Apr 17, 2005

negative space now sufficiently filled

There is an area in my apartment, namely on the outskirts of the cat box/desk/computer/drawing table area, where junk just piles up. It is the dead space between what would be two rooms, but as there is no wall to divide these spaces, therefore no logical use for this space, stuff, e.g. crap, gets relegated there. And this is ongoing. The old TV. The spider community. School work. Furniture. The plant. Whatever is in queue to be the next to thing to go out of the apartment and my life forever, winds up in that space.

Currently this space is filled with old clothes. This began about a month ago. It was bound to happen. It was too clear for too long. Things were calm. So I started a project with my old clothes that should have been finished long ago. And if this were a reality TV show where a team, led by a (tastefully dressed, always understated, less is more, knows her best side, never minces words, has both an American and a British accent so that you don't know where the hell she is from) self proclaimed decluttering expert, were enlisted to remove the clutter from my life (and pay me a million dollars), this would have been resolved long ago. Of course it's just a pile of clothes. And reality TV would have had no part of my pile of clothes. Of that I'm certain.

(begin daydream sequence)

Idea for an episode of (insert name of reality TV show). Today's topic: the junk drawer. With all the gravity and seriousness in the world, the same that is necessitated by the instance of people who have more or less entombed themselves in their homes with junk, where issues of extreme laziness, lack of self respect and mental illness are put into sharp, unforgiving focus, where the root cause of the most self punishing of messes is identified.. Today, we give you the case of the junk drawer: Can this drawer be saved? The handheld camera weaves from the junk drawer (now pulled open by our host, exposed, raw and horrifying, a neglected drawer/ this is the money shot) to the reaction of the host/decluttering professional (uncensored judgment diluted by the authority of condescending mock concern) and then to the client (now desperate, now sufficiently ashamed). They all sit down to discuss the problem. Just where did things go wrong? How did our client get so far off track? Slowly they get to the bottom of the client's problem, as they get to the bottom of the drawer. Why has the client channeled all of her anxiety into this drawer? And why this particular, most public of kitchen drawers? Why not a more secret, vanity table or desk drawer? How are her other drawers? Let's enlist our resident team of helpful psychiatrists. And, somebody, please give this woman a day at the spa. Then (after a commercial break) there is a transformation. It turns out there were specific reasons that led to the poor condition of the drawer. The viewer is relieved to see that the client can heal her past. And the prognosis for the drawer is good. It's remade to be orderly and useful. Look, the pencils no longer roll around. The batteries, once loose and unwieldy (thus impossible to deal with) are now contained. And remember the Post-Its? They have been moved out of the drawer altogether, and have been resituated nearer to the computer, where they can be put to better use. The whole thing ends happily, though with a cliff hanger, which makes everyone a little uncomfortable. The question is: will the drawer remain in it's newly restored, functional state?

(end daydream)

So, I decided that my closet is not a museum. That every article of clothing need not be saved by me for future reference. I mean, how pathetic? I can just hear myself blathering on and on:

..Oh, yes, just let me reach back into the archives of my clothes for a moment to retrieve blue skirt # 1089934 from the 1996 series, or "The Sofia", if you will (depending on which system I'm using to catalog my museum of clothes at that time) ..so that I might further illustrate my long winded (certainly drunken, certainly maudlin) story..

Finally I took every skirt, dress, purse, shoe, belt, jacket, pair of pants (and the one sad, lonely skort) out of my closet. That was the first step. I knew this instinctually. Without any help from the organizing authorities. Then I asked myself honestly about each item: am I ever going to wear this again? How long has it been since I've worn this? How does this item make me feel? It went on and on, and was far more disturbing than I would have ever imagined. And, it didn't look good for about 75% of my clothes. The garbage bags were brought out. I realized I had been saving things as testimony to whatever happened when I wore certain items. And it's not like all these were wonderful memories:

..this was the dress I was wearing when I found out he had a girlfriend.. ..I can't remember much about this jacket, but it makes me feel anxious, and why is there blood on it..? .. I was wearing this coat when I lost my wallet in it in the snow.. so that I had to put everything into hock in order to pay my rent ..and it was six months before I got everything safely back out of the pawners.. why didn't I ask my parents for the money..? ..what the hell was the matter with me..? ..I was a bad, bad irresponsible girl.. etc, etc.

It went mostly like that.

