This is a weekend of responsible adulthood. I woke up yesterday determined to tackle the guest room/office, among other piles of clutter. I've been picking away at it ineffectually off and on all year, but enough's enough here. After hours of back-breaking labor, the whole house is messier than it was before I started.
My dining room is filled with things I'm giving away or donating. I found some articles of clothing I'd forgotten I owned. And I'd been thinking how I need bigger bag for work, because my daily back-and-forth load is too much for my regular bag. Yeah. I already have a bag that is the right size. It had been sitting in the closet, forgotten.
I found knitting UFOs I'd forgotten, too, which is motivating me to sit down and knit again.
I have a lot of stuff. A whole lot. I'm a single woman in a 1400+ square foot condo with a garage, and I have single-handedly filled this place with stuff. I didn't buy all of it; some of the furniture and doo-dads were inherited from my parents, but still, there's a lot of stuff.
I don't have an excess of permanent items, like furniture. But in going through drawers and cabinets yesterday, I was chagrined to realize how often I've over-shopped, because I forgot I already had the thing. I have three large unopened bottles of Olay body wash, for example. I buy it in three packs at Costco when it's on special there, and I'd thought I was on my last bottle when I picked up more last week. Then I found another unopened bottle under the vanity. My body wash needs are covered well into 2016. Ditto shampoo, thanks to a sale a few weeks ago at Target. Now I just have to remember that I have all these extras on hand, and not buy more.
I've read books on minimalism (and ranted about a few) before. I'm not a minimalist, and I don't want to be. I love my stuff! A few months ago I listened to the audio version of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
I hated it. I hate that book so very, very much. I very rarely return an audiobook, but I returned that one. I'm happy for the author, that she turned her personal quirks (which sound very much like life-crippling OCD to me) into a profitable business, but that book annoyed the crap out of me.
Let's start with the premise that this actually is some "Japanese art." If that was the case, how did she build a business teaching her "method" in JAPAN? Wouldn't it be, oh, I don't know, "the way grandma did it?" But it isn't. It's the author's own bizarre and obsessive way of controlling her world, presented as a lifestyle. Her childhood stories of her obsession with things, and particularly her stories of secretly throwing away her family members' possessions because she felt they didn't really need them, totally creeped me out. Maybe it's because I listened to it as an audiobook, rather than reading it. That does make a difference. The eye can skim over the bad parts and skip to the value when reading a printed book. When listening, you're forced to really take in every word, and to me this was like reading Stephen King's take on the Fly Lady. Kathy Bates could play her in the movie version.
And as another critical reviewer put it, this was basically an online article stretched into a book. The droning repetition and number of times the word "tidy" was used: tidy tidying tidier tidied, tidytidytidytidyARRRGH! was enough to make me wish I'd had it in paperback, so I could throw it across the room with great force.
Here's her method:
Look at your possessions with a critical eye. Drag it all out of hiding and take a long, hard look at each item, evaluate its purpose. Get rid of the stuff that doesn't "bring you joy," and keep on doing this, forever. Make it a habit.
Strip away the OCD rituals (she empties her purse and carefully puts it away every evening, and there is only ONE correct way to fold clothing and socks, and that's her way) and it's every decluttering article ever printed in every women's magazine on earth. I salute her for making a highly successful business out of her personal "quirks" but I also think she has some major issues that quite possibly would benefit from medication. But the book got glowing reviews from major publications, while I write a lost little blog in the backwaters of the Internet, so my opinion is of course only my own.
Suffice to say, that book did not bring me joy, so I got it out of my life.
I did have an epiphany of sorts while cleaning out the office/guest room: Plastic tubs aren't the solution; they are part of the problem. When I moved back from Asheville four years ago this week, I hauled with me a number of large plastic totes of yarn, craft supplies, sewing supplies (I don't sew, but I had a dream) etc. I think I've opened those tubs less than a dozen times in the last four years. They are inconvenient. They are stacked in the back of the walk-in closet, and dragging them out just seems like a lot of work. So while I'm in cleaning binge mode, I'm going to drag out the contents of my yarn stash, take a long look, decide if it "brings me joy" (Am I really ever going to use it?) and purge the parts that aren't ever, ever gonna become anything. Admit that the purchase was a mistake and move on. And while I'm evaluating, I'm going to photograph my stash and put an inventory on Ravelry. I haven't been on the forums on Ravelry much this year, but I do use it as my first source for yarn ideas and pattern inspiration. It's past time to take advantage of the yarn inventory option. Then I'm going to rethink my storage options for what remains. I'm considering a cheap IKEA chest of drawers. I cannot be trusted with plastic tubs, and they have to go.
And on that note, it's time to slap some color on my hair and get back to it while it marinates. I'm on a roll here.