Saturday, April 18, 2009

Why, for two cent’s I’d…!!!!!

Have you ever had one of those days where you spent the entire day cleaning, then came to the end of the day and looked over a house that looks like it hasn’t seen the business end of a sponge or broom in something like three decades?

A house which, in fact, has distinct overtones of crazy hoarding cat lady and you really are living in the Fly Lady definition of CHAOS: Can’t Have Anybody Over Syndrome?

Have you ever then found yourself muttering dire things under your breath?

Like, that for two cents, you’d haul every last thing you own, even the things you actively use every single day of your life, out to the driveway and try your damnedest to sell it? Garage Sale of the Gods, One Day Only?

And that you wouldn’t give anybody else in the family a vote first? Including yourself? Just…put price tags on everything as if it didn’t belong to you and you didn’t care LA LA LA, and try to sell it.

Whatever didn’t sell, you got to keep. Whatever did, well, you’d simply do without for a while and see how you did. If you found your life was an unending misery without it, you’d consider the possibility of maybe replacing it.


Except that damn, the idea of having an emptier house surely does appeal right about now.


I have to admit, a lot of this problem stems from my pack-rat tendencies, which in turn stem from my tightwad habits. I’m one of those people who will hold onto bizarre things – rubber bands, frozen orange juice lids, every scrap of paper that ever comes into my possession – on the theory that I might have a Perfect Use™ for it, someday.

And won’t I just feel the perfect fool if I have to go spend good money on something I threw away six years ago?!

Oh, if only I hadn’t gotten rid of all those rubber bands, I might have been able to fix this broken carburetor for free, instead of having to spend $400 at the shop for a new one!

But let’s face it, there is only so much room for Stuff, and furthermore only so much room in my brain for remembering where Stuff is. Why do I have so much trouble finding things? Because! I can’t remember where they belong! Which means that I reinvent “where they belong” each time something wanders into my clutches. Rubber bands? Hmm…can’t remember, I think it was a drawer, right? I’ll just go ahead and put them in this drawer for now…

Fifteen drawers stuffed with rubber bands later, I have no room for paper or pencils or anything else.

And of course, trying to undo this wretched situation leads to another one, which is that everything you own is out on the floor while you try to sort through it. Which is overwhelming, so you give up and kick it under the bed or something for a while, just a little while, you understand, because gee whiz, don’t you deserve a little down time once in a damned while?!


Yeah. A random, no-questions-asked, no-holds-barred, no-sacred-cows garage sale starts to sound…kind of good. A clean break, a new start, a chance to just hit the Reset button on the whole mess.

Fortunately for the Denizens, I loathe garage sales. Our stuff is (probably) very safe indeed, because I simply won’t be able to make myself brave the garage sale crazy ever again.

Any more than I can make myself deal with the pile of homeless crap camped out on the other side of my bedroom door. It’s been mocking me for, what, four days now? But I have nowhere to PUT it!

So…there it sits. In the middle of my hallway. Laughing at me. We are nothing but useless crap, Tama! it snickers. And you are our slaaaaaaave, because you can’t bear to throw us oooooooout, even though we deserve nothing moooooooore…


Double sigh.

Yeah. I know I won’t actually do it. But at this very moment, I have to admit the idea makes for a rather nice fantasy…

Sell everything, right down to the furniture.

Replace sparingly.

The bolt the door, put bars over the windows, and never ever allow another item to enter the Den.

Just imagine…being able to walk…through the house…in a straight line…without stumbling or tripping, without hearing unexpected CRACK! noises under your feet, without finding yourself herding the strays into piles that then mock you because there’s nothing you can really do about them because the drawers are all stuffed to straining as it is…

What a grand and glorious thing that would be, huh? Grand…and glorious…indeed…


Galad said...

My kids aren't home any longer and I still have the same issue. We won't discuss how much stuff they left behind. Or how I started knitting again and grew a stash. Or how my husband has a whole room full of guitar amplifiers and the tools and electronics to build them.

I keep trying the Fly Lady thing too. It is a good system when I do it :-)

Minxie said...

The best cure for that is moving frequently and often! :-) You'll throw away even useful stuff if you move it enough. (Don't ask me how I know... ;-)

Anonymous said...

You inspire me...maybe if we threw one unused thing away a day we could have ROOM!

dale-harriet said...

