Saturday, August 28, 2004

pieces of string

I have two books on reducing clutter.


I'm not sure if I need to describe the irony of that, but let's just say that I could seriously use some help implementing the ideas of either of them.

It's not that I'm a packrat. Well, ok, I'm a packrat. But I *have* had some experience in getting rid of things, and it's not emotional attachment that keeps me from throwing things out. It's really just inertia. Not even *my* inertia. I have a lot of crap. It's pretty inert.

I have had two garage sales in the last year. I have donated $1000s of dollars of furniture, old clothing, jewelry, books, videos, linens, and kitchenware. When the books on clutter didn't work, I bought books on Feng Shui, thinking that the simplicity of asian spaces in general was what I was aiming for. You know, a single bamboo plant in the middle of the table, a display dish with some rocks in it, a candle...

After 6 weeks of decluttering (all part of the Feng Shui way) I got one table in my house to look like that, and, not surprisingly, several months later, next to the bowl of rocks is a box of old photos, a half dozen candles that migrated from the top of the air conditioner because they made vibraty noises when it was on, three rolls of film, and a stack of blank videos that I use to tape Monk for a friend of mine who doesn't have cable.

I have paper coming out of my... ears. My ears, my nose, my desk drawers, cigar boxes, wicker baskets, falling off tables, stacked on the TV, slotted next to the toaster oven, and on the floor under the mail slot. I have things... just things... like hand weights, and power tools, and electrical wiring, and scissors (I have like 8 pairs of scissors lying around my house... I don't know why....) with no place to put them.

I want to get rid of it ALL. (Well, maybe I could keep one or two pairs of scissors. One for paper, one for cloth... You know...)

I have lots of photos, and I like photos, so I'm going to keep them regardless, but I have ceramic ducks, and shaped candles, and bowls of pot pourri that have accumulated seven years of dust because I could care less about pot pourri, but I like the bowls and I have no idea what else I could put in them. Well, rocks, I suppose. I have a basket of remote controls, most of which I don't use, or belong to equipment I no longer have. I have books, and books, and books, and books, and like my photos, I have no intention of getting rid of them, but I sure would like to have them stored in a sustainable way.

I have fantasies of my house burning down. I mean, not really, but it sure would be convenient because I DON'T KNOW HOW TO DO THIS BY MYSELF!!! I want to hire someone to declutter my house. I know these people exist. I'm willing to pay. I swear.

Someone, please, help me! I have magazines that I throw away, but, I don't know, it's like they come in the mail or something, and as soon as I throw them away, they come back. CATALOGS!! BILLS!! MAKE THEM GO AWAY!!!

Yes yes yes, I know, "only touch it once!" meaning, pick up a piece of paper and immediately do what needs to be done with it. Pay the bill, file the insurance thing, throw the catalog out. I try, honest I do. I'll make it for a week, but then I forget for a day, and another day, and then I've got piles again.

Ew, no, not like that.

Well, yeah, actually, they're a major pain in my...


cookbooks. boxes. business stuff. incense burners (incense burners?). dog treats. dog hair. It's all gotta go.

My only hope is that because my house is on the market, I will, one day, have to pack and move. My only fear is that when the day comes to pack, I will get so panicked that I will just throw the garbage in a box and transport the junk from one habitat to another, and when I unpack, I will, like a gerbil, tear it into bits, fluff it up, scatter it throughout my cage, and call it my nest.

I really need to feel like I'm not doomed. Like I'm not going to end up an old maid in a house with old newspapers stacked like walls forming pathways from the front door to the back door. Where the candles have melted into place, and the pot pourri looks like it was raked in last October. Where coffee mugs have been hidden under the magazines for so many years that they're supporting their own microbiocultures.

A friend of mine once told me about his grandmother whose house, after she died, looked basically like what I've described above. Now, in spite of my statement to the contrary, I won't be that stressed out if, in my various junk drawers and hobby boxes, my heirs dig up two dozen pairs of scissors. Scissors, at least, in their various forms, are still useful. I just need someone to stop me before I get to the point that my friend's grandmother was at.

The point where, among my relics, I have a cigar box labelled, and I'm not making this up, "pieces of string too small to use."

Someone please help me before it's too late...

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