Whose Crap Is It, Anyway?

1:59 AM. That was the last time I looked at the clock before sleep finally overtook me last night. Or this morning, if you want to nitpick.

I was still awake because I stayed up to work on a project for my Epidemiology class. And before that I had been packing. I was also awake because I’m just not sleeping much these days.

It’s not because I’m not tired. Tired is pretty much a 24/7 thing for me. But even when my body is worn out and eager for rest, somehow I just can’t get my brain to put up a “closed” sign and go home for the night. Or morning. Whatever.

I’ve been down this road before. It’s nothing new. It’s just your typical case of pre-move stress. Only this time, it comes with a nice heaping side order of grad school. In grad school, nobody cares if you’re tired, or in the midst of moving house. Papers must be written, and projects must be turned in on time. No late work accepted. Period.

This is my life right now. As much as I’d prefer to be soaking up the sun in SoCal and fixing brownies and fried fucking chicken for Dave and company, the reality is that I’m here in the Fort, still at my regular job, packing up my belongings so I can move (IN EIGHT DAYS), and working on two papers that are due before midnight this Sunday.

True, grad school was self-inflicted, but for all my kvetching, I’m glad to have the opportunity, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just the move that I hadn’t added in to the equation. Talk about a horrible mid-term project!

But anyway, while I’ve been busy not sleeping, I’ve been thinking. Lots of random shit knocking around in my head. I’ve been trying to recall the layout of each room in the new house so I can decide where to put things when we move. I’ve been wondering exactly when the eagerly awaited new Foo Fighters album will be released (sometime this year, so the rumor goes). I’ve been pondering my topic for an upcoming paper that I’ll be working on after the move.

But mostly, I’ve been asking myself this question: Why do I have so much crap?

Seriously, we are drowning in crap. I don’t know how it happens. I don’t think of myself as a hoarder, nor do I have the desire or the necessary capital to shop incessantly for stuff I don’t need. I keep a pretty tidy house which is mostly clutter-free (except for the office and the garage, which are both disasters NOT of my making, and which I can’t think about without cringing a little, but that’s another story).

Maybe it’s just a result of 30+ years of adulthood, marriage, and having a family. But whatever the cause, and despite regularly purging belongings from closets and cabinets, we are heavily burdened with stuff. And the weird part is, you don’t realize how much stuff you have until you have to wrap it, pack it, and tote it to a new domicile.

My friend Melinda is a professional personal organizer, which means that, among other things, she helps people deal with their excessive crap. The best advice she ever gave me, and which I know she gives all of her clients, is this: If you don’t need it, use it, or love it, get rid of it.

It is a brilliant concept in its simplicity and logic. And yet, when it comes time to keep it or toss it, many folks still waver. Myself included, hence the giant pyramid of packed boxes currently residing in my dining room. And there’s a long way to go still.

I have to give myself credit, however, because with each closet, drawer, and cabinet I open, I repeat Melinda’s mantra over and over in my mind. And I’m making progress. At least that’s what I tell myself each day. Even if it’s not true, it helps me fight the urge to drink heavily or run away from home.

The one room where I really can’t pare down, however, is the kitchen. It’s the room most heavily laden with crap, but almost none of it is frivolous or unnecessary. I cook and I bake, and there are lots of tools for those jobs. Yes, I do have three springform pans, but they’re different sizes and I need all of them. Don’t judge me!

It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve made some concessions and put some items in the giveaway box. I decided I could part with some duplicate items. For instance, I couldn’t really justify having two egg separators, so one is leaving. I have skills, but I’m not ambidextrous. The ability to separate two eggs simultaneously, while it would probably qualify as a great Stupid Human Trick on Letterman, is not really a goal of mine. One egg separator is definitely enough.

Also leaving our house are the crappy, cheap cooking knives, which are older than both of my children (and not nearly as sharp.) We have a really good set of knives, which the kids and I got Mark for Christmas a few years ago, and a back-up set of so-so knives. When Mark and I are both working in the kitchen at the same time, he gets the good set and I use the back-ups. It’s only fair, since they’re technically his. Two sets of knives will suffice.

As much as it pained me to do it, I forced myself to get rid of at least a dozen random coffee mugs that I’ve collected over the years. Nobody needs that many coffee mugs, even cute ones featuring kittens or Christmas themes, or Christmas-themed kittens. Random coffee mugs, your time has come.

And I’ve noticed that the closer we get to Moving Day, the easier it gets to jettison things. Besides the Melinda chant, I’ve also begun to ask myself this question: “Do you really want this enough to pack it here and then unpack it at the new house? Really?” In some cases, that’s all the incentive I’ve needed to drop something into the giveaway box. Or the trash.

So, yeah, that’s where I’m at. Eight days left in the countdown. And if I’m not at the office or working on a paper, you can find me at home, armed with a tape gun and a strong will. Feel free to call any time. There’s not much chance you’ll catch me sleeping.

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