracts you from your problems, it keeps you chilled out on the couch, it never challenges you or makes you sweat.  I mean, there’s a reason they call it the boob tube, right?  I’m not saying I’m going to become one of those people who says, “Oh I don’t even own a TV” – because frankly, Ran will divorce me.  But seriously, people occupied themselves for thousands of years before there was TV, or Pinkberry or even a printed book.  We used to be more creative back then as a society.  People read books (once available), told stories, had conversations! Wild! Right?

While they were doing all this (telling of stories, etc) they were also not eating mindlessly.  The “snack” hadn’t been invented yet and in order to eat some food, you had to cook it, clean it, and in some cases, kill it!  It took a lot of effort to eat something, so you did it carefully.  You only ate when you were hungry, instead of out of boredom.  You didn’t just chomp into a bag of Doritos for fun!  (what an idea, eating crap for fun).

So Marie and Ran Isner took a stand on Monday night and stopped eating, stopped boob tubing and actually did something productive for once.  And, you know what?  We enjoyed it.  We had a few laughs, talked with each other, and worked on our wedding photo album.  Since our 1 year anniversary is rapidly approaching, it seemed time to actually sit down and do the album, with no distractions.

I challenge you to turn off the TV once in a while, or better yet, don’t even turn it on some nights and see what might develop.  Oh, and put down the Doritos, even for fun.

Like Quicksand

July 24, 2009

I’ve been married for 11 days.  Been with my husband for 4 years and 11 days.  We’ve always been on opposite schedules so I’m used to being alone at night often.  But tonight, I’m dying because,  there’s NOTHING on tv.  I mean, let’s face it, sitting in front of the tv makes everyone feel less alone when home by themselves.  I’m watching “Royal Pains” which is quite possibly the most far-fetched nonsense to come out of New York since CSI:NY.  Sorry Gary Sinise.

If I wasn’t completely stuffed from eating out at my favorite restaurant Bar Stuzzichini tonight, I’d probably be feeding my boredom with some snacks.  Why do we eat when bored?  What about raising our hand to our mouth makes us feel occupied?  Or complete? Or not alone?

Before my most recent Weight Watchers stint (there have been 3, more on that later), my preferred boredom snack was cheese and crackers.  I’d hunker down on my couch with a chunk of Cracker Barrel Vermont White Cheddar and go to town.  My Cracker Barrel addiction was so well known, that my Secret Santa in college gave me Cracker Barrel in place of candy!  Certainly, my love affair with cheese started in the womb – I’m Italian! and genetically predisposed for a love of cheese!  

The real cheese abuse started in 2001 when I lived in London.  The supermarket Sainsbury’s was so scary there (I couldn’t identify one familiar brand) that I started living on a diet of Red Leicester and Wasa crisps.  Oh, and grapes.  Grapes are healthy.  It was a different world in 2001.  I was out of the country for the first time without the safety net of college cafeterias and pre-paid meals. Not to mention the life changing events on September 11, 2001 that occurred while I was in Italy en route to London for the next 5 months.  I was also really young and in a relationship with a guy who was a fellow food abuser.  We were seperated by the Atlantic Ocean, so for sure, there were many nights in London where I felt bored and alone.  Also, don’t forget, this was before Facebook and You Tube.  Plus, I didn’t even have a computer!  Wasting time online reading status updates of someone who went to your high school (that you don’t actually remember), was not an option.  

To pass the time, my flat mates and I spent alot of time sitting around our kitchen table.  I don’t remember alot of food being involved, it was mostly talk and playing Celebrity.  We passed alot of hours that way.  I think my cheese abuse was still somewhat secret at that point, meaning, I was eating large amounts of cheese when no one was around.  Not like, on purpose or anything. But come on, I’m not gonna eat like a pig IN FRONT of people!  Secret eating is the quicksand that leads to you being bet into your pants.

Eventually, I ended my Red Leicester addiction when the only pants that fit me were my sweatpants.  I got on a computer in the library and joined Weight Watchers’ online program (stint #1).  I started tracking points and reading labels.  I lost weight, felt better, and got back into my jeans!  

I still ate out of boredom, but I tried to make wiser choices – this time I had JUST the grapes.

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