Reader, tonight I finished the miscellaneous category of my possessions.
I now possess not a coat closet of doom, but something is approaching functionality. For the first time since I moved in years ago, it’s also clean.
To give you some perspective as to size, it’s large enough that I’m pretty sure it’s comparable to the space Harry Potter had at the Dursleys.
Am I happy with it for the long term? No.
I can see that there has got to be a better way and in some cases, better final destinations for the objects in it. I know I’m not supposed to worry about organizing for the long haul, but maybe I need to buy an inexpensive shelving unit. Maybe the tools and household maintenance stuff would do better elsewhere. But short term, it’s okay.
Genealogy – This is already pretty organized. I have a thick plastic folder with pockets and information on each family is in the appropriate pocket, but I still went in and looked very carefully at everything. There are a few other things I don’t want to toss just yet—phone books of my grandmother’s, greeting cards she’s received—some of those have already solved genealogical mysteries and there may be more info in those things.
Holiday decorations – As I hauled out everything, it hit me that I had done this after last Christmas, but even so I managed to cull out some things that pretty much never sparked joy for me. Tradition is strong here—the majority of my ornaments are meaningful to me, but at the same time, how I store them is almost automatic. Shoeboxes for this set. Wrapped in tissue paper for that set. It’s not like I ever sat down and really looked at how I was storing them. And when I did that, I was able to clear out a lot of space.
Comic books – for a large part of my late adolescence and a good chunk of my undergraduate years, I collected comics. I loved them and they gave me a lot of joy. But it’s been a good long time (decades) and now, now they take up a lot of space. I’ve moved them at least six times now and I don’t want to move them anymore. I went through everything and to my surprise the only joy I had left was for a handful of Wil Eisner’s The Spirit. The rest can go spark joy with someone else.
Décor (pictures, picture frames, knick knacks) – by pictures I mean decorative pictures. This was one where I was convinced I loved everything I had until I pulled it all out and went “meh” to maybe like 10 – 15% of it. Some of these things were gifts and while I really appreciated each and every one of them and more importantly the sentiment behind them, it’s time. I think this hit me when I dropped something and it broke. Without hesitation I tossed it, and then there was first the subversive thought that I should do the same with a bunch of the rest of the items. But then that’s wasteful and kind of stupid. I have things from my grandparents that are truly meaningful and then I have things that I liked at the time, but the time was forty years ago. Far more joyful for me is the picture of my maternal grandparents that I’ve now framed and hung in pride of place.
And then there was kitchen and dining stuff. I revised my subcategories and ended up having to break them down further.
Baking – this exercise/process is teaching me a lot about my self-perception. Namely that mine is a bit off. I do bake and I enjoy it, but if asked to state my preference: baking or cooking, I’d say cooking every time. And yet, clearly I have a lot of baking items. So there’s that.
Easy choices for purging were the marble cutting board and the hand mixer. I think I’ve used the former about 2 times and ever since I received the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, I’ve relied on that pretty much exclusively. The rest of the choices were harder. I culled my collection of cookie cutters. In the first place, I really don’t like making cut outs and in the second, some of these were mysteries to me. I kept some that my mom used to use. The rest can go to the donation place. A couple of not so great cookie sheets went too. I also got rid of some mixing bowls. I had to keep the massive one because it’s the only one big enough for a bunch of holiday things I make, but I prefer to use my Jadite bowls my grandmother used for the smaller items.
Casserole dishes – yes, I had that many that it needed its own separate category. Very good casserole dishes too. I culled these down. What I had was all very nice stuff, but some of it was way too large for me.
This is where “sparking joy” gets hard for me. I really feel there needs to be an element of practicality in this process. Some of these items do make me feel happy. I have a couple of small Corningware containers that I love and use. But a lot of it . . . they’re just casserole dishes. I still need some of them.
Pots & Pans – I have very nice things and I have crap. There is no in-between. I’m going to make a list of the things I want to replace and put it on my wishlist. I got rid of a few lids without pots and a couple of ruined Teflon pans.
Kitchen Equipment – I hate my toaster oven. I need it, though, so until I can find one that I really love, it has to stay. Other things that are staying, but which spark infinite amounts of joy: Kitchen Aid, slow cooker, my Mom’s old-fashioned Osterizer blender, my food processor, and my pasta machine. Marie Kondo writes about how these appliances should all live in cupboards. I don’t have that kind of space, but I was able to move some items that off of the top of the fridge and out of the lower cabinets. For the ones that I use only a few times a year, they’re now on upper shelves.
Cooking utensils, eating utensils, dishes, glassware – This method keeps humbling me. I become convinced that I know exactly what I have and that I love what I have. I emptied a cupboard filled with what I thought was 100% keep in order to wipe the shelves down only to discover that I have this random stuff that doesn’t spark any joy whatsoever. I opened another cupboard which I thought only contained some baskets and my liquor to see for the first time in years, a bamboo steamer that I’ve never ever used.
Needless to say I pared a lot of stuff down in these subcategories.
Pantry & liquor and fridge/freezer – I tossed a mess of dubious items (expired canned tuna, stale crackers, stale cereals, rock hard anchovy paste, etc.) I consolidated more than a few things. My spices took the most time. I refilled everything I could and reorganized them. In the end I cleared out a lot.
I emptied the freezer, wiped it down, and this time when I put things back I took one of those Rubbermaid containers to stow a few of the small things that always get smushed into the back.
And then I went to put stuff away. I know that I need to go back for Phase II and then organize, but it has to live somewhere in the meantime. I’ve been trying to put the like things away together because I am finding that’s a much easier way to function, but when you have so many items and when so much of it is outsized, it’s hard to know how to do that. Despite purging several larger pieces, I couldn’t seem to make it happen—my usual form of KonMari Tetris was just not working and then as I stared into one of the drawers at this large lasagna pan we use every Christmas, it suddenly occurred to me I could turn it around. After that it fell mostly into place. I still have things scattered here and there, but more of the like items are together than not. I even found room for the gigantic canner.
The only two items that are going to need to live outside the kitchen and dining room are a rather large roasting pan my mom got me for Christmas and a big serving bowl that was a wedding present that she gave me. For now they’re in the office closet, but they may end up elsewhere.
Miscellaneous – there wasn’t as much here as I thought there might be. I went through all the cleaning supplies. I had a bunch of random change, most of which was foreign from various trips. It’s now with my rather tiny coin collection. I was left with a box of key chains and a box of keys. Anything I could identify, I labeled. I chucked a bunch of things and I have a very small set that I need to confirm don’t open anything important. And that, my friends, was that.
Up next is “sentimental!”