Monday, February 12, 2007

As though a thought stole you away


The open house is done. Finally.

I'm sorry I've been incommuni-blog-o for the last two weeks. I've been cleaning like I've never cleaned before (picture frantic, Flashdance-style cleaning, if you will, minus the legwarmers). I think I can safely say the house is the cleanest and most organized it's ever been since we moved in.

What's more, I did a proper cleaning this time. Instead of just shoving things into any available nook and/or cranny, as is my usual M.O., I actually organized and threw things out and donated things and labled things and such. I think I cleaned Home Depot out of their entire stock of those Rubbermaid storage bin thingees, and I've used up two rolls of labelmaker tape in the last two weeks.

I've discovered the joy of Freecycle all over again, where you can post your unwanted stuff and get replies from people who actually need and will use it. In the past three days I've given away my old Atari 2600 (to a woman who teaches at a school for autistic boys), our old Powermac G4 (to a senior citizen's home) and Casio SK-1 sampling keyboard (to a church choir director).

It's funny how freeing it can be to give your stuff away - I always saved those things (or insisted that my mother save it, in the case of the Atari) because I was convinced that I would use it again someday. I tried to see if Nolan would play with the keyboard, but he was more interested in running over it with his cars than playing any music. And I just couldn't picture taking the time to hook up the Atari to the television and figuring out which controllers and which game cartridges still work. If I really wanted to play old video games, I could do so online easily.

I've been reading several different books on organization and getting rid of clutter, and it seems to me that the big secret is making sure you have a place for everything so you know where to put stuff. I would always put things down somewhere (the mail on the dining room table, the just-purchased groceries on the counter) because I didn't know where else to put them, and then that somehow became their place. I wouldn't take the time to think about where might be a better place to put them, frankly because I really didn't think about it at all. Now I realize that if everything has a designated home, all the thinking's been done already - just put the stuff back where it goes and you don't have to worry about it.

So that's what I've been doing the past two weeks - making a lot of little decisions about what to keep and where to put the stuff we keep and what's worth donating and what should be just plain thrown out. I was going to do a yard sale, but then I realized I would still have to store all that stuff somewhere until the weather got warm again, and we just needed to get the stuff OUT OF THE HOUSE. So we donated eight, count them, eight Hefty bags of clothing, shoes, and sheets/towels/blankets plus three large boxes of kitchen and housewares to Big Brothers Big Sisters, too.

Once all the decision-making was done, I spent this past weekend giving the house a top-to-bottom cleaning. I'm talking windows washed (inside and out), floors swept and mopped, tchotchkes dusted, wood polished, shower doors scrubbed, wall dings painted, shades vacuumed, everything. I had to restrain myself from Magic Eraser-ing the entire kitchen floor, simply because I didn't have the time to devote to it (although it would have looked spectacular, or as spectacular as our kitchen floor could possibly look.)

My hands and arms are sore from all the scrubbing. I'm having carpal-tunnel like symptoms in my right hand. I think I got a total of 12 hours of sleep over Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. I've ingested more coffee in the last three days than I did in probably the entire month beforehand.

So was it worth it?

Well, our real estate agent said 11 sets of people came to the open house, which is pretty darn good. And it's nice to have the house all clean and clutter-free; it seems like it's been a mental cleaning-up as well. I feel buoyant and light when I walk down the basement stairs in my socks and don't have to feel like I should go back up and get some shoes because the floor is all nasty.

And while I was feeling some regret that it took the pressure of strangers coming to see and evaluate the house to get me to finish all the little projects I've been meaning to get to for the last three years, I'm glad that we'll have a nicely finished place to live for the next five months.

I just hope it sells.

Thanks for reading.

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