Could it be this is Going Around? I'm in *exactly* the same spot, and I've sworn to myself that This. Is. It. My problem is, I have this problem (two parts): 1) I paid for that. Spent money on it. How can I throw it away or discard it? I PAID FOR IT!;
2) What if I need it the day after I throw it away? How will I know what I'm *going* to need? You should start a Brutal Clearing Movement, maybe we could be support for one another? I would SO join in.....

Gina J said...

It doesn't need to be THAT drastic. Dump anything that anyone ELSE would classify as trash. Juice can lids, MOST of the rubber bands, paper, etc. RECYCLE! Then you can say you're also doing something good for the environment outside of the house, too. You'll be SO glad! For years, I spent far too much time sorting stuff I didn't need! That time was valuable and... gone. Now, we have a small trash can next to another trash can that's just for recycling and a basket for all paper recycling and a bag for all plastic bag-type recycling and at the end of the week it's OUT OF HERE! It's nice to be out of CHAOS (love the acronym!) and while it doesn't look like my MIL's house, It only takes a few minutes to make it company-ready.

eclair said...

I second the motion for the Brutal Cleaning Movement. Clear out the empty margarine tubs, the rubber bands, the scraps of yarn and paper. Stick them all in a box, put them in the trunk of the car and drive them to the school and offer them to the teacher. If they don't want them then drive them straight to the dump.

Do the same for anything that has stayed in the same place long enough to require dusting. Go straight to Goodwill/Salvation Army and hand it over. Forget the garage sale unless you love doing them. Reclaim the house!

We do this every year or two and I love the liberation of it. My house is so big! And the kids never notice that their old toys and clothes are gone.

sadiekillmouski said...

Allright...who let you into my house and where are you hiding?

Caitlan said...

Go for it! Everyone can fill a shoebox with their treasures, and everything else can go.

MAM said...

Oh my, the idea is contagious! I walked through the upstairs yesterday and had the very same thoughts! All this stuff and for what? Wouldn't it be nice to start over - everything fresh and new, bare minimum of everything. I read of someone who only owne 500 things - EVERYTHING! Underwear, pots and pans, toothbrush - all counted in the total. One thing bought, 1 thing out. Good idea?? Not here!

knitalot3 said...

Yes, ma am. Every day.

I gave up the garage sale idea. It nearly gives me hives. Instead I pack boxes and label them for good will. When I forget what's in them, I drop them off. It makes me feel a little freer.

Michelle F said...

Sounds like it's time for a super fling boogie! I need a major one as well! I got rid of a lot of my "junk" yarn by giving it to the school art teacher - I love seeing all the little weavings the kids do and try to spot bits from my old "stash" Of course it only made room for the new, higher quality stash!

Lynne said...

I dream of having a giant dumpster outside and just tossing stuff out the window.... but then, so much is useful to someone, so I sort and stash. It has yet to be delivered. I think it's growing too. The more I sort, the more needs sorting... it's kind of scary! And then... storage, hello? Where to put it all? I moved in a year ago... and I wonder when it will end? Will I ever be sorted and stored??? So,you have my sympathies!

Lisa in western MA said...

I'm with you! I've been going through various versions of Brutal Clearing, especially after a flood last summer.... If I didn't have to work, I'd make much more progress! I find Howard's Decluttering Queries (from a Your Money or Your Life potluck many years ago) helpful:

1. Does this item remind me of who I am now?
2. Does this item recharge or re-energize me?
3. If I feel grief when I get rid of this item, am I willing to mourn?
4. Is it OK with me if I don't finish decluttering all in one day?
5. When I declutter, what am I trying to accomplish?
6. Does this item remind me of who I was but no longer am?
7. Does this item enliven me?
8. Is this item part of a dream that expired?
9. Does this item deaden or de-energize me?
10. When is the last time I used this item?
11. Does this item remind me of a dream that I've forgotten but once had?
12. However much this item cost in dollars, years, or other units of measure, am I willing to let that go?
13. What am I saving this for?
14. Does this item chain me? Anchor me? Support me? Sustain me?

Science PhD Mom said...

Ugh, I know how you feel! Sometimes it seems that I no sooner finish cleaning a room than I turn around and it's a disaster zone again. I think it's better to clean when the kids are out of the house, even if for half an hour. Take a picture to remind yourself, "I actually did something today."