Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Closet

I hope that dramatic music is playing in your mind because it's playing in mine! Yesterday I conquered The Closet. That evil, seething bunch of... well... I'll just let the pictures do the talking:


I pulled everything out of the closet, sorted it, packed a few bags for the thrift store, got a little bit of garbage, found about 25 reusable shopping bags, and put what was left back in.

Now, it looks like this:


I like the big empty space here. Big and empty. Ahhhh.

Check out that floor. Did you know that closets have floor? I did not discover this until my mid twenties. It's kind of awesome.

I put away all but 4 of most of our dishes/cups/plates, and am finding new homes for a few good appliances that I just never use. Up for grabs in the Tallahassee area:

-Little Green carpet steam cleaner. Needs to be flushed out because it sat with fluid in it for too long, but it works just fine -- nothing mechanical wrong with it.
-KitchenAid chopper (think I have a taker on that one)
-2 burner hot plate. Heats up slowly. Would be good for crafting, like melting wax, etc.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Clearing Out

It's time for the latest wave of Clearing Out -- it's a process I love, in which I winnow, winnow, winnow my possessions until they are few enough to manage. It's part of a larger effort to be in charge of my stuff rather than my stuff being in charge of me. It's hard to do but then sometimes when I get into it, it's hard to stop!

On Thursday I got a lot of worky work done in the morning, so I had the afternoon for housework. The weather was absolutely beautiful that day, cool and dry and sunny, and I opened up the garage and started flattening out boxes, etc. My uncle was over to watch Norah while I worked, and he came out after the kids went down for their naps. Between the two of us (with Ben offering helpful hints from a barstool in the corner) we cleared it out, and then I got all the trash hauled to the road, and Ben called the junk man to come get the usable stuff that we didn't want. I am sorry now that I didn't take a picture of all that garbage -- there was so much of it! It's shocking what can accumulate when you are not paying attention. If I were to try to describe the amount of space the garbage took up, I might say... imagine your fridge in your kitchen. Now imagine three of them. Now, lay them on their sides end-to-end along a curb. That is about the amount of space that all the garbage took up -- bags and boxes and cartons and piles.

Then -- and this is the best part! -- the garbage pickup came in the morning and they took everything! Even though it was way more than you are "allowed" to put on the curb at once. Ben gave them a tip because they hauled it all by hand into the truck.

Now, Ben has his "man land," as he calls it, or the newest nickname, "the Square of Peace," in which he can relax and heal in peace and quiet, and I can do more around the house because I don't have to worry about being too noisy or leaving a mess where he could trip over it. He has been out here in the Square of Peace for the past four days, happy as a clam. I can't explain it, folks, but if it works, it works. The lovely weather helps, too.

I have to pause and say that in the picture it still looks a bit cluttered and junky out there, but when you are actually in the space, it is bright and airy and there is lots of room. And no matter what it looks like now, it's at least better than it was.

Most Senseless Thing Found in Garage:
Every single piece of a deep fryer I bought in 2006 that never really worked right.

Most Shameful Thing Found in Garage: About a year's worth of cardboard boxes -- every time something came in a box, we just chucked the box out in the garage in a big pile. Fire hazard, and also shameful. Shame!

So, on the back of that great triumph, I feel like clearing out other spaces too. Lately I am caught up in this idea of only having "out" the things that you need on a daily basis. I start thinking this way every time I go on a vacation and survive just fine with the contents of one suitcase. One of my biggest pet peeves is dealing with mountains of things -- toys, clutter, dishes, laundry -- so I am clearing down until the things can't make mountains. I have most of the dishes put away, and I pared down the kids' clothes quite a bit. I cleared out their toys a few months ago, so the toys are actually almost under control; I just have to go back and pick out the broken stuff, etc.

