January 2013

CONFESSIONS OF A CLUTTERBUG

Having survived the supposedly ill-fated December 21, 2012, I find myself with a new year lying untouched before me. Clean as a pathway of newly fallen snow. What opportunities await! I have a fresh start to improve my life and my world.

Very scary. The pathways of my life look more like a herd of Longhorns have stampeded down them. Why? Because, sadly, I am not an orderly person. When I was a teacher, the state of my desk led one of my grade sixes to buy me a little ornament that read: “Do not clean up my desk and mess up my life.”

There is a lot of truth in that statement. If I have a truly important item I must keep it on the kitchen table. If I file it carefully away, I am guaranteed not to find it until I no longer need it and am searching desperately for some other lost item.

It simply does not lie within me to attack clutter in an organized fashion. A number of years ago I had to clean out my mother’s room in a seniors’ lodge as she was moving to a different facility. Since she had been in this place six or seven years she had quite a lot of stuff in various drawers and in the closet. A very good—and very orderly—friend kindly offered to help me with the clean-up. We entered the room. “What do you want to work on?” she asked. I gazed around with the blank stare of a deer in the headlights. “Uh, the closet, I guess.” “Okay, I’ll start with the bathroom cupboard.” In she went with a cardboard box. All was quiet in there except for a few clinkings and rustlings for about half an hour. Then she reappeared, the half-filled cardboard box in one hand, full wastepaper basket in the other. “There, that’s all…”  Her words froze in her throat as she beheld the scene before her. On the bed lay four blouses I had removed from the closet. Tiring of that job, I had moved on to the dresser drawers. Two of them had been pulled out and sat, half-emptied, also on the bed. Two shelves had been cleared out and the sweaters that came off them were draped over the TV. A mixed blessing of loose change, four-year-old rent receipts, jewellery, three safety pins, and a silk scarf lay on the desk. Several books sat in an unsteady pile on the bed. A couple of minutes earlier the tower had begun to topple so I grabbed the top book—which happened to be very interesting. I was already well into page three…

So goes the story of my life. I not only have clutter, I have interesting clutter. It’s over 20 years since I quit teaching—note I said quit, not retired, in case you were adding 20 years to 65—and I still have a collection of booklets I made from the creative writing my classes did each year. These collections take up space. They collect dust. Do I wish I’d thrown them out 20 years ago? Not on your life. Things like this are my life. A couple of hours spent re-visiting my kids sure beats that much time spent with The Young and the Restless!

While involved in trying to empty a room for renovation, I also came across an old Sundre Rodeo program from back in the days when I was a fast woman. (Settle down. The description only applied when I was racing my horse.)  There I was, listed by some rodeo secretary with a sense of humour, as “Speedy Halvorson!” A de-cluttered person certainly wouldn’t have had all that glory lying around to bask in all these years later!

I wish I knew the Latin phrase for “Don’t throw it out. Pile it up.” I could have a coat of arms created and hung over the mantle—if I could find the mantle. Suffice it to say, be careful what you throw out. The Antiques Roadshow may be coming to a basement near you.

©2012 Marilyn Halvorson

One Response to January 2013

  1. Evelyn Wells says:

    Marilyn,
    Interesting how things come up.
    My daughter Jacqueline Tyler, was scheduled to be in your class the year you retired from teaching. A big disappointment for her. She had aspirations to be a writer. It may happen sometime when she gets the time.
    I live in a place called Hill Spring , Alberta.
    A neighbor showed me a book she had purchased for another neighbor. It was one of your books. Now this neighbor wants more of your books.
    When I explained I had all your books and would try to get some for them. Which I am. They can be purchased on line.
    It is an older gentleman reading them.
    Your blog interesting.
    Evelyn Wells (when I lived in Sundre, Evelyn Tyler) Wells my birth namd

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