The Comprehensive Clothing Project

well, i like to call it that. it makes it sound like a secret op in a spy movie, or something. this is how i glam up the unglamorous task of cleaning out old clothes and shoes.

i weeded out four trash bags of clothes that i’m donating. there’s about ten more items that are nice enough to sell. i’ve got about a dozen pairs of shoes to either sell or donate.

ideally i would get rid of everything that’s too small, but i can’t bear to. there are things that i was wearing less than a year ago that are too small now, things i really like. even worse are the beautiful Threadless tees which i just can’t give up (but also just can’t wear. now.)

anything that’s junk, though, is gone. it’s all nice stuff.

i do find that i have intense emotions connected to certain things. the blouse i wore the evening we went out to celebrate our engagement. the pants i wore when i held my dying cat in my lap. it’s easy to see how i might hang on to things long past their usefulness. or how i might have tended to do that in the past.

clothes are just clothes though. believe me, i don’t need a pair of pants to remind me of what it was like when moses died.

i find that i have no emotional attachment to the (absolutely _hideous_ ) roswell t-shirts. i’ll keep one of the two first-year shirts that i have, but i’m getting rid of all the rest. i would never want to actually wear them, so it’s better if i give them to people who will. not sure what i’ll do with them exactly but i’m sure someone will want them.

intermittent productivity

my weekends have three states (with an occasional fourth):

* at home, highly productive, getting lots of things done.

* at home, cannot get self off of sofa.

* with J.

* occasionally, travelling.

it’s the first two states that puzzle me. i don’t know what makes one weekend productive, and another one not. it’s frustrating. there’s so much to do.

i did a lot today. it was very productive. large, non-perishable items left the house. small, perishable items entered it. my stereo once again produces sounds. my living room can once again be lived in. that sort of thing.

there are still boxes of things from mom’s house to sort through. a few more furniture pieces that i know need to leave. then i can begin in earnest to pare down my own, original possessions to make room for J. not sure when he’ll move down here, but i need to be ready when he does.

my way of working is to batch up a bunch of things that need to go. they get put in the living room, usually. then it could be weeks before i can actually get rid of them, so i live with all this crap in my space and forget that it will be easy to get rid of it once i have time.

so when a batch leaves, my house is suddenly wonderful again.

the more stuff you get rid of, the easier it gets. i like knowing something is going to a good home. i like having some breathing room in my house. i recommend it highly, if it’s a procedure you’re considering.

de-cluttering tools

“Merlin Mann”: has a whole series of blog posts about his own de-cluttering epiphanies. While most of it’s old hat to me (it centers around a Peter Walsh book with which I’m very familiar), I liked his post on “the tools to purge BIG.”:

I find that when I’m in the mode, and have the time, I can pull far more trash and recycling out of my house than my pathetic little city-supplied bins can hold. right now in my kitchen i’ve got my blue recycling bin completely full of magazines, plus a stack of magazines and boxes next to it, and a trash can full of my daily recycling of catalogs and soda cans. I’ve been housing this massive pile o’ crap in my kitchen all week because i couldn’t put the magazines outside in the rain– our recycling bins don’t have covers.

I may take Mann’s suggestion of purchasing at least one Brute can for times when I have an overflow– preferably one with a snap-on lid. I wish the City of Durham would supply recycling bins that are similar to our trash and yard waste bins– tall, wheeled, and with a hinged cover. That would be sweet.

operation OMG, my family is coming over!

absorbing cartons of photos and memorabilia into my household is one thing; absorbing pieces of furniture (plus extra cartons) is another. it means large items need to leave the house.

it also turns out that my family– including some extended family who never see my house– are going to be coming by on mother’s day.

no time to waste.

big stacks of stuff in the living room. everything is either slated for goodwill or already listed on ebay or the bulletin board at work. all the stuff i’d pulled out of the back bedroom but never got rid of is now going. everything, as they say, must go.

the decisions get harder and easier. easier because i’m used to making them. harder because the stuff i’m deciding on is nearer and dearer to my heart. like, if only i had fixed that shortwave radio. it’s so cool. but i had it for ten years and never did. my grandfather’s cameras, so well cared for.

but, you know, it’s just stuff. it’s gotta go.

“Clutter is not a gift” – Psychology of Clutter blog

“Clutter is Not a Gift”:

bq. “So, what to do about people who give you things that catch dust or clutter up your living space? Start talking to those people now!”

