How to Achieve Everlasting Happiness (And Install Cheap Curtains)




O, LET’S SAY YOU MOVE into a new apartment—a studio. It’s the first time you’ve lived alone, and you love it, except you don’t sleep particularly well, because the sun shines directly onto your face when it rises, and there’s a lot of street light and noise at night. At first you don’t mind, because it’s nice to have a few more hours to enjoy the fact that this apartment is yours and yours alone, and that if anyone were watching it would be clear based on your current behavior that you’d never been the person in any of your past apartments who’d splashed water onto the area around the sink. A week or so into your stay, though, you find four dusty and mildly broken venetian blinds in the closet, making the plastic brackety things screwed into the top of each window suddenly make sense. So you put the blinds in. They don’t block out much light, but it’s not a big deal, because it’s great to be awake!!

Three years pass. You often consider getting curtains, but something always stops you. Mostly it feels like there are just a few too many elements—would you need a rod? Or another kind of thing to hang the curtains from? And then there’s the curtain fabric itself. And would you have to hammer things into the wall? Drill? You don’t know, but somehow it feels like too much of a commitment, or effort, even though you know it isn’t. Tension rods? And then how do you get the fabric “on” them? And would you need fabric with grommets on it to thread the rod through? Would homemade look bad if you’re not good at this kind of thing? The bunching, pull-up, pull-down curtains also seem like an option, but somehow the versions you find—wood, pretty slats, nice canvas, etc.—are too fancy and crazy expensive, so eventually you stop looking. But not before you accidentally (or was it?) sign up for the Shade Store’s daily newsletter. And yes, in fact, they are daily. Or sometimes daily. It’s a lot of emails from a curtain store! But it’s a well-done newsletter, and you never unsubscribe.

Anyway, at one point your mom (my mom) offers to give you some leftover cloth from her own curtains, which she’d installed a few years ago. Initially you say something along the lines of “Omg Mom, I don’t want your scraps, but also it’s impossible because, what, do I have to punch in grommets or something?” The grommets have somehow become the sticking point, even though you don’t really know anything about installing curtains, or about grommets. Also you are (I am) lazy about this kind of thing, but finally, after you keep halfway complaining, halfway bragging about how you never sleep, your mom says something like, “Just take this one panel back with you,” and you realize you’ve been acting ridiculously, so you say, “Yes, thank you,” and think that there must be a way to make this work even if you have no idea yet what it is.

And then—and this is the moment your (my) life changes, in a small but oddly significant way—your mom says to “Just use those clips.” And you say, “What do you mean ‘those clips’?” And she says, “You know, the hoops that can go on curtain rods, but that also have little clips on the bottom for attaching fabric?” You are stunned. You’d probably already have curtains by now if you’d known about these incredible clips, which would in turn mean that you’d have been sleeping better, and that you’d therefore be prettier and smarter and not have any of the problems that you currently have but aren’t addressing.

Anyway, so your mom gives you the one panel of curtain fabric, and you take it back to your tiny studio, and its colors and pattern look good there; you sort of drape it over the tension rod you’d ordered from Amazon many months ago, but it slides off and knocks your lamp over in the night, so you fold it up and put it on a pile of stuff. You have so many piles of stuff; maybe that can be the next thing you figure out. But then your mom says she’s coming to visit in a few weeks—should she bring the rest of the fabric? And you’re like “yeah…,” but you still don’t have anything to attach it to the windows with. None of these mysterious clips, no grommety stuff. She says she has a coupon for X amount at Pottery Barn, and would you like her to use it on some clips? And you feel so grateful that this woman you’ve been such a miserable little bitch to, so often and for so many years, whose help you’ve rejected and who you’ve selfishly pushed away so many times, still just wants to help put up nice curtains in your apartment so that you can sleep better and have something pretty nearby. So she comes, she brings the clips, and she helps you put the curtains together. It takes about 15 minutes, and they look amazing.


But seriously, those clippy hoop things are wonderful, and maybe they’d be useful if you want curtains but don’t know how to proceed. Pottery Barn has nice, hefty ones, although Amazon has a bunch, too, for a lot less. Actually, maybe everywhere has them. And maybe everyone’s always known about this. I suddenly feel shy. So you’re saying they make plastic bags that you can put inside the trash can? And that you don’t have to carry each individual piece of garbage out to the dumpster by hand? No, but these clips. These clips!



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  1. This is really lovely, it’s great to read yr stuff again Edith! Also what what what, I did not know about these things and now the fabric that’s been sitting in my cupboard will magically become curtains without my having to learn about grommets, either!