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One of my New Year’s resolutions was to change my cluttering ways. This is akin to vows to stop smoking or drinking. Fortunately, I don’t do either, so I don’t have to go down those hard roads. My cluttering, however, is a habit of epic proportions and just as hard to drop.
For a few days after I moved I could actually see and enjoy, bare tabletops and an incredibly orderly desk. The family had taken a firm hand and made an incredible change.
The action involved filling many large plastic garbage bags with items ranging from pots and pans to paper. I was consulted, “Do you use this? Do you need this? Why do you have so many items dated before Columbus came?”
My answers were; “No, I don’t”, and “I don’t have any idea.”
I was happy to get rid of so many old Teflon coated pans, having just read an article on how dangerous a carcinogen each was. I was very happy that my dear, old fish chowder pan is stainless steel.
Crammed full shelves in a bathroom were stripped, and about time, too. For someone who doesn’t take pills of any sort, I certainly managed to fill the cupboard with medically related stuff. I could bandage a regiment with all the material left behind by various visiting nurses. I have enough gauze sponges to supply a New York City emergency room. There were lots of bottles of peroxide, alcohol, and other antiseptics, not to mention various tubes of soothing rubs. Right now I have about six items on bathroom shelves and these include paper cup dispenser and refill box.
My collection of baskets is still around but they have all been cleaned out. They once held a lot of odd items, like parts of old, broken, and no longer in existence lamps. There were parts and pieces of things no one could identify. I’ve always had a dread of dispensing with something I might need later, even if I have no idea what the object is.
Surprisingly, the coat closet was down to absolutely necessity because my daughter-in-law had cleaned that out some time ago. Now I need to follow the lead of a man I knew years ago. He was the husband of a friend. They were both neat and tidy and minimalists. He had a firm and fast rule – if something hadn’t been used or worn in a year, it would be removed. Clothing and everything else, if in good repair but unused, would be dispensed to the Goodwill or Salvation Army. There was never anything broken around the house, because, if it couldn’t be fixed, it would be thrown out immediately, and I mean out, not put in the garage or the back of a closet. Every one of us, who knew them, was inspired, but somehow few of us ever managed to emulate them.
I managed to keep things relatively clear for a couple of weeks. The family doesn’t hesitate to point out my lapses, and it helps when they do. My daughter has a picking point, my kitchen counters. I have twice as much room as I did before but she still couldn’t find a place to put grocery bags she was carrying in from the car. My son spent last Sunday with me and he cleared the dining room table of magazines and papers I had allowed to pile up on the top of it.
This week I have worked on my new resolve. I filled two garbage bags with things I am not going to keep. Today, I worked again on my desk, which still looks a mess. If I could just find the perfect place for everything and always put it all back where I found it, things might improve.
In the meantime, I’m also sticking to my resolution to try to contact old friends. Yesterday, I called London but no one answered the phone. I’ll try again. Today, I sent people copies of articles and columns I promised them a couple of years ago. Later tonight, I’ll write thank you notes for Christmas gifts and other kindnesses.
I don’t feel virtuous. I’m just tired. Thank goodness I didn’t resolve to go on a diet. It’s four hours past lunch, which I didn’t eat, and I’m hungry.
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