Decluttering my Life; or, How to Go Insane

When we first moved to this house, I was in the master room: 15 x 13 feet, white walls pocked with holes (it’s a nightmare to hang things around here), sandy-colored laminate floors, and one big window. When Gram moved in, the girls took that room and I got “the dark room”, which had been Nina’s. It has two smaller windows facing south and is shielded from torrential downpours getting in through open windows because it runs into a corner of the house (which makes me the only room in the house where the windows can be open during most rainstorms). The floors are the original and rather damaged dark wood, as is the trim; the ceiling is what a Google search calls “cardboard tile”, and it and the light fixture are hideous; and at one time the room (including the closet) had been papered in a garish display of old car models, complete with labels for said cars.

The landlord appeared to have done everything “most of the way”, so three walls are painted one of two shades of brown and the third is half done with some wallpaper still visible.

Oh. And some sort of possessed creature may or may not have at one time been locked in this room. There are scratches along the lower part of the main door.

I meant to get more “before” pictures, but the lighting in my room is shoddy at the best of times and brown walls are hardly photogenic. Also, the state of the room, even before I started working on it, is embarrassing.

Wednesday morning, surrounded by bags and boxes brought back from housesitting, I started on Step One. I pulled a pile of clothes out of my closet that has survived the first round of purging a couple of months ago; tossed out shoes I like but honestly don’t wear; sorted through books I somehow have on my shelves even though they aren’t mine and/or I don’t like them; and sorted through my sentimentality container and winnowed the items inside until they fit in a smaller box (and is it ever hard to choose between childhood toys).

My dog has learned to be suspicious whenever I endeavor to clean beyond clearing garbage and dishes and running a vacuum. She wasn’t happy to see my determined industry and moped around the house until Mom let her into her room.

As with every time I start a project, I browsed a lot of articles for advice on how best to manage a cleaning spree. Probably half of the articles I read mentioned cleaning out one’s book collection, and they all went thus:

  1. Get rid of books you don’t need, like textbooks and old cookbooks.
  2. Take advantage of e-books and replace most of your hard copies with these.
  3. Get rid of books you’ve already read.
  4. You don’t need books except as decoration.

Can you guess which articles I disregarded?

A year on Tumblr has shown me that I may not be a “true bookworm”. Why? Because I almost never buy books I’ve never read, even if they’re a piece of art on a bookshelf. To me it’s a waste of money and space to own books I don’t love, or which have not impacted me personally (this does not include textbooks, which of course have impacted me but which don’t deserve to sit around as a reminder of how much I hate chemistry). Yes, I love browsing bookstores, but I rarely come out with anything. Yes, I love reading, but most of what I read comes from the library. Getting rid of books because “you’ve already read them” doesn’t compute with me. Clearly these people don’t re-read.

Yes, I got rid of books, but they were ones people have given to me over the years for reasons beyond me, which I had yet to get rid of, or all of my old horse books I’m not longer interested in. (The latter may have a new home with one of the youth group girls soon.)

Also, replacing hard copies with e-books? E-books can cost almost as much as physical books. The only thing it’s saving is space; not money and certainly not sanity.

One more thing and I’m done: I don’t usually decorate with my books. Yes, I like to display them, but they are organized by non-fiction, old books, and fiction, and then alphabetically by author. I don’t “get” color-coding books, and hollowing out books and gluing them together for a pretty display makes me sick.

Ok. I’m done talking about my books.

I returned to work on the room Wednesday evening, which was when I started to run out of steam. By Thursday morning, I had pulled out what I could easily get at. However, I learned that it is very hard to properly sort and organize things when furniture is not where it belongs. Go figure.

So for the moment I collected what I could in the closet and boxed up nearly everything else to be tucked under my bed or on my desk.

The next step is prepping for the big painting project, after which the rest of my things could be sorted through. However, I don’t think this whole project is going to take 2 weeks. By the third day I was already going mad with all of my stuff scattered about.


2 thoughts on “Decluttering my Life; or, How to Go Insane

  1. I couldn’t help but notice the Stutz auto symbol in the left corner of your wallpaper picture. I’ve wanted to drive a Stutz Bearcat ever since I saw Wayne Carini find one in a barn a few years ago. Impressive cars for their time. The wallpaper though, is amazingly horrible, and needs to be removed or painted over. Good luck decluttering, it’s been a multi-year journey for me.


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