Certain things were of course exempt for this brutal process. A blouse from the 1930's that was my grandmother's, and all of my mom's stuff from the fifties and sixties. But my stuff from highschool? My stuff from the 1990's? From five years ago?

It was ridiculous how things went back and forth from various stacks into other stacks, and finally into sub-stacks, that is, catagories of clothes that seemed to create themselves. With some "stacks" being only one item of clothing, and with reasons, always with reasons (that I have long since forgotten). And with some items fitting into no catagory, but troublesome anyway (..I hate this dress/I wore this dress to my brother's wedding..). And continually needing to remind myself of why I was doing this. That the object wasn't to torture myself but to merely clean out my closet. So, what were supposed to be three simple categories of keep/give to charity/go into the garbage became:

- keep
- maybe keep
- possibly charity
- very likely charity
- charity
- possibly garbage
- what if I gain weight/get pregnant
- what if I lose weight
- maybe with alterations
- maybe as a pattern for clothes to be sewn later
- maybe just the skirt without the bodice
- maybe my mom will want this
- guilt (but my mom gave this to me)
- guilt (every other kind)
- dry cleaning
- possibly dry cleaning/very likely garbage
- this makes me sad
- this makes me happy

- what if I want to make a quilt one day
- garbage now
- garbage later/pending/still deciding
- what if I find the other shoe

So, there was stuff hanging from and stacked on every corner and surface in my apartment. Except in the closets. My kitchen, my living room, every door, every chair was clothes. It was not allowed back into any closet until this thing was settled. I was ruthless. Which was alright. I wasn't making progress. But I could see how I would just as soon as I got through the bittersweet, dark, murky, gloppy, godawful, memory overload phase.

Then I got the call to start the new job that meant I had no time to address this explosion of clothes for two weeks. I hadn't anticipated this. I was happy about the job. But, my apartment remained in this state for the duration. And it was a big mistake. It was unpleasant. And, some of the clothes found their way back into my closet.

So, the second that I had a day off, I sat down and decided exactly what was garbage. And it went out. I didn't even say goodbye, I just threw it all into the dumpster. And without the sense that I had accomplished anything, as I still had a bunch of bags that were, by then, all clean (for the most part, I gave up on some of the cat fur that had gotten on the clothes due to exposure to the kitten) and neatly folded and otherwise put together for charity up in my apartment. Still.

And somewhere along the line, I grew sick and tired of the whole thing.

And, because I made some edits along the way, that is, searched for specific items that I had changed my mind about giving away to charity, the bags were opened and reopened a number of itmes. To the point where the orderly bags of clothes were again reduced to a just a pile of clothes. With the bags and (as of this writing) some laundry thrown on top. The kitten likes it much better this way. She behaves as though this pile of clothes is now her permanent mountain. She plays there all day, jumping onto and off of her mountain. In her mind, I'm sure she roars like a lion when she's doing this. But it's really just this meak little baby sounding meow. Sometimes she chooses to tunnel her way through the clothes, like it's a short cut or something. Which is disturbing, as it's like being on pins and needles, the whole waiting to see if she makes it safely back out on the other side.

Bottom line, the cleaning of my closets has gone through its many stages, only to again unravel into a big mess on my floor. It is as it should be. And if I were at all into feng shui, I would no doubt find that this particular spot in my apartment symbolizes the stomach of my house. The hungry stomach that I keep feeding. Or maybe it's the toilet of my house. Either way. I'm sure it is symbolic of something. Something specific. Something about digestion. Something not good.

But, it doesn't matter. As of tomorrow, the clothes are finally going out. First thing in the in the morning, when the Salvation Army (and, it is no mistake that it is an army with which I have made these arrangements) gets here and drags what is to be, by then, bags of clothing. Kitten not included. Maybe, when they get here (and get a sense the degree of relief that they are providing me) they will bring me one of their famous blankets and hot cups of coffee. I Can't wait. I won't even look as I put everything back into bags tonight. I'll just close my eyes and start folding.

19 comments:

  1. This is hysterical. I don't know if it's because I've been there (or in close proximity), because I've had many kittens in my life and can see yours jumping from the mountain, or because of my mood today or what, but I laughed out loud at this and am still chuckling. Thanks.

