I TOOK MY FINAL paid day off today to clean the apartment ahead of this Saturday and the holiday party. I had done a fair amount of cleaning and party-supply procurement over the weekend, and I had toted many Hefty bags down to the Dumpster. I also put my new(ish) shredder through vigorous paces. But all of this activity paled in comparison to today's purge.
I woke up later than expected. As Tuesday waned, I felt very run down. Two of my coworkers are recovering from heavy-duty colds, and I may be fighting off a dose of what they had. When I woke up today, I felt lightly congested and warm. I soon attributed the warmth to the ridiculous weather — 50s in mid-December — and my elderly neighbors cranking their heat despite this. My throat was a little sore, but I was optimistic that this was from near-winter dry air instead of the usual first symptom of a cold or upper respiratory infection. As countermeasures go, I decided to can the trip to the gym (despite the invigorating temptation of the sauna) and get a little more sleep.
Once up, I set my priorities. I have some items in the main area that will need to migrate to the bedroom. The bedroom, although not as crap strewn as it has sometimes been, was still cluttered, so I would need to address this and move what belonged in the closets to their rightful places. This, in turn, would require me to light the tip of my staff, loosen Glamdring in its sheath, and descend into the cryptlike depths of my bedroom closet.
Down through trackless winding caverns I descended, past grim carvings cut by hands extinct long before humans rose erect on the African veldt. I threaded past layered stalagmites thicker than redwoods and far older, scattered blind swimming things as I plashed through their stagnant pools, and edged along crumbling precipices that fronted depthless vaults where dank, warm breezes breathed from far below. With time and care, I eventually reached the root of this complex, where lay scattered the dust-caked remnants I sought.
In other words, a tangle of T-shirts, shoes, and underwear. And some cassette tapes. Remember them?
With my trusty box of Hefty Bags to buttress me, I began discarding ill-fitting shoes and shirts. I eventually spied the floor of my closet. Pressing my advantage against a fleeing foe, I grabbed my Swiffer, loaded it with Endust, and swabbed the closet dust away. Between the thinned-out rack of clothing above, and the newly scoured floor below, the closet finally had the air of an organizing principle.
Next came an Ollie North–like round of shredding. With online bill payment, finding printed bills from even as recent as 2002 is like finding a letter of credit for an asbestos shipment to the Belgian Congo. My shredder dined heartily on all manner of obsolescent paperwork, producing two full Hefty Bags of grounds. Had a landscaper passed beneath my window, I could have given him a ticker tape parade.
At this point, all I need to do is fold and stash a load of whites, vacuum, and dust, and my bedroom will be in great shape. I primarily plan to use it as a coat room, but I like to have the room open and accessible, to make the joint a little less claustrophobic and to offer privacy if anyone needs it. Also, I can now leave the door open and not be embarrassed when folks pass it on the way to the loo.
The lesson this whole day has taught me is that living lean is the way to go. I simply don't need a lot of stuff. I had requested from those with whom I usually exchange gifts that we call a moratorium this year, to preserve funds for the lean times that may come if I can't get a new job swiftly. As November rolled by (but before the announcement of the layoffs), I tried to compose a list of items on Amazon, but frankly couldn't think of much to request. I can rent, borrow, or download just about anything I need. I used to have a vicious completist streak, which ran to money during the collectible card game craze when I bought box after box of Illuminati: New World Order cards. The last set of anything I felt compelled to complete was the Extended Edition of The Lord of the Rings.
To paraphrase George Carlin on extremes in license plate mottos: Between the overstuffed drawing rooms of the Victorian era, and the sterile post-post-postmodernism of the houses in Sleeper, the truth lies. In my case, probably closer to Sleeper. So pass me my orb.