Thursday, January 31, 2008

A pink fit

I had one. Last night, seemingly out of nowhere.

I was trying to tidy up around the house and everywhere I went was just... "stuff". Piles of stuff. Stuff we had no idea what to do with. Stuff with no place to put it. And, since Christmas, the piles have been growing as the mere thought of tackling the core problem seemed too depressing to bear. When you can barely walk around in an empty/spare room because of the amount of homeless stuff, then it's easy to just add the pile with a ton of stuff that does have a home but that (a) you can't get to because the homeless stuff is in the way or (b) used to have a home but now is occupied by newer stuff.

Unfortunately, Hubbie got the brunt of my frustration - 50% of which was somewhat merited and 50% of which was entirely OOO.

Of all the wonderful things my hubby is, tidy is not one of them. He's the kind of guy who gets home and empties the remnants of his day onto the kitchen countertop - change, candy-wrappers, business cards, receipts, paper-clips, tooth-picks, zip-ties, pad, manilla files, mail, cell phone, bluetooth headset... you name it. He then changes immediately into his pyjamas (a quality I find endearing, I might add) but in the process throws some or his clothes in a pile somewhere on the floor, shoes usually a few steps in front. When he goes to bed at night his pyjamas and socks go in another screwed-up pile next to the bed - the pyjamas to be worn again the next night, the socks to accumulate in that spot for a few days.

(Sorry honey, I love you to death and I am by no means perfect, but it's true.)

After a long day, I totally get this. There are days when I just can't be bothered to clean up after myself right there and then. All I want is a cup of tea and to veg-out on the couch watching repeats of Everybody Loves Raymond. I'm not a slave-driver or a neat freak (based upon my experience of what a neat freak is and, believe me, if you met my Grandmother, you'd know I know.) The problem comes when this habit is sustained day-after-day, with one day's pile of 'stuff' accumulating on top of the other. It becomes like a landfill and unfortunately we don't have one of those handy bulldozers to crush it all down into a manageable, vacuum-packed heap. (Although, thinking about it, that might not be a bad idea.)

When you add together the 'homeless stuff', the stuff with a home that no longer fits into it's home, the week's laundry that needs to be put away, the stuff that has a home that has been tossed onto a pile each day, and you times this by 7 days (or more if a week goes by without it being addressed) it can get overwhelming, cluttered, and maddening. Or at least it does for me.

This is all further exacerbated by the fact that our two-car garage is chock-a-block with other 'homeless stuff'. There really no room to remove the offensive homeless items from our spare bedrooms into the garage, which would usually at least put the mess 'out of sight out of mind'. We can't fit a car in the garage (we can barely fit a person in it) and the only way to condense it is for both Hubbie and I to take a whole day to pull it all out, sort it out, and put it back in (or throw out). Even then, this would probably only achieve enough room for one out of two cars (if we're lucky). Unfortunately, the weather has not been particularly cooperative of late and so the result is gridlock.

Gridlock. Can you believe it?!? We added 500 more square feet to our living space AND a garage last year and somehow we seem to be out of space already. Quite honestly this induces a feeling of utter panic in me. You may think I'm being hystrionic but that's what clutter does to me. I feel like I'm drowing in it. It feels impossible to ever get the house tidy and every weekend seems to be spent just keeping your head above water vs. ever actually making an impact on the bigger problem. And all of this without even having a kid yet. Can you imagine the chaos that will ensue when we add a little Vixen? I'm coming out in cold sweats just thinking about it.

The problem last night was that I'd been looking at this accumulated mess (some of which was Hubbie's, some of which, as I've stated is just the stuff of life (and my Mother, God bless her) we have no idea what to do with) for a few weeks now and trying not to complain about it. Hubbie has been working incredibly hard lately and I'm so pleased to see him finally get the fruits of his many years of labor in the real estate industry. The last thing I've wanted to do is whine and nag him about this. Instead, of course, all I've been doing is bottling it up (which I think explains my crappy moods in the past few days that I haven't been able to put my finger on.) At some point the lid has to blow as I'm not the kind of girl who can keep it down.

