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Some of what I've been doing
For the last 5 years. A guest post from Langston MacDiarmid
I moved to NYC in June of 2017 and before securing an apartment I secured a drill. Because you need a drill to work, and you need to work to live:
My first workspace in NYC was the kitchen table of an Airbnb. I built this sorta-steadicam out of a selfie stick and a sliding door bearing. Literally never used it for anything.
The Airbnb hosts made me and my roommate sleep in bunk beds even though there were 6 other empty rooms on the floor. They would also come into the apartment while we were asleep to shut off all the lights and leave cans of tuna on the table. So we got a real lease at a different place.
My room was initially sparse:
So I took some steps to decorate. I bought this lamp at the thrift store and made a lampshade out of an undershirit and a wire catering basket.
I also built a drafting desk for myself out of wood I found on the sidewalk and legs from a tripod:
Quickly the room became a huge mess.
For the sake of organization, I got this table off the street, and piled junk on there too. Remember this table; it will make several future appearances.
I also installed some nicer blinds that I got from the basement of my mom’s new house. Here I am drying boxers I washed in the sink:
Eventually the time came to move. I love moving, because I can bury the old version of myself and start over. I never forward my mail, because the man who lived in the old apartment is dead. Whatever outstanding medical bills he had no longer matter.
Because of a whole bunch of BS we had to sign the new lease the day before we moved in. While frantically Citibiking to Myspace NYC in a thunderstorm I skidded out at this light and totally busted my ass:
After I got there they made us wait for an hour and charged us $800 in illegal fees. When I become a millionaire, I am going to purchase Myspace, fire everyone, and burn that place to the fucking ground.
At my new apartment, I was committed to building a better life in a better room. The cornerstone of the new room design would be the Wall of Utility, on which I would hang all of the items that provided me utility.
Honestly, it’s pretty depleted in this image. I wish I could show it to you in its full glory—it was magnificent.
The rest of the room got wrecked instantly though, so I went back to doing most of my work at a coffee shop:
But! in March of 2020 my life changed for the better when I was forced to live and work exclusively in my room.
Oo the Wall of Utility looks good in that pic.
I became convinced that I could fix my life by developing a pulley system to lift my mattress all the way to the ceiling. It would give me an open space in which to work, and better storage access to the area under my bed.
Total disaster, the pulleys kept ripping out of the ceiling. Eventually, concerned parties convinced me this wasn’t a good use of my time.
To escape my room, I began working in the “Rec Room,” a communal pink and wood-grain space in the building basement.
At first I only worked on small projects, like this Christmas sweater:
But a little later I got stuck working on this huge, dumb box for work and just left it in there 24/7 with a bunch of tools:
No one cared at all. This emboldened me to use the rec room for a personal project—cutting glass bottles in half and turning them into self-watering planters:
Low-key plug: you can buy them here.
The rec room work quickly got out of hand:
I broke so much glass in there:
I also broke one of the window hinges so that I could get to the backyard more easily:
Eventually The Establishment did try to crush my spirit:
Fortunately, we had negotiated a basement storage locker in our new lease. I built a little shelf inside it using wood from my old bedframe. See the legs on the shelf? They are from the table that was at the foot of my bed at the first apt 🤌
I filled the locker up immediately:
So I cut a coffee table in half and turned it into another shelf:
I also converted the locker door into a Door of Utility, but stuff fell off every time you opened or closed it. Every time:
In March of 2021 a new tentant approached me and said my work had been captured in the virtual tour of the apartment. He said it made him think "maybe this is an apt building where I can work on projects in the rec room." Just as I had always assumed, my work was less of a nuisance and more of an inspiration.
Very quickly I was back to my old ways.
I worked heavily on this electric scooter I found on the street.
I made a trash can out of a barrel of rubbing alcohol:
Look, I don’t have time to get into all this stuff. In the meantime this MFer would not stop varnishing wood:
Eventually we had to move out of the building because there were no windows in our living room and everyone was wildly depressed.
Around this time The Man also came calling again:
Between the bedroom, rec room, storage locker, and backyard, I had aquired too much shit to move in one day with a truck, so I built this cart for my bike out of the tabletop (!!) that was at the foot of my bed in the first apartment:
I did probably 20 trips with this thing and cut the hell out of my legs. The band-aids wouldn’t stay on because I was sweating so hard:
Terrible weekend. You can’t see in this video but the closet is packed floor to ceiling:
While surveying the room, I had an epiphany: if everything on the floor was on the ceiling, the room would be totally empty.
Just like the storage locker, the key was Efficient Use of Vertical Space (EUVS).
I rode my bike to the Home Depot and purchased 25 small cardboard moving boxes. It would’ve been better to have more, but this was the most I could strap on my bike without falling over sideways and getting pasted. I learned that lesson 2 years earlier, when I brought this filing cabinet home on my bike and almost fuckin died.
I’m from Pittsburgh, and when I was growing up this man used to ride his bike around with the front bumper of a car on his handlebars. Ask anyone from Pittsburgh, they know this dude—he’s a legend.
I started my new room by assembling boxes into stacks:
Then I assembled these box stacks into a huge EUVS Wall.
Then I filled it with stuff:
The first things people say when they see the EUVS Wall are:
Won’t that fall down
Why didn’t you make it out of wood.
Let me put your concerns to bed: It won’t fall down because each box is individually anchored into the wall. And I didn’t use wood because of the graph shown below:
I created this graph eight years ago, and have found it to be 100% accurate 100% of the time. Building a EUVS Wall out of cardboard is janky as hell, so it’s bound to be incredibly successful. Building a EUVS Wall out of wood (a legitimate building material) is inherently much less janky. That means I would have to do an incredibly thorough, painstaking, expensive job building it to ensure an equal level of success. It’s just not worth it.
Hopefully this makes sense. If it doesn’t, that just means I haven’t explained it well enough, because it is 100% accurate.
I was so pleased with my EUVS Wall, and so certain I had cracked the code.
Immediately, the room became a shithole again.
My consultants said this was because I had too much stuff. Incorrect. I had the right amount of stuff, but the wrong amount of discipline.
Storage is only a tool—without the discipline to store it is useless.
So I took a break from rebuilding my room to rebuild my mind. With patience and compassion, I began to store things not just sometimes, but every time. This made all the difference.
Also I added a pulley system.
Here are a couple images of my current workspace:
For true immersion, I have also created a 3D viewing experience, which you can access: here. Click on the image to enter 3D mode.
There’s so much I didn’t have time to mention. You haven’t heard about the 30 foot pole, or the water full of glass, or the time I did a header off the scooter and got a concussion.
But that’s okay.
The important thing is, you can do anything you set your mind to:
Follow me on IG @macdtl for more.
I can’t believe I’m friends with Caractacus Potts himself….!!!
Good luck loading this bad boy in your Gmail apps…