Sunday, October 11, 2020

Birmingham, AL: Stuff


My Birmingham living room ensemble. October 2020.
                                        Living room ensemble. October 2020.


Since 2010, I've lived as a tourist-in-residence in seven places:

  1. Caucasus Georgia
  2. Alamogordo, New Mexico
  3. Lafayette, Louisiana
  4. Opelousas, Louisiana
  5. El Paso, Texas
  6. Ferguson, Missouri
  7. Tucson, Arizona

Until this year, it was my tradition to haunt the thrift stores for furniture in the first months of a new locale. The furniture typically included: 

  1. Floor lamp + desk lamp
  2. Living room chair
  3. Side table(s)
  4. File drawers

But this year, after a severe edit of stuff when I left Tucson, I had two new goals: 

  • Add as little furniture as possible to my Birmingham nest without feeling deprived in tangible comfort or intangible vibe
  • See how well I can incorporate my Chez Prius 'furnishings' into the apartment so that the stuff I do have serves me in both venues

Now, about two months in, I've had mixed results. 

The good: furniture

  • Cut considerable time and energy visiting thrift stores in the annual hunt for furniture that I'll only keep for a year, and then have to unload when I move on.
  • For every trip I've not taken to a thrift store, I eliminated exposure to COVID-19 risks.
  • My living room chair is a comfortable, collapsible, lightweight backpacking chair that I bought in Tucson, which performs double duty in my apartment and ChezP, and I won't have to unload it when I leave.
  • My bedside table is a sturdy, collapsible, lightweight, camping table that I bought in Tucson. Like the chair, it performs double duty and I won't have to re-home it when I move on. 
  • My bedside lamp is a cute, diminutive, battery-operated camp lantern, with three brightness settings, and for which I use rechargeable batteries. Again: double duty and no need to offload it when I leave Birmingham. It happens that my Birmingham apartment has ceiling lights in all of the rooms, so I haven't had to buy additional, freestanding lighting. But if I did, I'd already planned to buy another battery- or usb-powered light source. Another advantage of my camp lantern is that if I want more subtle lighting, I can easily place my lantern anywhere in my apartment. 
  • There's an Aldi's in Birmingham, and there I found robust cardboard boxes to serve as an ottoman and a shoe shelf. 


The good: other stuff

Before leaving Tucson, I reduced my place settings to two dinner plates, two salad plates, two small bowls, and two soup bowls. I pared my flatware to four dinner forks, two salad forks, four spoons, two soup spoons, and two dinner knives. I don't miss the additional items at all. 

I'd had two and a half sets of twin-size sheets since I lived in Alamogordo: four flats and two fitted. Before leaving Tucson, I released the fitted sheets. What a hassle-saver in folding after laundering and in making a freshly changed bed!

The disappointing: My bed

It's the least comfortable of all the beds I've had so far. I placed my ChezP foam pad atop a cot that I bought at a big box store in Birmingham, my first night in my apartment. I thought the inclusion of the foam pad would offset my past cot experience, and it has, to some extent, but not enough. Oh, how I miss this bed and this bed and the vintage, bed-spring cot + thin mattress that my aunt gave me! 

The air mattress I used in Opelousas and Ferguson as my guest bed, and in Tucson as my primary bed, was very comfortable. Because of its bulk and my ruthless editing of stuff before I left, I gave it to a friend before I left. I do not regret this decision, as I saved precious real estate in ChezP and, just as importantly, learned an important lesson with the cot-purchase mistake. 

I don't know yet if I'll try some more strategies to add comfort to my bed, or if I'll just spend the money on a new air mattress. 


 Overall: stuff evaluation

I feel good. 

Sometimes I smile when I look at my Spartan surroundings. For now, it suits me.


Friday, October 2, 2020

Flashback to 2010: Gezellig

In the beginning of the last decade, gezellig, was the word. It's now been superseded by hygge. But they mean pretty much the same thing.

When I was working on my CELTA in Playa del Carmen in Mexico, a Dutch colleague introduced to me to the mental, spiritual, emotional space called gezellig. Thank you, Chantal!

The original post here.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Today was a tough day school-wise. Glad it's over. Glad it wasn't as disastrous as it felt at the time. So moving on from there ...

Chantal, one of my colleagues, introduced us to the Dutch word gezellig. It's pronounced like this, though I like Chantal's pronunciation better. 

There's no translation to English. As I understand it, gezellig perhaps captures a period of time, maybe a few moments or an hour or hours or a day or days, where you're in a house or maybe another place, and its ambiance is just right. And you're with friends or family, maybe some wine or coffee, and you just feel good together in that space and time.

Here is a group of people feeling the gezellig:

Makes me feel gezellig every time I look at it. I like the woman kicking up her heels.