05.01.20: From the so-called desk of…

… Helen.

Houston, I think I have a problem.

Now that I’m home for what feels like an interminable amount of time, I can finally get around to cleaning out my closets. But it’s complicated, really complicated! I already go through of my clothing regularly, so that is not at all what I’m talking about. No, what I am talking about are all of our other closets, storage spaces, and assorted pieces of furniture that we also use to stash things. We’ve been living in our house some thirty years, and during that time have managed to maximize every possible inch of storage space. However it turns out to be true, no matter how much space you have, given enough time, you will most certainly fill it up.

But before I go any further with this particular topic, I must confess that I’m a bona fide card carrying “serial” collector. Both of my children laugh their heads off when I say that. To them I’m nothing but a straight outta Brentwood packrat. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not that person that has stacks of old newspapers in the hallway, or 100 cans of coffee in the pantry. In fact if you came to visit me, you would see that everything looks very neat and orderly. But please, whatever you do, do not ask me how I dust my collection, because I don’t. More importantly, under no circumstances should you open any closets or drawers – therein lies is all the madness!

For instance, our entry closet which was originally dedicated to normal things like coats and scarves, now also contains a gazillion DVDs (yes we still have a DVD player), and a dozen or so whimsical pull toys – don’t ask! Another closet is overloaded with gifts and books that I purchased so long ago, that I no longer remember exactly who I bought them for, and now also houses a plastic box of oddly shaped baby sweaters that my mom knitted for my older son forty years ago, my grandfather’s hundred year old green suede vest, a stuffed skunk (only thirty years old, but again don’t ask!), extra wine glasses, and to accompany the wine glasses there’s wine – lots of wine.

Just a few steps away in the living room there are three separate pieces of furniture with unusually deep drawers that are all overflowing with now defunct collections that for some twisted reason I can’t seem to part with. For starters there are all of the excess wind-up toys that I no longer have room to display, my diecast yellow taxicab collection, at least twenty itty-bitty cat figurines, an assortment of semi vintage pin back buttons (my favorite one that says “Help, I’m turning into my mother”,  and a bag of empty spice tins… just kidding, that would be ridiculous, those are in the kitchen.

Embarrassingly this is just the tip of the iceberg, so when I do get the urge to part with things, I pretty quickly become overwhelmed and just give up. I know full well if I delve into this particular project, it will be more like an archaeological dig than spring cleaning. And although many of these things might still spark joy, as long as they are hidden away, to me they simply don’t exist. Obviously I’m a proponent of head in the sand ostrich mentality. Which reminds me, I also have several ostrich eggs.

Since I’m currently having the longest snow day in history, I really hate to miss this opportunity to purge myself of at least some of my things, but if I do I step across that line, what on earth will I do with everything? I can’t bring myself to just throw it all away, and oddly enough It’s harder to give away than one might imagine… go figure. I have lots of friends that understand that there’s a fine line between priceless and pointless that have suggested having a garage sale. As much fun as that sounds, I can’t quite figure out how to do that while keeping everyone six feet apart. Although, I think I still have my son’s Indiana Jones whip, and light saber, so maybe don’t give up on that idea quite yet. Selling things online is also out of the question. It’s way too time consuming and involves at least some bargaining, lots of boxes, and the United States Postal Service – none of which sounds like a good time.

But there is another facet to all of this that I think about from time to time. Excuse me if I sound a little morbid, but what will my kids think when I’m gone, and they have the mind-boggling task of going through everything? Good lord, what’s going to become of my dinosaur candle sticks, my collection of sea stars, and my rustic metal Mr. Peanut? And wait until they uncover my boxes of old 45 records, my mother’s peach flapper wedding dress and matching hat, my brother’s baby clothes, their baby clothes, my older son’s rather extensive Smurf collection, or the over-sized containers in the garage filled with rubber duckies. Excuse the gallows humor, but I really wish I could be there, I know I would “die laughing” listening to all of their comments.

But I’m not really worried, my children are already fully aware that I’m, how do I put this, Looney Tunes. So I’m thinking it will end up being a wonderful way for them to bond. And who knows, maybe when they find those zip-lock bags full Chinese fortune cookie fortunes that I’ve been saving for an art project, they may get inspired.

My ponderings for the week

*I wonder if my children will ever say “I can’t get rid of that; it was my mother’s.”  That’s what my husband’s go to line when he doesn’t want to part with something. Okay, mine too!

*I wonder what my kids will think when they find the tiny box of their baby teeth now co-mingled. I’m sure that will go right out with the bath water.

  • I’m wondering if my younger son will follow through with his threat to bury me with my armadillo purse. I’m pretty sure that’s illegal, and besides I’m absolutely certain it’s a valuable collector’s item.

That’s all Folks, but if anyone is interested in starting a collection, just let me know, I can help with that. Just be careful what you wish for.

Collector ideas