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In Need of a Death Cleaning
By Gloria Diaz
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Fort Wayne Reader
It sucks not having any storage space in the house when you enjoy doing crafts, like me. Since it's cooling off, I can no longer use the backyard as the workshop. I'd rather paint outside so I can see better, but that's coming to an end.
So yeah, the accumulated furniture that needs to be painted is just one more project that I probably won't tackle. I enjoy painting, but there's just no space for it. And that makes me think that perhaps my newest business venture will grind to a halt, unless a brand-new garage will plunk itself down in the driveway (after I move the Neon, that is).
Every so often, I look around in wonder at my house and can't quite believe five people used to live here. Or, three adults, a teenage boy, and a kindergartener, to be more specific. But we did, and one of my favorite sounds was my parents snoring in the dark. I shared their bedroom, and to me, hearing them snore meant all was right with the world.
But the clutter is pretty much all me. Like, 99% me, at this point. So feeling guilty and fascinated and wondering why I think I actually NEED all this stuff got me interested in an article about Swedish Death Cleaning. I'm not sure if it was on my Facebook feed, or something that popped up in an email, but I thought the concept was interesting. Basically, you look around at your place and get rid of stuff you don't want your family to have to deal with. I don't get along with my brother, so part of me feels a spiteful impulse to just collect more and more and more stuff, just to piss him off, should I kick the bucket first. What will he think of the miniature golf trophies and that one time I entered a bike race? I kept my favorite doll from childhood, but I've added three identical ones.
Will he wonder why there is a container of corn starch in my bedroom? Will he judge me on my collection of VHS tapes? And what about my collection of inflatable animals?
Then, there is my multi-volume journal collection, started in August 2003, chronicling my mother's death, my brother's annoying habit of showing up unannounced and the “Decade of Despair,” which finally ended. What will he make of the relentlessly downbeat narrative?
There's all that, and more!
But there are days that I dream my place is as perfect as an Ikea showroom. I have a minimum of things, and everything has its place. I can never get over how cute Ikea can make a 270 square foot apartment look, and then I feel ashamed because I have three times that space, and it looks like someone bombed a thrift store. It's wrong, I know. I have a problem with clutter. I'm not sure why.
The Swedish Death Cleaning is a good idea, and something to indulge in every few years or so. Every once in a while, I'll get sick of it all and throw out some stuff. But it doesn't happen often enough for me.
But I figure I've got to hold on to something inexplicable, just because, well, whoever wades through all this stuff should deserve something more interesting than a Franklin Mint Elvis Presley 75th birthday celebration gold record or a slot machine pin/pendant with Jefferson nickel. My beach towel collection. Yeah, that's it. Plus that Teletubbies keychain.