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M.C. ESCHER: Still Life and Street (1937)
" … we inherit the puzzles we probably need."

The Muse and I might have forgotten that SettlingInto requires negotiating settlements, not only between us, but the stuff insists upon participating, too. This creates the most curious collaboration, for regardless of how much The Muse or I might prefer a particular placement, the stuff retains a voice, and one likely to trump our best collective judgement. This process leaves many boxes in extended suspension and negotiations continuing ad nauseam and beyond. Even should we manage to quickly place something, the stuff retains the right to re-open negotiation, making for a several stage process for some items. Many boxes represent certain contention and so are set aside to open later or never. The idea that we might quickly empty boxes and just get on with a settled life here now clearly seems out of any question. We'll be living in extended suspension as a necessary condition for ultimately SettlingInto, as our StuffSettling ultimately dominates the production.

The Muse has been installing shelf paper, by tradition her obsession when arranging a kitchen.
She's already discarded several previous arrangements as the stuff just seemed to have revolted over earlier placements. Part of the challenge involves needing to first remove a lot of stuff from a lot of boxes so as to inventory the challenge. This act alone induces an automatic overwhelm as the sheer volume won't fit on available counter space. We're, of course, also attempting to maintain some semblance of the activities of normal daily living, cooking and such, all accomplished with tables and even chairs piled high with tottering towers of what clearly resembles undifferentiated stuff, though some might just come to refer to that stuff as shit since it seems just that useless right then. It's surveying the new space, like little kids, making dibs on which shelf or drawer it might claim for itself. It's a genuine puzzle and not all the stuff seems adequately mature to even be allowed to declare a preference. Stuff changes its mind, too, as do The Muse and I.

The effect might resemble a very slow speed train wreck, but things do eventually seem to come together. Some parts of the puzzle remain unsolvable for the longest possible times, but some insight visits which allows some sweeping progress though some setbacks also emerge. The spices always represent an impossible conundrum, for spices tend to seem absolutely unnecessary until absolutely required. We have no real sense for frequency of use, so Cream of Tarter might somehow gain a priority position while Oregano typically manages to fall into the deepest of the deeper black holes in the far back of one of the least accessible shelves, necessitating the submission of an All Points Bulletin when the chicken wants a sprinkle of that herb. The central organizing principle escapes us and the subway tile backsplash denies us using the hanging spice rack. It's enough to convince me to adhere to a bland diet from here.

No room seems immune to the StuffSettling effect, though the lowly guest room has so far become the best put together. I take breaks in there because it holds so little clutter. There, resting on a bed featuring no half-emptied boxes, I can dream of an order that might forever evade every other room in the place. It does not help that we have flooring to replace and woodwork to paint, curtains to hang, and cabinets to design, so we're hesitant to get too moved in when we know for certain we'll just have to displace stuff again, and after the new flooring, cabinetry, and paint, The Stuff will very likely change its mind about where it wants to be placed. In the middle of solving, many puzzles seem unlikely to hold any solution. This property seems to attract the masochists among us who enjoy inflicting confusion upon themselves. I do not count myself among those. I much prefer simpler puzzles, but we inherit the puzzles we probably need. We had been living lives featuring little contention and now we inhabit considerable tension with resolution a very distant pipe dream. With our StuffSettling, this, too, shall eventually pass into, finally, a SettlingInto of sorts, or so I fervently hope.

©2021 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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