Travel, Design, Tidying

graphic design blog, musings, travel blog & musings

These three things are all related right now, in my world.

I’m off of work for 10 days. And, I’m at home. That’s right, 10 days at home not traveling. And being a publishing professional I thought it would be a great time to read some books! A couple of YA titles, a couple of adult (but not THAT kind of adult) titles. The Hired Girl, done. Oblivion, started. The Best American Travel Writing 2015 and The Family Romanov are up next. But right now I’m focused on the life-changing magic of tidying up.

This book makes me want to get rid of half of my belongings and find joy everywhere! It’s that easy! I’ll get rid of everything if it brings joy! Just leave my Icelandic wool sweater because I love it so, and my old cat for the same reason, and I’ll be happy. And so uncluttered I can spin around my tiny apartment and not bump into anything, while recognizing clearly the source of everything and the fix for everything everywhere, on account of lack of clutter in the way, physically and mentally. This is how it will work right?

Nope. I mean,  I started with clearing my closets and drawers to purge unnecessary clothing, and discovered that I can’t just get rid of all of those Hard Rock t-shirts so diligently collected during travels in the ’90s, can I? There’s even one from the original in London, bought during a trip that took place at the height of mad cow disease in the UK. And, that t-shirt from New York Bagels in Budapest? Nope. No matter how yellow that white shirt is now, how can I get rid of it? After a fraught few hours of indecision, I came to a solution: put the shirts back in their underbed plastic boxes until the Mementos category. To sort them then. The rest of my wardrobe was easy to get through after that-a good third of what used to be in my closet is ready to go to the closest Goodwill.

I’m now about 10 pages away from the Mementos category. I just have to finish going through accessories and stuff in bathroom first. Avoidance, you say? Nah…

Which brings me to the main point: stuff in bathroom. Turns out there are bits from my travels everywhere in my apartment. In the bathroom there are little seashells from various places, a cheap plastic ‘snow globe’ of sorts from Capri in 1996 that has just the tiniest bit of liquid left in the bottom. That I have to keep till it’s dry. And also, in my medicine cabinet, was this:


(Now on my desk instead of in the medicine cabinet. And that mug you see in the background, that’s from a Viennese Christmas market from probably the same Europe trip.)

I don’t even remember when this jaunt to Europe was, it’s been in my medicine cabinet(s) for that long. The product is a serum made with witch hazel to help clear your complexion. I didn’t find it particularly helpful at the time, and STILL kept the bottle in its box in my medicine cabinet (s) for years. Every day when I open the cabinet to get my deodorant, I saw this box as well. Why have I kept this, you wonder? As far as I can discern, two reasons:

One, for the memory of being in Florence and the experience of the place. Being able to tell we were close to the farmacia just by the perfume in the air wafting down the street. Of walking into the beautifully appointed Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella building that has been around for hundreds of years, listening to the sales person in delightfully heavily accented English explain products. I imagined she had the description of everything in the building memorized in English, by sound, but didn’t actually know what the words all meant. She would finish a description and then look at me, nodding, helpful.

Two, for the packaging. The design of it. Not groundbreaking, but just feels like Florence. Like Italy. Like a company that has been around for 400 to 800 years and knows who they are, where they are, what they represent. The gold foil, the emboss, the prominence of the seal that technically is their logo but has so much more prominence with the weight of history. And the paper—if only you could feel the paper!

So yes, I’ve kept this for years. And now thanks to KonMari and ten days at home to devote to decluttering, I know this is one thing that could go. The serum itself no longer is useful. I decided this afternoon taking a picture and posting here as a form of archive, to revisit as many times as long as this blog is up, will make the object easy to let go of. Will it be enough though—if the joy of this pieces is in the handling, the interaction with the physical product, will I get rid of the actual thing now that it lives here digitally? Or will it find a new life on my little desk shelf next to my Hagia Sophia snow globe and Hawaiian coral.

If just an old box of fancy pimple cream is this hard for me to get rid of, wait till I get to my piles of books and press sheets of covers I’ve designed through the years. And the rest of my travel mementos that aren’t now disappeared chocolate or pictures yet to be printed. And oh, my CD’s. How I love actual printed liner notes…

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