Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Gut-wrenching Pain of De-cluttering Bookcases

It's a dreary day, ideal, one might say, for de-cluttering.  But cloudy days bring out the opposite of productive energy in me.  However, here's a quick update on what happened over the weekend. 

Our basement had been totally torn apart because we got the walls insulated.  This meant that we had to move everything to the center.  If clutter causes stress, our basement would cause an anxiety attack in anyone who wasn't blind.  Just to do laundry we've had to navigate around piles of crap.  While we were all recovering from the stomach flu two weekends ago, my husband cleared up the area by the washer/dryer.  On Saturday, we turned on a movie for the kids and began moving everything back onto shelves, rehanging the peg board for the tools, and sorting through the stuff that we have but don't know what to do with so store down where we can't see it. 

The workmen who have been insulating our house were planning to return on Monday morning to put insulation on our windows.  We have a 100-year old house and our windows have a weight and pulley system that creates drafts.  They had some new device that covers the openings of the weight cavities.  So even though I didn't want to start the Big Bedroom De-clutter till Monday, I felt obligated to clean up sooner.  While my husband finished in the basement, I did a deep dust clean of the bedroom, vacuuming on the top of all the windows, all the baseboards, and in all the nooks and crannies of our weight machine.  From there, I did that in all the windows upstairs. Too bad dust is a completely useless resource. 

Since the bedroom looked pretty good, I decided to get back to it later and start on an easier project, my kids' room.  We have an entire wall of books.  I started sorting them out yesterday, because we are totally out of room.  I had my little boy with me.  He was busy trying to read all the books I took down and objecting to any of his books being given away.  We were rocking out to Six Little Ducks and a bunch of other kids' music.  Pretty quickly, he lost interest and started pretending that his bed was a train he was taking to Florida. 

Books I removed: Ethan Frome, Life of Pi, Biography of Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker's In Search Of Our Mother's Garden, which I've had since I was about 24 years old.  The Strange Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, Kitchen, by Banana Yoshimoto, The Three Musketeers, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, North and South, Mauprat, by George Sands (which I've had since I was a student in Brooklyn), and many, many more.  It was heartbreaking.  I bought tons of them when I lived in New York City in my early twenties, and I've carted them with me to various apartments, then to New Mexico, Minnesota, and Nebraska.  Now I've got a 1300 square home, more space than I've ever had in my entire life, and I'm getting rid of them?  It's painful.  I remembered exactly where I bought many of those books.  The stores and the street vendors.  And then, after I had this huge pile of books, I looked up and the bookcase was still completely overstuffed and full, with no real room. 

I got rid of a bunch of my kids' books.  Criteria?  If I don't like reading them, goodbye.  Then I opened their closet (which we never use.  I had to move two pieces of furniture to get to it, and inside were about sixty more books.  So I took a pile of them out, and put them on the shelf.  I'm going to try to read and throw out books that I don't like.  Also in that closet is a crib that we apparently can't give away because of recalls for side-dropping cribs.  We have a Visiting Nurse friend who gives a lot of our stuff to at-risk new mothers, but she can't take the crib because of the recall.  Ironically, she is the one who gave us the crib in the first place!  We used it for both of our kids.  Now we can't give it away.  I hated to think of it in the dump, so I just shut the closet door and moved all the furniture back.  I'll deal with the closet another day. 

I'll come back to the bookcase again, after my husband has sorted through all of his books and hopefully thrown a bunch out. 

De-cluttering is tiring because it's so emotional.  It was easy to just clean the bedroom this weekend.  It was draining to de-clutter the bookcase yesterday.  Since I've put the bedroom project on temporary hold, I decided to tackle the bathroom.  I'm going to go up there after nap-time today with a big garbage bag.  How hard can it be to toss out half used hair care products and expired tubes of cortisone?

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