And today, I’m weeping.
I could not imagine doing this. Not by myself. It’s too much stuff, some of it has sentimental value. Things hold memories and some are painful to look at.
This lot in the photograph are things we never got around to going through after the fire. There were thousands of neatly labeled TLC boxes–filled with things collected in a grid pattern like evidence at a crime scene–it’s useful, but kind of crazy– especially tough when you’re dealing with people who don’t do housework like us. Mea culpa. So in one box, you’ll see a label that says, “living room – single shoe, file folder with resumes, pens, startup disc for Oregon Trail.”
It’s all a bit of a time capsule from 2012 (SPOILER ALERT– Obama won that one legitimately and with WAY more votes than the other guy. Just sayin’.)
Things have the power to trigger emotions, good or bad, as we all know. And last year was hard. A close personal friend fought cancer right before my eyes. More spoilers–Miss Beverly is a badass and she won!
But it started me thinking. What I carry should be lighter, in case I have to change direction on a dime. It should be utterly precious to me, if I’m going to carry it at all, and it should be so beautiful, it pleases me to just think about it. I can’t tell you how few “things” in my life fit that criteria. People, yeah. But things? Nope. I have attachments to things. But there’s nothing I’d go into a burning building for. I guess that’s a good test.
When my anxiety gets out of control, it’s usually because I’ve ignored something that’s bothering me. As anxiety builds up, stress in other areas of my life gets out of control. Maybe, just maybe, I should heed the words my heart seems to be whispering…
BE NIMBLE – Perhaps now more than ever we should all be nimble, in case our income should dry up, or our health change and healthcare gets more expensive than we planned.
BE HUMBLE – I NEEDED TO hire help. I called up Orange County’s Cluttercleaners.com, and Sharon and Deb came over. They helped me bust my way through that nonsense with relentless, cheerful, prodding, “lets move on!” And they were respectful. It’s harder for some people in my family to let things go than others. They were very tuned in to our moods and were extremely responsive.
I asked all my kids to help, and what felt like a monumental, incomprehensible mess turned out to be kind of fun. And we’re done. One day. Amazeballs. My kids are fricking heroes. They worked so hard, and so tirelessly, and were so uncomplaining, WHO WERE THEY???
I kept asking them things that might trip them up. “Remember when we went to China when you were little?” We never did.
I’ll be honest, when Sharon said we’d do it in a day, I laughed.
And then we did!
And it was just the beginning. Next weekend, we’re heading into the office, also known as The Heart Of Darkness…
BE GRATEFUL – Our methods have been “unsound” for years. Paperwork, clutter, swag, and books? everywhere, partly because we are unwise in the extreme and partly because we’ve had abundance, and we’ve been able to take “the temperature” of our finances without having to do serious examinations except at tax time.
Imma tell you now–it’s gonna be a clusterf*ck of epic proportions when we do, and we’ll probably be disappointed in ourselves. BUT…
When we’re done, we’re going to know what we own. And what we owe. And how we can do better to help ourselves, other people, and the planet going forward.
BE MINDFUL. My life since the fire has been a blur. I never made the house mine, after. We got new furniture, but we didn’t put pictures up. or Rugs. I no longer cared about putting my stamp on my space–that’s probably a post for another day. Sometimes I wonder if I didn’t just let go of everything–reflexively–because that fire came with the awful realization how quickly everything could be taken away.
Your turn to follow along!
Go declutter something and tell me all about it in the comments! You know I feel your pain! But LOOK! LOOK AT THE TIDY! Feast your eyes on the swept!
BE READY TO LAUGH – Oh, and yeah. Our Christmas lights? I’m playing chicken with the twins and my husband on those. We’re halfway into YEAR TWO on those lights. They think it drives me crazy because it makes us look like what we look like… LOSERS! But here’s the thing, that’s nowhere geographically near any hill I’m prepared to die on. Those lights had just better work come Christmastime or it’s those guys who’ll be up on the ladder in the dark, switching them out, not me!
