Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Don’t stand still or Jude will pack you

There are two things I have learnt from Oprah. The first is that it feels good to declutter your life. The second is that I’m currently a shlumpadinka. The latter doesn’t bother me too much, given I’m spending most of my time with a three month old (happy three months for yesterday, Martha!). But I am amid a mad whirlwind of decluttering. As a friend said many years ago, when he was staying with us when we found out our lease wasn’t to be renewed and I immediately began a flurry of activity, “don’t stand still, or Jude will pack you.”

The first target, our bloated book collection, did actually start with an item on the list; to prepare some space for Ikea storage I’m coveting to complete item #33 organise all my craft stuff and my work space. This timing coincides nicely with me starting to re-collect classics on my ipad. We culled our books a few years ago but still have about five large bookshelves crammed full, mostly double packed. Books I hang onto seem to fall into a these categories:
  • those I loved and will probably read again
  • those I loved and will never read again
  • those I got half way through and still have bookmarks in them, but I gave up enough to put back on the shelf (mmm... Salman Rushdie)
  • those I really do mean to read and may
  • those I really do mean to read but won’t
  • those I have because of a misplaced feeling I ought to read them, but won’t
  • those I think would be good to have around just in case the kids feel like reading them someday
  • books I’m emotionally attached to for some reason; and
  • gifts.
Clearly I have given too much thought to the fact that I’m a certified Book Hoarder.

There’s also the strange category of books I didn’t like, or authors I don’t like, that still manage to hide during cleanouts. Ernest Hemingway, I’m looking at you. You shall not escape my clutches this time! As you’d expect, this flurry of ruthless activity is making Dave nervous. Already fellow Book Hoarders have asked me to whizz a title list past them so they can adopt my off-casts. I’ve also had second thoughts about a few and popped them back on the safe shelves. But I have to say, it does feel very liberating to admit I am really never going to read Dostoyevsky and damn it, I don’t care.

My other decluttering has been in the wardrobe department. This afternoon I’ve filled ten bags to take to charity, with another sizeable pile of maternity and winter nursing clothes still to be washed and bagged. Yes, I did say TEN BAGS! Like most women I have multiple wardrobes: from my skinniest adult time, my most corporate period, the before-child clothes, the inbetween children clothes when I lost baby weight but not all of it, the maternity clothes, and strangely, the smallest of all - those that currently fit me that I intend to wear.

It bemused me to discover I also must have odd emotional attachment to clothes that I’ve hung onto but not worn for years. At some point I also felt, tragic as it is to remember this, like Helen Hunt in an episode of that annoying show with Paul Reiser when she quit her job and then started pulling all her work clothes out of her wardrobe saying, “why do I own so many clothes?” Mind you, I remember doing a cleanout after my last maternity leave where I was saying, “why do I own so many pairs of tracky pants?” Shlumpadinkas unite! Today I did try to remind myself that I will have to go back to work eventually and perhaps I should hang onto a few corporate clothes that I will realistically fit into by then. I did hide those in a side space though. And I kept my suits, because I do have that rule, “weddings, funerals, and job interviews...”

Some highlights of the destash included:
  • two shirts I bought when I first joined the public service, circa 2002
  • a beloved brown jacket I bought sometime in the first year Dave and I were together, circa 1998; and
  • the Elmo pajamas I was wearing the infamous time Dave locked me out of the house when he went to work and I walked down Majura Ave at peak hour trying to find a neighbour who was home, circa 2005.
I was also a bit horrified to find that among clothes I’d forgotten I owned were a few items I’d never actually worn. Tags on. Oops. Perhaps I am a material girl after all?

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