Clean House (or the things we should throw away)

I promised my husband I would clean out the garage before the end of the semester at the community college. The reasons are multiple. Obviously, the garage becomes a dumping ground for all kinds of things and I'm tired of it, as is my husband. I'm also on a push to get rid of things I don't need and don't use. And, I have asked my husband to help our son finish his car project by the end of the summer and my husband says he needs the garage – a clean garage they can work in. If I don't set myself a deadline, things don't get done – hence, the deadline of having it done so my son and husband can start work on the car as soon as school is out.

In addition to the garage, I have an extra bedroom that's become a dumping ground. I'm tired of THAT, as well. I'd like to have functional rooms in the house.

While the City of Los Angeles doesn't want us throwing away certain things in the regular trash bins, they also don't make it really convenient to get rid of them. Unless I want to drive 15 miles to the closest permanent collection center at UCLA, on a freeway that's busy even on Saturday, I have to wait until the city has what they call a mobile recycling event in my area. The next event is June 4th, so I drove to UCLA.

I started today by gathering together all the e-waste and household items that can't just be tossed into the trash and aren't worthy of recycling to a thrift shop. In the extra bedroom, there was a box of old – and I mean REALLY old – computer programs that I've been meaning to sell on Ebay for the last several years. Part of my resolve in cleaning up included either getting the stuff on Ebay, or getting rid of it. I decided these programs were too old to even try and sell any more, so in the car trunk they went. Also, two televisions that are too old to bother fixing, a couple of old clock-radios and anything else I could find that had a power cord and/or looked electronic. I went into my bedroom to get my purse to leave for the recycling center when I noticed an old cell phone. I picked that up. Then, I remembered all the old cell phone batteries I had in a drawer. Along with the old cell phone batteries, I found a bunch of regular batteries, which I'm sure were so old they probably had no more juice. Things were getting awkward, so I got a bag. Then, I remembered all the electronic bits and pieces I throw into the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet. By the time I was done, I had filled the bag with all these little things (CRAP) around the bedroom and office.

I also can't believe that after I got back and started going through some more boxes in the spare bedroom, I found ANOTHER cell phone and more cell phone batteries for phones we don't even own any more. It's like those things multiply if you let them sit for too long.

As long as I was getting filthy dirty, I decided to go out and see what is in two chests of drawers that I have in the garage. This required moving 2 doors from a 1971 El Camino and maneuvering around a restored car frame (part of the car project). These chests were some I bought years ago for the kids, then apparently appropriated for myself at some point, because they're full of my stuff. They're not very wide or deep, but they're tall.

How many boxes of jumbo paper clips do you think someone needs? I'm guessing anyone reading this will agree I probably didn't need the SIX large boxes of them I found. It's like I stopped using paper clips overnight. (Well, I probably did – I also stopped using paper, for the most part.) I didn't throw away the boxes of glue sticks or the glue guns – I mean, they might still be good, right? Do glue sticks go bad? I do remember my husband asking me a couple years ago where the glue guns went and I had absolutely no clue. We moved 3 times in 3 years and I can't keep track of all this stuff.

I might mention that we also cleaned out the garage several years ago, a couple years after those moves. The garage was full to the gills and we finally couldn't stand it any longer. We pulled everything out and either got rid of it or I had to justify why it went back in. Knowing that, I'm surprised at what I'm finding in the garage. We must've been really tired and my husband less vigilant by the end of the day because there's absolutely no rhyme or reason for keeping some of this stuff.

Back to those chests of drawers…

Handwritten ledgers of income and expenses for my transcription business, dating back to 1994. That would explain why they were handwritten and not on a computer. It does NOT explain why they were still there! Oh! And stacks of invoices to clients and from independent contractors who worked for me, and check stubs from client payments. Again, no clue why I kept them. I usually keep stuff like that in a filing cabinet and I cleaned out the filing cabinet several years ago, filling a bin for the mobile shredding truck.

Have I also mentioned I have a penchant (okay, a passion) for paper things, particularly stationery? And who writes letters any more? Another drawer was filled with printed stationery and Christmas cards. It kind of looks like the drawer in the house that's full of stationery, only older. Who writes letters any more? I couldn't bring myself to throw those away (yet). I may get to it, or I may become a prolific letter writer, serving the dual purpose of using up the stationery and giving the USPS some business.

Another drawer is full of photographs of the kids and old letters from friends, back in the day when people actually sent letters. I could make a case for writing letters. After my brother died, my sister went through some of the things we took when we cleaned out Mom's place and she found a package of letters he wrote to her. Who saves e-mails? (I used to print some of them and save them but it got ridiculous and I stopped. Now, I'm just a digital packrat – it's much cleaner and takes up less space.)

Some years back (too many to calculate), I bought some dry storage barrels. I know what's in 2 of the ones that are in the garage. One has yarn (another one of my compulsive passions) and the other has fabric (ahem). Don't worry – I haven't been in a yarn or fabric store in years. Sadly, I also haven't crocheted or knitted in years and I don't even own a sewing machine any more. However, I had no idea what was in the two barrels that were blocking these chests of drawers. One turned out to be empty. As for the other, I have absolutely no memory of how the contents of that barrel got in it, or why they're still there in the garage. I mean – I can see keeping the barrel, even if it's empty. They're very useful for storage, including food storage. But this barrel is filled to the brim with old totes, cosmetic bags, purses, and what looks like a couple of rolled-up rugs. THIS time, that stuff is leaving the garage for good!

I have found a few real treasures while cleaning out the garage. A couple weeks ago, I found the Beach Boys CD collection I thought was lost forever. I was thrilled (I love the Beach Boys). Today, I found a little sterling silver serving dish and spoon that must've belonged to my mother-in-law. I have absolutely no clue why it was in those drawers.

The adventure will continue until the garage is clean and I promise to post a picture when there are actually CARS parked in the garage!

I am not a hoarder

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