And the list gets a little bit shorter…

Some steps forward are not so simple
Some steps forward are not so simple

I’ve been trying like crazy to whittle down my list of Things That Must Be Done, and over the weekend, I made some good progress.

I actually got the basement sorted, just a little bit more. Many months ago (was it actually a year ago? that’s possible), I un-boxed a ton of stuff we’ve had in our basement for years and years. This is stuff we inherited when my spouse’s parents passed away… stuff we packed up over numerous moves, and then never unpacked… stuff we just couldn’t deal with at the time, and put down on a shelf, to decide about later.

Later never came.

Oh, actually, it did come. The decision part just never followed.

So, being concerned about the “stash” becoming a condominium for mice, I went on a multi-day campaign last year to unbox everything that was packed in cardboard and wrapped in newspaper, and I re-boxed everything in soft paper towels and clear plastic containers that have sealable lids.

And it was good.

Except, for that last piece of the process — the collection of trinkets and tschaschkes that I didn’t have a container for. I put them all out on a big folding table, planning to box them up when I picked up some additional containers. I got the containers. But I never boxed them up. And as a result, I’ve been “threading the needle” in my basement, just to get to the water softener when I need to refill the potassium chloride. It’s been a pain in my a**, and I’ve wanted to do something about it for months — actually, more like a year.

But I couldn’t.

Well, this weekend, I decided I’d had enough, and I decided to make a go of it. I told myself I’d only spend 30 minutes working on the task, and that made it easier. I got myself a nice sweet juice drink, and I took some music with me to listen to while I worked. And as I got into wrapping everything up and placing it carefully in the container, I found I was making good progress, so I didn’t need to stop at 30 minutes.

And in fact, it took me less than an hour to get it all done.

So, I’ve been inconvenienced (along with the workmen who’ve needed to get through my basement to fix the furnace and water heater), for a year, over something that took less than an hour to sort out.

Yeah, that would be me, sometimes.

Because it wasn’t just about the job. It was about this nagging sense of failure I have at everything else in my basement — the vestiges of projects I started and then could never finish… the building supplies and handyman remnants of my past life, when I was so strong and with-it, and I had all these plans that I could follow up on… before I fell and got hurt in 2004.

All the memories of years gone by just flood in, all my failures with family coming to mind, as I look at the items on the shelves, and remember how much I loved the people I’ve lost, and I think about how much of a challenge I always was for them. And it’s remembering all the ways that they (especially my in-laws) were challenges for me — the betrayals, the fights, the disloyalty, the gossip, cutting me out of wills and family news because I wasn’t “one of them”. I wasn’t from the world that my in-laws inhabit, and they’ve always kept me at arm’s distance, even though I’ve never done anything other than love and care for and support my spouse — one of their own.

Going down in the basement and spending time there isn’t just about stuff. It’s not just about organizing. It’s also facing my past — the disappointments, the frustrations — and all the stuff from Before.

But now, at least, I got that piece done. So I don’t have to look at it. I don’t need to constantly crawl over it… be reminded of it… factor it in. I am slowly getting my basement back. One of these years, I’m sure it will be in the kind of shape I want it to be.

Not just yet, though. Not just yet.

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Getting it back together

Let's find out what's inside
Let’s find out what’s inside

I lay down at 1:30 p.m. thinking I’d get a 2-hour nap.

I woke up at 5:00, having slept through my alarm.  3-1/2 hours is just about right for a Saturday afternoon nap after a week’s vacation that took it out of me.

Good thing. Very good.

I needed the rest, because in addition to having had a very active vacation, I worked out especially hard this morning, and that wiped me out, too. There’s nothing like exposing your body on the beach, to bring home just how out of shape you are.

Now I’m back into the swing of things, here at home, looking around and seeing what needs to be fixed.

I have a lot of organizing to do. It’s fall, after all, and the house needs some serious airing out. The heat kept things closed up, to conserve coolness, and now there’s a strong musty smell in the basement that’s coming up through the rest of the house.

In another 2 weeks, I will deal with this in detail. My spouse has a long weekend business trip coming up for the first weekend in October, and I’ll have the place to myself for 3 or 4 days. Then I can go wild with clearing everything out and making space for our life. We have boxes we have not opened in 20 years – moving around to different parts of the country, we’ve lived in places of various sizes. So, when we moved to the small places, we boxed things up and stored them. And when we moved to the larger places, we didn’t unpack those boxes right away.

We’ve been in this house for 12 years, and there are still things packed up downstairs.

I got hurt in 2004, right when I was getting to the “unpack all those boxes” item on my to-do list… and the to-do list went out the window.

So, it’ll be a little like Christmas in October. And for the next couple of weeks, I’ll be studying the jumble of stuff downstairs, planning my route of attack. I also need to clean out the garage and get rid of a bunch of junk I’ve been hanging onto for no good reason. Winter is coming. I need to clear the way.

And simplify.

I found some more boxes that will fit under my bed, so I can clean up my bedroom bureau. It’s covered with items that I haven’t touched or moved for years. This is my chance to clear the way, so I can create a bedroom that is restful and promotes good sleep hygiene.

Vacation won’t go wasted. Oh, no. I’ve got my inspiration back, so… onward!