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Old 09-18-2005, 07:46 PM   #1
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Plea for help with everything BUT the Airstreams ...

I have a question of all of you of a certain age:

Have you ever succeeded in making REAL, major change in your life after a certain point? The question is high in my mind because I have amassed an astounding amount of stuff in the last 5 years & am somewhat at a loss as to how to stop being this snowed under & disorganized. I really freaked out after reading someone's post about him making clear labels for everything in his trailer until he gets the hang of the mechanicals. HE REPLACED THE PERFECTLY GOOD LABELS WITH OTHER LABELS! I'd never even find the labelmaker.

I despair.

Things can get pretty bad around here, totally at the other end of the spectrum. Cookbooks in the bedroom, unplugged phones on the floor, 2,000 antique kimonos in bags & boxes everywhere, hundreds of CDs & their cases but not together.... boxes of all kinds of batting---cotton, wool, fusible, polyester---stacked in the closets. An attic & a studio filled to the rafters with bolts of silk & cotton, paints, brushes & other art supplies. Four antique rolltop desks. Fiestaware service for 24. Huge collection of champagne flutes that my cats pick off regularly because I can't figure out where to put them. The garage is filled with gardening supplies, an old organ & many boxes of other stuff. Six trailers in various states of disrepair in various states of the country. I have 8 sets of sheets & sometimes can't change them because they're just all .... I dunno. Not there in the linen closet.

Partly it's that I love to do a lot of things that all come with trappings. You can't garden without tools & seeds & a greenhouse & lime & pots, or sew without a sewing machine & fabric & thread & batting & inspiring books & rulers & scissors & blah blah blah. But partly I think it's an inability to deal with material objects. Do I have too much stuff or is it just all out on the floor?

Looking around this "office," you see one plastic lit-up palm tree with one mid-Showa kimono & a Taisho-era obi draped over it, one empty CD stand, an antique commode that hasn't been matched up with its mirror in the 9 years since I last moved, one abacus, 14 foot-high piles of paper, language tapes for Spanish & Japanese spread all over the place but not with their booklets, four filing cabinets with not-very-useful stuff in them, 16 magazines, one futon rolled up in the corner, 3 stacks of plastic storage boxes mostly empty, roughly 40 books on the floor. The computer desk is covered with books, rulers, maps, old lunchboxes.

And every time I try to make plans to get rid of everything, the short list starts out "Not my Haitian art, not my gardening books, not my piano, not my art supplies, not the four matching couches, not the champagnes flutes they're small anyway ...." and I end up back where I started from.

I'm dead serious. If I wake up in 10 years & this is my life, I'll slit my wrists rather than being one of those eccentric old ladies wedged into chaos.

Is this familiar to anyone else? More important, has anybody ever escaped this kind of thing?
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Old 09-18-2005, 08:01 PM   #2
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Ditto. Much to my wife's dismay, I am an acknowledged gatherer. I love it, she gets grey watching and slowing the process down, and when I'm dead she will have one enormous garage sale and have enough money to go out for a nice dinner somewhere, a glass of wine, and remember the gleam in my eyes every time I brought a "new to me" piece home that was just perfect for something - eventually.
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Old 09-18-2005, 08:04 PM   #3
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Summer Kid---do not try to escape--I repeat---do not try to escape, it gets worst on the outside Stay low and quiet and all things will pass.
best,
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Old 09-18-2005, 08:07 PM   #4
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I escaped... not the exact same scenario as you (minus the Kimonos of course) but 10 years of living in a house, and all the collecting (mostly Airstream stuff and tools) The moving of my cheese was more imposed on me, than a concious decision on my own. Although, I suppose I set the wheels in motion with my dreams of one day living on the road in my trailer... and life assisted me with the push. I dropped out of the corporate world and kicked around a bit until I found work that finally made me happy... and sufficient Airstream funding. Then with the passing of my ex wife, I had full time responsibilities of my teenage son, and a distraught semi adult daughter. Then came the move from my home of 10 years in to an apartment and the internal angst of throwing away perfectly good pieces of scrap from my garage that I had collected for years, and knew that I would one day need them, and moving my trailer in to storage (the most devastating part of all). The whole process was very stressful, but very cleansing. I can't remember most of the crap I threw away, and haven't as of yet needed any of them. (It has only been a few months, so I will give it some time.) I'm beginning to feel the benefits of minimalism, and am really enjoying it. The only thing I really miss is being able to have my trailer parked outside for easy tinkering. Other than that... life is good and I will be using my trailer this week! How come all my paragraphs bunch together!
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Old 09-18-2005, 08:07 PM   #5
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Unhappy I feel your pain.....

Summer -

I think you need to log on to www.HGTV.com and apply for a redo from the show "Clean Sweep". If you have ever watched that program, you will realize how unimportant much of your possessions are to you.

I didn't need to apply because my brother-in-law married a professional organizer last year, and my husband immediately asked her to come and help me out. Not him, mind you, just me.

I have been amazed at what I have been able to just give away. Of course, I'm still getting used to the system that was set up for me, and I still loose control, but I am getting better. My main change has been in attitude about the accumulation of "stuff". After Katrina, it really hit home as to what is really important in this life.

As long as you are fed, clothed, dry, warm (or cool), and have your family and friends around you, the rest is just extras.

