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August 23, 2006

Clutterella and the four furballs of the Apocalypse

Dear People Who Clean House A Lot,

Want to come over? And clean house in a new, exciting place that has interesting, exotic wildlife and many nooks and crannies?

I have wine.

Your pal,

What happened to me? Me of the frantic married-life vacuuming and cleaning the toaster and dusting the ice cubes? OH HOW TIMES CHANGE. I blame my fallen housekeeper status on the long commute, and maybe also on Mr. X, because that is always convenient! And probably on politicians, too, so we have all the bases of blame fully covered.

Hey ya'll. My house is a mess.

Every day I blame this mess on the aforementioned issues but really it might also kind of have to do with the fact that I live in a teetiny place with a whole lot of stuff and cats who don't lift a damn finger to help me out.

Also! Did I ever mention that I totally missed my calling as a peeping tom? If only 'peeping tom' didn't have such a negative connotation, what with the sexual perversity and sneakiness and bad raincoat and dirty old men and so on, because really I do love looking inside people's lives. I like to see their houses and what's on their kitchen tables, and how they managed to make their TV set look always somehow better than mine does in my own living room. I often stare at my TV set and wonder why it never seems to look right in the room, no matter where I put it.

Mostly I am speaking of a decorator peeping tom here. Like, more of a peeping Christopher Lowell.

Luckily, there is this new thing called the internets where people will freely post pictures of their whole house! I discovered this on flickr, where I spent way too much time last night looking inside people's living rooms and feeling like I really, really need to move or perhaps not spend time online looking at pictures when I should be cleaning and de-cluttering my house.

One day in the bookstore I was poking through the selection of knitting books when I found this:


It was misplaced, obviously, but because I am Crazy and believe in things like Signs (and Gnomes), I took this book to be a Sign and walked right up to the register, purchased it and went home.

(Ha ha! Don't you think it's rather odd to purchase a thing so you can learn how to get rid of your stuff? Boy, some people will buy ANYTHING. SUCKERS!)

This book, Scaling Down by by Judi Culbertson and Marj Decker, is subtitled "Living Large in a Smaller Space." Hey, that describes me to a tee! I live in a small house, and I have a large backyard, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

A few months after I moved into Chez Clutterbug, I began the long and arduous process of scaling down. Well, it was a necessity, really, since you couldn't move in the office what with boxes stacked floor-to-ceiling and I couldn't find anything, and I sort of feared that an earthquake would come and bury me, four cats and eleventy hundred pairs of shoes in a tomb of marital accumulations. (You can read about some of those adventures in paring down here, here and here.)

In the 19 months since I have lived in this little house, I have managed to pare down my stuff by almost half. Half! And I don't miss any of it, to be honest. The paring down kind of stopped after my last big yard sale last year, but I wasn't really done... I was just at a place where I could stand still for a while without junk nibbling at my ankles.

Then Drew came to visit last week. It was maybe the first time I had really looked closely at my house in months, and I am insanely busy with work and have no time to clean house and I stressed myself out about the level of ick and dust and all of it, and that is when I made the decision once and for all to get rid of ONE HALF of all my stuff.

Except yarn and cats of course.

It's not that I will actually accomplish this (I may have made the proclamation to clear my life by half while drinking. I am now fully cogent and assure you, it's not realistic) but it's a great goal. I need goals! Goals keep you moving ever forward, zenward, clutterlessward!

So, last night in a fit of anticlutter brought on by my internet peeping tomism, I cleaned out my bookcases and actually eliminated half of the books (Do I still need my Norton's Anthology of Literature from freshman year in college? No. I do not. Ditto "Let's Go Spain: 1996" and "Hotels in Prague, 2001") and afterwards I felt free and light as a feather.

I am going to keep doing this and paring away, scaling down, until I reach a place where it is no longer hard to clean my house and where I can move to another house or city without requiring assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers.

And if you want to come over and clean, hey -- I wouldn't turn you away. Cabernet with your clutter? Check! Pinot grigio with your swiffer mop? check check!

Exotic wildlife? check, check, check, check. Meh.

Posted by laurie at August 23, 2006 8:42 AM