I’m like an alcoholic spouse, swearing to Kevin that for real — this time I am going to get control of our stuff and get organized and by heck I am going to become that person.
I’ve been clearing out junk and trying to organize what we keep. So far I’ve made huge progress in the kitchen, the dining area, the kids’ room, my office, the linen closet, and the garage. I am now at the point where I normally abandon the project, put the remaining piles of miscellaneous into a box or a grocery bag and decide that’s good enough because later. I’ll deal with it later.
I don’t have any proof that I’m really going to see it through this time; in fact my many past attempts make me feel like an idiot for even thinking that I’m going to do it because im definitely not. But what’s the fun in committing to maybe kind of trying to clean up a little? No way, I am going to defeat every room, every corner, every “hey, just stack this here.” pile. And then I’ll become that person who keeps things mostly under control. Hey, this summer I became that fancy lady who parks inside her house, so you never know. People can transform.
After working on things slowly for a couple of weeks, I sort of freaked out the other day. Starting on one end of the house, i stalked into every room and grabbed up every bin, bag, hill or pile of jumbled up stuff I could find. I put everything onto our bed. So there’d be a deadline, see? Kevin has to go to bed pretty early this week, so putting it all over our bed would force me to go through it all by then. This plan is one of those that’s pass/fail — if it works, you’re brilliant! If it doesn’t work, you are an asshole. I have made this gamble with Clean Laundry Mountain many times, and many times I have lost. Kevin ends up scooting the clothes over to my side of the bed and I forget all about them until I come to bed and the dog jumps up there and oh no, please don’t get dogginess all over the clean clothes… then the stupid clean clothes end up being shoved into baskets or moved to the couch so then I just feel silly for thinking this was a great idea.
So I set the boys up with a Martha Speaks marathon and set to work on Miscellaneous Crap Mountain. I sat on the edge of our queen-sized bed with a trash bag, a recycle box, and a big bag for goodwill stuff. For everything else, I came armed with a new box of 40 ziplock bags, gallon-sized.
About halfway through I wanted to cry. I wanted to give up. Just forget it! What’s the point? No matter how many hours you work on it, you can’t make a dent in an infinite mess. It’s still the same size.
I took a break. We had an early dinner. I hugged my children and said goodbye. Back to the mountain. By now I was moving through things faster; not sure if I was getting better at sorting? Or less discriminating? All I know is, those people who work at Goodwill are going to definitely appreciate the nice assortment of unrelated things. Toys, games, puzzles with no picture to guide you (all the pieces are there! But you have no idea what you’re making), little notebooks, old shoes, and all manner of the kind of weird thing we find for sale at the Goodwill store. No, you’re right, it is stupid of me to donate clutter to Goodwill and then shop for more right away but we are right there at Goodwill. And would you look at these amazing prices! Plus we are helping people — the sign right there says in all caps THANK YOU FOR YOUR BUSINESS Your inefficient middle-class neurotic consumerist cycle is putting people to work!
Anyway, you know what? I defeated Crap Mountain. No kidding.
After just a few short, horrible hours I was done! Trash in the trash, recycle in the recycle thing, goodwill in one bag, tools and hardware in another, with smaller ziploc bags for separating ink pens, art supplies, blank paper, live mallards, inkjet printers, piston engines, jackknives, picture puzzles, cortizone creams, hole punches, punched hole restoration kits, backpacks, playing cards, flatware (spoons! where were you, spoons? We bought new spoons because we thought you weren’t coming back! Now it is awkward because the new spoons are so much nicer. Please understand — we thought we would never see you again), bills, letters from the insurance company saying dear person haha we didn’t pay for your lab test because we thought it would be funny to see your reaction to getting the bill oh my god $700 you should have seen the look on your face!, old photos, computer batteries, flashlights, flashlight components, flashlight batteries, one of my brother Tony’s friends from elementary school, and hundreds of pennies. There. Was that so hard?
But there are still uncharted areas of crap. Today I woke up determined to keep going. I cleaned out the linen closet, which it turns out was mostly full of bedding that we never use. Go away, bedding we never use! You aren’t welcome here anymore.
Next I went through our books. Oh no. Not books! But don’t we live in a digital age and everything? Can’t we look up all of this information? Do I really need books about software? And for that matter, Shakespeare wrote a LOT of words, and do we really need to physically carry those words with us every time we move? Words don’t weigh much but you add em all up and durn. I can put them all on the iPad for like $1.99.
I tried to be ruthless with the books, but a few of them pouted from the out box until I gave in. Still, ah. The bookshelf looks weirdly relaxing with empty space on it.
Tomorrow I want to work on Kid Book Mountain. That’s going to be harder because there’s all kinds of cuteness and emotion and memories tied in there. But there’s a ton of stuff that they’ve outgrown or don’t like or maybe someday will like but who knows. They have three of those basic little shelving things crammed full of books. Overflowing. Literacy and a love for books is nice and everything but for goodness sake, let’s not get crazy.
After the books, there’s still more. We have a small junk drawer. I still need to organize our medicines, our cleaning stuff under the kitchen sink, and a few boxes of miscellaneous papers. Oh and tools in the garage. And all of the canned food/baking stuff/etc. And the laundry room. And and and…
It’s overwhelming but I really like the idea of being that person. Give me your best tricks for controlling stuff, please? Especially if you are naturally a mess and have learned how to not be so gross all the time. Kitchen, kid stuff, bathroom, car, laundry, anything you have figured out that tricks your brain into doing the right thing more often?