Today we’re decluttering the garage! This hasn’t been too long coming. We did have a massive fire in 2012, and since then, most of the things that have been stored there are things that were boxed up after the fire.
Because the interior of our house was so badly smoke damaged our contractors gutted it and rebuilt it almost entirely from the studs out. So there are things in boxes in the garage from that moment in my life, like a time capsule, waiting for me to unearth them.
Fortunately, that time capsule is only 5 years old and not 35!
I’m not gonna lie. This time it’s personal. It’s possible we need to move. Do you remember those word problems in math? The ones where the train leaves the station in Des Moines and a car leaves in California, and they’re both traveling at certain speeds and you have to calculate where they’ll meet?
Well this is exactly like that. My family is changing. I still have three at home, and as far as I’m concerned they can stay with me forever. I suspect they have other plans. Two are still in commuter colleges gatting AAs before they go off to four-year institutions, so they wont be living in dorms for another year or two. One is just leaving college, his lease is up in August but he and his girlfriend will be looking for a place together.
BUT that train I mentioned? Is my husband’s mobility. He suffered an L1 Fracture and a traumatic brain injury as a kid. As a result, has some neuromuscular issues, which, as he ages, are becoming more problematic. We live in a two story house, and he now needs mobility aids. So…
I suck at math. And anyway, this is an ongoing problem. His trajectory isn’t going to take a straight path from A-Z. Some days are good days, other days are not good days. So we work, and we wait.
And my feeling is that it’s fine to say worry about tomorrow tomorrow, do your worrying, have your anxiety, when the incident you’re worrying about comes to pass. I try not to borrow trouble. I know that’s the idea. But often, I do my worrying ahead, that’s how I am. I have to plan for the worst, have that plan in place, so I can walk through now not paralyzed by the seeming enormity of the tasks at hand.
If we have to sell this house, I don’t want to have to do a declutter, clean, and stage thing on a bad day. Best to get it out of the way now.
For those of you whose days are all good days, or whose days are not all good but you couldn’t imagine ever letting any clutter build up so this wouldn’t apply to you. I’m out here in the hot sun filling trash bins so you can remember to be grateful, it’s just another service I provide!!!
It’s 198—something. I’m on a road trip with Nancy. Marlin is at home. We’re heading to Oregon to deliver her Professor’s car, and we have a hard and fast deadline, except we jump off the road at every tourist stop.
We eat at Heavenly Hamburgers. We drive through redwoods and visit plastic dinosaurs. Every moment feels stolen because when you’re twenty-whatever, you don’t yet understand that you’re not stealing your moments, they’re yours. You should be burning them.
We listen to lots of Heart and Tom Waits on cassette tapes. We get speeding tickets and smoke French cigarettes and blaze in the car until a thick fog leaves the vehicle every time we do.
My mother must have been so proud…
This picture is from Chicago’s GRL. It was taken the night I spent exploring with my friend, author Heidi Belleau. Heidi is a multi-talented, wonderful woman, mother, and author, who didn’t tell me she was pregnant while we were running from the Navy Pier to catch our architectural tour boat… I think I fainted when I found out, because as you can see from the picture, I was in pretty good shape at the time but whenever I was pregnant, the only way I could get out of a paper bag was to dampen it with my pitiful, hormone soaked tears… They’re making some pretty awesome women these days. Just Sayin’
Heidi’s way, way younger than me and her badassery that night was the stuff of legends. The only thing I regret is we can’t all get together twenty-five times a year.
The reason I mention this is three-fold. First, all the Bluewater Bay series books are interconnected, so when Healey Holly realizes he can’t stay in the apartment over the garage anymore, he has to go to the Burnt Toast B & B…and you can find out more about the place in Heidi and Rachel Haimowitz’s book, The Burnt Toast B&B!
“After breaking his arm on set, Wolf’s Landing stuntman Ginsberg Sloan finds himself temporarily out of work. Luckily, Bluewater Bay’s worst B&B has cheap long-term rates, and Ginsberg’s not too proud to take advantage of them.
