Posted by: drrozkaplan | January 12, 2011

The Decluttering Project: Day 12

I’m no longer sure what the goal of this project is.  I set out to clear out my house a little bit- get rid of junk, give away things I no longer use.  I had the idea it wuld help my mind.  It is definitely having that effect.  I find myself delving into much more than cleaning now.  It’s as though I’ve ‘taken myself on’ and I won’t take excuses from myself about things anymore.  I guess getting organized has freed up brain space for other things.  For example, I made a list of friends I haven’t seen in a while and I’d like to see.  I’m contacting them and making plans.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I found my ballroom dance shoes, and Larry and I took our first Argentinian Tango lesson last Friday.  We had a blast.  I’m not lying on my bed anymore, feeling defeated by all the things that should be done but are just too much effort.

The last few days of cleaning out stuff have generated all kinds of insights and inquiries as well.  For one thing, I notice that, as practical as I am on some levels, I am a more sentimental mother than I’d realized.  Sunday’s New York Times Style section had an article on a home organizer who goes into the apartments and brownstowns of monied manhattanites and, for $150/hour, ruthlessly disposes of everything not currently usefull.  She allows for one small box of art projects and school momentos for each child.  She notes that she disposes of her own children’s sports trophies of they are just ‘participatory’ and not indicative of special status or talent.  She says ‘your children won’t love you less’ and that they are ‘unlikely to be the next Picasso or make it to the NHL’.  Well, phooey to that!  I find that practice abhorrent, and I kept, among other things, my daughter’s sculpture of a rosebush from first grade, my son’s renderings of his favorite hockey players, circa age 8, all of their report cards (even I had trouble justifying this, as I never much respected the idea of report cards), every trophy, ribbon and momento of achievement, and 8 homemade Hanukkah menorahs, each hideously ugly in its own way.

     Apparently, there is also more than one ditz-brained person in my household.  Perhaps one of them is me, but there are others.  In the cabinet below the double sinks in the bathroom our children share (or at least did before my son left for college), I found 4 empty shaving cream cans.  As far as I’m aware, there is no use for these.  I found 2 broken hairdryers and 6 bottles of the moisturizer that comes with my daughter’s acne cream (guess she doesn’t like that particular moisturizer).  All of these things went into my trash bag. 

     I was in the dining room, philosophizing over a cupboard full of my mother’s good china, packed away in quilted plastic zipper cases.  I don’t use these dishes.  I think perhaps one day I will give them to one of my children when they settle into a household- although these days, young people don’t often register for good china and crystal, sterling flatware and silver trays- they really are throwbacks to a time when women ran households and had servants to polish all that silver and wash all that bone china by hand.  So maybe my kids won’t want these dishes.  Anyway, since I don’t use this set of dishes, I haven’t looked in this cupboard for years, and I was just thinking all this when I saw it:  a can of Reddi-whip.  What was it doing there, in that cabinet?  I picked it up.  I stared at it, not quite recognizing it for what it was at first.  It was mostly empty, and the expiration date read 2005.  I could not for the life of me imagine what it was doing in that cabinet.  I threw it out, realizing its presence would remain a mystery.

The can opener has been missing for over a week now.  It’s not that I am so attached to that particular can opener.  I did go buy a new one.  But I’ve searched and cleaned the entire kitchen and dining areas.  Every drawer, closet and cupboard.  Where could it have gone?  The man who works at Kitchen Kapers, where I purchased the new one, immediately implicated my children.  “Look for the open can of spaghettios or tuna fish in their rooms,” he told me.  But no, that’s not their style.  Perhaps my son did take it, but more likely to use the bottle opener part to open beer bottles with his friends.  I looked in the upstairs den, where they were hanging out before he left for Israel, and it’s not there.  I doubt very much he took it with him.  It could be in his room.  That, however, is one place I’m not about to go. 

 I glanced into his room, just in case the can opener was right there, wanting to announce itself.  I didn’t see it.  What I did see was his trophy shelf, lined with his wrestling trophies, some participatory, others ranging from third place ina middle school match to first place in Semifinals in high school to third place in States, finally sending him to Nationals in his Senior year.  I could never dream of disposing of one of his trophies.  He earned each one with his sweat, sometimes his blood, and occasionally his tears.  What belongs to him is his.  My decluttering project is mine, and I will keep my boundaries.   (But I still want to know where the can opener is.)

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