This post is part of the #Purge365 series about a midlife journey through a year of purging a house – and a life – of unnecessary things. Click here to see all previous posts.
I am startled to realize that today is February 1st, meaning I’ve already completed 1/12th of Project #Purge365.
So I thought a short assessment is in order. How am I doing so far?
Well. I’m proud that I’ve stuck with my resolve of purging an item, large or small, every single day. And I’m thrilled that these things have helped me unearth long-forgotten memories, such as the garter belt I wore at my wedding.
Am I moving too fast or too slow in order to fit this into one year? I still have no idea. Some days I marvel at the sheer weight of what I’m hauling out of my house. Other days I feel like I’m not making any dent. The good news is that so far no one has gotten mad at me for getting rid of something they cherished. I feel confirmed in my belief that we can make do with a whole lot less. And I have created daily sparks of joy when passing through my awesome closet with its neat bins, or when I open a newly organized kitchen drawer with just three knives in it.
For the sticklers among you, I am indeed keeping a daily log of what was purged, in case anyone ever wants to check up on me. I don’t want to list it all here, but here is a quick tally of what stood out:
Biggest item purged
The biggest purge by volume happened on the day I got rid of 20 sheets, 2 comforters, 5 duvets, 4 pillows, and what seems like 35 pillow cases.
These were spread out in several locations in our house – my bedroom dresser, my walkin-in closet, a linen closet in the kids’ hallway. I asked myself for each and every sheet not so much whether it sparked joy, but whether we still needed it at all. For 85% of these we didn’t – owing to the fact that most didn’t fit onto any existing beds anymore, having purged those at some earlier time. The kids’ blankets that I kept for sleepovers hadn’t been used in years. It turns out when girls come for sleepovers, they bring their own pillows and often sleeping bags, or in any case will somehow fall asleep with whatever blanket they find in front of the TV, or possibly won’t fall asleep at all. The only thing I kept was a spare set for the guest bedroom plus the Twin XL sheets. If you have college-age children, you may understand my reluctance. Twin XL sheets are on every college packing list, but no store actually carries them. I shall not part with them while more kids are still entering college. And do you know what I did with the remaining sheets? I stapled colored sticky notes to them on which I wrote the size. Yes, your honor, I am that anal. My new stack fits neatly into the single dresser, each drawer more orderly than the next. As for my closet, I gained four entire shelves now devoid of bulky blankets, emitting a veritable fireworks of joyful sparks every morning I get dressed.
A side note on the pillows. Yes, pillows can fit any bed, that’s true, but a few were lumpy. I hate lumpy pillows! I also had several non-lumpy pillows, but horrors of horrors, they didn’t match. Like, they were different brands and thicknesses and filling types. I have a strange urge that things should be matching at all times. Bra and panties for instance. Why, if no one sees them? It’s the same with pillows. Once you put a pillowcase on them, they mostly look the same. I know this. But I had a hard time not yielding to the urge of buying new matching ones. This is what Marie Kondo will do to you. She sells you on the idea of the purge, and instead she spurs an entire industry of pretty containers and utensils to help with the joy-sparking. But I’m eager to give this experiment of not spending unnecessary money at least a half-assed try and am proud I did resist in the case of pillows (ha, what a lovely pun!).
Heaviest item purged
Back to my January tally. The prize for biggest purge by weight goes to the (probably) asbestos-laden roofing tiles I had to sneak to the dump between shifts to bypass the rather grumpy attendant. I know now why he was grumpy: Marie Kondo’s Netflix series has triggered such a purging frenzy, I read in the news today, that donation centers around the country are being swamped to such an extent that some of them have created restrictions, something that was heretofore unheard of.
About those roofing tiles, here’s a tip: don’t ever agree for stuff to be left in the house you just purchased. There is a reason they’re leaving it behind. The reason is that it’s friggin’ heavy to lug upstairs. And then you get to the recycling place and it turns out they will only take eight of those roofing thingies, whatever they are called, these bendy black tarry sheets that are goddamn heavy and might have asbestos in them, or so the grumpy attendant informs you. These possibly poisonous things were in your basement for six years, and now they will be in your car for another six days while whittling down the pile eight at a time at different recycling centers where they don’t know you yet.
Here is another lesson learned: Big begets big. While carrying 15 heavy loads of asbestos tiles upstairs, you have ample time to get angrier and angrier with each load. Your anger is toward the stuff. Small stuff sparks small anger, big stuff only makes it bigger. So if you really want to build up enough anger to make a worthwhile dent in your purge project, start big. Meaning big heavy items that will make you want to keep going until it’s all gone. I literally had to stop myself from sucking everything in the vicinity into my arms and into the oh-so-inviting looking trash can. After all, by my calculations I have 334 days left to go with Project #Purge365. It simply won’t do to clear out two months’ worth of stuff in a single afternoon.
Newest Item purged
The newest (and also the smallest) thing that I have purged so far: I had ordered a new washing machine before Christmas which – finally! – arrived a few days ago. After it was installed, I was left with a bag full of little plastic caps that one might put on the screws in the back of the appliance, if one cared what the back of one’s washing machine looks like. I did not. Nevertheless, my old and diligent self would have labeled this bag and put it in one of the drawers of our work bench in the garage. Just because that is where one puts such things. My new self is better at looking ahead and trying to imagine a situation where said item was needed. If one can’t, then out it goes!
<h3″>Oldest item purged
The oldest thing I purged (or reassigned) was the aforementioned garter belt, circa 1993.
I still feel like I could be going way too fast, or way too slow, it’s hard to tell. All I know is that certain corners of my house bring me a lot more joy, and this month has passed really fast.