Stuff challenge #1: fess up

This post is part of a year long blog challenge hosted by SRB on her veggie sausages blog, to get people to declutter their lives. Not directly related to my blog, but when you sidle up and glance sideways, lots of it actually is related.

Step one : admitting you have a problem!

So, clutter, huh. We are GOOD at it. It all started with reading and books. It got worse when I became a writer and needed more books to look back on and to get assistance with stylistic problems. It is stupid that books are part of my clutter when I am firmly not in the re- reading camp. I never re read. Hardly ever. So why the clutter issue? Because I am passer onner of books. I love passing a book on. And books hold memories. I remember where I was in my life when I was reading a book. There is nothing more lovely to me than a wall filled with books. Hub-in-boots is also a major book lover, who has a lot of art, architecture and car books. Those suckers are big, people.

I have clutter because I am a disordered orderly person. Everything has it’s approximate place. And we are both like that. We are a bit too laid back, we don’t need to have everything perfectly ordered. It’s a sliding scale, and only last week I totally lost my s$;* over the last straw in the lost items collection of 2014. i have clutter because we live in a small two bedroom apartment. I have clutter because I’ve worn approximately four different dress sizes over the past ten years. And I have clutter because I hate wasting things.

I have clutter because when we married almost four years ago, we moved a total of five bedrooms and two houses of long long term living into two bedrooms and a garage. A garage which will never fit an actual car in it…..

I have clutter because I can be lazy about making decisions, and I find de cluttering decisions really tough.

Step 2: feelings, nothing more than feelings

A few of the other blogs on this series have talked about the emotions tied up in the stuff.. I think as a woman, that’s worse. As a relatively new mum, even worse again. I’ve been through several pretty rapid identity changes, single to married, from busy professional to pregnant woman on bedrest, from fertile to infertile to fertile, from D.I.N.K to mum, from fat to thinner to pregnant to in between….and each identity change comes with stuff. some identities, you’re only too happy to get rid of. But some, even though they’re in the past, you’d like to think they are still a part of you. So I hang onto stuff. To remind me. To honour that time. Possibly as a get out of jail free card.

Hub-in-boots too has several identities, office worker, race car navigator, sprint car wrencher, afl umpire, afl coach, dad, son, single dude, husband…and each one comes with stuff.

And kids. Wow. Kids generate stuff. Kids are a little stuff factory. we were always conscious it was not about the stuff with a child. At 17 months, jman doesn’t need much. We know this. A lot of his stuff is second hand, some by necessity, some by choice. I’m working more on the choice angle. I think it’s nicer for the planet if we use a lot of other peoples things that were clogging up their garages, instead of getting some worker in an unsafe sweatshop to make more. The thought makes me sick. Which means, in turn, I need to ensure we pass them on.

Now. This is a tough thing. I love that most of our jman gear came to us at a time of desperate need when we could not go shopping ourselves for love nor money, as I was housebound, and also unable to commit to buying baby gear for a child we could lose at any minute. I couldn’t do it. So the stuff, mostly given by friends, says we got him, he made it. The stuff also

< warning hub in boots do not read next paragraph our you’ll pass out stop now, skip to the smiley face!!!!!>

<stop reading I said! Husband, scroll down!!!>

that the two frozen embryos sitting in the IVF lab and my dumb old 42 year old body could get together and make a little bro or sister for jman. Getting rid of the stuff (baby gear, maternity wear, baby toys and clothes) says I’ve accepted that wont happen. Intellectually, I understand there is next to no possibility of this, emotionally I am not sure I even want to go back and start at newborn all over again (it was kinda hard at 40, especially after such a terrifying pregnancy)….so I know, but I don’t know. And the stuff is part of that.

My mother has a lot of stuff. She has stuff everywhere. I grew up living in semi chaos, once in a while subjected to the oh my god get up and do something we have PEOPLE COMING OVER. It was ok for us to live in it day to day, but it was not acceptable for the PEOPLE COMING OVER to see the stuff. So there’s an element of geez I’m becoming my mother when I see the stuff.

And the stuff makes me feel overwhelmed and tired. I can get up feeling quite chipper, but by the time a shelf has collapsed, I can’t find clean underwear, the top I find has a permanent stain and there are never any pants that fit , I’m starting to get tight in the throat. I go to put away the washing up and can’t fit things in the drawers or cupboards, and I’m stressed by 9am. I am constantly rifling through the pantry looking for things I am sure I have bought. Every little task becomes huge when you have too much stuff.

