Sunday, January 17, 2010

Week 3: I've got the piles

First, a note: in an attempt to keep at the Week 2 challenge, I must record that I went sledding for an hour today with the kids, and if the burning in my thighs is any indication, it counts toward the exercise quota. Week 1's lessons, however, are long forgotten. I just made a "fork it over" comment thirty seconds ago, in fact. Suck on that one, AJ.

So on to Week 3: the De-Cluttering challenge. I tend to drop things where I stand -- literally. Walking into the house at night, I will leave a trail of hat, coat, gloves, purse, keys, shoes, socks, preschooler, bra, popsicle in my wake -- and that naturally makes for a very frustrating morning most days. Some of this is just because I am only now, at 34, beginning to understand the real meaning of "a place for everything and everything in its place." I do find that if I have a dedicated spot for something, it's easier to organize and maintain -- but what that usually means is that it is easier to organize in my every-couple-of-weeks fit of cleaning (which often coincides with the threat of company coming.) The root of the problem remains, though -- that I just...put things places, and then I walk away. I will deal with that root another time, however; this week is about cleaning up the old to make way for some nothing.

To wit: this is the current pile of paperwork to be filed. Bills, medical stuff, financial records, whatever: the paper seems to stack up faster than I can deal with. And this pile is the result of me being good about opening mail and recycling the envelopes and junk mail over the last few months. I have another pile three times as big hidden shamefully in a closet.

This is my dresser top. I don't know why I hang on to that five-year-old article about a Chicago bungalow garden -- I've read it a few times and I don't see what more I can learn from it -- but I can't bring myself to throw it away. And there's a pair of earrings that are best suited to Jem or perhaps one of the Holograms, but you know...maybe Hannah will like them someday. When 1983 comes back.

And it's not just me. Here's the top of Peter's chest of drawers. He saves movie ticket stubs. Freak! Plus every receipt we've ever gotten. And used tissues, because you just never know. I'm just throwing this out there so I don't feel like the biggest slob in the world.

Ah, and here's my side of the bed. When I'm not reading a particular book, I just grab whatever ancient magazine strikes my fancy and leave it on the side of my bed. If I have to wake up in the middle of the night, I slide like a cartoon dog on a frozen pond on all the glossy paper.

Lastly, here's what I call "the landing strip". Well, the other one. Everything gets set down here: AJ's keys and wallet, mail, tools that move upstairs and down, glasses and silverware. When it's clean, the whole room looks a thousand times calmer. But it's never clean.

So my goal this week is to clean off and de-clutter one area every day this week, working for at least fifteen minutes. It could be a junk drawer (we have at least seven), a dresser top, a closet, whatever. Today's effort was my car, which...even I am embarrassed of its usual condition, and I don't embarrass easily. I had no fewer than five pairs of shoes in it, plus months and months' worth of Hannah's school artwork, petrified french fries, yogurt tubes, fast food receipts, melted wonder it always smells like feet. I drag so much stuff from the office to the car to the house to the car to wherever, and the car had become a sort of Island of Misfit Crap. So, I combed through the seats and the trunk and threw pretty much everything away but the shoes. Even Hannah's artwork, since most of it had been rumpled and sat upon so many times it was ruined anyway. A shameful highlight: half an Oscar Mayer hot dog, sufficiently aged to have become grey, desiccated, and withered, not unlike what I imagine a fossilized penis looks like.

Tomorrow the Brown Elephant guys come to take away the dozen or so bags filled with what I combed out of our closets and drawers a couple of weeks ago. Here's hoping it's the start of something good.


  1. Oh man, I love this kind of thing. And the thought of those bags leaving your house fills me with glee. I love purging stuff.

  2. I am proud of myself for being ruthless with the closet purge this time. I was usually able to talk myself into keeping certain things, especially clothing articles. But I have been re-evaluating my wardrobe with more of an eye toward age-appropriateness. I mean, I'm not shopping at Chico's yet but the REALLY mini miniskirts honestly should not have a place in my closet, and the fact that I wore a particular sundress exactly one while on my honeymoon (and got pooped on by a pigeon in it) is not reason enough to keep it in spite of never having worn it again.

  3. Okay. This is one challenge I'm going to shadow. Yes. Or wait, I work three nights this week, and I'll be home after ten at night. Okay, so within the next two weeks I will have decluttered seven hot spots. Yes. Very doable. Do-able? Doable? IS THIS EVEN A WORD?

  4. Yay! Keep me posted on how you're doing!

  5. One down, six to go! Hop on over to LJ to see the before and after.