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  2. LOL...see I have a few extra piles:
    *these are for my friend's kids
    *these are for my daughter when she grows up and has children of her own (she's 4)
    (and the ever popular)
    *I hate these things and I'm going to hide them and throw them away when no one is looking

    LOL

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  3. that was the best. i could have read that the rest of the day. in fact, i think i will. work is slow today. i will memorize it and do little quotes to my family about you.

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  4. I love meeting a fellow pack rat.

    We have a cat that loves to live at the top of a tower of boxes. We have always had a tower of boxes somewhere in the house. It's sad.

    Back in November, we moved to a new rental house. I was determined to unpack "Every Single Box". The cat was getting nervous as her tower had been chisled down to about 25 or 30 boxes. We were closing in on the end of the tunnel.

    Then we had to move, again. The cat is now happy with about 120 boxes stacked all over, inside and outside of the house.

    [Sigh] want to trade?

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  5. I love the possible charity option, because come on, how much do we really want to give?

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  6. But what will the kitten play on now that the mountain of clothes has been removed? Poor kitty. >^..^<

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  7. I go through that ordeal at least four times a year. I have to or we would drown in the accumulated rattrap we all hoard.

    You must be cruel to them. You have to get them out. Keeping them is bad feung shui or whatever. Junk breeds.

    My daughter is currently collecting sparkling rocks and sticks from the beach. I'll have to cull this soon before a tribe of dustbunnies sets up home, making mortar out of toothpaste, bricking primitive huts around the nightlight. the sticks turned to totem poles and crude fences.

    It could happen.

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  8. stargazer, thank you! I've linked to you. Your site is a wonderful thing.

    boabhan, yes, for your daughter, that's a good idea. I may one day regret what I've done..

    blog ho, it WAS a little long winded. Quotes to your family! I'm so proud..

    g, I guess I'm afraid of becoming a pack rat, that's why I keep editing things out of my life. Kittens do like their fun, that's funny about the boxes. Just keep in mind who's house it really is..

    ygwin, yeah, but that was because I thought it wasn't GOOD enough for charity! Don't want to pawn off on other people my garbage. (I'm probably their best customer anyway, resale/vintage..)

    junebee, I do feel a little guilty, but the kitten is pretty resourceful..

    lyvvie, I'm anti-hoarding/aiming for an absolute minimum. I think things weigh a person down. I want less, less, less..

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  9. Victoria - I've moved to kimdergarten.modblog.com. Will explain later...

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  10. family was very impressed with you.

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  11. You are the funniest person in the whole damn world.

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  12. ..thank you, and right back at you, smorg.

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  13. Hey Victoria!

    I was wondering...are you ever going to let us know how the practical joke on your brother played out in the end?

    Or, is it still going on?

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  14. Victoria - will you please come home and post something new? ...I need to escape my life for a few minutes, and I miss your great sense of humor :)

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  15. lyvvie, if you can believe it, it is STILL going on. I've learned that long distance jokes can be time consuming. I'm trying to stike a balance between *acting natural* so as not to give anything away, and waiting for him to *take the bait*

    That means that I have to behave like business as usual ALL of the time, every day, without fail. I absolutely can NOT inquire as to what he thinks about this (topic which I can not mention here). It (the subject of the joke) was mentioned casually, and just once. We have had many conversations since. I am trying to be subtle. But believe me, when this all comes together (and there is no doubt that it will) I will post about it, ad nauseum, I promise..

    Kim, I will very soon..

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  16. Seriuosly, Victoria, is your brother a douchebag or what? I can't wait to learn just what caper you've concocted. Honestly, were I your brother, I'd be on pins and god-damned needles. PLEASE-tell us all how you've pulled the wool over this rube's eyes.

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  17. My brother, aka *rubix cube* (NOT a rube, as you said, and "rubix cube" I guess because he is fun and tricky.. I don't know, it's what they say in the neighborhood in the immediate, roughly six block radius around my apatment about fun, colorful, smart people. I'm sure you wouldn't know..) is NOT the Summer's Eve product with which you were referring..

    And wool hasn't been pulled over his eyes so much as an idea (that is false) has been introduced to him (as fact) by me. Again, very casually, and with a subtlety, that is absolutely necessary for this trick to be sucessful.

    I can not tell you what it is.

    I am dying to tell you, though, I will admit that.

    It's just a matter of time..

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  18. He he he! Been there, done that (although not with clothes: other crap, and without managed to put together an entertaining narrative, but hey)

    And as far as kittens are concerned, they are savage hunters of the wild...

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