Here’s evidence. That’s my desk at the far end of the room. I have a chair to sit on now. You’ll notice there’s not a shopping bag in sight. (If you’d like to see how many shopping bags could fit in this room, go here.) The shopping bags are all neatly stowed, inside the largest of the bags, downstairs next to our refrigerator, to be used to take things OUT of our house. You’ll notice a second desk, on the right. That desk is not really under my control, belonging as it does to the other adult in this household. He’s pretty neat though, most of the time.
The most significant gain from this effort? I feel no fear when I walk in this room. I hadn’t really known just how bad it was until the anxiety left the room, along with eight bags of recycling, one bag of things destined for the shredder and a bag of stuff to give away. I’m much happier now, knowing there’s nothing in any of those shopping bags that’s going to start smelling or cause someone to come and bang on our door in the middle of the night making some sort of demand.
Here are some things I learned from this exercise. The list is illustrated, because I found the cord that connects my camera to my computer.
- I own more colored pencils than any single woman in America. Eighty-one to be exact. That’s a lot of colored pencils, especially for someone who doesn’t color anything. What’s the half life of a colored pencil? Twenty years? Please remind me I own a lot of colored pencils the next time I decide to pick up a pack of them.
- One of my sons managed to buy six sharp daggers, disguised as “letter knives” on a school outing for which he was apparently given too much pocket money. The daggers were stuffed into a grocery bag by me, his horrified mother. I have fished them out and secured them in a hiding place so secret no child will find them until he becomes an adult and thinks to look in the box where the Christmas cards and wrappings are kept. (To the left of my desk.) Come to think of it, he won’t find them when he’s an adult either. The only person who ever does the Christmas cards or wraps the gifts is the mother. (And sometimes the father, because he is a Nice Man.)
- I love my pink thermos. And that is one cute child. Enough said.
- I found a lot of things I bought to give people and then forgot about. A bottle bag (brother in law who is a vineyard manager), a package of purple pencils (pre-teen girl), a pair of candles shaped like sandals (friend who loves Hawaii), colored pencils (amazing, I know), Christmas ornaments (who cannot use a particularly charming Christmas ornament?), socks with Christmas patterns on them (ditto — sister in law gift, in particular), and an already wrapped glass bowl my husband bought for a birthday gift and then did not give because it was in his luggage that was lost and not returned until after the birthday party was over (who knows?). I put them all in a basket, and I plan to give them away this time. For real.
- We are in less trouble than I thought in terms of getting ready for the boys to go back to school. I was able to find the lists of required school supplies and then, much to my delight, stock everyone’s backpacks with supplies we already own. You’ll note that colored pencils are listed as “optional” on the supply list. That is because the school knows, just from sizing me up at the single parent event I have so far attended, that I am the sort of woman whose son might very well come to school with eighty-one colored pencils in his backback, enough to supply the sixth grade class with colored pencils basically forever.
- I located each and every one of my sharpie multi-colored pens. And put them in a Moroccan tea glass. This makes me especially happy. I love sharpies, especially the thin kind and the colored kind. They make many marking jobs much easier. Not having them all in one place was the kind of thing that bugged me, and about which I could do absolutely nothing. Until now, that is. And that toast rack I bought in Paris a long time ago? It’s great for holding file folders.
- Another daunting organizational issue that arose was what to do with the cards we give each other and other people give to us. I have never even been tempted to make those into some kind of craft project, thank you very much, so don’t even think about suggesting it. But we do like to look at the cards. The solution? I discovered that I own TWO one-hole punches. It was the work of an instant to punch holes in the cards and then put them on a binder ring, the kind that costs about .25 at your local stationery store. I did not have to buy one because I already own, like, fifteen of them, knowing they would be handy for something, just not realizing what or how much.
- In a piece of book-related news, I discovered a $25 gift certificate to a bookstore in our neighborhood. I also realized I really want to read the new Richard Pevear translation of The Three Musketeers. And so, I got rid of that gift certificate and acquired one thing I really want to read and own. Beyond the one gift certificate (and a coupon entitling the bearer to one slice of pizza), I found no negotiable paper, no jewelry, no love letters. Oh well. I did find a place to put my computer. My desk.
And that’s it, organizing fiends. I’m done here.