Sunday, December 26, 2010

Apartment Sweet Apartment (aka, Better Homes and Gardens)

I mean, I never wanted a clean slate. I wanted a ragtag assortment of other people's junk so I could be creative with making it my own living space and then not feel too attached to it so that leaving it behind wouldn't be a big deal.

As you know, when I got here, there wasn't a lot of stuff. Over time, I accumulated stuff from leaving JETs and nonJETs alike, and bought stuff at the recycle shop because basically everything there is on sale. But my apartment was always kind of a work in progress, and I always kind of had the vague notion that I was going to do something with it, sometime.. or maybe I would never get around to it, but oh well...

But it bothered me, and I knew this when I spent an afternoon one day upon return from work measuring the rooms and furniture and cutting out scale models in graph paper so I could see what would fit where. I had gotten to the point where I had collected too much furniture.

Over the course of the time I've been here, I've also tried to make improvements to the "yard," as well as brought home lots of little houseplants to keep around. I've gotten compliments for being the only one to have anything alive in her house, and I always blame it on my mother.

Let us look at the photographic evidence: How Lem got her crap together.

Stage One: It Was Like That When I Got Here

The stuff: Bed, bookshelf, mirror, blue couch, end table, wire table, TV and stand. Fridge, table& chairs, and kitchen accessories (rice cooker, water heater).
The yard: despair

I really liked my predecessor, and so at first held to this strange belief, rather staunchly, that if it was good enough for her, it was good enough for me..! Not taking into consideration the fact that she really didn't live like this, with this setup and this furniture, not really. Since she was the only person leaving my year, she naturally would give her stay-another-year friends first crack at the household goods, and since they would not at that time be overwhelmed with all the furniture they could eat, I'm fairly sure everyone took something.

Still and all, the Spartan basics weren't so bad.

From Drop Box

I put a bunch of photos on the front of the fridge. Got a couple houseplants.

Laundry time

As for the yard, I had a strip of gravel and two dead trees. I remember reading the myth of Demeter and believing (it made sense to me, okay?) that the "barren season" of the year was winter. I mean, that's when it's too cold to grow. That's why harvest festivals are in the fall, etc. But actually, in Greece and other Mediterranean places, and in lots of places it turns out, sometimes the hardest time to grow things is the summer under that punishing sun. So far, my yard has always looked like crap in the summer, not only when I first arrived, but also after my first year. It's just too hot for many things to live out there.

I love this photo. Two dead trees and a PVC pipe.

View from the road.

Dead tree as seen from bedroom window.

AUTUMN 2009: The Recycle Shop is Your Friend

Acquisitions: desk, more shelves, assorted cute things (like the clock, sitting cushions)

Moves: bookshelf into living room, fridge to corner of kitchen, giant trashcans to outside

Yard: Let's Garden the Shit Out of It

Through the fall, I sort of settled down and collected a few things it was nice to have.

Here's the video walkthrough from that time.

October, I was proud of my ikebana, and this shows the clock on top of the TV.

More ikebana leftovers, but this is sitting on top of some of the new shelving I got for the kitchen. This means that by now (October 9th, 2009), I had moved the fridge and trashcans as well as put my dishes on this shelf.

The yard got its first dose of gardening one day when Julie and I made a hundred dollar trip to Agro Garden.

Post-Thanksgiving consumption of leftovers, 2009. You can see the bookshelf and fridge have been moved.

WINTER 2009-2010: Baby, It's Cold Outside. And Inside.

Acquisitions: Heaters (kerosene, electric, and hot water bottles). Odds and ends.

Changes: basically no

January, photographs of snow show yard unchanged. Still got dead trees, PVC, and a little garden.

February. Desk still in bedroom, but covered with houseplants.

February, my living room can still host the whole town.
From 2010_02_16

SPRING 2010: Dibs

Acquisitions: bicycle, more planters. Kotatsu and big white couch, lamp (George left Japan).

Moves: blue couch into bedroom

Yard status: blooming

George left Japan in the spring and I bought a bunch of his stuff.

More of the same. Garden still alive, PVC pipe finally moved, trees still dead.

In April, the tulips bloomed through the pansies.

The new/old kotatsu is my new source of happiness.

Couch, likewise.

To compliment the interior's new look, I improved other stuff too.

SUMMER 2010: The apartment feels brighter and more awesome this way.

Acquisitions: Heke's green chair, the promise of Julie's many planters.

Yard status: tomatoes, and pumpkin vine.. but then when I left for 2.5 weeks, everything died.

When we turn the kotatsu sideways against the wall, we can still have a million people playing games.

But when the old JETs were leaving and getting rid of their stuff, I managed to buy Heke's chair (and dehumidifyer), and I got Lana's spice rack. This meant moving the white couch to make room. I also bought a floor chair to go with the kotatsu.


I took this photo to show the little green frog, but you can see that the couch has been pushed to the window.

This was about the time I started looking for ways to rearrange or possibly get rid of something, since things didn't quite fit.

To Present:
Then, one day in the fall, we went to visit Lauren who had totally redone her apartment from the way it had been with her predecessor. She'd installed all kinds of mood lighting and arranged things in a way that fit her personality.

I went home and tore my place apart. It took me a long time to put back together, but once I did, I went to the recycle shop again to get lamps. I realized that my living room was set up to focus on the TV, which was stupid, as I kept telling the NHK lady, I don't watch TV, not even DVDs all that often, and there was no reason for that to be the most important feature of the room!

I inherited Julie's planters and slowly but surely spent a little time here and a little time there filling them up. My first dead tree fell down in a storm, so I kicked the other one down and tore it out of the ground with my gloved hands. I got a sweet olive tree (though very small) to put in the spot of the first dead tree, and a nandina to go in the spot of the second. I reinstalled pansies.

Now, my house looks like this! (click on it to go to the album and see them at your own pace)

The only difference being that since these were taken, I have expanded the ground garden a bit.
From 2010_12_22

From 2010_12_22

Here are my "Christmas morning snow photos" for that:

1 comment:

  1. I'm very proud of your green thumb! I miss you so much, but I can see how these beautiful plants bring you happiness. Keep it real. :)