Monday, June 11, 2018

Spring Cleaning

Confession time: I love the show Hoarders.

The truth is, I love nearly all of A&E's semi-exploitative dramas, from Intervention to My 600-Lb. Life.  If you don't know what network A&E is because you, like most, have switched from a cable bundle service to a subscription network like Hulu, Netflix, or HBO, then you might remember that A&E is the network that brought us such treasures as "Dog the Bounty Hunter" and "Criss Angel: Mind Freak."

 Listen, I know they're dumb shows, but the heart wants what it wants, okay?

Anyway, they've moved away from the hilarity of Dog and Criss to bring us shows like Hoarders, Intervention, and My 600-Lb. Life.  All three shows follow the same formula: it shows us people who are in crisis, documents the crisis, then shows attempts to intervene and turn their lives around.

One of the reasons I love these shows is that there's a motivating aspect to them.  Yes, we're rubber-necking at another person's tragedy and, yes, that's kinda bad maybe.  But at the same time, they're being paid and they're being provided with a degree of help in return, so this is why I say the shows are "semi" exploitative.

And while there's surely plenty of people who watch only to feel smugly superior, there are also probably some, like me, who find those stories motivating.

If you don't believe me, look up the Zsalynn Whitworthe episode of My 600-Lb. Life.
She is just the sweetest, most positive lady ever. 

No one (hopefully) wants to be so fat they can't move, or have a house so crowded with stuff that they can't navigate it.  The home and the body and the mind are all tied together in my opinion, and since dropping 25 pounds, I've been giving some consideration to my home life.

(Part of that consideration has come from the fact that I can no longer fit into any of my clothes; when you go on a diet, your pants all inexplicably become looser.)

Stepping into your house is like stepping into your own mind.  It is a representation of the things and materials you use, like, and interact with.  So it's important to maintain it as you would your own self.

I mean, I assume that's why they call it emotional baggage, right?

 This concept is heavily explored in one of my favorite video games of all time, Psychonauts. 

With this in mind (ha ha, mind), I have recently begun a spring cleaning of epic proportions. 

Here's the major things we got rid of:
  • Clothes: items that no longer fit, are worn out, or have not been worn in 6+ months.
  • Books: books that have not been read in the last year, books that we would not loan out to friends, books that wouldn't make a Top 20 reading list, books that have little re-read value, books that are worn, textbooks from college that, let's face it, are 12 editions outdated and now worth nothing.
  • Craft stuff: any project that was put off for more than 6 months was either trashed or has been revived.  If not completed by the end of the month, it will be trashed.
  • Gifts and repairables: any item that we have been holding onto with the intent to gift it to someone, or to "fix" it, and haven't in the last 6 months got trashed.
  • Obligatory items: anything that was being held on to due to a sense of obligation instead of true sentimental value was considered to be holding us emotional hostages, and was therefore trash.
  • "But I might need it" items.  Trash.  Shit can be replaced when it's time to be replaced, but anything not in use was deemed unworthy and didn't make the cut.
  • Crap-that's-in-the-closet: we all have it.  Empty your closets today and behold the mystical wonders of shit you should have thrown out years ago!  (Remember, "decluttering" doesn't mean "finding a place for."  It means clearing up space.  Having a full closet does not a clean house make.)
Purge, purge, purge!

Remember, you'll die eventually, and you can't take your shit with you.

Letting go of stuff is really hard, I'll admit.  Here are some tips and tricks I use to get rid of stuff.

20 Questions To De-Clutter Your House 
  1.  Does this bring me joy?
  2.  Does this have functional use?
  3.  Does this have value?
  4.  Have I used this item in the last 6 months?
  5.  Has this item been prominently displayed in the house, or has it been in storage?
  6.  Did I even remember I had this item?
  7.  Am I holding onto this item because it needs fixed?
  8.  Am I holding onto this item because it is part of a project or craft?
  9.  Have I been planning on selling/gifting this item for more than 6 months?
  10.  Is this item cheap, readily available, and/or easy to replace if I trash it?
  11.  Do I have other items similar to this?
  12.  If I didn't own this item, and went shopping, would I buy it now?
  13.  How much space is this item occupying, and could that space be used better?
  14.  Am I spending any time or money on the maintenance or storage of the item?  Is it worth it?
  15.  If I had a single moving truck to put all my things into, would this make the cut?
  16.  If this was broken, would I fix it?
  17.  Do I have this due to a sense of sentimental obligation and not true love for the item?
  18.  Do I know someone who would benefit from having this more than me?
  19.  Do I feel that this item represents me and significantly improves my life?
  20.  Is this something I want to share with my friends or have ever shared with, or shown off to, my friends?  Does it aid with social interactions or hobbies?
Protip: Don't watch Toy Story before you begin cleaning.

Things To Do With The Shit You Aren't Using 
  1. Choose between item A and item B if they are similar.  Get rid of one. 
  2. Donate it.  Goodwills are plentiful.
  3. Throw it out.
  4. Give it away.
  5. Sell it.
How I have gotten rid of things by selling them or giving them away:
  • LetGo is a decent app.  You get a LOT of people asking questions and a lot fewer buyers, but I have managed to sell one or two items.  It's nice because it's local and you get cold, hard cash. 
  • eBay is surprisingly still a thing.  I have made several sales there already.  The downside is the shipping.  But some people, I suppose, prefer shipping to the meet-ups necessary for LetGo.
  • If you have a large list of friends on FaceBook, there's a marketplace you can list items.  I have not had any luck actually getting rid of anything here.  Honestly, if you already interact with the people on your friend list, then the marketplace won't help you much.  I have had two strangers contact me with questions but there was no follow-up.
I use a lot of the tricks from the show Hoarders to declutter.  Handle things quickly, made decisions quickly, don't reminisce.  Just go.  No more than 5-10 seconds per item you're pulling out of the closet.  I often play "Hoarders" in the background and pretend that Cory Chalmers or Matt Paxton is breathing down my throat.  Works like a charm.

I wish I had taken before and after pictures of my house, Hoarders-style, but failed to have the forethought.  In any case, everything is clean.  We have a ton of shelf space now, which is nice, and I was able to hold on to one utterly nonsensical item: Jaffy, a four-foot-tall stuffed giraffe, who, let me tell you, takes up a TON of space.

 This is my desk before the cleaning.  Note the giraffe, the guitar, and the bow.
...I seem far interesting than I likely am.

 How could I get rid of Jaffy when Seamus loves him?  
And he's wearing such a dapper little hat!

Andrew has also been on board the cleaning spree, because he's motivated to clear space in the closet for a 3-D printer.

I'm typing this from my newly cleaned desk.  Having a lot of functional, working space in the house makes me feel really good about myself.  It also eases a lot of my anxiety about having people over.  I highly recommend decluttering.

 Behold!  Functional desk space!

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