Living Between the Lines

This morning, I caught my reflection in a dark office window and took pause. There I was—black pencil skirt, red lipstick, slight heels, straight back, mug of coffee in hand. A to-do list running through my head, quickening with every caffeinated sip.

Mesmerizingly adult.

I took a long look at the big kid in the mirror, tucking a thick strand of almost-blonde hair behind my ear. I can’t tell you how exactly I felt at that moment. Might have been fear, or pride, or confusion. Might have been all three. It wasn’t that I was particularly uncomfortable with the look—this is hardly my first blazer/pencil skirt combo. But I knew that only three hours ago, I had been marching down the dewy sidewalk as the sun rose. Jean shorts, hoodie, messy ponytail. I was singing old blues songs to myself, and watched as the street light beside my house clicked off at 6:30 am.

The lady-type I was looking at now didn’t look like a 20-something kid who crashes on couches. But I knew. I knew that only a month ago, I was living out of the backpack that now carries my work laptop and homemade lunch. That these red shoes have seen their fair share of karaoke nights (and were purchased for $10 at K-Mart, if we’re being honest here). That I live in a cheap basement apartment on the other side of town. That I am no stranger to overnight bus rides, used furniture, and 2 am pizza orders.

Classy, classy, classy.

Shaking it off, I resumed power-walking to my cubicle. I proceeded to go through my emails. The language! Visual identity. Network application. It’s RGB, not colour. I had to “tighten up” some designs before a conference call.

I clicked my heels on the carpeted floor and streamed the radio through my headphones. I knew the language served an important purpose. I knew the jean shorts and the hoodie are no more “me” than the businessy blazer. But my head was spinning with all the transformations in my day.

Sometimes, my mother gives me this look that says “Wow, baby girl, when did you grow up?” It’s the same fear/pride double take I gave myself briefly in the window today. Only she’s looking at a transformation spanning a few decades; I was looking at one that took 30 tired Monday morning minutes.

We all wear so many costumes, and speak so many languages. I don’t think that makes our roles less genuine—we move pretty seamlessly through the motions. It’s an interesting process, though, playing a role (not that you’re faking it, but still, it’s playing) every time you walk into a certain place, or consider a certain person. Balancing the expectations and conflicting commitments.

In some ways, I think identity is somewhere in the cracks. It’s not in the office, or at a friend’s house, or at family dinner. It’s in those first few seconds when you wake up and aren’t quite sure where you are yet. When you’re driving—just driving, and for a moment you stop thinking about where you’re going. When someone touches you on the shoulder, or the hand, and your body unconsciously warms to the contact. Or maybe, if you’re anything like me, when you stare out the window at the rain.

Unexpected meditations, split second reactions.

The different costumes and languages and skillsets are important, of course. They define a lot of things. They help us fill our hours, contribute to society, et cetra. But I know, deep down, that I am neither a 9-to-5 busybody nor a sloppy, happy 20 something with a broken internal clock. Role after role after role. There’s something else, something much more powerful, dripping through the cracks with every scene change.

If you’ve ever wondered why I believe people have souls…this is it, man. When the pressure melts away for a few seconds, all that’s left to do is practice being human.

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Cloffice Space: A Love Story

Okay, confession time: Some how, some way, at some point, I wound up owning a LOT of clothes. And shoes. And belts. And earrings, too, though me owning pairs of ANYTHING usually ends with a lot of singletons lying around.

This is not something I’m overly proud of, and I certainly do not I know how it happened. I really, really don’t.  As a kid, I rocked the hand-me-down overalls and uncombed hair with no problem at all, yet somehow wound up being one of those women with the “CUTE SHOES?!?! WHERE?!?!” attitude. Yeahp, this little lady grew up, and now she doesn’t have enough hangers for all her pencil skirts.

       

Thanks for your influence, society.  For what it’s worth, I do try to even out these new fancypants tendencies by regularly pulling my nub of a ponytail through a baseball cap. Like a rebel? Sort of? It’s just a thing.

This summer, I took on the project of re-decorating my apartment in a big, big way.  My #1 weapon in this undertaking was my friend Josh, a magnificently organized man fresh out of Algonquin College’s interior design program .  Pizza in hand, Josh and I discussed some serious apartment overhaul. He helped me through the bathroom, the kitchen, the living area…it was all pretty easy. I knew what I wanted. He knew how to make it better. But then–what of my room? What of my clothes, and my shoes, and my belts? What of the loner costume jewelry findings that I promise, promise, I will transform into something cool someday?

I would like to take a moment to address the minimalists in the building, and explain why I didn’t just purge my closet then and there:

  1. Because in typical “I really wear all of this! I swear!” fashion, I just. Didn’t. Want. To. (Convincing, right?)
  2. Because at the time, I was a student with two jobs and an active social life.  My many outfits were, at least in part, complimentary of the many “hats” I wore.  My closet was/is my costume collection, and I tend to wear a whole lot of costumes.
  3. Because more clothes meant I could go longer without doing laundry. Which is good. I think.

The result of all this? A little closet suffocated by blouses. A room where clothes ended up on the floor. An arguably non-existent organization system that really did not work. Mainly, the result of this was a huge need for Josh’s insight. He made that insight very, very clear: “Shauna, you need a cloffice.”

Cloffice. Best word ever. I like it. Let’s do that.

…whatever that is.

This was pretty much the response from everyone I told about my new project. “Cloffice! Sweet/neat/cool!! I mean, I think it is. I mean, explain this?”  A cloffice, Josh explained, is what happens when a closet and an office make sweet, sweet love (…that is not actually what he said. I am paraphrasing).  The desk, lamps, books, and other office-y items are placed in the closet, making it a bit of a mini-“room.” This leaves a lot of space in the bedroom for (much needed) clothing racks and shoe organizers.

Spoiler alert: There are currently no clothes on my floor. Zero, none. This works.

Here’s how it works:

First, I took all of my clothes out of the closet and moved them onto a couple rolling hangers ($30 each at Zellers). In between the hangers, I hung an organizer for (most of) my shoes.

The new wardrobe space (please note: there is ACTUALLY space for said wardrobe. Finally.)
My roommate last year had her closet organized by colour. Really good call…makes it much easier to find things.

I wanted to separate my cloffice from the rest of my bedroom, especially now that this “bedroom” was really just one big wardrobe with a bed on the side (no complaints). To do this, I simply hung a curtain between the cloffice and the rest of the room.  Leftover clothing hangers made for a great impromptu “curtain rod” which paid a little homage to the “clo” side of the cloffice.  Using leftover paint, I matched a couple of these hangers to my bedroom’s accent wall to bring some unity to the colour of the room.

Finally, it was time for that sweet closet/office lovin’.  Aren’t you glad they found each other?

My cozy little cloffice!

My cloffice has now seen me through a good couple weeks of school.  Not much has changed since the project began: I still have a lot of clothing. I still don’t know why. I still am not overly proud of it, nor am I willing to change, nor do I need to change it. My solution has been found.  Game over. And I think I can speak for myself, my clothing, and my computer in saying: The closet and the office couldn’t be a more perfect union.