Friday, April 06, 2007

project throw'way

It's spring, people.

Birds are twittering, grass is sprouting and I'm itching to throw things away. I admit it's the first time in my life that I've actually felt the need to "spring clean," but you know me: When I take on a project, I go ALL OUT.

For the past week and a half, any moment I have not been working, cooking, eating or sleeping has been devoted to sorting my junk and to get rid of what I do not need. Or at least thinking about it. Because defining "need" takes some thought. I cannot describe how hard it has been for me, a classic packrat, to part with such sentimental treasures as my fourth grade catechism report card-- on which Mrs. Schmeider rated me Excellent at "Prepares Homework and Projects" and "Participates in Class," but only Very Good at "Shows Christian Values in Behavior" and "Shows Knowledge of Doctrine." She probably saw me doing my homework before class started every week. Sure it got done, but I guess that wasn't a very "Christian" way to go about it. Whatever. At least I wasn't copying.

However ridiculous, the report card is staying. But only because it fits in the one small box I am allowing myself for school memorabilia after I got rid of every last lame book report, math packet and science experiment lab note. Besides, it makes me chuckle.

After months of watching home organization shows, mainly Neat and Mission:Organization, I felt I had observed long enough.

I started with my parents because a) it's much easier to throw out other people's stuff and b) I inherited saving techniques from my father, Mr. Just In Case, who is gunning for some sort of keeping-stuff championship. Granted, junk he saves comes in handy once in awhile, but the useful-to-spacewaste ratio is severely skewed toward the latter.

For her birthday, I reorganized my mother's closet. She is extremely easygoing and doesn't hold on to much, which is probably why she allowed my father to overtake 94% of their wall-to-wall closet with neckties from 1984 and brand-new packages of tube socks, along with every piece of clothing he has ever owned*. The poor woman was keeping her clothes downstairs in the guest room, where she had to trudge every cold winter morning. Dad wasn't excited about having to clear out half of the closet, but he held up his end of the bargain. I got a closet rod doubler, two sets of hanging shelves, some nice wooden hangers, and threw in a lot of time and effort. Unfortunately, I don’t think I solved any of the problem, as my father now keeps his overflow in the guest room closet, but my mother's, "So i don't have to go downstairs anymore?!" was well worth it.

In my quest to declutter my life, I basically emptied out my room, section by section, got rid of a good portion of what was there and put it back in such a way that everything has an easy-to-reach, designated spot. Here are some tricks I learned from months of show-watching:

1) See-through boxes. My junk starts to breed when I can't see it.

2) Labels. Guessing is damn annoying, especially when you have to move a bunch of crap just to find out you're wrong.

3) Bed risers. An extra six inches of space allows for more stuff, like empty luggage, making more room in the closet. Plus I feel like a queen sleeping so high.

4) Putting hangers on the rod backwards and flipping as I wear stuff. After about six months, I’ll really be able to see what can go.

5) Clip and file. I have about 200 magazines I’ve saved for God Knows What. I went through them, ripped out articles I might need again and filed by category in an expandable folder, which takes up 1/100 of the space.

6) Photos. I put all the old ones in photosafe boxes and one day when I have a lot of energy, I’ll get them into nonmagnetic albums. Maybe.

7) One in, one out rule. I gave myself a limit on fabric. Now that I've got it down to just the one big storage box, I can’t buy more until I use some. Even if it's on sale.

Sadly, I have accumulated so much junk over the years that this process will probably not be complete until partway through 2013. By which time I hope to be living elsewhere and accumulating a whole new housefull of crap.

But at least this exercise will make the move a little easier.

* I tried to be slick and get rid of seven (ONLY SEVEN!) of the bazillions of clothes my father moved to the guest room closet. Apparently, one of those raggedy items was "lucky." Let's just say the tearing through the house for it and the admonishment that ensued was not a terribly enjoyable experience.


Malnurtured Snay said...

Happy Giant Killer Bunny Rabbit Day!

Syar said...

I think I had an orgiastic experience just reading this. Where have you been all my life?

If people start complaining about your Spring Cleaning Mission, can you write about it anyway and email it to me? I feel cleaner and less cluttered just reading this stuff, and the nagging of my now cluttered-again room is somewhat muffled (by my piles of laundry).

And your suggestions are great! See through boxes. LABELS! Hello? Why didn't I think of this stuff?

cadiz12 said...

aw, syar, your comment just warms my heart. but you should be careful what you ask for, because the string of posts spring cleaning will have triggered doesn't have an end in sight.

i hadn't thought of that stuff either, but i guess that's why those shows are so popular. if you follow the links, they have a lot of good tips.

ML said...

Ok, you've hooked me on the fabric idea. I've been going WAY overboard with that. Other things, I'm ok getting rid of, especially clothing.

Your poor Mom! I'm glad she has space in the closet now.

Anonymous said...

This post goes directly into the Cadiz12 Hall of Fame. Its priceless.

This just happens to be my favorite rant as I live with someone like your father. I have been trying to become a Man of Ideas. That is, this being the 21st century, all my important things will fit onto a 1 GByte thumb drive. A few clothes, my laptop, and I can be complete anywhere. Stuff drags you down.

Think about it.

Jon said...

I, for one, love a clean room. However, I also hate cleaning. It's a constant and raging battle within.

justanothersarah said...

Great ideas! I definitely need to do the magazine thing and emply the hanger trick.


jinius said...

very cool idea about the backwards hanger thing. and i need more clear boxes. inspiring!