Dec 11 2010

the great purge

For the longest time, CarrieNation thought I was a neat freak.  This came out after I’d known her for maybe two years.  What happened was: the first time she was ever in my apartment was the first time I met her, which was also right after I’d done a fairly major cleaning.  My place was…. well, not spotless, but as close as it’s been to spotless in the past decade.  And then we always hung out somewhere else after that.  So naturally she just assumed I was always so fastidious.  She’s under no such illusions any more.

It has recently come to my attention that I’m not a hoarder.  It’s not like this was a huge concern, but I’ll admit I had my doubts.  But a friend of my friend Cait’s father is the world’s leading expert on hoarding – he wrote the book on it, literally – and I don’t exhibit any of the big warning signs.  It hasn’t been impossible for me to move around my house; I can distinguish between throwing away an object and throwing away a memory or a person or place.  It turns out I’m just lazy.  And disorganized.  That’s why this stupid task is going to take all goddamn weekend.


10-ish PM — I started with the bookshelves, which maybe was a bad idea.  There are more tough decisions to be made there than probably anywhere else.  It took about an hour, but I think I made decent progress.In the foreground is my first of many bags of trash.  I’ve obviously ignored the pressing problem of compact discs for now, but I identified more books than I expected to get rid of.


10:16 AM — After a visit to Alexandria’s finest (and only) breakfast joint, I write my introduction to the live-blog and mentally prepare to tackle the closet in the bedroom.  Clothes should be easy, because if they don’t fit or if I haven’t worn them in over a year, they’re going.  I give that plan about half an hour before I revise my criteria.

11:40 AM — The Leaning Tower of Pasta clanked against the floor as I carried the trash outside.  I’m up to two full bags, and removing them from my apartment was a good excuse to head over to Misha’s for a cup of coffee.  I also have three bags of clothes to donate.  The less fortunate of Northern Virginia will soon be sporting the fresh styles of 2002.  I’ve reached the back of my closet in my bedroom.  The excavation has just reached a box of crap from my office two jobs ago and my old cassette tapes.  This journey just got interesting.

1:32 PM — If one is inclined to believe – as I am – that an undertaking such as this is a exercise of self-discovery, then the overwhelming revelation this morning is that I really like to swipe pens from the office.  I’ve found some in every box, bag, and parcel I’ve sorted through.  And of course they’ve all been tested, because I’d hate to throw out perfectly good pens.  Trash bags number three, four, and five have been carted downstairs and I’m officially done with all of my clothes and the closet in my bedroom.  Going through my tapes was surprisingly anti-climactic because (except for the Mighty Roy’s account of his move across the country) they all got tossed.  I have nowhere to listen to them and they have no resale value.  The only mild amusement was the occasional reminder that U2 wasn’t always on the spite list.3:14 PM — There is no more appropriate label for the boxes in my apartment than “Misc. Shit”.4:29 PM — The trash bag count stands at seven, not including assorted items that are too large to go in the cans.  And these are lawn and leaf bags, mind you – not the wimpy kitchen variety.  I just wanted to be clear on that.  It’s been over an h0ur now since I’ve touched any of the dozen remaining boxes in my “Misc. Shit” closet, and though I’ve eaten lunch and done some laundry in that time I now need to power through the rest in order to wrap that up before a holiday party this evening.  It’s like a game.  Can I throw out all my crap before time runs out?  We shall see.

7:14 PM — Ten bags.  And I didn’t quite make it.  I have five boxes left.  I’ll have to get to them later.


2:42 PM — Um, okay…  This break wasn’t supposed to be so long.  But I was wiped out after last night’s holiday party and then had brunch plans with Cait and Daby and CarrieNation.  After taking my beater bike in to the shop for a tune-up, I’m finding my motivation at a low point.  I’ve already started bargaining: if I get through the middle closet and the coat closet, I can save my storage unit in the basement for another day.  I guess I need to get to it.  I sure wish the Steeler game was on to distract me.

