Welcome to my blog, aka my place to comment and reflect on things I find inspiring, amusing, irritating, or baffling. When I was young, my Stanford PhD, former physics professor, software engineer father used to help me with my math homework, and I, being mentally deficient in all things math, could never quite get it. He would constantly say to me, "Jill, it's not rocket science." (Did I mention the PhD was in Aeronautics and Astronautics??) So I thought it would be an appropriate title for this blog because everything I write about is, indeed, not rocket science.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Junk Closet

Remember that Friends episode when Chandler discovers that Monica has a secret locked closet? He obsesses over what's inside until it's finally opened and reveals Monica's dirty little secret: it's her junk closet, with junk piled from floor to ceiling. 

Well, I have one of those closets. I call it my nemesis. My house is immaculate, with every picture frame and decorative vase in its place, and the sight of clutter accelerates my blood pressure. But it just happens: you get older, you get married, and you accumulate crap. Lots of random, "what the F do I do with this?" crap. So you have one designated space where you put all your crap. And that place for me is the guest room closet, aka my nemesis. 

I have some normal stuff in the closet: yearbooks, games, photo albums, wrapping paper. And some not-so-normal stuff: a plastic "Fart Man" whose armpit you lift to make fart sounds (a white elephant gift), a Coonskin hat (also a white elephant gift), empty boxes from electronic purchases with instructions inside (cell phones, iPods, etc.), a Buddha head that I thought was cool and was going to put in my guest bathroom, which turned out to be ten times the size I thought it would be (I wanted little, cute Buddha, not huge, creepy Buddha), Giants bobbleheads for players past, old, out-of-style sunglasses, and much, much more.

Under no circumstances will I ever need the fart man, the Coonskin hat, the Buddha head, or the empty electronics boxes. So, a) Why don't I just get rid of them? and b) Why do I keep them in the first place? I think I keep them because I feel bad for getting rid of something so quickly. The fart man was a huge hit at the white elephant exchange, and I probably thought to myself, "Next white elephant party I attend, I'm going to re-gift Fart Man!" But I haven't been to another white elephant party. And just tossing him in the Goodwill bag right then and there would have been a little sad. Poor Fart Man. I just got him and now he's in the Goodwill bag. Same for the Buddha head - I paid money for the damn thing, it just seems weird to toss it immediately, like a defeat. 

I also keep things because there's always the "I might need/want it someday" mentality. I should eliminate this mindset from my thinking because I can't think of an instance where I saved some useless crap and then one day went, "Where is that cell phone box for that phone I no longer have? I really need it right now!" 

I think I don't get rid of this crap because in my mind, the simple task of getting rid of one thing in the closet means that I have to go on a full-on cleaning rampage. For me, it's all or nothing. Go all out and clean from top to bottom or do nothing at all. Predictably, I choose to do nothing at all. And cleaning rampages are just something I don't have much time for right now. And I inevitably end up making more of a mess than when I started, and then I look at all the crap around me with my hands on my head wondering, "What am I going to do with all this stuff??" (This is why you have junk closets in the first place, right? For the stuff that you don't know what to do with!) So I get rid of a few things, put everything back in an organized manner, wait for a couple years to pass while accumulating more stuff, and then do it all over again. 

The trouble with this strategy is, the closet gives me anxiety every time I open it. I want to take a blow torch to it. I want to take my arm and sweep it across the shelves, tossing everything on the floor, and then throw it all out the window. One of these days I'm going to have to face the music and find an organizing solution that works. But more importantly, I need to change my mindset. I don't need to keep Fart Man! I don't need to keep creepy Buddha! I will never need those cell phone boxes! I will never wear those sunglasses, ever again!

I'm not ashamed of my junk closet because I think everyone has one. Or several. Or just a drawer. Or maybe their whole house is a junk closet. The things I have to remind myself are: never hold on to something because you think you might need it later because you most certainly won't, and if you don't want it now (e.g. Fart Man), you definitely won't want it later. Now, where did I put that Coonskin hat? 

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