Wednesday, January 02, 2008


The chorus of this song from my early teens has been haunting me all day. I couldn't remember any of it except two lines of the chorus and I even remembered them wrong. Thus: "Ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn and face the pain...Time may change me, I can't change time." It is actually 'face the strain' and 'I can't trace time.'

The song was haunting me because the concept of changes brought about by facing certain uncomfortable truths about oneself and then applying ones self to change that which is change-worthy and under ones control has been the major focus of my thoughts for over a week and yesterday I began one of the biggest projects toward applying big changes to my daily life.

Ed's folks left on a week-long vacation at the coast Tuesday afternoon and I almost immediately began the huge project of cleaning and reorganizing our room. I've talked here before about my issues with hoarding and disorganization. They are magnified by the fact we are living with Ed's parents and our room is the small bedroom in a single-wide mobile home. Last summer I blogged about a major cleaning and reorganizing of the room when we acquired some shelving from Ed's Dad who had just cleaned out his storage sheds. I was excited about it at the time and thought it was going to be the solution but they took so much room themselves that one section that was hip high on me blocked the front of the closet. We thought we could live with that but the top of the 'bookcase' ended up piled to the level of my eyes. Mostly with clothes.

Then the stack of boxes which serves as our bedside table ended up blocking access to more than half of the bottom three shelves of the nearly ceiling tall bookshelf. It was barely workable if everything got put away correctly every day. But neither of us dependably does that in the best of times. During NaNo I slacked off and during the overtime season between Thanksgiving and Xmas where Ed works he slacked off on keeping his things in order.

I can't overstate the demoralizing effect of seeing freshly laundered clothes being treated little differently than those in the hamper. This chaos made beginning let alone completing the simplest tasks extra difficult and caused them to take extra time as well. Hunting out clothes for a shower was often a matter of moving the layers of that stack of clothes onto the bed until the items you were looking for were found and then moving the stuff back again. Things that fell behind that stack into the cavern of the closet could not be retrieved unless the entire stack of clothes, duffel bag full of clothes and plastic drawer-in-a-box were moved off the short bookcase. And then it was necessary to sit on the bookcase and lean into the closet. Once I fell head first into it when I was alone in the room. I'm sure it would have made a funny video but it wasn't funny at the time. The thought of having to call for help and inviting one of my in-laws in there to see the condition of their guest room at that time was nearly enough to precipitate an anxiety attack.

I haven't bothered going after items I lost back there since that incident which occurred sometime in October.

As if things weren't bad enough before my trip to Longview at the beginning of December, I made the mess twice as bad while packing for that trip. I had to empty that large duffel bag of clothes being stored in it in order to use it. And the same for a smaller duffel. All of the items I didn't take with me were stuffed into a large yard trash bag which was stuffed into the closet on top of what was already in there.

I can only do a major cleaning or reorganizing of our room when Ed's folks are not at home and not going to be home for a good eight hours or more. The only time I get that is Saturday racing day between April and September and their semi-annual three day trips to the coast. But for most of 2005 and 2006 I was needed for all of those occasions to sit with Ed's Grandma. So for about twenty months or so, my regular maintenance of the room was cut back to close to zero.

The reason I need to be home alone or with only Ed is that I have to move a lot of stuff out of the room in the process. Into their living room.

I have felt so demoralized by the process the last several times I went through the motions because I had begun to feel like Sisyphus pushing that meaningless boulder up the hill only to have it roll back down again. I keep moving stuff out of the room that I never see between the times that I move it out and back in again. Shuffling stuff like an endless solitaire game played with clothes and books and electronics and cardboard boxes and papers and sewing projects and HABA (Health and Beauty Aids--a term Ed and I began to use when he spent a year as a janitor of a department store.)

This time I am determined to winnow it down. The clothes especially. The majority of them are rags that I just have the hardest time throwing out. I mean they aren't even good enough for Goodwill. Holes, stains, frayed edges, snags and runs. I won't even go into the HABA, the sewing supplies, the office supplies and my research and writing papers. At least not until I get to the specific projects of sorting them. Some of the smaller sorting projects can wait until next week after the room is essentially put back together. My focus this week is on the closet and the books.

We have come up with a plan that might solve the problem of the space those shelves took up and the way access to the closet and half of the shelves was blocked. Ed is going to build a seven foot long bench against the wall opposite the closet. The bed is against that wall now. Two of the book cases will be set on that bench and the bed pushed back against them. Then I will take that side of the bed which is currently Ed's and he will have the side by the closet. Most of the books will fit onto those two book cases. The two shorter bookcases will fit side by side on top of the entertainment center. The bottom shelves of which will probably also hold books but the top shelves are too short so they will hold boot and shoe box tops and bottoms upturned to serve as drawers. Which is what is on them now but I'm sure different items will be stored in them when the change over is made because the items in them now are related to my writing and sewing projects which I will probably want to keep closer to my workstation at the head of the bed.

Today I got the laundry sorted and did seven loads. There are probably five more to go including blankets and coats. I also unloaded the two book shelves slated to be placed on the 'bench' and moved one of them out to the living room and put books back on it. Seems silly but it is the safest place for them. The other bookshelf is on top of the entertainment center now and too heavy for me to lift down. I lifted down one large cardboard box full of books off of it today and in the process one of the books (one of Ed's programmer's manuals) fell out and knocked my glasses off my face. My heart skipped several beats before I located and assured myself my new glasses had not been broken. I should have emptied the box first.

I also got everything off the floor of our half of the closet. The other half still contains my in-laws belongings.

I filled a hip high waste basket one and a half times already. That was just stuff immediately identifiable as trash. I won't embarrass myself further by listing any of it. I mean. Really. It was so bad it isn't hard to imagine images of the things I saw today being featured on one of Oprah's shows about hoarders or disorganized people. Or similar shows on the TLC channel.

I got a shower at nine and started this post at nine-thirty intending for it to be brief so that I could be in bed by ten. It just turned twelve. So much for intentions.

I just realized I have been sitting here on the couch for three hours. I barely sat down at all between noon and 5:30 today nor between 6 and 8:30. I lay on the bare mattress between 8:30 and 8:50 waiting for the sheets and mattress pad to finish drying. I could barely stand up afterwards. Oh boy. It is going to hurt when I stand up and start walking.

2 tell me a story:

Ann 1/03/2008 9:17 PM  

Hey Joy! Good luck with the organizing, it's especially tough with limited space like that (I know how that goes). Getting organized is one of my resolutions/goals for this year. Happy New Year! :)

Anonymous,  1/04/2008 5:50 AM  

We're trying to get organized too. I'm a mess when it comes to filing and keeping track of papers. The kids bring a paper home from school (ha, each kid brings home about 5 pieces of paper every day), and then need it returned, and I have no idea where it is!!

Tonight it's an all points bulletin to find Middle Monster's basketball jersey which has somehow disappeared and she has her first game tomorrow.

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