Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 5, 2013

Seriously, I do have a plan

Cathie Shaffer
CNHI

ASHLAND — My closet exploded a while back when the long clothes bar broke loose and fell. I used the opportunity to do some sorting and took a number of items to the thrift store. I installed the rod that belongs in the armoire in my bedroom and hung the “good clothes” there temporarily. Everything else went into dresser drawers and baskets.

The theory at the time was that this mini-disaster offered a perfect opportunity to give that closet a thorough cleaning. I’ve kinda cleaned it during my 20-plus years in this house but this would be the first time I totally emptied the closet for a floor to ceiling cleanup.

You’ll notice I said “would be.” Winter came on us, the closet is unheated and I decided to put it off until closer to spring.

Well, we’re there now. And over the intervening months, my bedroom has been approaching crisis status as I continue to pile things here and there. My fear is that my children will discuss the situation behind my back and before I know it, the crew from “Hoarders” will be there with their cameras, dump trucks and sympathetic psychologists and professional organizers.

Because I’m going to totally clean the closet, I’ve refrained from putting things in. So the fan that came out of my bedroom window in September nestles near the electric radiator that takes the chill off when the temperature drops into the teens.

I’ve done a number of overnight trips lately and I haven’t bothered to put my small suitcase away between those travels. I know right where it is: Underneath the spare comforter that I need to take to the coin laundry before it goes back on a bed.

Having several surgeries over the past two years that affected the use of my arms and shoulders has only compounded the situation. The bags of clothes destined for drop off at Goodwill haven’t made it out to the car yet. At first it was because I couldn’t tote them, but alas, they’ve now become part of the scenery.

In my defense, working in my bedroom took a back seat to clearing out my home office. I had a pretty good organization system until I generously — perhaps that should be stupidly — offered one of my desks to my granddaughter. She needed a place to do her college homework; I figured I couldn’t do fine with the one desk that holds my computer.

I can as long as I keep my back to the rest of the room. My giant mistake was letting her take the desk and its shelves out when I wasn’t home. Everything that had been on said desk top, shelves and the drawers ended up on the floor.

Again, I saw this as an opportunity and not a problem. I was pretty sure I didn’t need all that loose stuff. Turns out that I was right. The more I sort through the stacks, files and boxes, the more I realize I inherited my parents’ packrat tendencies.

I’ve impressed myself with the amount of paper I managed to get rid of. Taking a deep breath, I threw away old business correspondence, credit card bills from 10 year ago and business cards from people I don’t remember meeting. I stacked the dead electronics to go to recycling and cleared a nice path from door to desk.

Yet there’s still more work to do. I figure if I keep at it, I’ll be done by mid-May. That gives me the summer to work on the blasted closet — unless, of course, it gets too hot in that little airless room.

CATHIE SHAFFER can be reached at cathieshaffer@zoominternet.net