Monday, July 4, 2016

Independence Day

Well folks, my carpet beetle battle continues, and so does the "epic" purge. (Thanks to Fiona, for that description, it's perfect.)

And you know what, my attitude about it all is shifting. All along I've been trying to see this as an opportunity, but still, I have to admit that I was feeling a bit put upon by the entire process.

The initial thing I purged was the old recliner, and honestly it pained me a bit to do it. Somehow I just kept seeing kitties of old lounging in, on, under and around it, and letting go gave me a serious pang.

Sputnik posing on the back of the old recliner-
Still one of my favorite photos of him.
However, the deeper I go into this whole purge, the easier it's getting. In fact, I'm almost finding myself looking forward to getting rid of things.

My latest purge was the fabric and the half-finished projects that went along with it. There were half finished rag rugs, half finished quilts, and numerous other projects languishing in the land of good intentions. And the thing I've come to realize is, they weren't just taking up physical space, they were also occupying a significant amount of emotional space.

I mean, I had it all neatly packed away in the basement, but still, every time I'd go down there I'd get a little pang of "you're not good enough."

On some level I know it's really stupid to let something like that make you feel inadequate, but there was just always this little nagging voice telling me "If you were any good, you'd have finished that project by now."

So I was in the basement surrounded by piles and piles of fabric and unfinished projects, when I looked over and caught a glimpse of my sewing machine. Suddenly, an involuntary utterance escaped my lips, "I hate that thing!"

Honestly, sewing and I have just never really gotten along. I can still remember Mrs. Atkinson, my jr. high school home economics teacher, hovering over me like some sort of vulture, telling me all the ways I was doing it wrong. And try as I might, I've never been able to craft a relationship with any sewing machine that was not combative. I love the IDEA of sewing and craft projects, and I love being able to create something from nothing, but the actual doing of it I find to be tedious, frustrating and decidedly NOT enjoyable.

So why continue to torture myself? I mean, it's not like we live in a world where it's difficult to acquire textile goods. And there are plenty of activities that I do enjoy, and never feel like I have time or space for.

Anyhow, after all of that raced through my head in about 2 seconds, another involuntary utterance appeared, "Free yourself!"

There is nothing mandatory about craft projects. I don't need to continue to put myself through this. I can just let it all go and make room for the things I actually do enjoy.

What a revelation!

So I washed and sanitized all the fabric (at least the stuff that was washable - tiny cut up quilt pieces don't fare well in the wash I fear.) And I found someone on Freecycle who is delighted to have it all. And I get to have another chunk of my life back!

Next up: all of those books that I "should" read one of these days. As noble of a pursuit as I think reading is, I really just hate it. And if I ever decide that I do want to read a particular thing, I don't think I'll have any trouble getting my hands on a copy. I can't wait to make them all go away!!

I think the big lesson for me here is that I just need to stop trying so hard. I'm fine just the way I am, and there's just no reason to keep pushing myself to be someone better. What a wonderful revelation to have on Independence Day! Thank you, carpet beetles! I am eternally grateful.

Here's wishing everyone a very happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 1, 2016

The Rag Bag, and other Cleverly Disguised Portals to Hell

So the beetle battle continues, and my decluttering/cleaning efforts have now reached the basement, AKA: the belly of the beast.

You know, this process has been very enlightening, and it sort of points out to me why most organizing and decluttering programs have never really been very helpful to me. I have weird clutter issues.

When you watch an organizing program on TV, or read a book or blog about clutter, generally they address issues with clothes, or shoes, or books, or sentimental items. And while I do have more of those types of things than I really need, that sort of stuff is actually pretty easy for me to part with.

The area that really gives me trouble is... Garbage!

Actually, I think it would be more accurate to say that I have trouble assigning something to the category of garbage. It's just soooo hard for me to accept being a party to the horrible wastefulness of this culture.

This is not a new issue for me, in fact, I've written about it before - back in the dark ages of this blog. And I really thought I'd kicked the habit, but the facts would tend to say otherwise. I guess the carpet beetles were sent from on high to show me the error of my ways.

Soooo, since I really don't want to end up back here AGAIN, I'm creating some new rules for myself that will hopefully help me to keep my garbage "habit" in check.

Rule #1 - The Rag Bag is no more.

As I've written about before, I tend to wear my clothes until they quite literally fall apart.

And when something reaches the point where it can no longer be patched or repaired, I throw it into the "rag bag" to continue its useful life an another way.

Thing is, in this purge I have uncovered about a dozen bags full of dead clothing - and I haven't yet opened "the trunk" which I know is a repository of more - or the closet under the stairs, which makes me shudder to think about. And while I do use rags for cleaning and bicycle maintenance, and occasionally to make a patch for something else, I think it could very well take a lifetime to use up the amount of dead clothing that I currently posses. Not to mention the fact that much of it is infested with carpet beetle larvae.

Soooo, most of what I had has been tossed, and the old clothing that I am saving for rags has been cut up into rag sized pieces, and is being bleached as we speak. It will then live in a dedicated plastic bin, and I will keep no more than will fit in that bin!

So the new rule is, if I want to keep something to use as a rag, I have to actually make it into a rag - in other words, cut it up into rag sized pieces and store it in said singular rag bin.

Rule #2 - No More Cardboard Boxes!!!

Folks, I don't know if the DSM includes box-o-felia in its official list of diagnosable psychiatric disorders, but I think it's safe to say that even if it isn't an actual thing, I've got it!

I don't know what it is exactly, and I've tried setting limits with my cardboard box "habit," but as evidenced by the dozens upon dozens of the things that I have dragged out of this house in the past few weeks, my efforts at moderation have clearly failed. So I'm goin' cold turkey.

So the new rule is, nothing shall be stored in a cardboard box, and any boxes that come into this house, shall be immediately broken down, cut up and set out for recycling.

This will be helpful in numerous ways. First of all, if I'm not allowed to use cardboard boxes, the temptation to keep them "just in case I need them" goes away. Secondly, cardboard boxes are not a great storage method when you've got carpet beetles. They're not air tight, so the beetles and larvae can easily get inside, they cannot be cleaned, and the corrugated ends provide a wonderful little hiding place for the larvae. Plus, if I actually have to buy a suitable storage container in which to keep things, it will give me further incentive to keep only the things that I really need.

Rule #3 - Fix it or Toss it!

My basement is filled with broken stuff that could be fixed someday. I've got dead telephones, dead electronics, dead lamps, dead bike parts, and a whole host of other dead things languishing in the land of good intentions. I just HATE the disposable nature of goods these days, and it kills me to throw something away that could be used somehow.

But honestly, most of the stuff I've got is just garbage.

So the new rule is, if something breaks, there are three options. I can fix it now, I can give it away on Freecycle to someone else who might want to try to fix it, or I can toss it. No more keeping things for the mythical time when I'll feel like tackling the job.

Anyhow, those are the new rules. I guess time will tell how they work. As we all know, I'm not great at following rules...

But maybe this time since these are my rules, not someone else's rules... well, we'll just have to wait and see how it goes.

So tell me, am I the only crazy person out there who has trouble throwing things away? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.