Tuesday, February 07, 2006

pigs and buckets and my car

Yesterday I posted in the sidebar an Official Folk Song and an Official Folk Tale for this blog. Why? Because as I was contemplating various things I need to do to continue my quest here, I realized that so many of those things required something else to be done which required something else to be done which required something else to be done in order to do the previous something else in order to do the previous something else, etc. in order to actually complete the original task.

That litany, that sequence of tasks that have to be done to accomplish the simplest thing, is the bane of every clutterbug's existence and also induces that familiar glassy-eyed state of Overwhelmed Inertia....

and I was reminded of the traditional folk song There's A Hole in the Bucket and I also thought about the old folk tale of The Old Woman and Her Pig. Now the latter is, as most folk tales are, rather violent with the butcher-hanging and ox-killing and all, but it is certainly an appropriately metaphoric tale for what I have to do to get the pig home - the pig being, in my case, this monumental challenge to declutter and organize my life.

The specific thing that spurred my thinking about this part of the problem of clutter was thinking about taking stuff to Goodwill, both for donation and re-cycling. Also I need to get my bookselling stock of books out of my house into the climate-controlled storage unit I rented a couple of months ago. I realized that I have to clean out my car in order to efficiently proceed in getting Stuff and Books out of my house and into their right places.

Clean out my car???? OH, man - that means I'll have to find a place for all the Stuff that is in my car! Some of that Stuff in my car is boxes of books that I didn't have room for in the house (that have been there since we closed the bookshop in September!), but didn't want to put in the climate-controlled storage unit until they get catalogued, until I get more organized, and I didn't want to put them in the non-climate-controlled storage unit and.... blah, blah, blah.

Maybe there isn't any rope-gnawing or dog-beating involved, but it is certainly the Old Woman and Her Pig scenario. I don't know what time my pig is getting home, but I know I need to clean out the car before it can even start in that direction.

As for the Hole in the Bucket, I've decided that the Hole-y Bucket is the perfect metaphor for things you just shouldn't even bother to deal with, the Stuff that needs to go. The people in the song go through all the things that need to be done to fix that bucket and they come right back to find out they can't fix the bucket without a bucket. Pitch the Hole-y Bucket and get a new one. Or do without.

So...I'm going to think of things in this project as either pigs worth the effort to take home or unfixable hole-y buckets that need to go.

(Incidentally, I choose to think the Old Woman is taking home The Pig to be her companion animal, a loyal and comforting pig-being presence in her lonely little thatched-roof cottage.)

TASK: Clean out the car
Doesn't look too bad from a distance - Stuff is not piled up much past the bottom of the windows....

Let's open the front passenger door:

There's junk all over the dashboard, a pile of stuff between the seats that is actually Stuff I Use pretty regularly, music tapes, my deliciously warm wool lap blanket knitted in a rosy Lamb's Pride worsted - but mixed in is a lot of junk-drawer type clutter, old pens that don't work, papers, etc. Let's look in the back seat:

Now, here's where we're getting into the mess - the floor is covered with trash, trash bags that have trash in them, and dozens of empty and almost-empty water bottles, some rolling around on the floor, some already bagged to take to recycle. I carry around extra coats and gloves, for my mom or one of my kids, just in case....and what's that over there on the far side of the seat? It's....

.....Oona Baboona Orangutan!
and her pet rabbit.
Oona jumped into my cart one day at Goodwill, saying she wanted to ride around whimsically in my car. My kids don't get the whimsy, they find Oona embarrassing ('Makes you look like a Crazy Lady, Mom' said 17 yo daughter with pierced nose, blue fingernails and goth-black hair). I also have to explain Oona's just a stuffed toy to my elderly mom who finds her a tad.... startling... each time she rides in my car.

And now, the back back:

Bumper-sticker clutter......

boxes of books, catalogues and magazines for Goodwill, more water bottles, stuff still in the car from the late-September Artsfest booth I had, trash, books, papers, a snow shovel, old straw hat, books, and a still-boxed folding hand truck bought for all that taking of catalogued books into the climate-controlled storage unit...etcetera.

Well, wish me luck! I feel like I need to do this ASAP because the weather, while cold at 30-ish, is pretty good for now and because the clutter in the car really is a big obstacle in the way of my getting de-cluttering tasks accomplished with more ease. Will post results when there are some....

Am trying an experiment, editing my post to add the results. Here goes....
It was really amazing how cleaning the car worked out. I did most of the work in about 50 minutes in a very efficient way...took my son to work, then went to my old non-climate-controlled small storage unit. I decided to just go ahead and put most of the books into storage there. The books are just bread-and-butter books, nothing rare or particularly delicate, and all the books I've ever stored there have survived just fine. And really - not sure if my car is any better than that storage unit anyway!

So...I just unloaded and rearranged and picked up trash right there in front of my unit. Then I drove home, stopping at the Goodwill recycling center right on the way, where I unloaded the dozens of plastic water bottles and the zillion magazines and catalogues.

Then I drove to the alley behind my house and straight into the garbage can went the bags of trash - the neat thing is that I made it just before they came to pick up the trash today. I felt SO efficient and quite virtuous, though there was still a bit left to do. Took me another 50 minutes or so - and I want to stress that I dealt with everything, I did not just shift Stuff from car to another Stuff Stash - everything has been recycled, thrown away or put away. Car isn't clean, needs to be vacuumed for sure, but it's now fully functional and ready to be of service to me in getting the pig home!
(Oh, and I almost left Oona at Goodwill, but just couldn't bear to do it. Maybe I will someday.)

Two of these boxes are: the emergency coats and gloves and car maintenance.The third is one box of things that still needs to be sorted and put away.

Not bad, though. I'm happy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

holy crap. looks spectacular. <3


10:52 PM, February 07, 2006  
Blogger Jackie said...

I am proud of you! I like the way that you tackled it too. Drive and drop.

I agree that you need your pal in the car with you. Especially if people can just see the top of his head. That way, if you are driving along muttering to yourself, or singing along with the radio, or wondering out loud ( I do all of these things myself) then people will think that you are talking to a small child in the back seat!

I am totally grooving on your new blog! Keep it up.

4:46 PM, February 08, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not bad? Not bad?
Let me say as your son of almost 28 years I have only really seen that vehicle that clean when you bought it. Ok, so maybe it has been clean a few other times. I'm glad you are taking this journey to be clutter free. Your rewards will be evident everyday you come upon a space that once was filled and is now serene.

9:33 PM, February 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great Job 'Zann-ma!

10:01 PM, February 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was trying to find a consequence for myself if I don't get my car cleaned out by a certain date and happened upon your blog. I found it quite inspiring, so maybe tomorrow my car will actually be cleaned.

And Oona! Oh my goodness, I love her.

11:49 PM, May 25, 2007  
Blogger 日月神教-向左使 said...


3:32 PM, April 04, 2010  

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