My latest campaign today is the bookshelf in my room. Friends, it's time for the soft music to play, the lights to go down, and the fuzzy spotlight to pick me up where I sit on stage, telling my story to Oprah. It is hard for me to get rid of books. I realized that every time I read a book and enjoy it, I almost create a "relationship" with the book -- I remember the times we had together, where I sat when I was reading, what else was going on at the time; even the yummy snacks I may have been eating as I read. Yes, I know, I'm a weirdo. So I have to consciously separate all those lovely memories from the physical object of the book. Now it's not so hard. I am glad to say that it gets easier with time. Now, I just look at the book and think, if there was a fire and this book got burned, would I be sad? Usually the answer is no. And thanks to the great public-domain Kindle books available now, I can let go the paperback Shakespeare and Chaucer that I have. I keep a few here and there, but I can be much more selective and really only keep my favorites.

So, the bookshelf looks like this now:

I have to learn to take "before" pictures! For the rest of this clearing-out process I will see if I can remember ;) There is still a bit of work to be done, but every book has a place.

Most Senseless Thing Found on Bookshelf: A book of photos commemorating an old TV show that I love (Northern Exposure! Go early 90s self-conscious big-sweater-and-leggings television programming! Woot woot!), which was given to me by someone I had a huge disagreement with. The book makes me sad and wistful and slightly enraged every time I see it. Gone!

Most Shameful Thing Found on Bookshelf: An old tube of half-used shaving cream. GROSS.

Next, I have my eye on the front hall closet, which is one of those closets where you open it, throw the thing in, and then slam the door before everything falls out. It should yield some interesting results...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

If you can't say anything nice...

So it's been another week or so and the Happy Nashes are getting back on their feet in more ways than one. Ben took his first steps on the hackneyed ankle today, and he was able to put a little bit of weight on it, though less than he had hoped. It looks like, just like so many other things, it will be slow and steady rather than quick.

I have the blessing of CHILDCARE this week finally, and it is only day 3 but it has made a big difference. Just knowing I have a few guaranteed hours of work time for which I don't have to trade my sleep makes it easier to get through the challenges of the day.

Just wanted to share something brief that happened to me on Monday. I was stopping off at the ATM to get money for the babysitter, because of course I have no idea where my checkbook is, and when I got back in the car I began working with my schedule to see how I could complete the rest of my tasks for the day. The day was really full because I had grades due for two different schools (which usually doesn't happen, but on Monday it did) and I had been interrupted in my nighttime work for the past few nights, on top of it being Easter and Norah's birthday party, which were fun but took up some time as well.

So anyway, sitting there with my little sketched-out schedule leaned up on the steering wheel, I suddenly just made a conscious choice to cut out the negative self talk. The NST, as I will call it, is so much a part of my mental monologue that I barely hear it anymore, but it is always there, nattering away.

So on Monday I decided not to say things like:

-You are so lazy, you didn't do any of this work until today. No wonder you are stressed.
-You can't keep track of anything, not even your checkbook. Everybody knows where their checkbook is. You shouldn't have ever taken it out of your purse.
-You are never going to be able to work enough to pay for ___.

Instead, I told myself things like:

-You have a lot to handle right now, and you are doing the best you can.
-Just take it one thing at a time, and put one foot in front of the other.
-You need some extra time to complete your goals, because you need to catch up on sleep and be kind to yourself.

It made a huge difference! I didn't realize how much it would help. So now, when you look over at the stop light and see me talking to myself, alone in the car, you will know that I am saying nice things instead of mean things. ;) And also that I am insane, but that is not a surprise.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Infinitely Interruptible

One good thing about all of the challenges we have faced lately is that I no longer wonder why men have made the lion's share of scientific, mathematical, and artistic breakthroughs throughout the history of time. It's one simple concept: uninterrupted work time.

It's something I had briefly, and now I feel like I will never, ever have it again. Just for kicks, today I made a little mark on the margin of a page every time I got interrupted while I was working. I was interrupted an average of five times per hour, or once every 12 minutes. That's a lot of hopping up out of my chair. (On the plus side, I have lost some weight from all the running around, so... another silver lining?)

I had a five minute period in between Norah's post bedtime wake-up-and-yell-for-a-snack, and the time when I had to go sign in for my evening of tutoring-while-also-doing-other-work. I was interrupted during my five minute break.

I give up. If you ever wanted to watch someone lose their mind, turn on your cameras now.