Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It All Started with a Closet

Our closet is small. I admit, we almost did not buy this house when we saw the closet. I also admit that we are spoiled, because even my first apartment, which was about 600 square feet, had a nice walk-in closet. The first house my husband and I bought had two huge walk-in closets, as did every other house we've bought since. Until this one.

This one has one closet in the master bedroom, and while it is technically a walk-in, meaning you have to walk through the door to get the clothes, there is no room for you and the clothes both when you get there. I have to choose my clothes before doing hair, because once I walk in, my hair is a lost cause. I've given up keeping my shoes in there, because I can't bend down to get them without knocking off a row of hangers.

So this past weekend we finally - after years of talking about this - went to look at closet organizers. We found some we thought would be perfect, and once I started actually getting excited that I'd have room to both keep my clothes hung up and find them, my husband says, "We should change the flooring first. If we're going to replace the carpets we need to do that before putting in the organizers."

Which means... never.

Or at least a very long time away.

But as we were leaving, me wondering why in the world we were even shopping if it wasn't a possibility to fix yet, we saw a dresser. A beautiful white perfect girlie dresser... for my youngest.

My youngest is currently using the dresser we bought before her brother was born 13 years ago. It is a diaper changing dresser. It has enough room for a small batch of baby clothes. She is eight. The bottom of two of the three drawers have fallen out and been nailed back in repeatedly, so that often she can't close the drawers. There isn't enough room in them so she also has several rubbermaid bins for less-used clothes. (I swear we are not poor! It's embarrassing admitting this, although in our defense, my daughter is totally emotionally attached to that dresser and does not want another one, even one that easily opens and closes and holds all her pajamas and sweaters.)

So we might not be able to fix our clothing situation, but we could fix hers! Hurray!

Until we started sizing it and realized it was about twice as big as the baby dresser, which would mean rearranging her room, which would mean taking some things out and putting them in our storage area.

Except our storage area is tiny, and it packed to the gills - floor to ceiling - with boxes. Boxes of baby clothes and toys I can't get rid of, of teaching materials I used ten years ago, of files and mementos and holiday decorations. There is no room for anything else. Frankly, like our closet, there is no room for me to even get in to find the stuff I need.

So off we trudged to the shelving department, where we found shelves to organize the storage room.

And that is what I've been doing for the last four days. Pulling every single box out, going through it to determine what needs to stay, what needs to be tossed, and what needs to be donated. I am determined not to be the next desperate case on the TV show Hoarders, so I am tossing with great abandon. The house looks like a cardboard explosion has taken place. The trash can has been packed every night. The car has been loaded and deliveries made more than once. There have been several trips to the store to get more Sterlite containers. There have been more than a few trips down memory lane.

And that is where I am now. In the middle of a mess that is bigger than it was to start with, with no closet organizer for my own room and no dresser for my youngest. And trying to keep up with school work, which involved a big packet due yesterday.

This is not unlike my writing. The last set of revisions I sent my advisor followed this same path. I'd see one thing that needed to be changed - just a small thing - something totally fixable. And then I'd spend four hour tweaking the following pages to accommodate those changes. It's crazy how taking out one stinking line can cause three hours of head-banging repairs. The idea of cleaning up one awkward piece of dialogue suddenly entails dragging all the characters and plots out into the open, laying them out and asking, "What here is necessary to keep, and what now do I toss?" One thing leads to another, and before you know it... I am buried.

So that's where I am, where I've been when I've not been blogging the past week. I apologize for not getting to all of your blogs. I miss you. I'll be back, I promise.

Once I find my way out from all this stuff.


  1. Good luck. I totally understand the analogy to writing here too. Do you use versioning in Word?

    "And that is what I've been doing for the last four days. Pulling every single box out, going through it to determine what needs to stay, what needs to be tossed, and what needs to be donated. "

    I'm terrible at this. I tend to get attached to inanimate objects. I see the cute Hello Kitty shirt my daughter wore when she was 2 and either tear up a bit or just refuse to get rid of it. Luckily, my wife doesn't have this problem as much.

    Finally, our house was built in the 40's and we only have 2 closets in the entire house. It's nuts. We do have a walk-up attic, which helps.


  2. I completely get this. One small change just creates a massive mess in manuscripts and our lives! I hope you find your way out soon. Just think how good you'll feel when it's all done!

  3. I'm SO with you. BUT if you can take something out and nothing needs to be fixed, it NEVER belonged there. Also, I do that whole project thing a LOT. I'll decide to go through my son's clothes, and pretty soon the contents of his closet are all over the floor.

  4. Love the analogy to writing. It's so true!

  5. Sometimes I fear starting projects because I know they will turn out bigger (and more work) than expected. But, just like our inner selves, starting can unravel gems we never expected to be there. And stuff we just need to throw out because it does not serve us anymore. Great analogy Heidi, that can be applied to many aspects of life.