Three Months Later…

A quick update. Three months ago I shucked the stuff out of my son’s room like it was an oyster. A few weeks after that I did the same with my daughter’s room.

The result was a garage that was inhospitable to vehicular life. The resultant shame that has occupied my days these past weeks has been formidable.

Yesterday found me on the cusp of one of those rare Sundays where nothing was planned and the inclination to get out and Do Stuff was low. Long story short – two trips to Goodwill and a man-sized trash bag later the van can now claim dominance over the garage again, as it rightfully should.

I even found a crate of wine coolers from Noelle’s 30th birthday party. Needless to say, they were past their prime. That was a nice chunk of space to reclaim. On the downside, based on how frequently people slowed down as they passed our recycling bin last night, the neighbors now think we’re lushes.

Got a month of no-work Fridays coming up, so I’m hoping to dig out the closets and the “workout room” side of the garage in the weeks upcoming. It’d be great to coast into the summer with a truly uncluttered house!

Five Shirts Enter! Five Shirts Leave!

Well, I had a chance to test my willpower this past weekend. As loathe as I am to shop for clothes, it turns out that right before they cycle in the Spring styles is a great time to find stuff at 50-80% off. Combine that with a couple of coupons and it’s pretty easy to catch the restocking bug.

These kind of sales usually end up with me carting home armloads of shirts and cramming them into too-full drawers. My previous defenestration of said drawers meant that didn’t have to worry about crowding…which could have easily led to major overbuys. Instead, I kept my rule of five firmly in my head. T-shirts were passed over immediately because I already have five tees that I like and I’m not ready to get rid of any. My work shirts, however, were all showing their age of two years (or more), so it was time to stock up. Again, this could have resulted in me blindly grabbing every polo shirt I saw on the clearance rack. Instead, when I got to the second store and started rifling through, I kept in mind that I’d already purchased two shirts and could only get three more.

Pants provided me with a slightly different challenge. A change in dress code at work means that I can wear jeans again, and I have my requisite two pairs; but I apparently dropped a waist size at some point in the past year. So I allowed myself an extra pair, keeping firmly in mind that I have a pair that are rather frayed at the ankles – they’ll find themselves in a Goodwill bag once they do some time as “casual” jeans. However, the now three sizes-too-big jean shorts that I replaced with another clearance find don’t pass Go – they’ll go right into the bag.

So it was a rather successful day in that I was able to freshen up my wardrobe, maintain order over my hungry drawers, and keep spending down. It’s not exactly a Thunderdome level, revelation; but it’s nice to know that the system is keeping me honest.

Aside

Bit of a change of pace; but I’m having a contemplative day and wanted to share something that I’m trying out.

Being a parent of two, I am well aware that I am not the world’s most sedate eater. You have a very limited window in which you can both get your kids to sit and eat, while getting enough sustenance yourself to survive the grueling bedtime gauntlet. Still, I came across some simple advice a few years back that really helped me as far as not eating too much too fast:

Put down your fork when you take a bite.

If your fork is on your plate, you’re not digging for the next bite, readying it to be shoveled in. You have to focus on what you’re eating. You also have time to listen to your body telling you that it’s full, lessening the times when you shove away from the table, goggling at what you just polished off, only to feel like Jabba the Hutt twenty minutes later.

So, yay for you, you say. Since when is this an etiquette/health blog?

Right you are. But I’ve been on a bit of an information overload lately and wanted to see if I could apply this principle to something more prevalent in my life, in an attempt to cut down on the number of infostreams assaulting my brain. So, my new philosophy?

Take your hands off the mouse when you read.

Especially when you’re blog-surfing, there are a myriad of links, buttons, mouse-overs, galleries, and tabs to open up and explore. Do it enough and you end up never really focusing on what you’re reading, because your cursor is already seeking out the next bit of info.

I tried it earlier today with a newly published article about the Gulf Spill. Taking my hands off the mouse, when I came across the name of the researcher, instead of right-clicking and doing a Google-search for her in another tab, I filed away that I wanted to look her up, finished the article, then came back to the name. It’s a small thing, but it forced me to focus on what was being said, rather than playing “how deep can you dive into this topic in the next 30 seconds?”

