Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A Splash of Clutter

Thought #1:
With the impending move, I’ve been decluttering the house as much as time will allow. Having moved at least every year, for the past nine years, enough is enough. In addition to physical mental stress of getting everything packed in time, there’s the physical strain of moving furniture and boxes. Not only do I have to much crap, but I’m going to have to move it all.

Thought #2:
One of the many things that I love about Noah (and believe you me, there are many) is his passion for sustainable design. This includes the ability to take a piece of what looks like trash and transform it into something functional. Fort Greene in Brooklyn is just the setting for this skill, with Pratt Institute just down the street, people coming and going, artists living and working. Noah finds the greatest treasures, masked as trash and makes beautiful things. For instance, he found tall skinny glass bottles and turned them into the stand for a bedside table. He also found a light blue winged rocking chair, covered in rotting fabric, which he stripped and sanded, revealing the comfort of the chair, perfect for our new house. As we were packing his apartment this weekend, I was amazed with how many objects he had found and turned into something beautiful. Of course, there were many objects still lying around, containing the possibility of transformation, but it just hasn’t happened yet.

Thought #3:
After packing for the majority of the morning, with most of his room boxed up and moved downstairs, Noah commented how much he valued a clean, simple, minimalist environment in which to live. Of course, I wholeheartedly agreed. His once cluttered room was in fact extremely peaceful, and not just because of the sound of the rain on a Saturday afternoon, but because it wasn’t filled to capacity, vying for our attention at all angles. It reminded me of the idea that clutter causes stress. Not the kind of stress over making a deadline, or running late for a meeting, but the kind of subtle stress, that isn’t immediately apparent, but that creeps in over time. You don’t notice it until the cause of it is gone, but when it is gone, you notice an apparent weight lifted.

All these thoughts come together, as I’m sure you’re seeing now. I want our home to be simple, minimalist, spacious, yet cozy. We’ve are very excited for our home together, starting this new chapter in our life, and many of our discussions turn to what will go where, and how will we set up this room, and what color we want this. But, one thing is for sure, I’ll be spending the next few months getting rid of the clutter in my own home, so as not to bring it to our new home.

Some of the tricks I’ve been using:

1) Carry around a trash bag with you until you’ve collected 27 things to throw away. It’s amazing what you find as you flutter from room to room.

2) Set a timer for 15 minutes and do the same thing with the trash bag, but instead of finding 27 things, throw away clutter for 15 minutes.

3) Clean out your closet. This can be a very daunting task. However, consider what happened to Mom. A few nights ago, we were cleaning out her closet, collecting clothes for the consignment shop, and the bar that holds up her clothes actually fell. While this could be seen as the worst thing in the world for a woman’s closet, not only did we take this occurrence as a sign that Mom has too many clothes, but also as an opportunity to go through the clothes, cause they very well couldn’t stay on the floor.

4) Which brings me to my next trick – find a local consignment shop taking spring and summer clothes, make an appointment to bring in the clothes and then go find clothes to bring in. By making an appointment before you’ve actually gathered up the clothes, you will be forced to go through the closet before the appointment, as opposed to putting it off until you have enough. Also, it helps when you find a consignment shop near work cause you can go on your lunch break to drop off your clothes.

5) Also, the making-an-appointment-in-advance technique works with the Salvation Army. In the Baltimore-DC Metro area, the Salvation Army will come by with a truck to pick up your donations. Not only are the donations tax-deductible, but you don’t have to drive around with the donations in your car until you have time to drop them off. Just leave them on the front porch and the truck comes to pick them up. You don’t even need to be home (just make sure it won’t rain that day). And again, make the appointment now so you have a deadline by which to get the donations together.

6) For every two you keep, get rid of one. This technique works well with clothes and shoes. Also, I have so many clothes that they won’t fit in my closet and dressers that they have to be folded and put on the floor. This is unacceptable!

7) Check out Freecycle.com – This is a site where you can list your unwanted items and someone comes to get them. It’s all for free and you are benefiting others with the gift of your unwanted things.

I’m trying to use one of these techniques a day to start blasting through all the clutter I have sprinkled around the house. Now, let’s just hope these techniques don’t hurt my yarn stash.


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