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Feb. 7th, 2010

After several weeks of focusing on work and preparing for the craft fair, and/or ignoring the fact that my dining room was still one-quarter submerged in boxes, I flipped out on Friday and went AAAAUGH HOLY SHIT WHAT IN HELL IS IN THESE BOXES?

The answer was:

4 boxes of papers to go through
1 box of books to sell
2 big boxes of books that can be sorted through and shelved or put in the sell pile
2 small empty boxes that were there to store the random extra books
1 box of VHS tapes to go in long-term storage
1 scattered box worth of stuff for Goodwill and the Boskone freebie table
a bunch of my missing desk stuff
my camera box, sans my best camera
an ancient laptop that's going in the Best Buy recycling bin, unless someone really wants an 11-year-old laptop that's locked with a mystery password
...and some random foo that could be consolidated.

So I made two stacks of empty boxes. And then Saturday and Sunday I was periodically overtaken by numinous rage, and flung myself at a random box screaming EEEAGH DIE DIE DIE. Boxes have been emptied, boxes have been consolidated, boxes have been routed from the living room and piled in the dining room, which is still one-fifth swamped in boxes, but in better-organized, better-stacked boxes. Boxes have been moved into long-term storage, or at least near where storage will be once I finish painting. it's all been complicated and violent and filled with the sound of rending cardboard. Very bracing.

I've also discovered that after purging my fridge and freezer down to just what I use in a week, I get anxious when they start to fill up. All the frozen food from Arisia is making me twitchy. I called a former neighbor and went THERE IS TOO MUCH FREE FOOD HERE, TAKE IT AWAY. We'll hopefully be organizing the dropoff this week--I can't take much more of the sight of TOO MUCH ARTISAN BREAD staring at me every time I open the freezer.

(That said, I'd maim for a vegetable.)

The living room is almost down to no wandering boxes at all. So's the bedroom. And the stack of empty boxes in front of the kitchen keeps rising higher.

And the desk shelves are STILL half empty.


Inspiration: Oprah's new special on hoarding

I spent yesterday morning putting up two out of four desk shelves, and yesterday afternoon filling them. Before you snort at the COLOSSAL EFFORT of mounting FOUR SHELF BRACKETS OH NOES, please consider that the wall was designed by FREAKING ESCHER. The bottom two brackets are where you'd expect them to be, at roughly 15-inch intervals. (Most studs these days are 16" apart, but oh well.) The top two brackets? Well, the left one whined and wiggled and pulled out when I installed it above the lower bracket, but it was just fine with being reinstalled three inches to the left. The right bracket ran into a two-foot-wide space where there were no studs at all, so it's over a foot to the right and only a few inches from the end of the shelf. The stud finder? Was a decorative piece of yellow plastic. Was finding studs in the next wall over. Was finding studs ON OTHER PLANETS. I had to make rows of holes in the plaster with a nail, doin' it old-school, to find the studs or exceptionally sturdy bits of plaster or bodies hidden in the walls or whatever my shelves are mounted on.

And then I started opening boxes and couldn't remember what went on my shelves.

The mail organizer, obviously. And the DVD case of backups. And the mail sorter. And the blank books. And, uhhh...

Three months ago, these things were filled three shelves high. Now I have one shelf's worth of stuff spread over two shelves. And I'm short just one thing I need to make my desk experience complete.

This decluttering thing does work.

More Cluttering Advice

The last cluttering post really seemed to help people, so here are a few more points I picked up--most of them in the past week.
Until we can all lay hands on katamari...Collapse )

Resources for Clutterers

First, a quick talk about hoarding: When people see "hoarding," they think "horror houses filled to the ceiling with garbage." That's understandable, but not true; it's like seeing "eating disorder" and thinking of 65-pound anorexics. Hoarding is a way of relating to objects and making decisions. It manifests as anything from horror houses to clutterbugs and people whose houses are always just a little bit messier than they'd like. As you read these links, you'll get a better idea of how the online hoarding community uses the word "hoarding." Until then, please don't feel that the sites are only for people living in horror-house conditions, or that you're being accused of living like that.

Squalor Survivors
"Help and friendly support for chronically messy people living in squalor. Conquer disorganization with humor and compassion." They use "squalor" as a synonym for unusual levels of mess. It's a treasure trove of accounts of people who went deep into squalor and came back out, plus a support forum for people who have hoarding tendencies.

Children of Hoarders
Mainly for children and other family members of compulsive hoarders. Has tips for dealing with hoarders, stories from people living in hoarders' houses, a locked forum that's supposed to be excellent, and help for hoarders themselves.

