There are some ways in which I am very bad at being a girl. For example, I forget to clean. I also hate blowdrying my hair. It's true that the forgetting is somewhat deliberate, since I also dislike cleaning but I usually need to remind myself to pick things up off the floor. Or I become frustrated always having to search for the matching sock in the clean laundry hamper and end up putting the laundry away. But I digress.
One other way that I am not a proper girl is home decorating. I mean, I like nicely decorated homes but I find that I have no idea how to make mine one of them. In particular, I have no idea how to make my newfound house into a home. I am starting with a lot fewer variables than most people because my unit has set furniture, lighting and window covers. That is the way of federal housing in Iqaluit--perhaps I should explain what I mean by that.
If you have read Canadian news lately, you might know that housing is an issue for those who live in the North. Statscan's recent update can tell you a lot more (http://www12.statcan.ca: eg. 22.7% of total occupied private dwellings in Nunavut have more than one person per room; 4.2% is the Canadian average for aboriginal populations), or the news (like: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/north/story/2007/11/23/kug-housing.html). In Iqaluit, I believe most of this available housing is owned by property corporations or some level of government. The federal government, my employer, owns/leases a number of units in buildings across Iqaluit. These, in turn are leased to me at a subsidized federal housing rate. The rate is determined through a calculation of some sort that may or may not include utilities, that may or may not be furnished, and apparently works out to approximately the market rate for Ottawa. Is your head spinning yet?...I'll refrain from getting into Territorial employees's housing, then, because that will probably result in a headache from which you may not recover. I do not, however, complain about my particular headache. I have a very good deal...a very, very good deal, actually.
Why is all this important to the Trading Spaces edition of this blog? Well, I have a furnished federal unit. This means that I have a set of furniture, lighting, window covers, and wall-to-wall carpeting that belongs to my unit. Due to my particular situation, these items are permanent and in some cases, like the headboard and mirrors, nailed to the wall. I came to this realization when, after my first week here, I thought it might be nice to move my bed to the opposite end of the room so that I could wake to a view of the Bay. Sounded lovely until I realized that I could not move the mirror, which would leave it hanging conspicuously above the bed...maybe not. I also found myself fantasizing about having a blue yoga room with gold stars, like Liz Gilbert did in "Eat Pray Love".
So, the decorating project was abandoned until a few days ago. That's when a couple of friends came over to pick up a CD and one of them exclaimed on how I still had the plastic wrap on my lampshades. I was embarassed that night into cutting them off. I also cut the plastic off the other three lampshades...and unpacked the last boxes of books, which she did not see. That was easy. The more difficult question involved spicing up the stark white walls that towered over my living room. My apartment has two floors and the top floor is a loft-type space, which means there's something like 20 feet of ceiling I need to fill. My painting collection, once so integral to my decor, remains in Toronto, so it could not help me. I did have, however, a number of fun wall-hangings from South East Asia. With some nails and hangers, I think I may have added colour, but the key question remains....what exactly will Ikea deliver to the Arctic?
Stay tuned for more, as I now expect a visit to Loomis and Ikea are in my future...