Monday, June 8, 2009

The queen of clutter unmasked

I just noticed how far behind I am on blogging. Apparently my blog resolutions are no better kept than my new year's resolutions. However, I do have a good excuse...another one. I'm decluttering. Sort of.

As some of you know, I inherited my house in Virginia when my dad died. It had been in the family since I was four. I'm pretty sure nothing had been thrown out in all that time.

After my dad died in 1998, I got started on the accumulation of stuff. Room by room, I made great progress. I've renovated and painted, tossed everything in sight that didn't have a purpose. The problem has been that way too many things might have a purpose...some day.

At any rate, I really was getting ahead of the chaos...until I closed my bookstore. Then every bit of leftover inventory that I hadn't given away or sold moved in with me. Boxes were everywhere. And then, crazy me, I got involved in creating the town's Market Days and kept ordering T-shirts to sell at those events. More and more boxes arrived. You have no idea what my living room looked like. Picture a dry goods store and you'll get a sense of it.

Now I'm gearing up to have one of the "big" birthday parties in July. I've invited friends from all over. Many are coming. Though I sensibly moved the actual event to a restaurant on the river, there's no getting around the fact that some of these people will actually expect to be able to walk through my house without tripping over things. So, I'm in a frenzy to declutter.

Unfortunately, I'm approaching this with very little organization. I pick a spot, grab some stuff and sort and toss. I'm pretty ruthless, in fact. However, I also have to look at every item, think about it, read the old letters, read the old college newspapers. This is not a process that is clipping along.

So, if any of you have tips for reducing clutter in an organized, sensible fashion, please pass it along. Quickly. In the meantime, picture me lost in the great black hole that is my home.

Sherryl

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy, uncluttered new year!

My name is Sherryl and I'm addicted to clutter! There, I've admitted it, in public, for anyone out there to see. I don't want to have piles of stuff sitting on most available surfaces in my house, but on the days when I really take a good long look around me, what I see is clutter.

Keep in mind, I come by this addiction naturally. My dad kept just about everything, in piles, on every available surface. It's taken me most of the ten years since his death to work my way through even some of those piles. I used to refer to his room as "the great black hole." I swear, things went in there never to be seen again. Sadly, though I joked about that with him, I've discovered some of his traits are in my DNA. I occasionally walk into my room in Virginia, look around and moan, "Oh, sweet heaven, I am exactly like my father."


So today, on January 1, 2009, I am decluttering. Really. Not that many hours into the new year, I have worked my way through one pile of papers. I've paid bills, written notes, tossed papers I will never need. I've shredded stuff, put away Christmas decorations, cleaned out the refrigerator -- that's a whole other issue -- and taken a drawer from a bathroom cabinet to my car to be tossed into a dumpster. That makes two drawers now in the trunk of a car. I hope I remember, so it doesn't become yet another refuge for my clutter. I have two more drawers to toss, but first I have to get rid of the accumulated cosmetics, most of which are old enough to pose a danger to anyone daring to use them. I currently have these junk drawers in the middle of the floor, because over the summer I had both of my bathrooms renovated and this is where the contractor left the old stuff. It is also where I left it when I arrived in Florida and immediately went into a deadline frenzy...and then straight into another one.

Today, however, I have a break and a renewed determination to start the new year by tossing things. Hauling bags to the trash room fills me with a sense of accomplishment. Hopefully this enthusiasm will last long enough to make a real dent in the clutter, but I have my doubts. After all, come Monday, I am going back on deadline to finish the next book and turn it in. I'll be listening to the whispers of characters, not the shouts of my conscience. And, as we all know too well, clutter multiplies when we're not looking. Surfaces disappear. Papers vanish into piles. And the process starts all over again.

Happy new year! Whatever your resolutions, whatever your best intentions, I hope they last. But if they don't, console yourself that you're just like the rest of us.

Sherryl Woods

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