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January 8th – “Throw out old coffee/tea/pods”:

Hmmm, not sure I’ll have anything to throw out, as I don’t have a coffee maker and don’t have that much tea.  Let’s check some expiration dates…well, the two boxes that are kind of old have best by dates from 3 years ago.  Except I’m still actively drinking them and they taste fine, so they can stay.  There are some loose packets that appeared somehow without me buying them, so I should try those and if I don’t like them I don’t have to drink them.  I did, however, toss out two drink mixes from the same shelf.  One is a spiced apple cider (a mix for a complete drink, not like…spices to add to apple cider), and the other is a Hershey’s Chocolate Milk Mix that looks like it might have come from the 80s.  No date, since it’s not packaged for individual sale.  I’m pretty sure with all the Nesquik and cocoa mixes that we will not miss this.

Confession: I have barely even been in the same room as my declutter calendar for a week.  First I did a TV marathon to catch up on all the shows I’d missed, then I had to do a bunch of cleaning that wasn’t part of the calendar, and finally I started going to work at 6 am (thus getting up at 4:30) and I’m now pretty much coming home and passing out.  

Case in point: Today is my first off-day after 4 days of work.  I managed to stay awake until 9:30 last night, and when I woke up I thought, “Crap, I woke up at time for work.”  I went to the bathroom and got a drink of water, all quietly to prevent waking mom, and then I saw that it was 7 am and she was already out of the house.  I slept for 9.5 hours without even stirring, which is quite a feat given that the four-legged and furry ones make a point of waking me.

So here’s a rundown of what I should have done over the past week…I’ll try to get to some of it today, but I know for a fact that at least one of these was going to get the “I can’t do it now, but it’s in the master plan” treatment.

January 9th – “Set up/clean up recycling area”:

We do have a recycling area.  It’s kind of a disaster.  We have a couple of cardboard boxes in the garage to gather paper and plastic bottles.  A couple of grocery bags hanging on nails collect the aluminum cans and tin cans.  Grocery bags are shoved inside each other and tossed behind a sofa that’s on top of a table.  Cardboard boxes get piled up wherever there’s a spot, but for the most part we had been keeping those as we thought we’d need them for packing.  Glass?  Well, I know it’s a great thing to recycle, but we so rarely have any that it got sacrificed for space.

In my vision of the house, there’s a tidy area in the garage with 2 stacks of 3 IKEA SORTERA recycling bins.  The garage is a huge project that can’t be done until a lot of other decluttering projects have made room for the items stored there, so it’s simply not realistic to even touch the recycling area at this point.  I did make one small improvement though.  I keep a bin for paper next to my desk, then carry it to the garage to empty it when it gets full.  However, mom sorts her mail in the dining room and piles paper to be recycled on the table until she makes a trip to the garage.  So I tucked another little bin in there, under some decorative tables by the door.  Now I just need to learn to empty that one as well.

January 10th – “Give away your over-abundance of mugs and glasses”:

This is also a “not right now” task.  We did get rid of a huge amount of these when holding a yard sale…about a year and a half ago.  There are still too many, in my opinion, but that’s an area where mom gets veto power so we would have to sort through them together.  As for me, I could get by with the following: aluminum tumblers, tall plastic cups, my travel cup and mugs, and the teacups that go with our dishes.  The teacups I don’t even use, but I’d keep because they’re part of the set and I’d want to look civilized if I had guests and offered them tea.

January 11th – “Go through one food cabinet”:

I’m imagining that the food cabinets Beth had in mind would be regular kitchen cabinets of 2 or 3 shelves.  What I have instead is a tall freestanding cabinet with 9 shelves (one of which is double width), and a repurposed linen closet with 5 shelves.  So that’s sort of like having 5 food cabinets.

What I’ve just done, as I’ve organized and reorganized these things in the past, is give all the shelves a quick look for anything out of place, and then tackled the one shelf where I stashed all the “expiring soon” foods.  I figured they’ve now reached the “oops, the date has passed” stage, so I was looking at them to either throw out or to pick a specific dish for them to be cooked within the next week.

As it turns out, we need to give up on buying soup.  There are 4 cans of tomato soup with best by dates in November 2013.  So I’m sure those are still fine, I just don’t know what to do with FOUR CANS.  Mom gave them to me as a gift along with a microwave soup mug, so I could save money (and the planet) on the Soup at Hand I was occasionally taking to work.  Unfortunately, the mug doesn’t actually hold a full can of soup.  Well, it does, but then when you microwave it the soup pours all over the microwave and you spend your whole lunch break cleaning it.  The lid was also not spill-proof, so I couldn’t pour a partial can in and just take that to work.

We also have a can of cream of broccoli, a can of cream of chicken, and a can of broccoli cheese.  All those have best by dates in September, so probably still edible although the taste may be slightly off.  Which is a bad thing when it comes to anything creamy, as even the fresh ones make me gag (I totally ruined green beans at Christmas by making them into a casserole with cream of mushroom soup).

There’s a little bit of powdered potato soup mix leftover from a giant bag.  We have been eating this forever, as evidenced by the best by date in 2012.  Oops.  Any family smaller than 4 people needs to give up on the idea of bulk groceries.  We were planning on being lazy and having fish sandwiches tonight anyway, so I’ll make up the rest of that potato soup to go with it and whatever we can’t force ourselves to eat can go in the trash (I’ve tried heating it up as leftovers, but it’s really hard to eat that way).