So last night, I fizzed my lid right off.

In the process of trying to wade my way through the stuff in one of our two spare rooms (yes, we have two spare rooms and still have this problem) and attempting to put away ten sweaters that have been laying on the floor in front of Hubbie's closet for 3 weeks, the pile of sweaters began to unravel and fall on the floor.

BUBBLE BUBBLE! Frustration, anger, resentment all boiled to the top and then over the edge. I screamed and threw the sweaters in the air, leaving them to fall around the room.

Poor Hubbie came running - probably thinking I'd fallen on my hip and disclocated it or something - and before he could even get to the top of the stairs I released my vitriol on him.

I immediately felt bad for yelling, especially since it was probably so "out of the blue" for him (just 5 minutes before we were chummy and putting pretty new sheets on our bed together) but I was just too mad to apologize right away.

The result was that all that stuff got cleaned up but resentfully and in anger. Way to go with marital diplomacy.

Part of the problem, I recognize in thinking more, is that Hubbie does have limited closet space and doesn't really have a spot to put the contents of his pockets at the end of the day.

The closet space I have no idea how to tackle. I know that I have the lion's share of the closets but what am I supposed to do? Throw out perfectly good stuff? I already have some things in boxes in the garage (which as we've established can't take any more) and routinely donate 3-4 big black bags of clothing twice a year plus sell another 3-4 bags once a year at a garage sale. (This is no exaggeration.) I suppose I could purchase an armoire or something but where would it go? The guest room is an option, I guess. The other spare room is reserved for a potential Baby Vixen and although could be a short-term solution, would only leave us with the problem of where to put said armoire if and when BV arrives. Plus, I'm loathe to throw money at the problem. Heck, our house is 50% bigger and our mortgage is 3x what it was and we're still trying to pay our way out of this mess!? Where does it end?

As for the space for Hubbie to rest his misc. paraphinalia at the end of the day... I think we seriously need to think about that. Valets, boxes, baskets... none of those things have worked in the past. I just have to accept that there is this 'stuff', it's here to stay, it can't be put away or categorized, and it's always going to be a messy pile. The question is, where can I put it so that it's not in our faces or in our way? My office is not an option as it's a working space I'm in 8+ hours a day, the kitchen countertop is not working, and quite honestly anything in plain 'guest' view just drives me nuts. This is obviously a discussion that needs to be calmly had with Hubbie.

All in all, I feel bad about the way things went down last night but I did finaly realize what has been bothering me so much since we moved into this house. Yes, there's been something underlying that has been niggling at me since the day we moved in and this is it. I love the house, I love the space, I adore our yard, I love our neighbors... but already we're wall-to-wall packed-in. It seems we made this big financial and square-foot leap and we're no better off than we were before. Something has to give and it can't be the house - obviously; I'm pretty sure the walls are fixed.

What is needed is a brutal review, organize, throw-out or donate session where everything is up-for-grabs. We need to reclaim our 1900 sq ft of living space before we suffocate.


CGBCYouth said... can simply accept the fact that your house won't look like one in the Architectural's Digest and you will have to live with some sort of messiness. That's what I've came to because there's just no use. Partially why I don't host any parties too...

Don't get me wrong I love a neat house, but after 5 years of marrying Jenson I have to come to term with the fact that he's a packrat and I can't change that. Either I change myself, be mad every once in a while. or....?

TravelVixen said...

cbcyouth: I hear ya re: acceptance and, believe me, I have definitely toned-down my expectations over the years. But it's not just a question of tidyness at this point. It's reached the point where rooms are inaccessible/not usable. As I said, we didn't buy a 4-bedroom house to use 2 of the rooms as storage facilities - we actually NEED those two rooms.

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