Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday evening ramble: decluttering one's soul

Do you guys want to hear something crazy? This morning, for no particular reason, I was thinking, "where is my hookah?" I wasn't interested in using it, and I'm not sure I ever will (I'd be hard-pressed to set it up correctly--it's actually quite challenging). The hookah is mostly of sentimental value; my (ethnically Egyptian) roommate my first year of grad school gave it to me. We, among others, smoked his much more elaborate, ornate hookah throughout that year, and he gave me another one that he had before he moved out. So, from out of nowhere, I found myself wondering where this hookah could be.

Separately, I've been on a decluttering/reorganizing kick. I don't remember exactly how or when it started, but it had to do with my making a conscious decision to slow down in general, which meant spending more time around the house, which meant having more time to notice things and more energy to deal with them. I don't quite believe in Feng Shui, but I believe that our surroundings affect our souls and our minds. And I thoroughly believe in decluttering and in "out with the old, in with the new." So at some point in the last couple of months, I felt like my house needed a reset. I bought some new art and moved some old art around; I gave away some (more) clothes and moved some furniture; and I untangled and tidied wiring. I found myself unnerved by chaotic spaces that had previously blended into the background. I found crap I'd forgotten I'd had, but that I actually had a use for. I threw away crap I'd forgotten I'd had and had no use for. I would stop--thinking I'd gotten everything--but then another space would come to mind. When you start to clean or clear, you start noticing things that no longer conform to the clarity of the new spaces.

So it was that half a week ago, I thought I was definitely done. I mean, what else could there be? "Your clusterf* of loose recipes," replied the universe, as I knocked over my box of recipes. So I went through and organized my basket of recipes, tossing those that weren't vegan and fitting the rest neatly into a shoebox. I said, "there: I'm done! Really, what more could there be?" The universe replied that there was, indeed, more: the universe misplaced my Banana Republic card (yes, I know I have a problem). See, I had to use my birthday coupon by the end of the month, which was Friday, and nothing was inspiring me, so I just kept carrying it around (even though they can look it up for you, but that's annoying). I couldn't find it and had to have them look it up for me, but I was determined to find it--I was actually concerned that I may have dropped it in the process of swiping my SmartTrip card at the Metro.

So I thought I'd clean out my closet and go through all the pockets of all my jackets and coats (yes, I know I have a problem). And I did. I didn't find the card, but I rearranged and declutter my closet, which in turn led me to rearrange and declutter my trunk, which in turn led me to declutter the shopping bags that had piled up on top of my printer. It was awesome. Then, a few hours later, I found the BR card (in the pocket of a dress I'd worn earlier in the week). And I thought, "wow, I'm glad I thought I lost the cars, because otherwise I never would have thought to clean all that stuff out." Those three messes really had just blended into the background. And then I thought, "well, that's really it. There's officially nothing else to declutter." And then, I thought about how I didn't love keeping extra kitchen stuff (extra wine glasses and the dehydrator) in the closet. It didn't square with my newfound passion for everything in its place. I wanted that stuff in the kitchen... but where? My kitchen was already tapped out in terms of space.

Then, this morning, it occurred to me that I had a whole cabinet that was a clutter of plastic bags. I have no idea where I got them all--I almost always carry around a reusable tote or two or three--but I've lived in this house for four and a half years now, and bags add up. So I thought that, when I got home, I'd organize those and use the extra space for the stuff I wanted to keep in the kitchen. In an entirely separate chain of thought, I randomly wondered about my hookah. And--you guessed it--behind the mountain of plastic bags was the hookah! Now I'm pretty sure I really am done (though I've been wrong before). I mean, I have months-old magazines to read and crosswords to do, but they're neatly arranged and I'm gradually going through them. I have a good idea of and good feeling about where things are. So drop me a line if you know how to set up a hookah.

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