Messofthehouse's Youtube channel

Messofthehouse's father and little sister live in a duplex with MotH's stepmother, a severe hoarder who is in deep, deep denial. Twice a year, MotH goes home for the holidays and tackles one or two rooms to make a clean space for his father and sister, being careful not to step on his stepmother's toes. The resulting videos are amazing. If you're dealing with a hoarder, they're an example of how it's done; and if you're a hoarder, they're a kick in the ass to get your issues under control.

Hoarders

An A&E TV show that follows hoarders and their families through two-day interventions and cleanups. It focuses on severe cases, and many of the hoarders aren't ready to clean up and are being forced to do it by the law, so it can be depressing as hell.

FlyLady
Practical daily advice on decluttering your home. Many people swear by her. I can't stand her incessant grating tweeness, but a lot of the advice I find helpful turns out to have come from her via other bloggers.

Compulsive Hoarding Syndrome
The OCD Foundation's overview of hoarding.

2008 was the year of Agh I Have Hoarding Tendencies, Nuke Them From Orbit. I shoved several carloads of stuff out of my apartment, tossed even more into the garbage, and learned a ton about why I accumulate objects and how to stop doing it. It wasn't an easy year, but it was a turning point.

Then came 2009, and I rested on my laurels. And then learned, come October and a sudden move, exactly how much I hadn't learned in 2008. Some of it I relearned, some of it I learned fast, and some of it is still packed up in boxes waiting for a breakthrough. In the hopes that it will help you, here's what I did learn:
Kick your stuff down the stairs and call it Martha. It won't care. It's stuff.Collapse )

Why is your space cluttered?

As with the previous poll, no one except me can see who answered what, and I won't be looking.

Poll #1238316 Why is your space cluttered?

If your space is cluttered, why? If you live in a cluttered space but you are not the person responsible, answer for the person responsible.

The time I spend putting things away and cleaning is not enough to keep up with the mess.
0(0.0%)
I have too many possessions for my space. If I had more space, my home would be uncluttered.
0(0.0%)
I have too many possessions for my space. However, I think that if I had more space, my possessions would expand to fill the space.
0(0.0%)
I am a collector.
0(0.0%)
I have kids.
0(0.0%)
I have pets.
0(0.0%)
I have frequent houseguests.
0(0.0%)
I am storing other people's possessions.
0(0.0%)
My physical disabilities make it difficult for me to manage my space.
0(0.0%)
My hobbies require equipment.
0(0.0%)
I have a large computer setup and/or an electronics graveyard.
0(0.0%)
I like clutter. It feels like home.
1(2.6%)
I am a hoarder or I have hoarding tendencies.
0(0.0%)
Other (Please explain below.)
0(0.0%)

What does your clutter consist of?

Books
0(0.0%)
Videos
0(0.0%)
CDs and other data storage
0(0.0%)
Papers
0(0.0%)
Electronics
0(0.0%)
Clothing
0(0.0%)
Toys
0(0.0%)
Collectibles
0(0.0%)
Household goods
0(0.0%)
Toiletries
0(0.0%)
Craft supplies
0(0.0%)
Sports, camping, or other hobby equipment
0(0.0%)
SCAdian or LARPing foo, except for costuming
0(0.0%)
Costuming foo
0(0.0%)
Gabage
0(0.0%)

Fandom vs. Clutter

No one except me can see who answered what on this poll, and I won't be looking. If you'd like to comment, discuss, or elaborate on your answers in the comments, please do.

Poll #1238274 Fandom vs. Cluttered Houses

Do you consider yourself a fan or part of fandom, and is your home or personal space markedly cluttered?

Yes, I am part of fandom; no, my space is not cluttered.
4(9.8%)
Yes, I am part of fandom; yes, my space is cluttered.
32(78.0%)
No, I am not part of fandom; no, my space is not cluttered.
0(0.0%)
No, I am not part of fandom; yes, my space is cluttered.
5(12.2%)

If you said your space was cluttered, how would you describe the clutter?

Many of the available surfaces are covered, but the floor and furniture are clear.
4(11.1%)
Many of the available surfaces are covered, and there's some stuff on the floor, but the furniture is clear.
13(36.1%)
There are large piles on the floor, but there's plenty of room to walk and the furniture is mostly clear.
10(27.8%)
There are large piles on the floor and paths are starting to form, but there's still space to walk and the furniture is mostly clear.
1(2.8%)
There are paths through the piles on the floor, but the furniture is mostly clear.
1(2.8%)
There are paths through the piles on the floor and the furniture is starting to fill up.
4(11.1%)
There are paths through the piles on the floor and parts of the house are inaccessible.
1(2.8%)
Much of the house is inaccessible.
0(0.0%)
My main living space is relatively uncluttered, but I have more than one junk room (not counting traditional junk rooms like the attic, basement, etc.) or have otherwise lost part of the house to clutter.
2(5.6%)

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