Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pack rat

I was visiting a friend recently and I was amazed by a couple of things. They have been remodeling their house. I mean they have been doing the actual work - designing, putting up walls, building shelves, cabinets, cutting wood, painting, hanging wallpaper. I can't even pick out wallpaper or paint, let alone do all that hard labor. I was amazed at their house. It was truly beautiful - and they have built it. They must really be proud. I wouldn't be able to stand myself if I did that. I'd have to point out every little thing I'd done. "See this wall - I painted it. Yep. The WHOLE wall, trim work, too." They didn't do that. They were rather humble as I oohed and aahed about everything.

The other thing that amazed me about the visit - they didn't have anything out of place. Nothing. Now I don't know if this was because they were expecting company or if this is the norm at their house. I asked my friend in an email after I came home, but she hasn't answered. Do you think that was too personal a question? We're pretty good friends. I wouldn't be offended if she asked me that. Of course, I don't foresee her ever asking me such a question. I've never been accused of being too neat or being obsessed with cleanliness, but there was a time when my house was neater than it is now. I'm not sure exactly when I lost control of it but I did. It's not dirty - the floors are vacuumed and mopped, and the tables, mantel, etc. are dusted on a fairly regular basis. I won't vouch for all the Santas though. Maybe that's when I started losing the battle - when I started collecting, and leaving out my Santas. When it was just a few it was easy to keep them dusted. When the collection grew, I tried the feather duster trick, but really, all I was doing was moving the dust around, maybe picking up some, banging it off on my leg to lie on the floor until I vacuumed. Now I have a vacuum cleaner that I can vary the amount of suction - cool! I'm supposed to be able to vacuum my knick-knacks safely. Right. Good thing I tried it on something too large to be sucked into the nozzle.

I've decided that I want to take back my house. I've been working on trying to get organized again. A few months ago, I organized my studio. I bought a bunch of those clear containers of various sizes. Some had drawers - those are cool. I organized my art supplies and put everything away. It looks pretty good in there. Except my work table still has only about 6 inches of work space. No matter what I do, no matter how much stuff I put away, there is room for a 6 inch square cork board that I quill on. And I'm constantly pushing stuff out of the way.

Last week I cleaned off the kitchen island and it's already covered again. All mail - catalogs! Catalogs from everywhere. I used to love them - before I got a million every week. I don't remember always getting so many duplicate catalogs. They send 2, 3, 4 of the same catalog with a different cover. Do they think I won't notice? I wish these companies would save the money they spend on catalogs (and the trees) and reduce their prices. Send me a little flyer now and then. Better yet, an email, because I do most of my shopping online now, not through a catalog. It's rare for me to actually look through a catalog anymore. I flip and toss now. But only when the stack is too high to see over.

If you go into any other room you take your life into your hands. Our bedroom is strictly off-limits to company. It's been the repository of everything I needed to hide when somebody was coming over. There are stacks of magazines that "I might need something from." There are items that I meant to put away but didn't know where to put them so I put them in the bedroom until I could figure out a better place. There are at least 3 bags of ephemera for future art projects (this is not counting all the ephemera in my studio!). There are bags/baskets/cups of receipts, letters, extra buttons, pins, pens... Clothes are stacked in a pile at the foot of my bed to be given away, because I'm going to do it tomorrow. And books - books I've read, books I want to read, books I want someone else to read...

Now that I've divulged just how bad my room really is and why the door is always closed, I need to fix it. I 've started - I spent yesterday making room in my closet. I moved summer clothes upstairs. I added clothes to that pile on the floor at the end of my bed - it keeps falling over into Tucker's bed now (maybe I really should give them away tomorrow). But what about all of this other stuff? I really NEED all of it, or I might, someday. See, THAT is the root of my problem - I am a pack rat, a collector of stuff, of everything. I can't seem to throw anything away because I am so afraid that as soon as it leaves my hand I'm going to realize that I needed it. I know WHY I'm this way. It's why everyone is the way they are - parents. Yep, my parents made me this way. This one is my dad's fault. He was in the Air Force and we moved all the time. Every time we moved, we had to clean house and I had to GET RID OF EVERYTHING! or almost everything. And if we didn't get rid of it, it got "lost in the move." hmmm

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