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A Simple Solution

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I have always had a terrible time keeping my space clean and organized. Everyone knows that who knows me.

Although I can keep myself and my work orderly, I find myself overwhelmed with clutter. I finally have the kind of solution I can live with, and its come to my attention as a direct result of my seven-week trip last month.

Sailing from Acapulco to Los Angeles on a forty-two-foot sailing catamaran, Kinship II, required keeping my world simple and minimal.  The only personal things I owned fit into my orange Ortlieb messenger bag and a Domke camera bag.

When I got home I realized that in order to live cleanly and have my apartment  my vessel  remain ship-shape every day, I would need to bring some of the esprit de corps I was able to habituate during my journey back with me to 14th Street, SE.

So I have been doing a very aggressive and therapeutic purge  a pogrom if you will  of the stuff in the apartment that is non-essential. By non-essential, I mean almost anything and everything that I have not at least enjoyed from afar within the last six months. 

I have been getting rid of so much stuff and the place looks markedly better.  So much better, in fact, that when Wendy came over last night, she was bowled over.  See, Wendy hates the Hill and really dislikes the Grotto.  The Grotto is no place for the light of heart.  I don't own a TV, I don't have very many comfortable chairs, and all the surfaces are made of red tile.  The Grotto is underground and oftentimes can be a little damp; other times, the Grotto is completely soggy.

But for now, its my home and I am completely happy to be here with the exception of when it becomes a pig sty.  My mind became so clear while traveling and I have come up with an incredible insight into how to make my designer-class pad into the minimalist haven of cool that it is often perceived to be during the famed and heralded Grotto parties.

The best way to make sure I continue to keep my ship in shape is to separate my stuff into two classifications: private stuff and public stuff.  Private stuff is as simple as the possessions I carried with me to Mexico.  In my bags and pockets. The public stuff include the cleaning supplies, the workstation I leave online and up, the kitchen wares, the books in the shelves, and all the towels and rolls of TP that allow this house to run smoothly.  And when any of the private things clutter the public space, including the second bedroom, the living room, and the second bathroom, then its my responsibility to make sure that that space is suitably sterilized.

And if I can do this, then I can sustain a very minimal and clean space, a space lacking both clutter but also a space that is always inviting to both guests and friends, a space that won't require hours upon hours of scrubbing and rushing about in order to entertain.  I have tried to accomplish this kind of essential living through inflicting upon myself a great amount of self-discipline; unfortunately, I don't have the discipline required to keep this kind of  plan over so much stuff current and contained.  The only solution which would allow me to contain clutter, keep order, maintain minimalism, and live simply while still keeping all public spaces sterile and inviting is to get rid of anything and everything that I don't absolutely and completely need.  If I have not used it or thought of it; if I know that I won't regret it, then it needs to go.  It needs to be disposed of my way of eBay, Riverby books, a garage sale, or the dump.  Most everything finds its way to the dump, and although there might be better ways of assuring that my stuff keeps on bringing joy to others, sometimes its really not worth the extra energy.  So it goes.

I still support the rent of a storage space and that is my next goal: I don't want to maintain a storage space.  Do I really need all of my college stuff?  Will there be any regret in my heart if I were to get rid of stuff?  Do I long to explore my father or mother's legacy in stuff?  The answer is for the most part, no.  And so it goes.  And so it goes. It has, it is, and it shall.

And my sanity will most assuredly be assured.

May 19, 2003 12:00 AM