Posts Tagged ‘clutter’

Organizational Chart

28 July 2011


Dear J-

The going to work part is fine. It’s trying to fit everyone and everything in that’s the hard part. At one point I hadn’t checked my voice mail in maybe two months — I would pick up every call while I was seated at my desk, but not check messages, and the voicemail light was like a little eye of Sauron gleaming balefully at my guilty heart from its perch atop the phone. When I checked, finally last week, it turned out I had eighty-three messages to wade through and subsequently took the two or three hours to do so. Now on to the email, right? At least I as then motivated enough to clean up my desktop yesterday as a work-avoidance tool.

I tend to get things and put them aside, assuring myself as I do so that I’ll get to that later, or that it might be potentially useful in the future. I threw away (recycled) maybe twelve inches of that cruft yesterday. I admire people who can keep that organized and not want to tear their hair out but a lot of that was things I hadn’t seen in months and was never going to use again, or that had already been resolved. We clutter our lives similarly; there are lenses I haven’t been motivated enough to haul out and use in years but they sit in the closet gathering dust and fungus waiting for a potential triumphant return that’s not likely to happen.

I’ve written before about my hoarding tendencies and caught myself at it recently — I’ve purchased games for systems I don’t own — and even electronically — where I’ll pick up games on iTunes not because I wanted then but because they’re free, likewise albums and music I never have time to play. We clutter our lives and sometimes fool ourselves into thinking that we just need to be better organized (IKEA whould be properly appreciative of the extra business they get from the similarly guilt-stricken). Never mind that the clutter itself adds to worry — it’s one more thing that preys on the edges of your mind — and getting rid of it lifts the burden beyond what you used to believe.



Life Uncluttered

4 November 2010

Dear J-

At this point we have two weekends left before figgy loses her only-child status exactly two weeks from today* and I’m more or less done with the cleanup: there’s a few more boxes to sort out but on the whole I’ve gotten through/over all the items my parents had me inherit — these are things that were in my room at the time I graduated and expected them to keep, like some sort of time-capsule shrine/testament to my sheer awesomeness. For the most part it’s full of (as I suspected) shiny bits of metal that I collected like a magpie from parking lots and sidewalks, but there’s the unexpected (my mom was into a huge rabbit-collecting theme for me, as that’s my birth year; there are tons of knick-knack paperweights and trinkets associated with rabbits) and gruesome (the hair that I grew long in college I’d shaved off one night in a pique and fifteen years later, there it was wrapped up in a paper towel in the main box of junk).

To be honest I’m sure that I wouldn’t miss any of it if it disappeared tomorrow; theVet despairs that I’m keeping all of it, but that’s not the case at all — it’s sat in boxes for years now, buried at the bottom of the junk closet unused, unexplored, and generally un-missed, but each item resonates inside. There’s a generic hierarchy I’ve followed — all letters and photos are kept, then personalized items, and everything else has found its way into a junk pile or stuff to be passed on to figgy as part of the joy of new toys.

There’s some pangs to watching the treasures of my youth being passed on to the next generation, but not much, as I’ve seen how she treats her toys. Yes, there is the occasional carelessness and there’s no doubt stuff hiding under furniture, at the bottom of toy boxes, and lost on another one of these expeditions we seem to take, but for the most part she’s got places to stash everything, and she knows and remembers them. We are constantly surprised by her sharp eyes; in poring through a catalog of toys she’s taken jealous posession of, she ran across an MP3 player and headphones; upon hearing that it was, as we generically call it, an iPod, she immediately exclaimed that “I have one of those in my room. I put it on and clean the cat stuff.” That’s exactly what I’ve been doing these past evenings, shutting myself away to do battle with the demons of cat pee and then shuffling over and organizing old photos. I therefore have confidence for our country’s future, thanks to our benevolent dictator.


* If you recall, figgy was sitting breech, so she was delivered via C-section; the OB has been gently steering us towards that option again, which has the advantage of schedule precision, but recovery is a much longer process.

Clean Mind

8 October 2010

Dear J-

Cleanp of the room is going well*: I’ve just got a few things to sort out (should these things go to the dump or the thrift store) and I suppse that if I had the inclination or time, I’d find a buying audience on eBay for even the most obscure treasures I’ve unearthed (Panasonic CF-25 Toughbook? TRS-80 Model 100? TDA1540-based CD player?), but I’m beginning to suspect that without the elaborate justifications I’ve built in my head, there’s really no utility. theVet called an electronics recycling center, who said that if it’s older than five years, they usually can’t find an audience for it.

I will say this: I’m surprised by how durable some of the items have proven: forty-year-old receivers and twenty-year-old CD players are all making music for us even as I struggle with ideas to bring us into a wireless hub-centric model**. It would be nice if I or the house held up as well; still to-do after the room cleanup is repainting the room (though theVet isn’t planning on it, I’d like to do so), changing out the flooring, and maybe, if I play my cards right, a tubular skylight (this depends on whether or not I can get someone experienced in there). Furniture is going to cost some more as well; figgy seems rather attached to the stuff she has, and since drop-side cribs were declared the devil, we’ll need one of those too.

It’s all just money, and it’s worth more to spend it on people you like rather than waste it on junk you aren’t going to touch for years on end. I look at some of the things in that room and remember how happy I was buying it — well if it made me that glad, why didn’t I use it? Pride of ownership is overrated; I’m getting me some pride of divestiture instead.


* You know what would make it go better? If I didn’t keep finding reminders of the past: there are boxes upon boxes of photos, like everyone else has, that really need to be scanned and archived instead of taking up space all throughout the room; I could spend days going through those alone, to be honest.

* Okay, so here’s the plan: since I’ve ripped all my music to MP3s anyway, why bother with discs when I could serve that information to clients around the house? Problem is finding the appropriate client (although used gen 1 Apple TVs are almost dirt-cheap, though not by much versus a new gen 2) and a sufficiently robust server, as the iMac we’ve been using for the past five years is getting pretty glitchy. The real win would be in serving video (or, with an gen 1 Apple TV, getting one with sufficient local storage): no more worries about scratched discs.

Interruption Station

29 October 2008

Dear J-

Spend enough time with us and you’ll see just how little I seem to live at home; up at four and out the door — the main thrills seem to come when the routine is disrupted for some new place, something new.  It may explain the inveterate poking about for new things (junk) to bring into the house, the bookshelves groaning under the weight of thrift store bargains, and the multiple drawers of Atari cartridges sitting somewhere in the shed (not too worried — those things are indestructible, after all).

Problem is that we’ve got too much stuff — make that I’VE got too much stuff — more than I’m ever going to have time to play with successfully.  Half-finished projects litter the spare bedroom (it looks like a stereo repair shop), just as half-completed work is piled all over my desk.  I dunno.  Eventually.  Someday.

It’s not necessarily procrastination; I have no problem starting something.  It’s in the follow-through — I still have yet to put together that movie from figgy’s first birthday, despite having captured more footage since then.  I fear my attention span has been shortened by lack of diligence, to the point where I can’t even accomplish tasks requiring more than a half hour of concentration at work (to be fair, it’s hard to get an uninterrupted half hour at work, though).