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Yesterday I was reduced to tidying the kitchen cupboards. I’m a neat person so there isn’t much fodder for satisfying spring cleaning urges. I mean, I’m not going to attempt anything labor-intensive like painting, so I was forced to make do with lining up all the cans of tomatoes so that their labels matched perfectly, and getting rid of those things that accumulate over the years. For example, the cubeb berries purchased by my husband about five years ago. Sorry cubeb berries, your time has come.

In addition to being tidy, I’m also afflicted with an almost pathological fear of having too much stuff. In an ideal world I’d be able to fit all my belongings in a suitcase (like Cordelia Grey, the PD James character). And not that long ago I could–I once moved house via a trip on the city bus. Good times. Not so possible anymore, what with the multiple sofas. This fear makes me freak out occasionally, and I think I’m having an episode now. Makes sense–there is a definite scent of spring in the air. And I keep thinking about BFB moving across the country and how great a cross-country move is for shedding excess crap. Plus it’s been a year since my life started to really suck, and that realization is making me want a fresh start. I yearn for everything to be clean and new and orderly. I wish I could just empty the entire house and scrub everything. I want to return to those blissful days when instead of having a lovely house that is slowly filling up with detritus, we just had a lovely house. I feel Oppressed by my Belongings.

Okay, I know this is not really about belongings. It’s about trying to exert control and to recover a sense of hope and energy like the one I had when we moved here. It’s about ridding myself of the Cobwebs of Grief, the Dust of Despair, the Cubeb Berries of Thwarted Dreams. I know that if I tear my entire house apart I’ll just end up overwhelmed. And my husband would not actually be psyched to come home and discover me sleeping on a nest of torn up newspaper shreds in an empty house. So I’m trying not to let these impulses have their way with me. MUST STAY CALM. MUST NOT GO CRAZY. Perhaps I will alphabetize the cleaning products tonight.

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  1. I've been in a spring cleaning mood myself lately. Part if it is because of this huge life change of quitting my job, and part is due to the 50 degree weather we've been having, but I have the same urge to just go through every cabinet and closet and toss things. I have such a hard time with getting rid of some things though. I think it has to do with being so poor when I was younger – we didn't have a lot, and everything was saved, passed down, repurposed. I'm learning to let go though, and have been sending boxes of clothing and old dishes to Goodwill. It feels so good to get rid of clutter!Now about tearing the house apart – I always tell my husband that things have to get worse before they can get better :). I suggest doing the windows. Windows always need cleaning :). And have you color coordinated your closet yet?

    March 9, 2010
  2. Oh, I have a solution! Why don't you come over here and I'll watch Basmati while you clean my house? Because I'm lacking that "clean things" gene, and it shows.

    March 9, 2010
  3. JB #

    Dude, you may feel free to come over and declutter my basement. Cause it won't declutter itself, and due to a serious case of laziness, neither shall I.My vice has always been cleaning. In particular, the kitchen cupboards. Specifically in particular, the tupperware cabinet. Lordy we have a lot of tupperwayre, gladware, saved to-go plastic containers, etc. And my dear husband believes it is organized when things don't fall out of it after opening the door. Much. So every now and again I yank it all out, devise an organization plan, and restack it to perfection. No underlying control issues about this, nope.

    March 9, 2010
  4. Luckily for me, E throws/gives away everything we own on a weekly basis, so no clutter in my house! Although i do need to get rid of old clothes.I cut bangs and started a tattoo removal process in response to my losses. Something about my body that I can control….

    March 9, 2010
  5. I hate clutter. I've spent entire years in foreign countries with only a single suitcase worth of belongings. Of course, my husband is the polar opposite – he grew up very poor and he embraces the practice of collecting stuff…I personally think he's collecting security, not things, so I do my best to compromise. Regardless, I would be in serious trouble if I suddenly made our home into my minimalist dream space. Let me know if arranging cans does the trick.

    March 9, 2010
  6. Mr. Misfit also throws anything away that's not nailed down, including cooking ingredients that I've just spent 30 minutes chopping to a fine dice. I've put in a new laminate floor, stripped a mantel of 50 years of paint, and am currently perusing the aisle of home improvement stores inspecting various power tools. Dangerous times indeed. Honestly, it just feels good to DO SOMETHING that I can do, and see the fruit of that work show up, in the real world.I also have the fear of too much stuff. I used to pride myself on fitting my life into my car and riding away to joining the gypsies. Now, I'd need the whole circus to carry my crap. I did find it intensely rewarding to get rid of a few items of somewhat important furniture (like a coffee table and a desk), and then adjust life with just a bit less stuff around.

    March 10, 2010
  7. Haha! I know how you feel…I've been itching to do a major closet reorganization and wardrobe assessment (i.e. donating 1/3 of the clothes I have and NEVER wear). It's definitely Spring fever.

    March 10, 2010
  8. Have you tried color coding your wardrobe? THat could be next on your list.Seriously though, I think your right about just needing some sort of control on an out of control life. IF has a lot to answer for and the loss of control is a biggie.Good luck and I hope the clean out makes you feel fresh and new again.

    March 10, 2010
  9. I hear you on the stuff. I have the same feeling. Drowning in things. Wishing for the days when my life was more, I dunno, portable. I think you're spot on about the control. The good thing, I suppose, is that when it passes…you're going to have an extra tidy house. I can only every be truly happy when things are nice and neat. A sign of dysfunction? I don't think so. One of the delightful quirks that makes me me.

    March 16, 2010

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