While surely I am stoppable—I have four stories to write plus blog ahead this week, one school starting, little childcare, a couple of greet-families-for-school events and more—I seem unable to help myself; I must keep plugging away with the end of summer beat-back-astounding-clutter project, despite all the other stuff demanding my attentions.
I photographed a spot I want to change, my back hallway. To employ unused hooks for the bags we bring to the co-op, grocery stores, and farmers’ market (and farm share bag, too) seemed like a great idea, except… well, we have so many bags, too many for the space. Recently, I put a pile of the overflow onto a shelf near the hooks. That’s a start.
These are the kinds of problems that I now feel determined to overcome. However, I don’t want to have to think about it a lot. And I don’t want to throw money at it, particularly. I just want to put systems in place that work for us.
I guess the underlying tension (and hope) is this: if I can reform my messy ways even a bit, I can figure out how to make that change rub off on the rest of the family and we can live in less-cluttered-and-more-peaceable harmony.
A friend pointed out that Phyllis Diller said cleaning the house while the children still live at home is like shoveling the walk before it's stopped snowing.
So, we shall see. Best-case scenario: we prove Phyllis Diller wrong.
What does this attempt at extricating myself from the jumble of stuff that’s overtaken have to do with anything? I just noticed that Seal Press has a book forthcoming—Pretty Neat: The Buttoned-Up Way to Get Organized and Let Go of Perfection, written by Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch—that casts a feminist eye on what the authors have dubbed “org porn” (as in design blogs and stores peddling an uncluttered lifestyle that’s really not unfettered). Since I have become a feminist, design blog junkie, I must read this book. I have a feeling it’ll speak to me, possibly directly.
Why me? Well, I do feel as if I’ve allowed myself to think that being organized is one measure of being successful. There are others I would also like to object to: that being a certain weight equals success or being published in a certain journal (or book or books) equals success or possessing certain things or that my kids’ achievements in any way reflect upon me and my success as a parent (on that point, actually, I’m pretty clear; to some overwhelmingly large extent, my kids’ strengths and challenges have not all that much to do with me—or at least with my doing).
I’ll tell you what (she writes, channeling one of her current heroes, Coach Eric Taylor), while I know that those things really aren’t barometers of “success,” I’m still totally vulnerable to believing them so. That book I’ve yet to see hits upon a critical point: perfection. Strike the concept from the vocabulary immediately!
As I start to ponder this all more seriously, I really must read my friend Jennifer Niesslein’s book—Practically Perfect in Every Way—which came out when I was otherwise exceedingly preoccupied, because from what I know, her book casts a critical—and personal—eye upon this subject.
At the very same time I am puzzling over stuff: how much too much of it we have, whether I want it, whether I want other stuff, why I might care about stuff, how I’m going to organize it, get rid of it, divest from clutter and all else, in a culture that takes more than its fair share. I believe there’s an acceptable (to me) place in my life to enjoy design, aesthetics, and both cute and beautiful things, as well as being able to embrace both order and chaos. Because here’s the thing; I do, I just do, enjoy looking at and owning tea towels I find pleasing.
I can’t quite say yet how these concerns and questions will be addressed in my life. I think somehow, though, I’m going to feel freer to explore them, in various ways, including, I hope feeling less worried about measuring up. Maybe, too, soon enough I’ll be gazing at an ever more organized (read, calm, read, comfortable-to-live-in) space.