Maybe We Should Cancel Christmas This Year

Man, there is nothing like an impending move to really make you take a good hard look at your house. And your six million tons of STUFF.

Okay, maybe that's just MY house.

After my foot surgery, I watched a TON of HGTV and I always loved this show called Mission Organization --have you see it? Here's a typical episode synopsis:

Clutter to Cozy

Meet Jane Harris, an office manager, and Richard Zackon, a small business consultant. They relocated to their small city apartment four-and-a-half years ago, yet they still have moving boxes sitting out. In fact, their home is so messy that they are too embarrassed to have friends visit. Desperate to transform their clutter-filled home into a cozy and romantic resting spot, this couple turns to expert organizer Lynda Foxman for help.

That's really typical of the shows I saw. There would always be these people --these poor pathetic, compulsive accumulators -- who would hire a professional organizer to come in and help with their huge amounts of clutter.

I was fascinated that people could let whole rooms --whole FLOORS of their houses --become so out of control. It's kind of like a car wreck --hard to look away. And some of those people clearly needed professional help--and not just from an organizer, if you know what I mean.


Maybe, just maybe, I shouldn't have been feeling so smug.

(This ALWAYS happens to me! I NEVER get to feel smug and holier than thou for longer than about five minutes. It's like some sort of Instant Karma Backlash at work or something. As soon as I start feeling all cocky and "look how I'm laughing at those poor pathetic losers" I get completely whupped upside the head (Texas phrase) by the reality that if THOSE people are pathetic losers, I'm a pathetic VARSITY loser. But I digress.)

This is my Craft Room:

Oh, and it gets even more shameful.

This is my craft room AFTER I've spent a good three hours going through stuff and organizing and throwing stuff out. I was way too ashamed to take a picture of the way it looked before I got in there.

In my defense, a lot some of the stuff everywhere isn't even mine. It's Ana's.

This is what Ana's room looks like, even after she's moved the overflow to my craft room.

You know, my mother is totally not sentimental about STUFF. She got rid of her wedding dress because she didn't want to move it overseas. She doesn't keep magazines or other random paper clutter. Her photos go in albums and she doesn't save things like postcards or other correspondence. She's a knitter who has NO STASH. (Have you ever heard of such a thing? Seriously, she buys wool as she goes for particular projects and once the project is finished, only then will she dispose of the leftover wool and go buy more for a new project.) You can open any drawer in her house and find it organized and sparse.

Basically, she's greatly superior to me in two ways--one, she has the discipline not to buy MORE of something just because she likes it. And she also has the discipline to throw stuff out when she's done with it.

Not only do I buy my girls little crap in totally excessive amounts (Hello, Iron Bead Things), but I also am not vicious enough to just start throwing stuff out. Because I look at the horrible clay turtle that Ana made when she was three and I think... 'well, maybe we should keep that.' Even though she's made equally horrible clay figurines each year SINCE the age of three. And I look at the entire huge box of notebooks that I've taken out of her room and that I should just donate to some notebook-less household and then I feel so guilty for the fact that we have everything in excess. I mean, whose fault is THAT? Whose fault is it really that our house has five bedrooms--and every single one of them is packed to the freaking gills with useless crap? We have so much stuff accumulated, we don't even know what we HAVE.

And if we DID know what all we had, I wouldn't know where to put it.

It's clear I'm going to need some professional help if we're ever going to declutter and move this house.

Um, Mom?


Lynda said…
Have you heard of If you go to her website she will give you all kinds of reasons and encouragement in your quest to declutter. Her system is amazing and really does work.

Ei said…
I think Lynda wins the prize for innocent remark that causes roll on the floor gasping for breath laughter.

So, yeah, heard of FlyLady? Snort!

And dude, I'm those people. I know why too, grew up poor, moved way too much, therefore emotional attachment to things and never being stationary long enough to feel like it is worth it to get too fancy about life in the new place (weird, but true). I'm battling it now full force.
Barb Matijevich said…
You know what's terrible? I just used to be better at this kind of stuff. I DID do the Fly Lady's system. I even wrote a column about it

I guess I need to go back to the website and start over. Basically, though? Too indulgent. It's like a common theme in my life these days as I seek to lose weight and de-clutter and build some resilience in my kids. I'm just over-indulgent. It's gross.
hokgardner said…
My neighbor hired a professional organizer for six sessions and loved her. She didn't just organize things, she sat and talked with her so that the organizer could figure out what kinds of systems would work. They set up stuff that my neighbor can maintain.

That's my big problem. I get things all neat and tidy and organized, and it lasts for about 6 months, and then it all falls apart, like my closet.

The girls' room I've just given up on. I figure that if they can see the floor, it's fine. I go in with a trash bag once a week and clear out the obvious garbage and leave the rest to them.
DK said…
I'm with ei, here. I, for one, had never been to, and,

If I didn't have a job, I could do her routines. If I didn't have MY job...well, my house wouldn't look like it does. But really though. I'm lucky some nights that I can actually make it to my bed. If I have fifteen extra minutes? Screw vacuuming, I'm spending them asleep, or connecting with friends, or getting some excercise, or just coming up for air. And why would I want to see myself in my sink? I have a mirror right in my hallway. And all it's going to tell me anyway is how long my roots have gotten.

And, her website needs a copy editor. Not that mine doesn't, but, I'm just saying.
MadMad said…
If it makes you feel any better... that's what my rooms look like, too.
Anonymous said…
I am just sitting in the living room with my husband watching a programme called compulsive hoarders. Sad stories about people who can't throw anything away. My dh says that's my problem and cites a 'few' bits of wood I brought up here from London when we moved 9 years ago (ok and other stuff) in the garage.

No I'm not as bad as some of these people and neither I suspect are you. They are just talking about one man who kept his body waste!!!

Like you Barb I find it hard to throw away the little things, the clay viking ship she worked so hard on (one end fell off) and all that art work. What to do with that?

Mind you the drawers full of notebooks and felt pens are getting sorted and reduced, before Christmas and when E's at school!