I've spent the better part of this afternoon cleaning out my storage closet. So far I've removed about a third of the closet's contents and strewn them all across my office. I'm leaving in an hour or two for drinks with friends, so I guess my work here is almost done. History suggests that things will remain this way until the next time I invite someone over, at which point I will collect the debris and stuff it back into the closet.
This is an exercise I put myself through every year or so. Invariably, the storage closet forces me confront all my worst flaws as well as my inability to do anything about them. First comes the delusional optimism, which is my idea that this time, really--no seriously--I'm going to throw away all the stuff I don't need and turn the closet into a well-organized space where I can keep all my cleaning supplies and hide my trashy vampire novels. Then comes the phase where I have to confront the fact that I am in fact in the first stages of hoarding. By the time I reach 40 I will probably just sleep in a nest made from old tax forms and bubble wrap.
My m.o. goes something like this: (1) I pull something out of the closet I very well know to be trash. Then I either (2a) come up with an unlikely scenario in which I would need the item (usually this involves an unspecified Halloween costume or craft project) or (2b) remember how much I paid for it and (3) decide that there is really no need to part with it now.
The other thing I like to do is get caught up in pointless, time-consuming activities such as reading through spiral notebooks that I inevitably decide to keep because they have three or four blank pages left in, like, the middle of the book. Today I unearthed a journal I kept in 2001, back when I was just out of college and living in London. Most of it made me want to murder-suicide with my younger self, because holy shit, I was sort of unbearable. But there were two things I found in there that I would like to share here, since I really am trying to throw things away this time around.
This first entry goes out to my friends J & V. I had just been laid off from my job and was desperately trying to find a way to stay in the UK.
2 September 2001
Today I spent the afternoon doing career workbook exercises. Yes, that is how desperate my life has become. To give myself some credit, I only bought the book to get ideas for how to conduct a better job hunt (ha!). But a paragraph toward the beginning of the book reeled me in--something about how most people spend more time choosing what car to buy than on their career development. "My god," I thought. "I am so shallow. I will dedicate myself to the exercise in this book and have some really introspective moments!!"
My initial enthusiasm eased off when I found the first exercise was to design your own personal crest. The thoughtful author even included a drawn out shield, divided into quarters in which you were meant to draw little pictures representing your achievements. At the bottom, there was a sash on which you could write your personal motto. Needless to say, I could not bring myself to do this exercise.
On to the next one, which the author prefaced with, "You may find this one a little morbid, but it really can help you determine your career path!" How morbid can a career workbook exercise be? Oh, how naive I was.
Turns out the exercise was to write your own obituary; well, obituaries, actually, as you had to write one as if you died yesterday and one as if you died ten years from now. For god's sake, as if it's not depressing enough to be unemployed without having to write your own obituary!! Instead of closing the book and tossing it in the bin (as any normal, self-respecting person may have done), I took a deep breath and decided to go ahead with it. I figured that I would never have a career-related epiphany without putting up with a few dopey exercises.
This was all fine and good until I found myself completing sentences like, "Kim will be survived by...her cat Tippy" and I got so depressed that I had to have a lie-down. I really do miss Tippy.
The next one was much shorter and a welcome surprise as it came smack in the middle of 20 pages of soul-barf regarding some guy I was seeing at the time.
3 October 2001
Today my housemate Darren opened a phonebook. He inhaled deeply and let out a small exclamation of joy. "It smells of Christmas presents," he said. It was one of the best things I've ever heard anyone say. I just wanted to write it down so I'd never forget.
On second thought, maybe it would be okay to tear out that last page to help line my sleep nest.