Derrick Richards, a grizzled laid-off logger, inherited the B&B after his parents’ untimely deaths. Making beds and cooking sunny-side-up eggs is hardly Derrick’s idea of a man’s way to make a living, but just as he’s decided to shut the place down, Ginsberg shows up on his doorstep, pitiful and soaking wet, and Derrick can hardly send him packing.
Not outright, at least.
The plan? Carry on the B&B’s tradition of terrible customer service and even worse food until the pampered city boy leaves voluntarily. What Derrick doesn’t count on, though, is that the lousier he gets at hosting, the more he convinces bored, busybody Ginsberg to try to get the B&B back on track. And he definitely doesn’t count on the growing attraction between them, or how much more he learns from Ginsberg than how to put out kitchen fires.”
* * * * * * *
Bluewater Bay stories can be read in any order — jump in wherever you’d like!
Word count: 62,000; page count: 241
She looks like Elsa From Frozen!
That should have been my first clue!!!
You know those commercials about “the most interesting man in the world?” That dude has nothing on author Debra Holland, one of the amazing writers from #OCCRWA. She’s smart and funny and lovely and also a total badass, and in this picture she’s about to get into a cryo tank. Yes. To be Cryo’d.
Without getting into the reasons either one of us might get into one of those babies, specifically, there are a lot of reasons that people do.
And I’m an old hippie soul, gosh darnit. I was doing Transcendental Meditation at the age of 12. I have been a hundred different religions and also no religion at all. Before I was in college, I had experienced past life regression, had my astrological chart read by experts, memorized all the Christian Science tenets of faith, had energy work done and faith healing, and been rejected by prospective inlaws as being both too Jewish and too Christian–when not even theoretically, but actually I was neither.
So when Debra said, “Wanna try getting in a cryo tank?” I said, “I’m in.”
Because when life asks you if you are a goddess you say:
And I admit I’m easily led but I’m super, super smart about who I let lead me. I probably would have drawn the line somewhere. Electroconvulsive therapy, maybe. Heroin, definitely. I would have said no to heroin, had she offered it even if she’d said, this will make you feel good. So… You know. I can be led only up to a point. And it seemed like a good idea.
But Elsa up there has an obvious advantage, what with her being the goddess of ICE.
Hello yeah. I come from generations of people who lived in HAWAII.
Here’s a comparison:
You see what she’s doing? She’s DANCING. To a cute hit song. I shit you not. She is dancing to a song inside a machine that is freezing her alive. And it really looks like fun, doesn’t it? It looks like she is having a good time. Like she’s enjoying her own personal rave in there. Whooo. Spooky. Gotta get my groove on now. It’s cold.
But I ask you! How is a girl who was given up for adoption by four generations of Hawaiians and then adopted by five generations of Angelenos gonna know from cold?
She is not going to have a clue going in, that’s what. She is not going to have a single clue that she is about to get the abso-fucking-lutely worst headache of an entire lifetime of ice cream headaches and she’s going to think it’s never, ever, ever going away.
Behold, Le MOI!
I don’t think I’ve needed that particular expression since I gave birth to my second child. I swear, I really tried. I danced. I smiled and I acted as if. I placed myself in the hands of my higher power, and then I asked if I could please get out. Right now. Please. NO. I can’t seem to put on my robe, sir. I’m afraid I’ll have to run through your studio in my granny panties and bra, sir, what with my inability to imagine life after this moment…
Because yeah. No. Cold is cold. There’s a reason people wear clothing when the weather dips. And therapeutically speaking, we should probably have walked before running. Because I lasted slightly over one minute. And I really seriously think punching out was the right thing to do.
Maybe I’m just a hothouse flower. And maybe I’ll work up to it. I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to be one of those polar bear dudes, who leap into the frozen lakes and now I know. I will know more tomorrow.
Special thanks to Debra! They need to start making beer commercials about you!! Wow!