12 February 2010

Stuff 'n Junk

Last weekend I took a trip down to Atlanta to visit with some friends and enjoy the Superbowl and my friend T’s cooking. And while there I helped clean out the house. T’s house is similar to the homestead here at Smitty’s Farm, though we have essentially an extra room here. But both houses needed a lot of work and updating when purchased and both have come a long way since initial purchase.

T’s house also has too much stuff in it, much like ours. We spent a good part of the weekend cleaning out, organizing, and in some cases getting rid of that stuff-—so much stuff that at times it was tough to get through the house. Yet by the time of the Superbowl—-in fact several hours before-—the house was clean, tidy, and ready for a big group of guests. Nice to watch that transformation, and proof that it can be done with a reasonable work crew (four or five people are a lot more effective than one).

But it really got me to thinking. We put a lot of stuff in the crawlspace under the house. In our house, such things go in the attic (our crawlspace is low and filthy and not appropriate for storage; T’s attic is nigh inaccessible). And we have designated March as “Attic and Garage Month.”

We designated several months this year for specific projects. Officially January was yard and garden month, although that has bled over into this month and will continue for a few more weeks yet; this was supposed to be Paint and Trim month, but we’ve set that back until April or May. But March is now the month I’m really looking forward to.

I hauled a lot of stuff into a crawlspace over the weekend, much of it stuff I would have kept three or four years ago but now would sell, freecycle, donate, or throw away. I feel more mature because of that (or at any rate I feel like I've changed), and yet, I know what the attic looks like (I know, in other words, why we designated an Attic and Garage month). And now I’m really looking forward to March. I organized the Christmas stuff when we put it up this year, and the Christmas section of the attic is tidy and free of unwanted junk (except for a few ornaments we mean to be rid of). I can’t wait for the rest of the attic to be a) organized and b) free of unwanted junk. I go up there frequently enough, and I know there’s stuff up there that we put there when we moved in 18 months ago and have not seen or used since—art that’s not on the walls (though we have almost no art on the walls yet), clothes we haven’t worn (old uniforms in particular), a kayak paddle (I sold my kayak two years ago), cabinet doors that don’t fit our cabinets, two boxes of assorted crap I retrieved from my old desk before we sold it and which I haven’t look at since the move or before… the list goes on.

Until very recently I was the sort of person who kept almost everything. I don’t need it now, but I might need it later (when I can’t say, or for what purpose, but I might!). I can’t throw that away, it was given to me seventeen years ago by someone, I don’t recall who, and they probably don’t even remember it, but it was a gift! I don’t fit into those clothes now, but I might someday (or in my case, that shirt is looking ragged and worn but I’ve had it for sixteen years and I can’t bear to part with it!). Or, the most common reason of all, I haven’t gotten rid of that because I don’t want to throw it out and I’m too lazy to take it to Goodwill or put it on craigslist.

I still have that gene in my makeup but I’m getting much better about hanging on to stuff. Smittywife comes from a family with the same gene, so we have an uphill battle. We both tend to set stuff down on any handy flat surface and forget about it, so tables and desks are always cluttered, but we don’t have stuff in piles in the corners for the most part (okay, well, in a couple of places, but nothing like we had in Tampa) and we don’t have an entire 10x10 storage unit full to the ceiling of stuff we plan to use at some point but can’t even see (we did that in Tampa, too).

And now I feel particularly empowered to clean out the attic. We can reduce what’s up there by half at least, maybe two-thirds or more (there is Christmas stuff to consider), and although it won’t really reduce our crap level down here in the house, it will mean that the attic is clean, organized, and relatively empty, so it will provide us with a more appropriate storage area for things like seldom-used linens (extra sheets for the convertible sofa don’t need to be in my dresser, for example), fabric awaiting a sewing project (Smittywife has lots of fabric that we don’t quite know how or where to organize) and seasonal items. So cleaning out the attic will help us clean up the house. The project I’ve been dreading for a year and a half no longer looks so dreadful. How nice.

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