plus, the cats moved to texas

As you may or may not remember (and if not, why not? Do you have lives?) a few months ago I became concerned I might be exhibiting hoarding tendencies. How many recent Pottery Barn catalogs can anyone have under their coffee table at one time (somewhere between 10 and 8,000, is my current guess)? So, how’s the resistance plan going? Well, I’m glad you ask, because it’s definitely not a conversation I enjoyed having with myself earlier this month when I dragged out six boxes of holiday decorations, and maybe you’ll be a little nicer about it. Nothing makes you feel like a hoarder like facing the fact you own an entire box of glitter candles. (But not nutcrackers. I draw the line at goddamn nutcrackers.)

I’m one of those sentimental people (“hoarders”) who feel the need to keep things like play programs and birthday cards, and I’d gotten into the habit of stuffing those things in bags marked by the year. SOMEDAY I would organize those bags into…SOMETHING ELSE. Then I read in The Happiness Project that the author – who used to do the same thing – started file boxes for each member of the family and just made a file per year. That process at least saves a lot of space, and thins the ranks a bit of what to keep.

I decide this is a great idea! and troop off to the Container Store to find a file box or two. Of course, I stupidly didn’t realize there were such a variety of file boxes to be had. Letter, legal, waterproof, plastic, metal, wicker, decorative? Lids, open? Wheels? Stackable? I am standing in the aisle waffling when an employee came along and tries to help, mostly by asking the same questions. Letter, legal, waterproof, plastic, metal, wicker, decorative? Lids, open? Wheels? Stackable? “I dunno”, I stutter.

So he decides to dig deeper. He’s all, what kind of files are you keeping? What are these papers? How many files do you need? Is it for active files? Do you have to access them often? How often is often?

I’m all, what’s with the QUESTIONS, Riddler? Are you going to report me to HGTV? I’m forced to continue shrugging and saying, I dunno, in an increasingly panicked voice, slowly edging away from him. Lucky for me, another hapless organizer comes around the corner and I manage to sic him onto her. Letter, legal, waterproof, plastic? He starts eagerly, and I bolt like hell from the aisle while he isn’t looking. Clearly, I need to think this system through a little more. Let’s not be amateurish about it, ok?

[Note: just so you know, getting rid of things entirely, and not just shifting the blame from one closet to another, isn’t without its perils either. DC has a collection point open once a month for shredding, electronics, and hazardous materials (like paint) lined up in stations; if you’re just dropping off shredding, like we were that Saturday morning we actually got our acts together and out the door, you can skip to the end of the line. So we pull up at the gate and the DC employee cheerfully asks what we have.

“Just shredding, so we’ll go to the end,” Other Half says.

“Ah, you’ve been to this rodeo before, then?” she smiles.

Other Half stares at her. “We saw some bull riders at the Patriot Center once,” he says slowly.

“What?” she says.

“Babe, that’s just an expression,” I intervene hastily. Other Half is not great with the idiomatic expression.

He turns to stare at me. “What do rodeos have to do with anything?” he asks me.

“It’s an expression! You know? Like when you say, oh no, I’ve been to this movie before.”

“What movie? About rodeos?”

“Drive away,” I growl.]

I’ll be packing up the Christmas decorations this week, and that’ll be a good opportunity to decide if I really need holiday themed dishtowels.

Or maybe I just need to get more BOXES.

We’ll talk soon, Riddler.


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