Like the fork thing, I see myself breaking this “rule” almost instantly. But it’s something to keep in mind. When we let our hands keep moving, there’s a part of our brain that’s focused there, not on processing what’s in front of our eyes. And while it may slow me down, I’m hoping it will lead to a deeper understanding of how I process information (not to mention a better comprehension of those topics I do slow down and check out thoroughly).

SATURDAY! SATURDAY! SATURDAY!

IT’S GONNA BE A BARN-STORMIN, RIP-ROARIN, ATOMIC WEDGIE-GIVIN EXTRAVAGANZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

Well, not really. It’s going to be me sitting around in my driveway, surrounded by piles of stuff that I’ve excised from my home, blearily trying to make change before the coffee kicks in.

So if you’re in the area, and you could use some kid clothes, toys, or maybe a chair or two, swing on by. I’ll be the one squinting at the sky, trying to figure out what the big burning ball is.

The Unprocess

Sitting down during my son’s karate class, I was presented with a glacially clear example of how complexity kills productivity.

“I have an hour and an idea for the story I’m working on, I’ll write for a bit.”

So I whip out my iPhone. First I have to choose which app to use: WriteRoom or SimpleText. I go with SimpleText because it syncs with my Dropbox account. Except…oh, I reorganized my Dropbox folders the other day and the app doesn’t point to the right spot anymore. No worries, I’ll unlink the app from my account, enter the correct folder, then sync it again. Except…my credentials seem to not work. Did I not link my Dropbox with my new e-mail? So I drop out of SimpleText (ooh, the Mail app has an e-mail for me, I’ll have to come back and check that), launch Safari, and go through the e-mail update process.

At this point, it’s been 15 minutes and I’m no closer to writing down the idea I had in the car. If anything, I’m farther away from it because of the various things that have caught my attention and will bug me till I check them.

It occurs to me that all of this could have been avoided if I’d just picked up a pen, grabbed a piece of paper, and started writing.

All These Pantries Are Yours…

Well, with the weekend garage sale being a non-wash-out wash-out (forecast calls for sunny skies this coming weekend, fingers crossed), I found myself with some extra time.

Actually, I wasn’t planning on doing much, it’d been a long week and my energy was low. Then I popped the fridge open and noticed that the smell…well it wasn’t pleasant. So I grabbed some trash bags, heated up a bit of water, and went to work. All leftovers got tossed, anything without a discernible date (or hadn’t been used for more than a few weeks) got tossed, each bin (veggie, meat, cheeses) got gutted and scrubbed down with the aforementioned warm water before being put back. Then I attacked the freezer, which didn’t resemble a usable freezer inasmuch as a frozen strata consisting of peas, pasta sauce, ice cream, and bananas (oh, the bananas). Tossed everything within reason (new packages of stuff and the sauce stayed, nothing else survived).

I reached into the pantry for an extra trash bag and, after pushing aside five half-full bags of flour and sugar, realized that I wasn’t done yet with the kitchen, not by a long shot.

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We Don’t Need Another Gadget

So the Amazon sales have gone well, better than I expected, actually. This sent me up to the attic to retrieve packaging for the toys that sold (yes, I’ve saved all the plastic casing and boxes for precisely this reason…yes, I am that Nerd). While there, I came across a box of gadget packaging. Old gadget packaging, actually. Headphones I no longer own; bluetooth headsets that got run through the dishwasher (don’t ask); iPods that are but mere shells now. I started chucking all this out of the attic onto the floor of the garage till I had a “Close Encounters”-esque, “This means something.”-type pile waiting for me when I climbed down with my empty toy packaging. As I broke it all into its requisite parts, sorted into recycling bins, I marveled at the waste I was dumping back into the system. Five years worth of gadgets generates a lot of cardboard and clear plastic.

It also occurred to me that for all the lamenting I do about the lack of simplicity in this world, I do my damnedest to fill mine with complexity.

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