The Circle of (unorganised) Life


October 22, 2012 by benmblackman

My wife is a hoarder. We discussed this once. I say discussed, more like I tried to hold an informal intervention and she went a bit mad. They don’t like it if you suggest they need to throw some things away you see. That’s why they’re hoarders.

We need to extend ours to this.

Since then we’ve just continued to buy more and more stuff and throw nothing away. Yes, we’ve added two floor to ceiling book cases, a large outdoor storage container and a garden shed to our ‘solutions’ but in terms of impact, this has been like sticking a plaster on the hole in the ozone layer.

It was bad enough when there was just the two of us but now there are three (and considering the third was a baby – I can’t tell you how much stuff that entailed – and is now a small child – I can’t tell you how many toys that requires) it’s even worse. Added to the cat and three hens something had to give.

We need a playroom like this. We haven’t got a playroom like this.

Two becoming three meant we lost the ‘spare room’ (read: dumping room). Because it is now her bedroom and with only a single bed we have lost one of our prize storage areas (‘underneath the spare bed.’) Her measly single child sized bed is useless for our hiding purposes. It has two built in drawers but they are not nearly sufficient for the amounts of bedding we require to keep a small child in acceptable levels of cleanliness (what with all the dribble; snot; spillages; puke; and – hopefully we’re past this now – wee wee).

Not our spare room but not far off it!

Our other ‘spare room’ (the box room) is adequately named because for the last 3 months it has been, literally, full of boxes: Christmas decorations (obviously in October); 2 camp beds; tent; enough unhung art for Hartbeat to run the gallery section of the show several times over; 2 lap-top computers; a printer; bedding; cd player; a scary amount of unopened mail dating back to January 2012 (some of those bounced bills now make a bit more sense); cricket bat; sledge; 43 books; 27 cd’s; 2 jumpers; 1 cardigan; 2 pairs of jeans (1 pair not even ours); half an exercise bike; 2.5 floor fans; 11 socks; 7 shoes. I could go on, there was more. I probably should have spent some more time clearing it rather than counting it but I was intrigued.

Something had to give. After agreeing with my wife that ‘something’ involved more than just one pair of jeans (not even ours) and one sock (to round the total to an even ten, albeit, still unmatching) we agreed we would have a clear out. Again.

She is far better than me in every way, that’s why I married her, but that doesn’t make funny blogging so let’s just pretend that she is really annoying ok?

I don’t really give my wife a fair press in my blogs (a point she is beginning to note with more frequency) so I will fess up. She is a hoarder. We are serial clearers.

Yesterday, for the 700,000,013th time in the last six years we ‘had a clear out.’

‘It’s got to get worse before it can get better.’

We are incredibly good at the stage that involves getting everything out of all spare rooms, cupboards, underneath’s of bed areas, and other places she’s hidden stuff. We are getting even better at the bit where we organise all of this into piles for: keep; charity shop; eBay; rubbish dump. But we ‘must try harder’ regarding the most important phase of any ‘clear out.’ The bit where you actually clear it. By this stage, two hours in, still in our pajamas, no breakfast eaten, we were flagging. Survive the jungle for a week? Bear Grylls should try getting through one of our clear outs unscathed! Dust from the items pulled from cubbyholes rarely accessed rendered our throats so dry we could barely talk to argue anymore by this stage.

So we did what all sensible people would do in such situations. We closed all the doors upstairs (where we had ‘cleared’) and went downstairs instead to eat bacon sandwiches, drink strong espresso coffee and orange juice and pretend we were a civilised, grown up family. Refueled, we pushed on and actually cleared a great deal. One of our best ever. The kid even gave us both a sticker for ‘tidying up your toys. Well done.’

Our household is now this civilised once more.

By 6.30pm we were smugly eating roast dinner in our tidy and organised house (4 rubbish dumped bags lighter; 2 charity shop bags better off in mind and soul; a spare room we can now re-enter). This is fantastic news because we now have room to redistribute the stuff we clear out from the cupboard under the stairs (next weeks project).

And so, the circle of (unorganised) life continues.


4 thoughts on “The Circle of (unorganised) Life

  1. Jill R says:

    You just described my weekend! But the offending hoarder was my hubby and his tools. Great blog.

  2. Brenda Dell says:

    Stuff comes under many headings, from the excuse “It might come in useful one day and we can’t afford to buy it” to trinkets gifted over the years. Let’s face it; age sorts out the need for trinkets, but not much else changes.
    Take books for instance. Suppose you had studied four languages, ultimately choosing to graduate in English and Italian. Hence lots and lots of poorly produced books, many of which (French) you had to split with a knife to read. You had plenty of energy: ice skating, climbing and snowboots; squash, tennis and badminton racquets; fencing foil and kit; artist’s easel and essentials; intensive woodworking, stained glass work, DIY behind you. Then you marry, and theology and philosophy meet sci-fi and philosophy and you then have children. What will come in? You move, ditch all the Latin books en route for lack for dead Romans, and from then on branch out into Acquisitions ‘R Us.
    Even two children and infant years over you cull the library down to 2,000 benevolently adding 1000 books to school recycling skips, all in the interests of sanity. The piano sadly passes out and on as one in four cannot justify its existence. The classical guitars and organ gather dust along with exercise machines which if actually sold could be replaced by more real wardrobes which has been their only use. Coathangers prove they breed when you fling them against the wall in disgust. Apart from one brief moment of happiness when it becomes obvious that your children will not pursue Spanish, Italian, French, time and space (and willpower) deny you the pleasure of a lighter life. Suppose you teach English again/ No good saying there’s a school full of books for you to choose when you know you will not abandon those cherished annotated texts.
    I assure you, Ben, nothing changes. You see we have the problem of actually doing things. Sewing machine, knitting machine overlocker and craft materials my responsibilty and a double garage and loft of DIY essentias for partner in crime. Dormobile and camping requirements for all of us. When 2 households meet things double. Of course 2 single people have made do with seconds of china, “Which?” economy of choice for white goods, etc., etc. I yell to be grown up and buy for cosmetic reasons but it’s never going to happen.
    Two points therefore worth noting. YOU ARE PAYING A MORTGAGE to house all this stuff. You must institute Annual Clearout Day preceded by a list and schedule, monitored by a stop watch, and offering luxury relief at the end of the day.
    I am currently doing what you are doing, Ben. Why do the contents of the medicine cupboard cover the dining room table!
    Ben, wish you and Emma all the best…..

  3. Clutter is just that. As far as I’ve learned in my life growing up, my family continually purchased furniture and all sorts of crap, only to be stuffed into corners. Its one of the few things that stress me out more then being sick with a blazing hot fever. Clutters also known to cause sickness due to mildew and such pronouncing it self over time

    -Eleuterio Martinez

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