On Being Ruthless

I firmly believe everyone has a junk place. Maybe it’s your basement or attic. Maybe it’s a spare room that could hold guests if it weren’t for the clutter. Maybe it’s just a designated drawer in a desk or in the kitchen. If you’re lucky, you could have all of those.

Discounting my attic and basement (a.k.a. storage areas for things my parents should have thrown out and never did), I’ve ended up with two junk rooms.

The lesser offender is the library. It was the first room I redecorated when I took over the house. The central feature is four bookshelves. Plans to add some sort of reading chaise were put aside when I realized I owned other furniture. Besides, the library also acquired a few more things – a shelf unit to hold china once I moved the china cabinet to the garage, boxes of writing samples, baskets of holiday decorations, etc.

The greater offender is the guest room (a.k.a. my old bedroom; a.k.a. where I fostered cats for some strange reason). Although the room was pretty well cleaned out when I had the kittens, it managed to accumulate more stuff: long boxes of comics, materials for scrapbooking, my mom’s genealogy research, old photos, luggage, scuba equipment, etc.

As part of a spring cleaning burst, I decided to de-junk the rooms. So, of course, I started with my current bedroom. Not a junk room, but somehow a repository of unnecessary furniture and many many dust bunnies. I dragged a dressing table to the lawn for the trash guys to pick up. It, instead, was picked up by some woman in a red car. Same woman who came back the next day to pick up a chifforobe* that I (stupidly) wrangled out of the house and down the driveway by myself. Where was Tom Robinson when I needed him?

My ruthlessness continued as I filled trash cans with books (the sacrilege!), photos, record albums — really, anything that I had held to with thoughts of doing something with them and never did.

Could I have donated the books? Sure, but I hadn’t taken them anywhere in over a year. Ditto for the albums. I’d had ideas of framing some of them, but never did and, to be honest, I would have hung them up because they meant something to someone else. I still love John Denver, but I have the music on CDs and digitally; I don’t need the vinyl.

I could have sorted the photos and figured out what relative may want them, but, let’s face it, chances are good that those relatives would never take the photos out of the box after an initial look-see. I have duplicates of some of the pictures. Others are of people I don’t know. And some photos would never leave the box I sorted them in. They ended up in garbage bags.

So did stuff for scrapbooking. I could have listed the supplies on eBay, but I hadn’t yet, and once you’re on a ruthless cleaning binge, you just go with the flow.

And you know what? It felt good. The rooms have visible floors again. There’s still stuff to be sorted through, but it’s a much smaller and neater pile.

So go ahead. Be ruthless as you approach spring cleaning. The clichéd advice about if you haven’t worn or used it in a year is true. Relatives who may later say they wanted something wouldn’t have come to get it for years. You may feel a twinge of regret, but if you weren’t going to do anything with the trash pile, why hold on to it? Purge, baby, purge.

*Truth be told, I’m not entirely certain the piece of furniture was a chifforobe, but that’s what my family always called it. It had 4 drawers and a narrow closet (probably for shoes), but it also had a secretary-like cabinet with nooks and crannies and a fold-down door. Google Image searches on “chifforobe” or “chiffonier” do not provide a match for what I owned. Go back

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6 thoughts on “On Being Ruthless

    1. Dogs will do that. I’ve finally allowed myself to throw away things destroyed by dogs. There’s really no point in keeping them. Part of this weekend’s purging had me throw away a coonskin cap my Dad had; Eckie had eaten part of the tail.

  1. Yes! I love purging! Living in a tiny space forces me to purge every couple of months, and I am happier every time I do it. The only thing I’ve ever regretting getting rid of in a fit of minimalism was a big teddy bear I’d had since I was little. Howie Bear should have been kept for sentimental reasons.

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