Monday, October 23, 2006

A closet in need of fairies

Things like this sneak up on me. I tend to be very focused on areas like the kitchen, the playroom…places the sun streams down upon.

But closets and other ‘hidden’ areas like cabinets have a way of “suddenly” and “mysteriously” turning into…well, this:

What the HECK?!


I was sure it was going to be a two-day job…But it wasn’t. Two hours.

Amazing how fast these things can go, when you are a) determined and b) focused.

It’s really very easy to tackle even the most horrific of closets, which this isn’t. I wish I could show you pictures of what my first apartment looked like before suddenly I realized that I hated living that way – THOSE were some ugly closets! And bedrooms! And kitchen!! And, well, the whole thing was a hazard to life, limb, and psyche.

Actually, I lied. I’m glad I have no pictures of it. It is downright humiliating to admit that I lived in such utter squalor that even I didn’t want to eat things that came out of my fridge.

The part that makes this kind of cleaning up hard is that we humans tend to think too much. We get emotional about it. We rationalize why we need it, or how simple it would be to fix/alter it in such a way that we could use it again, or try to remember why we bought in the first place, or worry about how much it cost – or how much it would cost to replace it.

Inevitably, once you start thinking about these things…you might as well give up on cleaning the closet. It isn’t going to happen.

I take a moment to harden my heart before I begin these things. Clear my mind of the history of an item, and put myself only into the present. Do I now love this thing and want to keep it? Do I currently wear it? Is it only missing a button, or are we talking about a ‘first, I’ll take out this seam, then…’ kind of project to make it wearable? Because that is something that just ain’t never gonna happen. Oh, I mean well. And at the time, I’m ever-so-certain I actually will do it. But history has shown, again and again and again and again, that I won’t ever get around to it.

And I remind myself (repeatedly) that nothing in this world is permanent. All things will return to dust, eventually. All things deserve to be appreciated and used until that point – if I am not going to appreciate and use them, it is my duty to pass them on to the next phase of their existence. So those 7.5” strappy heels I bought in a moment of complete self-unawareness, that I can’t even look at without my bunions curling up and screaming in agony? Do they deserve to be punished in my closet with a tedious existence of being shoved impatiently aside as I search for my flats?

No, they do not.

So as I start sweeping into the closet (or whatever), it’s a quick decision. Each item I touch takes less than a second to decide – and no second guessing!! Keep! Toss! Or Donate!! I’m right about 99% of the time with my first instinct on something. It’s only when I start second guessing that things get another year in the purgatory that is my closet.

It took me just over two hours to go from that up there to this:


That brown stuff on the floor? That’s carpet. Actual carpet. I mean, I had heard we had carpet in that closet, but frankly it was kind up there with Sasquatch on the “proof” side.

I had three bottles of Windex up there, two of them with just a wee little squidge at the bottom and one half full. Combine and ditch the empties. I had two bottles of tub-n-tile from when I was experimenting with brands – these two were losers. Didn’t work well, and SMELLED REAL BAD into the bargain. So, I’m keeping them because…? O-U-T, OUT!

I also had the tax return documents for 1996 and 1997 in there (the world will never know why), and a bunch of my college essays (geesh) and several binders worth of college-ruled paper (hmm) and also a huge stack of papers belonging to the husband.

And, the usual piles of candles, some soap making supplies (which have their own bin downstairs with the crafts), a box of sugary contraband I had taken away from Danger Mouse over a year ago, three mostly empty bottles of Rite-Aid brand nail polish remover (combined, they made about half a bottle), and a plethora of wee little whatnots that I had shoved up on the shelf in moments of ‘mom’s coming over in X minutes!’ panic and never gotten around to putting back where they actually went.

Added bonus: I found a bottle of Liquid Plumber ‘Sink Snake’, which I poured into my reluctant bathroom sink – the one I was threatening to take apart myself in spite of a proven track record of creating statewide disasters merely by thinking of touching plumbing of any sort. Though allowed to work for over an hour before being thoroughly flushed with hot water, it didn’t work.

Until last night, when I turned on the faucet to demonstrate to my husband that it didn’t work (and hence, the sink was still something he was being nagged about) and…it drained just fine. Swoosh! No gurgle! No hesitation! No backing up at all!!

Hoooookay. It did that just so I could get one of my husband’s patented, “You are so cute when you try these DIY projects!” look.

I also put together the following pile of goodies for Worthy Causes:

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

There are some really beautiful things in there. Dress shirts and suits and baby things…lovely stuff, really. But stuff I haven’t worn since forever ago, stuff my husband hasn’t worn in years, shoes that honestly – never were any good for me. Just off camera is a set of redundant luggage we’ve kept around in case…I dunno. In case…we get a divorce and need two sets of bags.

All of these things can now leave my hands and go on to do good deeds. They can earn money for the worthy causes through their thrift stores, and then be enjoyed by people who will actually wear or use them.

And I am now free to move about the closet. I can vacuum the carpet! I can take things off the shelf without fear of avalanche! And I can feel good, really good, about every single thing that is in there. It all belongs, now.

And belonging is good, my friends. Belonging is very good indeed.


froggiemeanie said...

You're going to need to change the name of your blog. That doesn't look like a "Den of Chaos" to me ;)

Anonymous said...

That doesn't look like carpet on your floor. It looks (and shines) like marble. How in the world do you keep it in that condition with four kids and a husband?!

Anonymous said...

You keep the carpet in that condition by never exposing it to the light of day. Piling up tonnes of stuff on it achieves this most satisfactorily. Ask me how I know.

Seriously impressed by the closet clearing. It's making me feel guilty about mine... as if my mother's comments weren't enough!

I have a nasty feeling that there is a spring cleaning coming on chez moi. Gee thanks! I guess that's what I get for lurking- if I'd posted earlier perhaps I could have talked you out of it and spared my pangs of guilt.

SamD said...

Oh wow, not only do you knit the way I want to knit but you run your house the way I wish mine ran!

Way to go with the closet very Mission Accomplished.