Sunday, May 29, 2011

426. Memory Lane or Purgeville

(Thank you up front to my blogger pal, Megan, for the idea.)

I am throwing a party in one week, and my mental preparations easily rival the planning for the Royal Wedding. Except maybe Kate and Will didn’t actually put as much thought into cleaning as I have.

My party will be on our back patio, so the guests-wandering-inside-factor will mercifully be kept to a minimum. However, we are serving beverages, and beverages mean bathroom breaks. Unfortunately, the guest bathroom is attached to the guest bedroom. Which is a very large junk drawer merely disguised as a bedroom (at least I think there’s a bed underneath there somewhere).

Oh, yes. For the past two years since we’ve moved in, any time we don’t have a spot for something (and it is too “nice” to go in the garage), it lands in the guest room. Toys and clothes the boys have outgrown? Put them in the guest room. Art projects we started but didn’t finish? Guest room, in the closet with the guilt. Negatives of photos that are already tucked safely in albums and we will most likely never need again? Dump ‘em in the guest room, right next to the nostalgia. Screenplay I wrote when I dreamt of becoming a Hollywood legend? Guest room dresser, on top of the regret.

You can see how it is getting crowded in there.

I wake up at 4 AM in a panic:  I must purge that room. I take everything out until the bed is once again visible (mint green sheets! who knew?), and place it all in a giant heap on the floor of the adjacent large basement room (code name: “gym”) for further inspection and dissection.

My years of watching all those TV shows about clean sweeping and ultimate garage sale-ing and maximum organizing are about to pay off. I diligently sort my precious possessions (code name: “junk”) into four piles: Keep, Keep, Think About Keeping, and Really Should Keep.

Maybe I wasn’t paying close enough attention when I watched those shows after all.

I get out a book on organizing (I found it in the Really Should Keep pile). Aha!—the books says the piles are actually called: Keep, Trash, Donate, and Sell. I can’t be bothered with the Sell pile, so I wonder if “re-gift” would be an acceptable alternative? I look down at the slew of items bought on sale with every intention of giving to the appropriate people.


I wonder if other people have piles of un-gifted gift items waiting to be gifts. Is it like the gestation of a baby—buy the gift (conception), hold onto the gift (nine months or possibly longer), and then finally give the gift (birth)?  And, like childbirth, is the stockpiling of gifts an exclusively female domain?

The Trash pile is growing (manual for a stove we no longer own, chipped coffee mugs, cracked wood cutting board), as is the donate pile (baby monitor, mystery electrical cords that don’t seem to go to anything, mismatched dishes, kitchen items for my fantasy alter ego—Chef Cooksalot). But then there’s that damn Keep pile.

Do I need the black and red giraffe made out of salvaged metal? No, but I like him (and how do I know it’s a him and not a her?). Could my life go on without the extra Scrabble pieces that inexplicably made their way into this pile? Yes, but shouldn’t I at least try to get them back to their game, which may or may not be in the front hall closet? Must I keep the plastic mouth-guard for bleaching my teeth even though I am allergic to the whitening solution? No, but it was expensive to have the molds cast, and maybe they’ll come up with a new improved whitener.

Several hours evaporate, as does my energy level. I am left with a shockingly clean guest room (hey, Oakley! come visit!), and three piles of stuff. I discard the Trash, find drawer and closet space for the Keep things, then stare guiltily at the Donate pile.

The Donate pile blinks up at me. “I remember when you bought me!” cries the Red Ceramic Loaf Pan that does not bake evenly. It’s friend, Extra Set Of Silverware calls out, “You’ll regret getting rid of me, mark my words!” But I am ruthless. I ignore the things and walk out.

I hear them talking to each other and laughing. “It’s okay,” says Broken Lamp, “her husband will get us out of here.”

("Messy Or Victorious?")


  1. Oh MOV, how could you so deftly turn my agony into hilarity? I have bags piled up in the front hall in donation purgatory. I de-clutter ruthlessly (OK, that's a generous word) and then bag everything up and put it in the front hall. To see if I miss it. I can't commit to the donation. I normally don't go looking for anything, but once there's a thick layer of dust on the boxes and bags in the hall I have to look through them to see what they are because they've been there so long I've forgotten what's in them and why they're there. And it's like Christmas morning. Sigh.

  2. I've awarded you with the Versatile Blogger Award!

  3. I am a ruthless thrower away of all things "stuff". I get this from my mother - with 8 kids ya have to de-stuff your life, and do it often. Unfortunately, I married a man and had a daughter who are pack rats. I am forever throwing our their stuff - and they are forever rescuing their stuff. *sigh*

  4. I am so excited to have the red loaf pan that does not bake evenly :-) Just josh'n! I LOVE IT!

  5. Jennie - yes! my husband is constantly "rescuing" things I'm trying to eliminate. He always said that he "was looking for that!" (yeah right) or "always wanted one of those!" (he didn't even know what it was) or "how can you get rid of this?" (a desperately out-of-date but not yet old enough to be cool issue H of the encyclopedia)!! what am i to do with my pack-rat?


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