Tuesday, April 08, 2008

clearing the clutter of things and pages

This weekend I cleared a path. In feng shui terms, I invited my chi back in. I'm not exactly finished. If my chi were arriving via jet, it is somewhere between the Portland airport and here. For me, very few tasks invite this level of navel-gazing quite as enthusiastically as sorting through my terrestrial stock. I rifle, examine, sigh, move boxes around, lie on my bed, sometimes weep, sometimes laugh, sometimes entertain road-not-taken scenarios. It's emotional tedium that knows no parallel.

I started with my closet. I held a tattered vintage silk blouse in my grip for something like 18 minutes, imagining the possible blazers I could still wear it under without the rust stains or rips showing. I once took this blouse to a drycleaners hoping they could mend and de-filth it, and the normally poker-faced Asian woman bowled over in mirth. Eventually I gathered half my clothes and jettisoned them to the storage area. Another third got crammed into plastic Goodwill sacks. (Much to my delight, Turbo Tax has an index that allows you to write off thousands of dollars worth of donated clothing).

The Spring Cleaning dominoed itself throughout. My closet, Carson's closet, my "office," the front porch, Carson's room, etc… Before I knew it, my boyfriend was helping me move my crappy plywood desk into Carson's room and, voila, gone is my former "writing space." The little appendix of a room that bulges out from the main part of my bedroom is now all but vacant. I wrote my MFA manuscript in that space. I jammed all my stories and half-finished projects into files and boxes and folders and hard drives in that space. There is so much psychic detritus in that little rectangle I should cut down a sage brush and set it aflame like the Olympic Torch.

Truth is, I haven't written in that space in years. The combination of wi-fi and Carson not needing to be closely supervised from a window has placed me and my work downstairs, at the edge of the dining room table that David Millstone left in my care when he high-tailed it to Houston.

Kirk and I are going to turn my former writing space into a haven. A place to stretch, nap, gaze, breathe, and, you know, whatever. I'm divesting my bedroom of the paper clutter and relieving it of its duty as repository for inert objects. But first, I have to revisit each and every piece of writing—which makes the tedium of sorting clothes look like unfettered frolic. In figuring what to keep, what to recycle, what to sequester, what to burn I spent a good part of today loading boxes, taking the boxes elsewhere to sort, then deciding to reorganize and reapportion said boxes, and then getting so frustrated I just gave up and lay back down on my bed. It's hard to admit that I'm like this. I have no respect for this type of unearned sentimentality. After all, if I really gave a shit about the bronze toad letter holder, why has it been in the bottom of the Turkish tin for six years? And what's up with holding onto every higher education id card I've had since 1979? And do I really need another wind chime? A cracked vase? The broken oval photo frame adorned in the motif of fox hunting? My freakin' dressage helmet? When's the last time I mounted a horse, anyway?

The analysis that goes into painstakingly deciding what to banish forever is halting. It takes time I don't have. But somehow, it feels necessary and luxurious. Like a gathering up of haunches before a big leap.

1 comment:

  1. This is a great tip! I get stress all the time whenever I see my house with all paper clutter. I need all the help that I could get. I might also be needing a document shredding company for all my paper clutter.

    document shredding los angeles


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