From Where I Sit – Operation Cleanup

Readers familiar with this space will remember a column called Doing Life’s Laundry. It covered the phenomenon of organizing and de-cluttering that’s become a cottage industry of television shows, books and magazine articles, professional organizers, and suppliers of organizational structures, containers and systems. Perhaps it’s the new pop psychology. Trying to understand why so many of us buy, collect, and hoard so darn much stuff. Why it’s so hard to tackle the mess and confront the monster called clutter. Why we spend money on things we don’t need. Why we lack the organizational systems to actually find the things we need when we need them. Why it’s easier to procrastinate than to sift through a lifetime’s worth of memories, treasures, and buying mistakes.

There’s nothing quite like a sewer backup to make the project job one. There’s no picking the timing of this most disgusting development. It happens when it happens. The insurance company has provided an adjuster and a contractor who will be doing the ripping up of flooring and assessment of drywall/paneling damage. So far they’ve supplied a 40 x 8 foot container to house our stuff during the cleanup and reconstruction. They also brought in dehumidifiers to help with the drying out process and to reduce the likelihood of mildew. The fact they sound like small airplanes and run day and night is just a bonus!

The only good thing about the timing of this fiasco is that it coincides with Hilary’s move to her very first apartment just off trendy Whyte Avenue. The vintage chrome kitchen suite I found in a Hairy Hill antique shop 4 years ago will now finally be gone. The housewares we’ve collected and grad gifts she received will now be unpacked in Hilary’s new pad.

She/we have been forced to purge. She’s parting with purses(!!!), shoes, and clothing that no longer serve her needs. I’m parting with paper.

So between drop-offs at charity shops and an upcoming garage sale we’ll be able to give the better items second life. The damaged and oh-so-bad have ended up at the landfill. What remains will be what we choose to keep–those things that make the cut based on our tastes and needs at this point in our life.

This cleanup, which is not yet complete, has been a pain in the butt. But it’s also been priceless. How else would I have stumbled across a little notebook that Greg kept in which he lists: My Family, kind of bike (BMX 500 Constrictor), my savings ($203 for Disneyland and $10 for hockey school in Bonn(i)ville, my teacher (Sarwin Sihota), an inventory of John Deere things (including among others combines, front end loader and weedeater), tapes I have, a breakdown of the 1987-88 Andrew PeeWee Aces hockey team, my favorite 20 wrestlers, favorite rock bands, good NHL forwards (Gretzky didn’t make the top 7), good defencemen, good goalies and more.

Only during Operation Cleanup do you find treasures like this. It’s worth it from where I sit.

*Reprinted with permission