The World’s Messiest Room

Have you ever been to the circus and seen the clowns pour out of a tiny car? Those clowns would be envious of the way I’ve stuffed my room!

We’ve been in this house around 15 years, and through that time I’ve acquired stuff. First there was ham radio stuff and Geoff-o-billia. Then, with the advent of the computer age, computer stuff.

I like to receive. I don’t like to discard.

If I was going to blame someone, it would have to be my parents. As much as I love them, in our tiny fifth floor apartment, they instilled in me the art of squirreling stuff away. I don’t think there was a wall that didn’t have something leaning up against it.

You might not know the Collyer Brothers, but I’m a fine example of their legacy in the 21st century. Here’s how the New York Times described a police call to their house after the report of a dead body inside:

Eventually an emergency squad of seven men had no choice but to begin pulling out all the junk that was blocking their way and throw it out onto the street below. (Manhattan’s streets have no alleys, so all trash removal is done in front.) The brownstone’s foyer was packed solid by a wall of old newspapers, folding beds and chairs, half a sewing machine, boxes, parts of a wine press and numerous other pieces of junk. A patrolman, William Baker, finally broke in through a window into a second-story bedroom. Behind this window lay, among other things, more packages and newspaper bundles, empty cardboard boxes lashed together with rope, the frame of a baby carriage, a rake, and old umbrellas tied together.

With Helaine’s gentle prodding, I decided this would be a good weekend to straighten up. I have attempted this many times in the past, but I usually leave out one critical step – cleaning my cabinets. Within a week or two, the room is back as it was.

My cabinets are the ‘seed corn’ of messiness.

I didn’t accomplish a lot yesterday, but I began to pull things out and onto the floor. There is a point in any renovation when you ask, why? The room had become worse than it was… and it was pretty bad to begin with.

Even I didn’t know what would await me. Some little tchotchkes moved in with us and hadn’t moved since!

If you’re a computer person, you’ll understand the ISA circuit boards I found! I threw them out, along with a few 14400 Kbps modems and long orphaned sound cards.

Why did I keep this stuff? What I was I thinking? I gave up for the night. Helaine worried I’d never finish.

Bright and early this afternoon (OK – it was close to 3:00 PM) I returned. More and more was flowing out of the cabinets and shelves that line the back wall of this room. There were books for programs I used years ago – programs that were now 2-3-4 versions advanced. There were memos from bosses who’ve long since forgotten the joy of my questining their every command.

I’m serious. Hyperbole would work in this entry, but there’s no need. It was as voluminous as it was awful.

I began to fill garbage bags. These weren’t those dainty bags you use in the kitchen, but bigger, heavier, industrial size black bags with their own drawstring.

As I walked by Helaine (sitting downstairs watching football), on my way to the garage, the third or fourth time she began to take notice. By the sixth and seventh bag she was amazed!

I began to refill the cabinets with what was left, but now there was room! Holy cow, stuff fit. I even have room for more stuff – though I must resist.

Memo to people who make stuff: Think rectangular. It’s much easier to load and store rectangular stuff than odd shapes.

I was hitting my stride when I turned to empty the ‘return’ attached to my desk. It was piled so deep, it might as well have been an archaeological dig. Each successive inch took me farther back in time.

How was it possible to hold on to so many magazines? Why did I leave the papers I left, where I left them?

I am mostly done now. The final push will be to categorize and file all the CDs and DVDs now neatly, but randomly, piled to my right. That’s a major job in and of itself since many aren’t labeled.

Can I blame my folks for that too?

Meanwhile, for the time being, you can see my desktop and you can see the floor. Even I’m impressed.

3 thoughts on “The World’s Messiest Room”

  1. Geoff, I ended building a room in the cellar to enclose my stuff. The cold and dampness down here were destroying some of my art supplies, so I had to first clean the lime deposits off the foundation walls, then drylock them before putting up the wall studs and insulation (and I made a raised floor with a vapor barrier under it.) I sell Avon, so I moved all that down here, plus the computer, my (music) keyboard, art supplies, yarn, crafts, etc. Our house is a small 5-room ranch and there isn’t room to keep everything indefinitely, but my late father was a real pack-rat, my mother the other extreme, so I’m somewhere in the middle, and clean periodically. Even then, it’s amazing what I find behind and under things! I hope you can keep things organized enough so you know where to find things..that’s all that counts, lol..Linda H.

  2. At this point, my dream room would be a huge one with shelves on all sides, from floor to ceiling. If I had that, I would be a happier packrat…

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