Fortunately, my family has been gift-list-driven for decades now, so I never get useless items as gifts at Christmas. My mom is trying to reduce down to one household in the coming year, so she wants only things like gift certificates to restaurants and wine– consumable items. J and i tend to keep it very simple, already.

massive hoard-house cleaned out on oprah

the organizational blogs are abuzz with this one… the clean sweep organizer peter lead the cleanup of the house of a massive hoarder. like clean sweep, but they did the whole house and it was a lot worse than most clean sweep houses, right on down to finding black mold in most rooms. they filmed it and put it on oprah who used her connections to get them all new furniture, flooring, and a kitchen.

in the end they had a rummage sale in a rented warehouse, and cleared $13k. the other stats are pretty incredible– 8 weeks, a staff of 100 people, 75 tons of trash, 3,000 pairs of shoes and 3,000 purses, 8 hours to clear the master bedroom of clothes, etc. you get the idea.

they’ve done a good job of putting the details and photos on the oprah web site, so you don’t actually have to watch the damn show to see it (i didn’t).

“Shopaholics and Clutter”:

when a recovered hoarder finds an old hoard…

(moses is a lot better this morning, by the way… moving about the house, eating, and sleeping real sleep. no insulin this morning and we’ll be cutting way back for a few days.)

i think my transition from hoarder to non-hoarder has been so gradual that i never truly thought of myself as a hoarder until yesterday. a pack rat, one with low standards when it came to organization and cleanliness, a reluctance to add to landfills… sure, i would think of my past self in that way. but not as a bona-fide _hoarder._

so yesterday i was cleaning out the drawer in my desk at work where i’d stashed office supplies. i used to be an administrative assistant– someone who wielded the power to order anything from the office supply catalog. exotic hot pink post-its? sure, i could get those for you, or i knew someone who could. that special kind of pen you like? let me whip out a purchase order form.

but then, after a while, i wasn’t an admin any more, and i lost that power. and apparently, that’s when i started hoarding pens.

pens are small. you can hoard a lot of them without really noticing. i would say that i pulled a couple hundred out of my desk, most of them functional. tested each one and decided if i was keeping it or not. and i really had to convince myself that it was okay to not have a big stash of pens in my desk. _i’ve had those pens for years… i’ve never needed them in all this time… and i work in a big office, i’m never going to not be able to find a pen._

because that’s why i had them. _what if i need a pen, and can’t get one?_ WTF? there’s no logic there. only hoarder logic.

clutter war: the chronically disorganized

A rich set of links i found today. Almost every one I know has at one time or another expressed distress over their clutter, lack of organization, and inability to overcome problems in organizing, cleaning and running their household. I also feel an almost constant sense of disquiet about my house. Via the web site of a local professional organizer, I found the web site of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization.

If you feel like you’re at the mercy of your house or your stuff, you should read this stuff.

“Clutter hoarding scale.”: A tool for assessing the degree to which a person is suffering from chronic disorganization. From your typical messy house to the full-blown trash house.

“Fact sheets about chronic disorganization”:

I’ll quote from the one called “Common characteristics of the Chronically Disorganized”…

* Accumulates large quantities of objects, documents, papers or possessions beyond apparent necessity or pleasure

* Has difficulty parting with things and letting go

* Has a wide range of interests and many uncompleted projects

* Needs visual “clues” as reminders to take action

Interestingly, I can relate to a lot of the home-specific traits (such as no household calendar in use, cluttered living areas, multiple project begun but not finished) this document goes on to list, but few of the work-specific traits.

Addictive tendencies that can cause chronic disorganization:


Collection addiction (I can’t find a specific link but I think this one is fairly self-explanatory)


“Urgency addiction”:

I have seen aspects of all of these addictions in my co-workers, in myself, and in friends; it’s disturbing to find it all laid out in black and white even though i’ve suspected for years that there are identifiable _things_ going on that drive people to collect gadgets, toys, information, and other things.

it’s not that we don’t all lead functional lives, but i am completely sick of the constant state of _ack_ that i live in. i have some situational problems (half my weekends cannot be devoted to surmounting my household problems or doing maintenance chores; i have renovation work to do to my house, such as in the basement) but although i have largely curbed my tendency to accumulate junk, i still accumulate _things_ and remain adept at rationalizing everything i purchase or obtain. at the same time, the items i identify that need to leave the house often remain in a “staging area” for months at a time while i fail to get them to goodwill or on the company bulletin board for re-sale.

in somewhat related news, i met today with a basement waterproofer recommended by a neighbor who has been down a path similar to mine. it looks like i also need to get quotes on gutter repair/upgrade/replacement.

animal collector

nasty case of an animal collector in sanford, nc, has come to light. it sounds as if she had around 200 dogs on her property, and her rationale for having them is, “i take in dogs no one else will take.”

as per usual, the conditions the dogs were kept in were disgusting and shocking.

* “original story”:

* “follow up story”:

here is an angle i had not thought about before– her lawyers are claiming that removing the animals was theft. here we have a huge number of dogs that any sane person can see are being kept in inhumane conditions, and an owner who cannot see the problem with her actions. i understand that her lawyers have to protect her rights, but still– how the hell can they sleep at night??