Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Other People's Stuff

I spent this morning with Organic Mama, helping her begin work on sorting through the enormity that is her study/office.

I had made the offer to help her with this several times before, but she was never quite ready to take me up on it. Last week, she’d finally worked up enough gumption to square her shoulders and plow in, and I’m happy to say that we made some significant headway in the process this afternoon.

Her office had deteriorated to the point where she simply didn't know where to begin and I, recognizing her plight because I've been there oh-so-many times myself, assured her that it's MUCH easier to tackle an enormous task with a trusted girlfriend by your side. Having an emotional distance from both the chaos and the actual items that comprise it, an outsider is far more able to look at things with a critical eye, and far less likely to keep things that will only kick around until the next purge / reorganize cycle. Trusting that outsider when she says “seriously, do you NEED this three year old copy of the LL Bean catalogue?!” makes it that much easier to let go of all the familiar crap that makes you crazy, but that you can’t seem to throw away. I know this because WeedWoman helped me purge my wardrobe a year or so ago, and I ended up with three bags full of donatable clothes. I haven’t missed a single item, and felt so much better when it was all over.

There is a certain attitude that one has to take when dealing with rooms or drawers or closets or any spaces, really, that have taken on a life of their own. I learned this from my beloved mom, who approaches seemingly Herculean tasks with a matter-of-factness that I admire. She's practically brutal in her attack once she sets her mind to it, and it's from her that I developed my ability to divide, process and conquer even the most overwhelming of closets:

Pull everything out.

Separate into: “need and use all the time,”
“need, but use only occasionally,”
“never need, but love for whatever reason (sentimental, ornamental, etc.),”
“never need and don’t particularly love,”
and “oh, Dear God, WHY do I still have THIS?!”

Put each category into its proper place - the first three groups get cleaned, reorganized and put away, items in the second two groups are either chucked or set aside to give away.

There are a few places where I need to do some serious purging and reorganization - my basement and my linen closet being the two most urgent. Mom was the last person to tackle my linen closet - she managed to reorder the entire frightening mess while baby sitting Punkin’ Pie many years ago - and I’m proud and a little stunned that it’s taken this long to get back to a point where I’m afraid to open the door anymore. It’s reached that point, though, and I’m just realizing that denial is no longer a viable strategy for dealing with it. Organic Mama has offered to reciprocate and come by to help me.

I'm totally taking her up on it.


Blogger meno said...

You are a good friend.

By the way, my basement really needs to be cleaned out. You available?

5:43 PM  
Blogger organic mama said...

A really good friend, indeed. Goshdarnit, I am so happy to be able to see the surace of my desk again!! And my books are in an actual (shh!) coherent order, AND easy to find!! I have so much less um CRAP! Seriously, a blessing on your head. Now! Onward and upward and let's have at it on your linen closet!! Pardon the overuse of exclamatives, please, I am feeling rather effusive at the moment. You did a good thing today.

8:58 PM  
Blogger The Grammar Snob said...

Oh, man. I could use some help in my closet. I am so going ot try your system. Then, maybe the closet under the stairs. *cue scary music*

9:08 PM  
Anonymous Diddums said...

I'm going to try that! I suspect the 'need and use all the time' pile will be frighteningly small compared to the other piles, with some of the items already crawling halfway towards the 'instant immolation' pile.

3:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home