Tuesday, January 15, 2008

And we're just getting started

We're engaged in a huge clean up, clear out, organize job.

Over the years we've had bursts of organizing energy. Here's a terribly useful example. In 2000, we went through this box and decided it was OK! Isn't that great? We felt no need to label it further. Is it store stock or our own? Is it books? Glassware? Beanie Babies?? Who knows? But what really matters is that it's OK! There are lots of these in both our handwriting. At some point, this was useful information.

With a few warm days appropriate for garage work, we decided to put everything else on hold and plunge in. For the next few days the weather will be too cold, so work has moved upstairs to the main living space, where we're also making radical changes. We're both pack rats but I admit I'm worse.

I kept every cancelled check I ever wrote. Copies of every tax return I ever filed. The stub of every paycheck I ever received. Insurance claims, paid-bill stubs, you name it, carried from address to address and stored all these years. "Retain for your records." It's out of character for me to be so obedient.

Check out the book on the bottom of the adjacent stack. I swear, I dumped the old files and diskettes there beside a stack of books ready to sell, took a photo and then spotted it. Didn't plant it.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to keep this stuff. "Would you like a side of Hoarding Disorder with that ADD?" Somehow it seemed important then and it doesn't now. Along with the space problem, there's the minor matter of having about a thousand bits of paper bearing my SSN, a bunch of account numbers, and my detailed address/phone number history, all stashed in a garage and ready for a good windstorm to send them flying all over two counties.

So a big clean-out project is underway. And along with audio cassettes and VHS tapes,

(Not all of them. But the "Keep" piles are small.)

which get donated, away goes the garbage. We got a good shredder at Costco a couple months back, with just such a cleanup project in mind, since merely dumping personal data is a bad idea. With the exception of a few items that fit in a single file folder, I have shredded 30 years of unnecessary documents.

4 bags full of my shredded documents alone. So far.

And I'm discovering buried treasure. Like the 1919 edition of Bartlett's Quotations. A stack of TV Guides, most of which are going to Recycle, but I'm keeping the Best Cartoons issue from 2002. A deck of Harry Potter playing cards in a magic disappearing-card box! Far out, man.

Empty space. Amazing.

Downy checks out an almost-empty shelf.

It's going to take awhile, but when we're done we'll have what matters, and be able to find it.

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