There was a can of some horrendous mixed fruit.  We bought three different varieties to try, and the only thing they had in common was passion fruit.  Passion fruit, as I quickly learned, smells like rotting meat and tastes just as bad unless you refrigerate it and swallow it nearly whole while holding your nose.  With the first can, I tried to adjust to the taste.  With the second, I picked out the good bits and left the passion fruit in the fridge for a while thinking I might try it again.  Now with this final can, I’ve just tossed it in the fridge to chill, and when I open it the passion fruit is instantly going in the garbage.

The final item on the “use it or lose it” shelf is green chile sauce with pork.  I can’t actually find a date on it, which scares me, because it may be quite old.  I’d have to plan a special recipe to use such a weird ingredient, and then if I planned it and opened the can and it was clearly bad…  I’m leaning strongly toward just tossing this one.  But what do I do with all those cans of soup?!

January 12th – “Get enough sleep this week”:

HAHAHAHAHAHA.  Well, that didn’t so much work.  That night, I stayed up to watch Revenge.  So I went to bed at 10 pm, which means I went to sleep around 10:30, and had to get up at 4:30.  6 hours of sleep, before spending 12 hours on my feet.

The next night, I went to bed at a reasonable time, I think.  I was reading, but still got close to 8 hours of sleep.  So the only explanation for how exhausted I was all day Tuesday is that 10-hour shifts are clearly not for me.  We won’t talk about how unfortunate it is that my days are not going to get shorter.

Then last night, as I mentioned, I got 9.5 hours of sleep.  I know they say you can’t catch up on missed sleep, but I don’t believe it.  Otherwise, why would my body sleep so soundly for so long when it’s beyond the normal length of my sleep?

So going forward this week, I will attempt to sleep enough.  I’ll also attempt to do last Sunday’s task of that 5 minutes of corpse pose per day that I committed to and never actually did.  In fact, I’ll be back in 5 minutes…

I’m back.  I did not do 5 minutes of corpse pose.  Oh, I tried, but I am physically incapable of staying still for 5 minutes.  I don’t think I do even when I’m sleeping (at least, the way the covers are completely wrecked every morning would indicate that I move non-stop).  So instead I spent 5 minutes lying on my back on the floor (I got that part right!), but with the occasional stretching and squirming and tapping my foot to phantom music and the bursting into the theme song from The Smurfs out of boredom.

Also, I was gone more than 5 minutes.  More like 20.  The dryer stopped and I had to go retrieve my shirts that had been in there since Friday.  Not drying non-stop for 5 days, it’s just I forgot them and went to bed Friday night, and I just remembered when I woke up this morning that I needed to turn the dryer on to tumble press, and then actually get the clothes out when it finished.  They aren’t all upstairs though, as I couldn’t carry the clothes on hangers and the spare hangers, and the slipper socks that had been air-drying for 5 days (guess what – they got dry).  Also I came upstairs to find my phone to take a picture of the lint trap, which is filled with red fuzz because apparently that red chenille sweater really should be air-dried.  The sweater’s fine, and there’s no red fuzz on the other clothes, but I’m thinking the sweater won’t stay fine if I keep putting it in the dryer.

When I put away a washcloth I’d been using to add moisture to the dryer, I saw that I hadn’t replaced the toilet paper roll I used up, so I did that, and then came to the office to put the empty roll in the recycling and then I sat down and started typing and still haven’t gone back to take the picture and carry my clothes upstairs.  If I’d been born a few years later, it’s quite possible I’d have ended up as one of those heavily-medicated kids with ADD.  Instead I’m just quirky and scatterbrained.

January 13th – “How do you want your bedroom to feel?”:

This task is more of a “for the past” one!  My bedroom is the closest of all rooms to being how I envision it.  When I was a child, I felt like my things had to be kept in my room and could not go into the rest of the house.  I felt like it was preferred that I do my reading and my playing and everything in there if possible.  I’m sure I was never told this, and pretty sure my family didn’t even intend that, but it was the impression I got.  So as an adult, one of my challenges has been to designate specific purposes for rooms, rather than to have “my room” in which I do everything, and leave the rest of the house to mom.

The fact that my room is teeny-tiny and holds enough furniture for a room twice its size does force me to limit what I do there.  I’m actually quite okay with the size and the furniture.  I’ve nearly finished organizing drawers, and the closet is totally spiffy (I did document that project with photos, but like with the unfinished office project I’m daunted with the idea of actually doing something with the photos).  I’ve already talked about my vision for the room, but I didn’t address this specific question of how I want it to feel.

I want my bedroom to feel uncluttered and functional.  Items should be stored within the drawers or closet or underbed boxes, and stored neatly at that.  There should be no trouble finding anything, and the surfaces should be clear except for some simple decorations and anything I’m actively using (such as a current book on the nightstand).

January 14th – “Declutter one end table” & January 15th – “Declutter another end table”:

DONE.  And by “done”, I mean, all I had to do was check the shelf under mom’s for outdated TV Guide magazines, as the end tables are one of the few places I manage to declutter almost daily.

So now I’m caught up on the calendar again.  I’ve glanced ahead and see that some of the upcoming days are particularly easy (in some cases, they ask me to clean non-existent locations in my house, so that could be considered easy or maybe impossible).  I’ll continue plowing through the office clutter during this time.  I’m close to getting the CD boxes out of the floor.  I should have the ones in the current box ripped today, and the rest of the ones to be done are neatly organized on a bookshelf while they are waiting.

I also need to find a place for a “things to be sold” pile, as it’s in my way and I know it will be a while before I get around to the actual selling.  Then the biggest task of the office is to sort the remaining papers into “recycle”, “type then recycle”, and “keep permanently” piles.  Or boxes, as piles would be messy and susceptible to cat chaos.

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