Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Stuff

I worked hard all day so I could come and play here for a while.

I looked in all Andrew's secret hideaways in his room for his journal. This is a small journal that I keep for him, about him, mostly, and have since he was about 2 years old. I have Austin's, but Andrew's has been lost for a while. His room is always neat, but only because he crams everything randomly into bins and chests so it is not visible. I found Asian statues (courtesy of my dad), old plastic Easter eggs, cub scout stuff, homework from probably a few years ago, shells and fossils, his fifth-grade school memory book, and lots of miscellaneous parts and pieces. Did I move or remove a single thing? Nope. That's why the kids' stuff stays the same over the years. Guess that will have to change one day, once they move out.

So I found lots of other interesting relics, but no journal. I just remembered another secret hideaway I forgot to check, if it's still in Andrew's room. It is supposed to be a red cushy footstool with storage under the pad. It's actually just another dumping ground, that used to stay hidden in his closet all the time. Maybe someone got rid of it? That's unlikely.

Now, if I were feeling really brave, I would check Austin's room too, but I'm not sure I am up to it today.

I guess I have a clutter problem. The problem is that I see clutter, and my reaction is to just feel overwhelmed and leave it all. You probably would not notice this problem, because the house looks relatively picked up in its visible areas. But don't open that one drawer under the microwave! (It's getting hard to shut again if you do.) Don't go looking in the walk-in closet! Don't, whatever you do, look under any beds in our house!

Oh, and stay out of the attic. Most of those boxes have been around since before Dwaine and I got married, and they somehow followed us from our starter home here, to find their new and permanent home in the attic. I have no idea what's in any of them.

At least I don't store anything in the oven, or refrigerator (besides food), or anything that a real clutter-disordered person would do. There's a name for that psychological disorder, but I don't know it.

My kids, unfortunately, seem to have inherited this tendency to live surrounded by hidden clutter. That, or they don't really care. I have a closet that is a sanctuary for all kinds of stuff. It draws it in and traps it, and it never, ever leaves. I have essays from college (high school?) that are stashed in that closet. I told Austin this recently, and he said, "Why?" I didn't realize I had anything to explain until he asked, and then I thought to myself, "Yeah -- why am I keeping this stuff, anyhow?" A few years back, I finally threw out shoeboxes full of notes and letters from friends and family. I don't think I stopped to read, because that is what usually happens when I get the urge to de-clutter.

Stopping to examine, review, reflect -- that is the kiss of death when you're trying to go through and get rid of stuff. You must be ruthless and cruel, and unthinking too, to dump things that might have sentimental value.  Everything potentially has sentimental value. That's the problem.

Ever since Dwaine's parents died, within about a year of each other, and we had to clear out their home, while his mom was living with us, I have been resolute that we need to get rid of stuff and not hang onto it. Hanging on to stuff creates problems for the next generation. It weighs them down. It defers the decision of what to do with it all. My kids should not ever have to go through my school essays and all my past diaries! Thank God for paperless blogs.

Dwaine's mom asked us about the unlikeliest things, after we had loaded up everything and stored it. She had an ancient wooden painted depiction of a boy and a burro that had been stored outdoors in one of their covered parking areas until it was falling apart, and she kept asking us about that boy and burro: Did you get it? Did you bring it? We always said, "Yes, Mom," which was a big, fat lie. In reality, we left it there to finish disintegrating, along with several other useless things. RIP.

She collected little lanterns, and we had many boxes of lanterns once we had packed them all. There were many other knick-knacks and china sets, not to mention thousands of arrowheads that Dwaine's parents had found along Falcon Lake. All the stuff from their mobile home was crammed into the two largest storage units that we could rent, and it took about a year to go through it all and disperse it. Lots of it is now stored at our house or Becky's, Dwaine's sister.

Is my life any richer for having stored and inherited some of this stuff? Nope, can't say that it is.

I am proud to say that I de-cluttered this posting by removing two irrelevant paragraphs at the beginning. My words are as garrulous as the items in my closets!

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