Cleaning Out the Closets: A Perennial Trip through the Abyss which is my House
by Marjorie Dorfman
How can you tell the seasons have changed? Just check your closets and know it's time to shift things around. Read on for some clues and hopefully a laugh or two.
I can always tell when the spring and autumn have arrived at my house and it has nothing to do with budding flowers or falling leaves. It concerns, instead, the cycle of life that revolves around summer and winter clothing. Every year I harbor secret fears about what might be found in the back of my closets. As a writer of horror fiction, the possibilities are endless. Everything is so cluttered that for all I know everything and everyone missing for the last six months might have found a temporary refuge there. The real tragedy is that if they have, I havent even noticed!
I try to face my adversaries with courage and dignity, thinking not what I can do for my closets but rather what they can do for me. Cleaning them out requires such a horrendous effort that I put it off until I can do so no longer. The art of procrastination has nothing on anyone else, except maybe Scarlet OHaras tomorrow and another day. All I have to do is open the closet door and I am "whelmed" as Mel Brooks used to say, at the task that lies before me. Piles and piles block my view; my heaps have heaps. Suddenly everything I own and cannot find is looking back at me with accusing, disorganized eyes. I cant tell anyone else where to start, but I tackle the floor and my shoes first. That gives me a place, however tenuous, to stand. Then I work my way up to whats dangling, sort of hanging and should be hanging.
One axiom to remember before moving on to the bigger stuff goes back to the days of my grandmother and The Great Depression: "If it doesnt smell, dont throw it out." This certainly applies to cleaning out the refrigerator, pantry and rest of the house as well, but for now lets concentrate on closets. After you straighten out your shoes and place them into racks or neat little boxes, put them in the order you need them, with seasonal in reach and out of season in the back. It would help to label the boxes, as you will not remember which is which even though you will be convinced after doing this for a few hours that you will. If I remember to label, I cant find the pen. If I remember the pen I usually forget to label. Thats why my closet clutter problem is perennial. Labeling boxes will postpone a new mess, be it yours alone, for at least a little while.
Do not attack first and ask questions later. (This isnt your mother-in-law; its a closet). Go through everything with three alternatives in mind; give away, put away or throw away. Reorganization should include identifying what you use and what you love. Decide what is important, garment by garment, shoe by shoe, box by box. Give everything else away. Consider yourself an anorexic and your clothes extra pounds or worse, fattening food. You must summon the inner strength to make these purging and sorting decisions. Remember that it only hurts for a little while, especially if you force yourself to clean up and put away as part of your daily routine. I cant do it, but maybe you can.
Another work habit that will ensure that everything gets done is to take everything out of the closet and throw it on your bed. Then step back and analyze what you need. Reduce your closet to two activity zones; need and dont need (but would if I could find it). By throwing everything in a place you must utilize every day you will be forced to complete the job at hand before bedtime. (If you get really disgusted, theres always the floor or a nearby motel.)
Theres no point in denying the psychological aspects of closet clutter. Avoid asking questions such as: Why do I like chaos? What does all this disorganization do for me? What do I do for it? Does chaos offer me something my husband cant? Think instead of what you could become if you were just a little bit more organized. Perhaps a king among kings or a queen among queens. Maybe even more grandiose. Who knows what awaits us all in the organized after-life?
I cant say what lies waiting in the great beyond because Im not even sure where I am in this life at any given moment. I dont think that knowing what to do will really help me. The truth is that I feel beyond help. It is hope and not help that springs eternal. It also happens in the Fall. In fact, it happens every time I have to clean out my closets. All anyone can really do, I suppose, is hope for the best. Maybe the Holy Grail isnt really in the back of my hall closet. I cant open it anyway. Or what about all those missing planes and ships in the Bermuda Triangle? Nah, my closets arent big enough. Still, who knows what clutter lurks beyond the confines of ones hall closet? The clutter bogeyman, thats who.
Did you know . . .