Thursday, July 26, 2007

cleaning house

Since I have come back from the Carolinas, I have spent a great many hours in what we sometimes call "the second bedroom."

One of the things most appealing about our house is that The Fiance and I have our own rooms. We share a bedroom, of course, but I've always loved the idea of having my own studio--to write in, to create in, to explore art in. (Of course, my romanticized idea of a studio involves our having a beautiful stone or weathered shingle house in the middle of nowhere, probably Maine or maybe Vermont or New Hampshire, with woods all around and an old guest house or shed/barn building would become my studio, not unlike the one in Pollock.)

The Fiance's room is a computer room, a music room. Sometimes dubbed "the nerdatorium," this is where he can go to grab a homebrewed beer from his mini-fridge (kept from dorm room days), sit and work on programming (though more often than not, he is working on his laptop in the living room), or plug his bass in and fiddle for a while. It's a tiny room, used before as a bedroom for a young child, but without a closet, it's officially a den. Only a narrow bed would fit in here anyway.

The second bedroom, the guest room, collides with a yarn tower (which came down yesterday--with much of the yarn being sent to Project Linus or Kelly's mom, who will crochet scarves for a holiday clothing drive--and the rest is stored in bins which will go in the attic) and my bookcases full of poetry. There's a futon and a desk with my laptop, the one I bought extraordinarily cheap, meant only for writing, and not for working (I have kept to that promise). This is the room in which I've been spending the past few days, going through the end table drawers, piling clothing in wobbling stacks (and stuffing a third of it into donation bags for the Epilepsy Society, which is coming round on Monday), cleaning out unpacked boxes.

I've felt the need to cleanse this house, to clean out the hefty amount of clutter, for quite some time now. I've long admired friends' houses--Kim's, Nikki's, Lane and Angie's--whose tables are clean of stacks, whose kitchen sink contains no residue of last night's dinner. I used to be better, but we kept moving into larger and larger places. It's easy to keep a studio tidy when there is just one room (and the bathroom) to keep clean, but now I have all these little hidey holes in which to stuff my long forgotten collections. How easy it is to forget the five shoeboxes full of old letters and postcards. (Now reduced to one, only the essentials, only the most memorable.)

I've asked advice of friends, too. Emily has been most helpful: the one year (or six months?) rule. Either way, it's able to clear out many things. What to do with nostalgia? Go through photographs and only keep what you really want to keep--throw the rest out. It was sad, but I went through Mike and Kylie's five or six rolls of film from their wedding and threw much of it out. Now divorced, I see no need to keep images of this day; instead, I've kept a few representatives, particularly those of The Fiance with Mike (who happens to be The Fiance's best man). Emily also suggested that instead of keeping all those notebooks full of notes from college, I scan them onto the computer, or simply type them and and save. Much easier to keep something on a small jump drive than in stacks of paper.

But even more than simply wanting my house to have a big better appearance, I want to learn to live in a house that does not consume so much--I want to donate and be rid of much of the excess, and I want to not replace it, not because I will be back in this awful cycle of sloppy living, but because I fear how terribly we're treating this planet. How much of that landfill belongs to me?


lizardek said...

Yay for purging and cleaning out closets! I love the rainbow of shirts.

The hardest thing, I think, is not to fill it all back up again.

Angie said...

Be sure to catalog what all you're donating or at least take pictures of it so you have a record for tax time. Those clothes add up fast for a nice deduction! Turbo Tax gives you different prices for items that are brand name vs. generic as well.

michelle said...


I am a massive pack-rat and know how hard it is to clean out and throw away/donate!

Makes me want to clean - but I'm at work. How is it that you always feel the need/want to clean or exercise when at work - then when you get home it just evaporates? Sigh...

Keep up the good work!

EWH said...

I'm glad I have offered advice that is helping you! If only I could follow it myself...

Okay, in one of the pictures, there is a black and white dress that is ADORABLE! Is it one of your new ones from NC?

nikki said...

Look at those fabulous new dresses hanging up! Those must be from the charming city of Charleston, SC. ;)

I see you color coordinated like me! Nice! (Makes me feel like less of a nerd.)

Elise said...

I have photos of that idyllic house in Vermont. Red brick, shuttered with a landscaped yard sitting on top of a mountain in the Green Mountain range. Did I mention a brooke runs near it as well?

KeLL said...

Holy Crap! Look how clean your closet is!