Just use this mantra... " I am not on this earth to keep up with the Jones, but to set a good example for them."

Good luck..
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Old 09-18-2005, 08:07 PM   #6
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Deja vu

Sounds like my office and my workshop. I once was almost given an "award" while at IBM for the messiest desk in the laboratory. They finally decided that wasn't an appropriate award.

I also have a bit of attention deficit disorder. I start on one task and end up doing something totally different kicked off by something I come across while searching through the clutter for a part.

On the other hand, I was the top inventor in my area for much of my stint in the IBM labs. Thinking outside the box seems to go with a certain amount of disorganization. Count your blessings that you probably have a lot more interests and variety in your life than the average bloke.
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Old 09-18-2005, 08:15 PM   #7
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Question Sorry, misinformation...

Clean Sweep is on TLC not HGTV.

I have to quit taking these drugs...........
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Old 09-18-2005, 08:16 PM   #8
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Thanks, Beth!

So ... who wants some stuff?

Seriously, Beth, a professional organizer could help? That seems like ... going to a shrink or visiting a prostitute or one of those other things that sane, healthy people shouldn't have to resort to.

And I'd get my homework from "Clean Sweep" but, like Pahaska, would be found on Monday in a small pile of thread snippets, entranced by some creation, with the net effect being an even bigger mess than they left me with on Friday.

And Sneak, cleaning out my garage would require throwing away all those perfectly good oak doors left over after my addition ... just in case the next owners decide to put in more doors somewhere, I guess, they'll have the originals....

I did better when I lived with someone. A friend says this kind of nuttiness is actually perfectionism gone awry, because I'll spend hours on a small task & be totally happy with the result, but meanwhile nobody can locate any clean sheets though I'm sure there ARE some down by the washer & dryer someplace, maybe on that worktable that I've had since someone died in the apartment next to me back in Ft. Lauderdale ....
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Old 09-18-2005, 08:24 PM   #9
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Yeah, I don't think I'll ever be "organized" after accumulating a certain level of things. But has anyone ever gone the opposite way, minimized & then regretted it? How would I cook delicious meals 2 or 3 times a year without the KitchenAid mixer & the Calphalon roaster & high-quality baking sheets & the Cuisinart & the special dessert plates & the champagne flutes?
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Old 09-18-2005, 08:25 PM   #10
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Kid, I didn't know Susan had a long, lost sister! Luckily, it's pretty much confined to just a couple of rooms around here. Well, that and about three closets, no make that four. But seriously, take one of those flutes, fill it with your best vintage and take two of the green pills. It'll all be cool.

But seriously, I read last week in another of your posts that you weren't "working right now". Here's an idea, actually, two ideas. Dive into it and take care of it,or.....Load a bunch of that junk in one of those 5 (or was it 6?) Airstreams and hit the road for a while. Sounds like you reallllly need a break.

You realize you used the word Freakin' in an earlier post tonight, right? Sounds like your stress level is way up the scale. Take a break, chill out. Go out for pizza and beer (that's always a good one for me).

When you're ready, call one of those "organization" shows on HGTV or TLC. You sound like a shoe in to be on the show!

And if you want to get rid of any of those Airstreams, I might be able to help you out.

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Old 09-18-2005, 08:25 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by summerkid
If I wake up in 10 years & this is my life, I'll slit my wrists rather than being one of those eccentric old ladies wedged into chaos.
Ever hear that song by Michelle Shocked? When I grow up I want to be an old woman, an old old old old woman... Its great, its my mantra.
Get out some construction paper and a pen. Now write "Martha Stewart Doesn't Live Here". Tape it up on your mirror!
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Old 09-18-2005, 08:32 PM   #12
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And I don't even buy clothing or jewelry or shoes or normal stuff like that. I'm wearing a T-shirt left one morning by some guy I hung out with 20 years ago. I like the T-shirt a lot; it's from the Pretenders tour. My favorite sweatshirt was left in the back seat by a hitchhiker round about the same time.

And don't get me wrong---I don't long for the days when I could pack everything I owned into a hatchback & leave town every time I broke up with some guy!

Sneak & I used to fantasize back & forth about building a Quonset hut (not together, we each came up with this idea separately) & living simply in one big room with our trailers. If I just had a big enough space lined with enough shelves, I think it would all be OK.

And yeah, the "not working" part was an attempt at tough love for myself: If I didn't have the golden handcuffs of that career & its salary, then I'd have to figure out my next life in a hurry, no? Not sure that's happening!
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Old 09-18-2005, 08:47 PM   #13
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SK... so what's the problem? Live the way you want. Do what you want to do! Who are you trying to please if not yourself? Don't worry, be happy!

Roger
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Old 09-18-2005, 08:49 PM   #14
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10 years ago We sold off everything but the heirloom antiques and what I could fit in a 8X10 storage unit. We traveled for a while and enjoyed it. But the house bug bit and we ended up settling down again.

The stuff in storage was our "seed furniture" and we were able to over time replace/upgrade from what we had sold. Other that a few pieces of Art that may have just gotten lost, and a few tools that I eventually replaced I don't miss any of it. Over time we become slaves to the maintenance of our stuff instead of living life. Once you get rid of 80% of it, you will find that the house is just a place to sleep and you may be more inclined to go places and see things with your Airstream(s) in tow.
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