Monday, December 12, 2011

Household purging gone awry

Before my house went up for sale last month, the realtors gave explicit directions for staging the place to look its best.

Most instructions began, "get rid of–"

I took countless loads of stuff to Goodwill and the dump, resisting the urge to forage at either place for more things to bring home. Decluttering is the name of the game, and I'm proud to say I'm pretty good at it.

My two 27-year-old male housemates aren't adapting as well.

During the first walk-through, the realtors pointed out a wheeled office chair that didn't appear to be in use. The seat was slightly torn, and I'd stuffed it in the guest room in case I needed an extra chair for dinner parties.

"Can you get rid of that?" they asked.

"Sure," I agreed. "It's in decent shape, so I'll just wheel it to the sidewalk and stick a free sign on it."

I did exactly that before piling another load of household clutter into the trunk of my car and heading to Goodwill. When I returned an hour later, the chair was gone from the sidewalk.

I was delighted for the thirty seconds it took to drive from the bottom of my driveway to the top. That's when I discovered the chair sitting in the front yard with the free sign gone.

"What the hell?" I asked as I walked through the front door.

My housemates ignored me, probably because they're accustomed to that as my normal greeting.

"Why is the chair in the yard?" I asked.

"It was free," replied one of the housemates. "I thought it would look good in my room."

"It was free because I put it there," I informed him. "And also because I'm trying to get rid of things."

He grinned. "You just did."

I gave up the chair battle and continued filling boxes and bags with castoff clothing, rarely-used appliances, and the overabundance of office supplies I swear have been procreating in my desk drawers. I stuck one of the boxes in the entryway, thinking I might inspire the boys to do some decluttering of their own.

"I'm taking that box to Goodwill later today," I told them Saturday morning. "If there's anything you want to get rid of, go ahead and toss it in there."

They both looked up at me. "That box is going to Goodwill?"

Before I could open my mouth to reply, they were both pawing through the box like a pair of mongrel dogs doing a dumpster dive outside the butcher shop.

"Hey, this is a good mug!" one of them declared.

"This hula girl hasn't even been opened," the other shouted. "I can put it on the dashboard of my car."

The other housemate took it from him. "Let's see if her skirt comes off. That would be better."

They continued digging as I stood speechless in the living room, not daring to interrupt what appeared to be the most fun either of them had enjoyed all week.

"Tape?" one housemate yelled. "Who gets rid of tape?"

"I had twelve unopened boxes of it in my desk," I informed him. "I don't need that much tape."

"Probably stole it from work," he muttered to the other housemate. "Hey, what's this thing that says Pirate Playmates?"

He pulled out a plastic baggie of action figures someone gave me as a gag gift. They both frowned. "That's not what I was hoping for."

I sighed. "Is there anything else I can get you boys?"

"Got any bulbs for this lamp?"

So much for decluttering. On the bright side, the housemates seem pleased with their new acquisitions. In hindsight, I probably should have wrapped up all my castoff stuff and offered it to them as holiday gifts.

How are your decluttering skills? Do you tend to be a pack-rat or a ruthless organizer? Please share!

And let me know if you want to pilfer through the housemates' rooms for any household goods you might need. I promise not to tell.

10 comments :

Michelle Wolfson said...

I have no decluttering skills. Which is probably why I'll only ever sell my apartment to a hoarder who sees the potential in the air space, as the ground space is pretty much covered.

lora96 said...

Oh, I'm a pack rat. Whilst pregnant last summer I pawed through a closet that needed to be emptied muttering "Why the bloody hell do I still have mints from out wedding? They're old. That's nasty." before looking at the bag longingly and thinking...but I might *need* them. :P

Teri Anne Stanley said...

Here is the key to getting rid of clutter when you have kids or young adult males in your house: Wait until they are not home before you pack up the Happy Meal toys.
Seal the box. Tell them it's old underwear.

Matthew MacNish said...

Think a buyer would decide on your house without seeing those two rooms?

And to answer you question, I have 2500 vinyl records in boxes and crates in my garage. What does that say about my de-cluttering skillz?

Skye said...

Other than the chaos in my apartment created in reaction to the difficulties of the last year, I tend to swing between packrat and cozy minimalism (I just made up that classification). I collect, but I have undergone successive declutterings in the past decade.

Then there was setting Mom's house and the estate that contained stuff from both Mom and Gram --- cut glass, milk glass, holiday stuff .... I am very proud that I kept just a handful of things (and my hands are small). The rest I let go.

Just don't try and take my books.

I wish you'd taken pictures of the Pirate Playmates before consigning them to Goodwill. They sounded like fun. :)

Sarah W said...

I'm not a housekeeper. I'm not tidy. I leave writer nests everywhere and pile books in the bathroom.

But there is a line.

I spent THREE HOURS swamping out my kids' playroom yesterday, hauling out garbage bags full of broken toys and old art supplies and odd game pieces, etc. Three bags full of old stuffed animals and too-small costumes are in the trunk of my car.

I feel like someone's been beating me across the back of my legs with a baseball bat, but that room is CLEAN.

This weekend . . . I tackle their bedroom.

tricia-linden.com said...

The worse thing about decluttering is when you give something away that you haven't used for over a year and then you need it the very next week. I did that with two awesome RenFaire cloaks. As soon as they were gone I wished I had them back. Still do... Enjoy always, T

Michelle Miller said...

I'm definitely a pack rat. My idea of decluttering is making the piles look neater.

Tawna Fenske said...

Michelle, I'm sure all the hoarding home buyers will appreciate the time you're saving them.

Lora96, I'm a little afraid to ask how long ago the wedding was!

Teri Anne, old underwear....got it!

Matthew, funny thing, it's actually in our agreement with the realtors that they're supposed to avoid showing those rooms if at all possible. The house has four bedrooms and an office anyway, so our hope is that potential buyers will be sick of staring at bedrooms by the time they hit that end of the house and maybe they won't bother.

Skye, going through family heirlooms is the toughest. I don't envy you!

Sarah W, I love the term "writer nests!"

Tricia, I had exactly the same thing happen last week! Got rid of a bunch of candles I wasn't using, and then thought, "I could sure use candles."

Michelle, there's something to be said for neat piles!

Thanks for reading, guys!
Tawna

Crystal Posey said...

This is so funny! I love your posts about your roommates. Is it weird that I'm hoping they go with you where ever you move? Otherwise I will totally miss these kinds of posts.