Friday, April 06, 2007

The Cave of Doom

Meanwhile, in real life I'm back at home. Yesterday I used up the entire afternoon running errands. A teenager in pursuit of his driver's permit is an unswayable creature. So, even though I am SO. NOT. READY. for him to be driving, we finished signing him up for behind the wheel training up at the local community college and then went to the DMV so he could take the test for his permit. Unfortunately I didn't have his SS# with me so we have to go back today. Then there was grocery shopping. Everything left in our refrigerator for two weeks while we were on our trip was no longer edible. Go figure.

BUT, I did manage to save the last hour of daylight to make a start on the garage cleaning. Oh my. This will be a long, slow process. There's just no way around it. I can't just shuffle stuff around and "look through it later" because this IS the later I've been shuffling it around for years in anticipation for. Sigh.

Y'know, I will take the blame for some of the quantity of mess. For the fact that there is a lot of STUFF stacked and stored and saved in there. But as for the complete disorganization, I can place most of the blame squarely on my husband and child. Over the years, no matter how much I break my instructions down into simple childlike steps, no matter how much eye contact I make, no matter how much I have them repeat back to me what I'd just requested, no matter how many evil eyes or threats I use to scare them into doing things correctly, the only way my family knows how to put something into the garage is to walk the minimal distance possible through the closest open door and dump or toss the box or object on top of a dozen other boxes or objects.

I've cleaned this garage a half dozen times in the last twelve years (the most recent was several years ago, but still - no one else has EVER cleaned the garage or any other garage or shed or room we've ever owned). I've made clearly defined areas and places for things - holiday boxes on the top of the cabinets, camping gear under the work table, unused furniture in the back left hand corner, long term storage in the loft, gardening supplies against the right wall in the front. Sigh. It doesn't matter. In the family's mind the garage is the garage is the garage. There is no left or right, no back or front, no shelf or floor. There is only two doors and tossing space. And so now, to me the garage is not a garage but the gaping maw of a monstrous beast. A black hole. The entrance to some Indiana Jones-like Cave of Doom set with traps and pitfalls. A place from which ....... ONE MIGHT NEVER RETURNNN.. TURNNN... Turnnn... urnnnn... nnnnn.

Do you hear the depth of that echo!??

Anyway, as I was saying before I got all dramatic pants on you, it's going to be slow going. In an hours time I managed to clear a space only about two feet by two feet directly inside the back pantry entry door. (The original owners of the house build a cement block food pantry room accessed directly from the back door of the garage. It's a room inside the bigger cavity of the garage and since it's the most accessible part of the garage, it's also one of the most densely packed areas.)

In one hour I've also figured out several key things:

1. Many things will have to be "set aside" so I can ask hubby things like "Do you need this?" or "Does this even work anymore?" or "What IS this?" and of course "Can I get rid of/throw this away?" There are also many things too heavy or bulky for me to justify moving by myself with two perfectly healthy, tall, strong men available to move them for me. I had hoped to do it all myself because I'm a lot more cheerful in the face of unpleasant tasks than my family is. Bottom line, I can't do this without making use of the Whining Brigade.

2. Many spaces are being used for storing categories of items that are no longer a good fit for the purpose. For example tools are in the aforementioned pantry room because when we moved here the amount of tools and building supplies we owned fit onto a couple of short shelves. Now they've taken over the room and really need to be moved to the built in work table and shelving on the far side of the garage. Right now that's primarily filled with camping supplies. A) we rarely camp anymore and B) we recently required a camping trailer so the camping supplies need to be moved to the trailer or added to the garage sale pile before I can move the tools into that space. The whole damn thing is like that - one of those little puzzle boards where you have to slide the little squares around to make a picture and each step requires you to move a lot of squares around to make way for the one square you're really trying to position.

3. Despite my determination to work fast and furious, I realized last night I still have a lot of emotional stickiness that's the main reason the process is so difficult. There are entire books written on the psychology of STUFF, there are fields of study devoted to finding out why things are more than just things to people and why we keep and why we let go of STUFF. I think I have a pretty good idea of where my own issues lie (lay?) and I've been doing a good job of tackling the project in a slow and steady turtle sort of way. I could keep plodding along but I want to be done with it.

Trying to speed up to rabbit though, I can hear alarms sounding in my head. I might need that! If I get rid of this we might not be able to afford to replace it later! What if I find the other piece to this after I throw this piece out!? What if I regret it? What if I miss it? What if I change my mind!? It's driving me nucking futs! I try to keep track of everything I'm doing, my motivation, my goals, and before two long it all gets fuzzy and confusing and my head hurts.

Hmmmmm, maybe I'll take some photos of the garage to inspire me. "Before" photos. A mess always looks more objective, less emotional and more MESSY in the cold hard reality of a photo then it does when you're looking at it and filtering what you see through the rationalizing and subjectivity of your brain. Yes, that's it. I'll go take the photos right now.

Still, as much as I'd like to just plow ahead with the physical labor part, I'm obviously going to have to spend a wee bit of time playing self-psychologist and work up a very clear mental plan of attack. Maybe while I'm sitting at the DMV office this afternoon while William takes his permit test. I'll need something even more frightening than the thought of William driving to keep me distracted anyway. Dealing with The Cave of Doom should do the trick.


Blogger Laurie said...

I HATE cleaning my garage. But I'm the one who just tosses stuff in. Of course I'm the one who will clean it too. But it still pisses me off.

Glad you had a fun trip though! So not looking forward to the kid driving years.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Tanya Brown said...

I heartily recommend the Freecycle network. ( Your town probably has a branch.

You post stuff on a mailing list. People come and get it. You know that someone else is enjoying it and getting good use of it, and perfectly good stuff (or even broken stuff) isn't going into a landfill.

I'm a pretty horrendous packrat, but Freecycle has helped me overcome some of my resistance to getting rid of things. (Some ... but not all.)

6:43 PM  

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