3:50 PM — Two and a half more bags of trash later and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

4:30 PM — I came across a box of stuff that obviously ended up with me because my mom insisted that I clean out my old bedroom when they moved out of the house I lived in during high school.  I know this because I threw out four broken Walkmen.  I also found this gem, which makes me think of M-Dashes and is appropriate right now.5:20 PM — Screw it.  I’m going to the movies.

8:59 PM — Fair Game wasn’t bad.  I’m up to fourteen bags of trash.  I’m racing the clock again, because I want to get the coat closet done before I hit the sack.  And I’m ready to go to bed now.

9:24 PM — The weekend’s biggest mystery: Why do I own a metal detector and where did it come from?

11:15 PM — I just limped across the finish line – utterly defeated.  The final count was sixteen bags of trash, and I’m a little surprised that it wasn’t more.  All I can say is that those are some big bags.  I have more thoughts, I think, but those will have to wait for another day.  6:00 AM comes around awful early.  At the risk of sounding like every other asshole who goes to an office, I need a weekend after my weekend.

Mar 6 2008

i'm a freaking genius

It's true, you know.  Well, maybe not the "genius" part – that's certainly debatable.  But the modifier is completely accurate.  And never more so than when I leave home for a few days.

I'm a basket-case most of the time already, but going away never fails to amplify my numerous anxieties and neuroses.  I'm not afraid to fly or anything.  That would be just silly; everyone knows air travel is perfectly safe.  No, my fears are more grounded – so to speak – in reality.  Namely, the reality that my apartment is likely to become engulfed in my absence in a blue inferno because I left the stove on.

When I went on vacation last fall, I hoofed it with my luggage the twelve blocks or so down to the Metro, but I arrived just as a train was leaving.  I waited on the platform for about ten minutes before becoming impatient and leaving the station to catch a cab instead.  But here's the thing – I also told the driver that I forgot something and had him swing by my apartment just so I could look around the place one last time.  I'm not especially proud of that little anecdote, and I had intended to compose a self-depricating post to that effect before the trip took a drastic turn for the worse.  On my way to Shanghai a few years, I made pointless phone calls from the airport after checking my bag until there was not enough time to get home and back without running the risk of missing my flight.  I am, in short, a mess.

Thankfully, my anxiety is usually short-lived.  I know, academically, that I locked the door and didn't leave the water running, and usually I have forgotten to be nervous by the time the flight attendants roll the drink cart down the aisle.  Just getting out the door is the hard part.  Except for today.  Because today I had a brilliant idea.  As I tossed my camera into my carry-on bag just in case I wanted it here in the fly-over states (I know, I know.  Why would I?  What could possibly be worth documenting in this God-forsaken wasteland?), it occurred to me I could take pictures of all those things I normally worry about.  If I began quietly to freak out, all I needed to do was review those snapshots.  And of course, the mere knowledge that such evidence existed was sufficient to prevent my OCD from flaring up in the first place.  Here, then, is a brief glimpse into my tortured psyche.  And, to a lesser extent, my apartment.

The stove is the big one.  In my defense, regarding that trip to China – I actually did discover the morning that I left that I had inadvertantly left the oven on while I took a brief nap.  Theoretically, that should have eased my mind some since I explicitly remembered turning it off.  No dice.

My neighbors below won't be experiencing flooding from the kitchen upstairs.

Or the bathroom.

There's normally another bike hanging from the upper rack, but if I'm not there, there is no doubt in my mind that the steel brackets would finally shear off and my heavy mountain bike would crash through the floor into the unsuspecting apartment below.  No doubt.

When I don't have anything else to wonder about, I wonder if I left the refrigerator (and freezer, natch) hanging open.  In my better moments, I wonder why this would even concern me.

And I am finally out the door.  I know there's no way to tell from the picture if the door is locked, but at least I can see that it is closed.  Besides, my neighbor poked his head into the hallway as I was jiggling the doorknob.  He knows it's locked, even if I have my doubts.

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