It’s been amazing to spend the past few weeks thinking more deeply about what should still have a place in our space, and what can go. When we first conceived of Shed52, we imagined that we’d be getting rid of the big and small things that are scattered around our modest living space by determining what we just didn’t use anymore. What we didn’t expect was the kinds of compulsion-driven conversations would emerge about what we can confidently categorize as either:
- “necessary/useful item that should definitely be here!”
- “what even IS that thing? i don’t remember buying it. be gone, useless thing!”
It turns out that we probably haven’t gotten rid of this stuff before because it causes a lot of stress to think about letting go of it. Especially when it’s the type of stuff that we have weird, unconscious emotional attachments to and then it ends up accumulating in every imaginable drawer, cabinet or gap between the wall and furniture. We both do this in different ways and so we thought it might be a good idea to share about it by identifying 5 ways in which we each contribute to the clutter.
For example, I’ve been calling more attention to the fact that, when I feel like I can’t give some of my stuff the time or energy required to determine whether to keep it, I hide it from myself. Like a squirrel. I put it in a drawer or a random box (which is kind of like the Inception of clutter), consoled by the knowledge that it’s not entirely gone, but equally comforted by the fact that I don’t have to look at it, or crack that nut just yet. Yes, squirrels are my spirit animal.
As I’ve paid more attention to this over the last month, I’ve been laughing at myself and the neurotic ways that I accumulate– without even thinking– random clutter that must hold a place of importance in my unconscious, but equally holds a place of hilarious absurdity in our house. I’m bravely sharing those with you today, in part because I should actually really be cleaning our house right now but PLEASE GOD NO.
5 Things Rach Can’t Keep From Cluttering Our House:
1. Random Ceramics & Glassware that we Definitely Don’t Need
I once tried to take an inventory of how many drinking glasses we had in our kitchen cabinets and I lost count at 50. You might be thinking “why’s this crazy white girl saying she has a small house when she’s got room for all that glass!?” I get it. But these are four dozen mismatched, sometimes broken, high-piled, mostly inherited displays of my inability to just say no to glass. I don’t understand it, but glassware is one of those things that I’ll accept as gifts from people, and then buy cheaply online or at IKEA, and then grab at a funky antique store and always justify because it tends to be inexpensive AND it speaks to the party host in me. The party host whose idea of heaven is a classy lawn party with cake plates and champagne coupes for days. We have so many platters, glasses, vases pitchers and pots that I’m on track to be one of those old folks who has to build a display shelf along their ceiling for every teacup they ever owned.
2. Stuff with the Letter “R” on It
Despite the creatively cruel nicknames my brother gave me when we were little, my first initial is definitely “R.” My first and last name are also the same as that of my beloved grandmother, Nonna, who passed away in 2011. Despite her unending love for all of her grandkids, I always felt a special connection with her as her namesake, and held a special fascination with the monogrammed linens, towels and kerchiefs she had stashed away from the 40s and 50s. She used those kerchiefs as part of a sweet ritual we had when I was a kid, when she’d drop my brother and me off at home following the epic weekends we spent at her house.
After she and my grandfather would bid us goodbye on the front stoop of our parents’ place, they would slowly drive away while beeping, blowing kisses and shouting “goodbye!” to my brother and me as she waved her white monogrammed “R” kerchief out the window until they were out of sight. She looked like an actual queen, and it’s one of my favorite memories of her. So yeah, I’m #sorrynotsorry that I’ve collected a lot of random “R” stuff, and I’m not ready to part with it. Unless you know someone named Roger who’d love a monogrammed doily. Hit me up, Roger.
3. Nautical Crap
Pardon my French, but one of the great mysteries of my life is why, in heaven’s name, I have such an affinity for nautical crap. I have no relationship to sailing, boats, celestial navigation or marine life that I can recall. I get seasick in kayaks. The older I get, the more scared I am of the ocean. So what’s the deal with my endless need to collect decorative ship wheels, anchors, sailboats and themed screen prints? I wish I had the answer. But until then, I’ll hold on to my pipe dream that I’ll one day be an expert sailor, and friends will join me for a super bougie brunch in my little Laser sailboat on the Charles River, and everyone shall call me Captain. Also until then, our house will inexplicably be filled with wall-art, discarded buoys, and anchor-shaped jewelry. And yes, jewelry will probably get its own post at some point.
4. Picnic & Party Paperware
By now, you might have started to pick up on my fondness for the finer things in life, which, according to me, have everything to do with food and friends. I’ve realized by delving how I contribute to clutter in my house that most of where I spend my time, money and energy has to do with feeding friends and friendships. My ability to actually cook decent food might be up for debate (see our post on the infamous rice cooker from last week) but that hasn’t stopped me from luxuriating in countless hours planning, hosting and remembering parties and picnics we’ve held for friends and family over the past 5 years.
We’ve hosted Thanksgivings, ecumenical holiday parties, annual BBQs for the most important day of the year in Boston , dinner parties with crafty libations, and day-long picnics in green urban spaces all across the city. Nothing makes me happier than eating, drinking and being merry with our favorite people and seeing new, deep and lasting connections form between individuals whom we know are some of the best in the world. We also love to take friends for their first trip to our favorite outdoor music venue, Tanglewood, which is known for its incomparable lawn picnics during world-class concerts by the BSO, John Williams or Bonnie Raitt.
Unfortunately, this often leads me to get a little too enthusiastic about the goods at Paper Source, Target and even IKEA, and lord knows I can’t say no to a patterned cocktail napkin. Jason and I took a hard look at our budget from last year, and let me just summarize by saying that outdoor entertaining needed a line item for the 2018 fiscal year. But can we really ever put a price on making memories?
5. Dead Flowers
I’ve saved the
worst best and most disturbing for last, because it’s the freakin’ weekend and you don’t need this kind of stress so early in your Saturday. As our last caption colorfully illustrates, about 3% of all that glassware I own is frequently put to use with all the fresh flowers I buy. Our local Trader Joes often has bunches of beautiful hydrangeas, tulips, sunflowers and roses for under $6 a pop.
The thing they don’t tell you at the store though is that, inevitably, flowers DIE. Seriously, has anyone ever seen this critical detail explicitly advertised in any floral department, ever? If you have, comment below with proof and rock my world.
Having the wisdom that comes with experience, I now know that all good bouquets must come to an end. And reasonable people who have dead, molting displays of unidentifiable flora in their house would probably do the adult thing and dispose of them. But I am not a reasonable person. This often means that our home is delightfully decorated with dead or dying $3.99 Star Market Specials, mournfully wilting and weeping all over the place. Like, for weeks. I’m actually sitting next to some right now. I’m not sharing a picture though because that would just be grotesque.
This is one area in which I AM actually very motivated to do better. Mostly because Jason’s mom yells at me about it with a twinge of both regret and resignation during every visit. I don’t know why I hold so fast to something as useless as dead flowers, but I have a feeling it’s tied more to procrastination than to an irrational attachment. This gives me hope. We’ll be getting further into how procrastination affects the volume of stuff in our house next week, when we take a look at the 5 Ways that Jason Contributes to Clutter. So buckle up.
If you’re feeling weirded out by these admissions or find yourself oddly drawn to confess your greatest sins as a clutter-prone consumer, feel free to comment below! What weird habits do you or your cohabitants have? We promise we won’t judge. But we may send you some dead flowers.