In which I address the pigsty that is my home.
Or I attempt to tackle #47 on the list.
I’ve alluded to my tendencies to hoard and have jokingly said that I suffer from what The Flylady calls CHAOS, Can’t Have Anybody Over Syndrome. And quite honestly I have looked in horror at the growing piles of stuff that seems to have taken over my house: books in untidy piles on the steps, piles of paper littering the floor in a half-assed attempt at getting organized, the remnants of quality crap bags, flyers, etc. Today something inside of me snapped as I realized that living in such a mess, or what Effin Guy refers to as first apartment chic, is not cool.
Last week my house suffered some damage by Hurricane Irene and I had to have a contractor come over to assess the damage. While I knew that dude would be coming, for a week, and despite having this week to prepare for his arrival piles of paper still sat on the floor, stacks of books littered my stairs and my bedroom (where the damage took place) looked like a closet vomited all of its contents onto every surface. I made a half hearted attempt to clean but I will admit that nothing got done as I was overwhelmed with the sheer amount of things that I had to deal with. Books, shoes, clothes…stuff. The piles that I make and shift and make again teetered precariously on every surface and my cat and kid navigate with practiced ease. When the roofer came over he was good-natured but I was a tad embarrassed that because to break it down I have too much sh*t that I clearly don’t appreciate therefore my house looked like the before on any given episode of Clean House.
Honestly, I was embarrassed but didn’t apologize excessively and it wasn’t until a bit later that I felt a bit more perturbed. I justified my messiness with a game of at least it. In, at least it wasn’t food which would cause bugs, at least it wasn’t animal stuff (because unless you see my Lily you don’t even know we own a cat) and consoling myself with it wasn’t really so bad but it is bad. I can’t have anybody over, I don’t have anybody over and I am sick of losing stuff and wasting time to look for it, being depressed when I come home because I know there is a mess waiting to be addressed and the hopeless cycle that I get into: feeling that I need to do everything, not being able to figure out where to start, knowing that I should start and just not doing anything.
Tonight I coughed up some money and paid my niece and her friend to help The Bee and me clear some clutter and it really, really hit me…this mess has got to go! Dust bunnies, dust dinos if you will, a wheezing and sneezing niece and kid and the embarrassment that comes with being a grown woman who cannot part with papers, who has two copies of the same book (picture books but all the same) and just wanting to be able to feel at home in my home made me say yes to giveaway items, yes to toss it and yes to a the notes found all over my house scrawled on the backs of things with ideas that I never got to, may never will and it’s going to be OK.
Getting rid of this clutter is like losing weight: it didn’t happen overnight and organizing will not happen by some miracle. It takes work and the messy person (me in this case) must be ready to do the work. I can’t abide the nastiness but I so get it when those people on Hoarders want to look at the papers people are throwing away. I get the hopeless feeling that they express when they are being badgered into getting their act together. I get the out of control feelings they have when they are told that they have to make a decision. It’s scary.
For me the key was just doing it, getting something done and the feeling of accomplishment. Piles of abandoned books got a new home with Pop and her friend who will actually read them sooner than I., Papers just tossed via The Bee who just grabbed a handful of them and said they’ve been here for a while, we obviously don’t need them. Realizing that yes, after a year of living somewhere if the box is still packed, chances are I may not need what;s in it (in this case surprise, surprise more books!) And the satisfaction of The Bee walking across the floor exclaiming, “It looks so NICE in here!” Of course this was after she stumbled across my work bags.
As I type I do feel panicked about what was tossed and have considered going through the bags, “just in case”. Deep breath….Baby steps.
Enjoying the cleared floor,