for April 4, 2005
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On Arranging The Bedroom...
Recently there was another one of those earth-shattering medical studies being touted in the news. This one contained the shocking revelation that American adults do not get enough sleep.
Wow, huh? I could have told them that.
They listed several causes for this, of course, including the usual suspects of stress and busy workdays and that kind of thing. They missed a few of the causes that contribute to the to problem at our house, though, which include "The Amazing Race" running two-hour episodes in the middle of the season for no good reason, at least once a week getting multiple phone calls in the middle of the night that just screech under the apparent misapprehension that my husband is a fax machine and, of course, the fact that cats are nocturnal animals and tend to save their most important daily activities, like knocking over plants, for the middle of the night. I once read that the most sure-proof alarm clock in the world would wake one up to the sound of two cats yakking – believe that!
our recent move threw another complication into our attempts to sleep. The master bedroom looked fine and all that, but shortly after moving in we discovered the minor inconvenience that it was just impossible to sleep in there. We spent six figures on a house and the only way we could sleep in it was on a 15-year-old futon on the living room floor with SportsCenter on in the background. We tried leaving on movie stations instead of SportsCenter but it really is amazing how many times in old movies some person walks into room and says, "Hey, wake up!" and just how similar the effect is to the cat yakking alarm.
So we decided that something must be done and hit the Internet looking for feng shui tips about how to create a relaxing bedroom. I'm not sure if I buy all of the "chi" parts of feng shui theory – for me a chi floating around while I'm not looking would just be another reason to lock up my jewelry and China – but we figured at worst it would lend a few reasonable decorating ideas. So we searched a few sites, eliminating the scarier cult-like ones, and cobbled together a few general rules – then immediately broke two of them.
The first rule we broke was about water. Apparently having a water fountain in the bedroom is a bad idea because water represents your money and sleeping while your money is bubbling around is bad news. We have a small water fountain we've had for years up next to the bed. Aside from the first few nights after you set it up when the sound makes you get up to pee every half hour, it is generally relaxing so we kept that. But honestly I thought your money disappearing while you slept was the normal course of things anyway.
The second rule we broke was about the radio. Electronic equipment is also a feng shui bedroom no-no because it uses energy and energy is the opposite of relaxing so it gives the wrong feel to the room. In our case, though, the radio was necessary for a couple of reasons – first we were still weaning off of the SportsCenter thing and second because our bedroom closet has the attic access door and if there is wind blowing or a bird fluttering or anything that can be loosely described as weather going on outside, the door bangs on its hinges. We decided we'd rather risk the subliminal damage of leaving a David Byrne CD on all night than to spend all night distinguishing attic door bangs from cat bangs from killer in the living room bangs.
The most challenging part of the feng shui bedroom, though, was positioning the bed. This is a trick for us because this seemingly normal bedroom has either the bedroom door, closet doors, windows, built-in bookcases or radiators on every wall. There's nowhere to put a bed that doesn't block one or more of those things – and of course blocking things is bad feng shui. Although in theory feng shui is supposed to talk about keeping the chi flowing in your house, at least the bedroom theories seem to be more about thwarting the knife-wielding maniacs that do get in. For example, you're supposed to position the bed so you can clearly see the door because that makes you feel more secure that you can see any attackers coming. That was actually the problem with our original room arrangement – we couldn't see the door from the bed and were constantly getting snuck up on in the middle of the night by demented ninjas taking on the form of a 5-year-old boy asking for a drink of water. And although you want to see the door from your bed, it's bad to have your bed directly in front of the door because particularly sprightly lunatics could still get at you in one shot. (Honestly I did not think this much about killers in the house until reading this "peaceful" feng shui material...)
But protection from the myriad of attackers is only one consideration in positioning the bed. The other is even trickier – the compass direction in which your bed points in is supposed to have a major impact on mood, relationships, and your area's milk prices. Several feng shui sites contain these little compass direction charts for your bed. For example my husband was in favor of pointing the bed South because that's supposed to encourage sexual intimacy. The fact that positioning the bed South in our room would block both the bedroom door and the closet doors didn't seem to bother him very much. South can also lead to more fights in the family – and apparently so can discussion of positioning the bed South. Many of the Northward directions contribute to peacefulness and deep sleep, which seemed more like the point, but you have to aim it exactly right because while due North and Northwest are good, Northeast is just asking for trouble and if you get a hankering to sleep that way you should just go to the cops now and ask them to hold you for the protection of yourself and others. Just to finish the compass, East is good for career prospects, which then stress you out so you don't sleep anyway, and West promotes laziness and a lack of motivation. (Hmm, my computer screen faces West...must be coincidence.)
So in weighing all of these variables, we ended up placing the bed in the only part of the room that let us see the door without blocking anything important – and that happened to be due North. Another quick feng shui bedroom trick is to have things in the bedroom in pairs, like a pair of people, get it? It even said that if you're looking for love it's a good idea to leave clear space in the bedroom and keep half of the closet empty (all together now – yeah right!) where the other person's stuff would go. So in deference to this rule we now have a pair of radios, one to leave on all night and one to set the alarm in case the cat-puking one doesn't go off. That is what they meant, right?
OK so we're not totally living the feng shui dream bedroom but we've slept a little better since rearranging – probably mostly due to unplugging the phone at the first 2 a.m. fax call instead of waiting until the 10th and yelling "this is not a fax machine" into the phone the first nine times, and because of finally training the deranged ninja to get his own cup of water.
All material ©2001-2014 Sean Carolan, except as noted.
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