Have you ever read the book by Tim O’Brien ,”The Things They Carried”, about the Vietnam war? Great book. Completely unrelated to this blog post. But for some reason whenever I am amidst the piles and piles and PILES of things to sort through and I feel overwhelmed, I think I should write an autobiography called “The Things She Saved”.
I’m a saver. Keeper of memories. Storer of crap. Collector of random objects important to people who are no longer on earth. Holder of things other people intend to claim. I’m not going to make it onto the Hoarders show but I can and do save things for an unreasonable amount of time (forever) and (considering the dire storage situation in our house) an unreasonable amount of things.
I am drawn to magazines like this. I love them. I like books and blogs and articles and Instagram feeds and all sorts of information on organizing. But I am not organized. People seem to think that I am. I don’t know what gives them that impression. I have been “getting organized” for decades and have finally come to grips with…if you are getting organized you can still find your own stuff and somewhat function. If you actually ARE organized-someone can find it when you die. Sorry kids. I will never get there. (side note: Just read a long article about Swedish death cleaning…riveting. Too bad I’m mostly Danish) And for all my reading about decluttering…
Yep. So embarrassing. I took the photo and then recycled it. Promise.
I have boxes and bins and baskets full of crap. And I always mean to let go of it but then I start to look through it and then I fall in love with keeping it all over again. But I am getting better. Truly. I got rid of 50 books last year. Nobody even noticed which gives you a window into the scope of my problem. But I’m always looking for a system. A “once and for all solution”.
Have you seen/read that little gem? It’s depressing and shaming and impossible. I hope she has triplets some day. Call me Marie after the triplets. I can’t wait to see how and where you will neatly stack the sippy cups and diapers and toys and then later the sporting goods and school paper avalanche and electronics and cords. My GOD the cords. You won’t be emptying out your purse each night. Your sunglasses won’t be honored and ‘getting their rest’. You will be clinging to your sanity by a thread. You will eat questionable food from the bottom of your Birkin bag which will be right there in a crumpled Ziploc next to your bent sunglasses. I tried her little system. I made it through pants. I tried on all my pants. Got rid of over half. woo.hoo. And shouldn’t this only be an E-book? Because now I’m storing that thing too. Also-I don’t have the right pants for certain occasions now. I have got some feelings about Marie.
I have all sorts of reasons for saving things. Thinking I might need it again. Thinking someone else might get use out of it…someday. (True crazy story…I’ve saved holiday cards because I have considered if someone had their house burn to the ground…I would still have their card and they would be so happy when I delivered their holiday card from 2009. WHAT!?? Why trust Shutterfly when you have me on your card list? And a lot of the cards I have saved…the COUPLE has broken up. I don’t think they are going to want that card.) Other saving rationale includes-Guilt I spent money on it. Guilt someone else spent money on it. Guilt someone else wanted me to have it even if I didn’t want it in the first place. Guilt that I actually need the thing but it is a piece of crap so not useful but I don’t have a decent one so I save it until it can be replaced but then it never gets replaced. Sentimental reasons. Ooh. That’s the one. There. That’s the one that gets me. The feeling like the object holds the memory for me. I fear I will forget if I don’t have the object. Which is only slightly ridiculous because I come across things now and again and it brings back all the stories. It works!!! T-shirts from high school. Programs from shows I saw as a child. Figurines that belonged to my Grandma. A wool shirt my dad wore in high school. In high school. In the 60’s. Officially vintage and only 45 or so years away from being an antique. So touching right? Then again…I also have my kids first haircuts. I oddly also am storing my brother’s first lock of hair that was cut off. And I have teeth. I have my kids’ teeth. What I’m saying is I have hair and human teeth in random places in my house. So basically I’m a sociopath.
Here is Junk Drawer #1. 1 of 2. I spy a hotel key card that never got returned. By the way…great hotel in Midtown Manhattan. A backup to the backups pair of glasses-because a prescription from 15 years ago is so handy. A tooth box with a few visible teeth. A Dora the Explorer PC game for a computer that is no longer used. A junior ranger patch from Yellowstone National Park. A restaurant gift card to a restaurant that went under financially. A peppermint Chapstick that burned his lips when my child tried it. A $5 bill. Canadian. Pokemon cards. Staples. Erasers. A tear off tab to a life insurance policy my grandmother bought in the 70’s. Jewelry. A bronzer. I’ve never used bronzer. See? See how fun it is. Every day is a scavenger hunt. The problem is everyday is a scavenger hunt.
Oh…remember Blockbuster? They were militant about you having your card when you rented movies. Until they started closing their doors…5 years ago.
The problem is I have always been like this. I saved rocks. Cards. Tiny mementos from vending machines. Gifts from friends. Costume jewelry. Movie stubs. Notes from 6th grade. Notes from 11th grade. All the flyers I had tacked up on my wall freshman year of college. Shells from beach walks from vacations in the 80’s kept in a green and black canvas Snoopy tote. Do I still have them? I’m so glad you asked.
Once I took a writing class and the assignment was to write about what was in the garage. One woman wrote about a picture that hung above her bed for years. It turns out it was a Van Gogh sketch that was pilfered during WWII and brought across enemy lines. And years later, she found it in a box in her garage. This really made an impression on me. WHO has an actual Van Gogh IN THE GARAGE!!! I don’t. I do however have sporting goods of every ilk for sports that nobody in this house participates in any longer. So…
So I am on a mission. Fall cleaning. I already went through the garage. And now onto the interior. I’m finally fed up with living in a thrift store. 30 bags in 30 days. Join me if you like. Or don’t. I’m too disorganized to start a national movement. I’m starting with easy broad categories because I am a professional. Clothes that I haven’t worn in FIVE years. Objects with no FUNCTION. Toys that are BROKEN-(also known as garbage). Shit that belongs to other people.
I know I will never be organized. I’m an abstract random. I likely have ADD. And I clutch things for good and bad reasons. I’ll never have an alphabetized spice rack. I have a friend with an actual alphabetized spice rack. I just found that out and I still like her because she has a lot of other good qualities. I’ll never have dozens of open spots on the bookshelf, or the basement shelf or any shelf. And I’m really looking forward to finding and then selling the 3 Picasso pieces that have somehow slipped my mind. And I likely will leave my family members with the burden of unnecessary crap. I give full permission and my blessing to have a massive bonfire after I’m dead.
It was a busy week in our house. The girl got her braces off and the dog got neutered. So I guess the theme of the week is “Let Us Let Go Of What No Longer Serves Us”. Who is excited!!!???