Step 3: schadenfreude

some people participated in this part of the challenge by posting pictures of their cluttered surfaces then describing all the crap there.

Which, as a reader, is schadenfreude. Rejoicing and taking pleasure in other people’s misery / messiness. I wonder if there’s a specific German word for enjoying the disordered life of others.

Mine will not be disappointing. We can do disorder.

But yesterday, after my little shouty ranty week about all the lost things, hub in boots was already on about day four of a pretty impressive clean out. The ranty rant was like a rocket up his butt. He was a man on a mission. Despite me not actually saying I was angry about the disorder, the clever fella actually heard what I was trying to say.I got up and despite thinking we would just leave the house (if it’s that messy it’s easier just to leave), I actually hung around and got busy. I was in the ruthless mood. The this rubbish has to GO mood. So I started chucking and chucking and chucking, and only thought to get photos part of the way through.

Jman thought it was a carnival, and spent his say rifling through boxes, and moving bunches of random keys from one place to another. Emptying out drawers is toddler party time.

Lucky for you, dear reader, we have plenty of clutter to go around, and even our de cluttered clutter is worse than some peoples’ original clutter. So you can still take pleasure in the depths of our disorder. You’re welcome.

To reward ourselves for a day of toil, we decluttered / liberated some French champers we were given at Christmas. Hub -in-boots was right, it was an occasion worth celebrating. And here’s a bit of pornography for stay at home mums : hub -in-boots decided what we were having for dinner, defrosted it, and cooked it. By a reasonable hour. That’s right ladies, mmm hmm.

Some of yesterday’s work:

If you want a before, picture about ten drawers unable to be opened or closed, and a long dressing table where you could not see any part of the surface for stuff. Use your imagination. The dressing table, for example. It had:
*a huge change tray
*1700 homeless bobby pins
*150 lost pieces of mail
*25 things jman had tried to eat that I shoved there to get out of his reach
*a coffee cup
*a giant basket of jewellery, mostly broken
*about eight mismatched cuff links
*our wedding photo in a frame under six inches of dust
*what seemed like 190 items of half used cosmetics and body lotions
*13 aftershaves (the actual number, no exaggeration)
*four glasses cases, mostly broken
*four pairs of nail clippers! all of which had been lost for several months
*two pairs of tweezers, again lost for several months,
*customer loyalty cards and business cards. Innumerable.
*pegs. Just because.
*several toy cars
*a clock
*make up wipes. Used.
*a ring tree
*three jewellery boxes
*other stuff. I’m bored now. See, I told you it was crowded.

The bookshelves, a repository of unhoused goods




The pantry, already subjected to significant work in December owing to the great cockroach &pantry moth plague of 2013. Yes, this is an after photo, after the mouldy mothy past useby oh my god when did I buy that selection had been disposed of. Yes, it still looks like, well, crap. But it works better.

The extra shelves we stuck in to make up for a lack of kitchen storage. Jman loves these. It just says to me rental property.


The post Xmas toy island: already gone through a significant reorganise. Believe it or not this is after photo, even though it still looks terrible.

Yesterday, jman climbed up on the table, attempted to unlock the glassware cabinet, and promptly hid the key. That was fun.


Another toy “Island”: agh, I don’t know. He doesn’t play in his bedroom, he plays out here. So the lounge room is the toy room.


The mail collection of 2014, believe it or not a lot better than normal.

The out of jman’s reach dumping ground and self portrait. Gah.


We have more pockets o chaos, but I’ll leave it at that for now. (Oh, the garage and the Tupperware cupboard, they get their own blog, I swear). And it’s worse when you look at it every day.

Now go and get yourself a big cup of geez I’m glad I don’t live like that. Me? I’m off to turf stuff.

7 thoughts on “Stuff challenge #1: fess up

  1. Whoa!! You *found* bobby pins?? Once I set one down it’s gone forever. And I wouldn’t even venture a guess as to the total number of nail clippers we have stashed around.

  2. Kerstin

    “I wonder if there’s a specific German word for enjoying the disordered life of others.”

    I am German and I’m sorry to say there isn`t 🙂
    Although there totally should be. I’m working on it!

  3. Excited that you are taking on this challenge! The emotions are TOUGH.. really tough… all for our own different reasons I am sure, but all still very valid and real. Wishing you lots of luck and can’t wait to hear how it goes!

    1. Well, big progress happened today! One UTE full of stuff gone. A friend’s partner is having their first baby soon…so capsule / bath / newborn clothes / rocker / bouncer / newborn toys all GONE!

  4. Pingback: who needs it? january round-up | veggie sausages

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