Slaying the Clutter Dragon, part 4: Blundering in the Dark

(This installment of the Clutter Dragon Saga brought to you by: sheer stubbornness and willpower.)

Illness, exhaustion, and my old friend procrastination teamed up on me this week, to keep me from sallying forth to strike at a single closet shelf. But by yesterday afternoon, I knew I could not wait any longer without disappointing myself and losing the rhythm of my accomplishments thus far.

So, around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, though I still felt under the weather, I began my clutter counterstrike, stumbling forward into a darkness of storage, which has held onto my girlhood much longer than I have.

Due to some freak fit of gravity, this little avalanche out of the closet had occurred at some point during the week. I got this out of the floor first, but put it aside carefully, since it had some items that actually needed to be back in the closet when I had room.

The REAL Work Begins: Clearing the Shelf

This first bit of shelf was cleared pretty easily, since it was only a couple of small boxes and a book or two. But I uncovered some evidence of mice (to put it as non-grossly as I can) lying about on the shelf, so I had to stop and disinfect the surface as well as I could before moving on.

Note to Fellow De-Clutterers

If you encounter such evidence of mice, which is unfortunately quite common when you’re cleaning up stuff that’s been sitting in the same spot for a while, BE CAREFUL how you handle it–it can make you sick! Use rubber gloves if possible, and make sure to use disinfectants in a well-ventilated space so you don’t get sick from fumes.

The second bit of shelf was much more difficult; not only was there more evidence of mice, but several toys from the shelf above attacked me as I removed items from the working shelf. (Guess they were defending their fellow toys from being removed from the closet? LOL!) Not to mention that when I tried to shift the largest box of toys, it began to vomit Lego pieces everywhere. xD

Disinfecting the shelf, defending my head from falling items, and picking up about a thousand Lego pieces slowed me down, but eventually, I did get that bit of shelf clean, too, as seen in the picture above. Small victories in the name of cleanliness!

The third part of the shelf was almost too easy after the near-disaster I’d had a few minutes before. There was only one box of toys left, and it was mainly big, soft stuffed animals. Once that was out of the closet, I disinfected the remaining surface, and was rewarded with this sight–one completely clear shelf in my overstuffed closet!

A Little Reward: Using the Newfound Storage Space

I had already planned what I wanted to store on this newly-cleaned shelf, so I had everything already picked out, stacked, and ready to be sorted.

From left: my Hawk & Dove comics collection; an old makeup box I used for Clix storage, which will be repurposed soon; computer doodads, install discs, and other techie paraphernalia, all in various gift and shoeboxes.

I was also able to store many small travel bags I’ve picked up over the years on this shelf. It’s a bit messy at the moment, but eventually I’m going to repurpose one of the small totes I recovered from the closet to store these properly.

This is where all the travel bags used to live–piled up beside the dresser, in a stack almost 3 1/2 feet high. Now you can nearly see the floor beside the dresser. It’s a tiny victory, but a victory nonetheless!

The three bins seen here (which I’ve been using for organization in the last couple of “Slaying the Clutter Dragon” installments) will stay in the closet, though their contents will likely change a lot between now and when I finally finish the closet reorganization. They fit well on the shelves and are easy to take down when I need them, thanks to the handles. (In fact, I’ll probably be getting a few more of them for other shelves, too!)

Work, Interrupted

As always, the bed ended up holding all the detritus from the cleared shelf–it’s literally a bed full of my childhood in this picture. LOL

In the beginning, I had planned to start sorting out which toys I wanted to keep for my own children vs. which toys I wanted to donate. Sadly, at this point my body sharply reminded me that I had been sick all week, and that if I didn’t want to be horribly sick/dizzy again in a few minutes, I should lie down as quickly as possible.

Thus…this had to happen:

Sigh. I worked so hard to clear that space in front of the closet, and now it just looks like my childhood puked all over the floor. xD Ah well, it was for a good cause. And actually, I can more easily pick up the work of sorting any time between now and the next installment of “Slaying the Clutter Dragon.”

(I even had to use some of the other bits of floorspace I’ve so painstakingly cleaned earlier in the series. Grr and grumble.)

But this is an important lesson of cleaning/straightening: you have to work with the space (and the physical energy) you’ve got, and you can’t expect every clean section of a room to stay clean while you work with other sections, especially if other sections are as cluttered as my closet.

The room isn’t absolutely finished till all sections are clean and straight–till then, it’s allowed to look like a work in progress. I can’t be mad at myself for making two giant steps forward, even if it looks like I’ve taken a giant step back. You fellow de-clutterers out there keep that in mind for your own clutter projects!

Next Week: Another Shelf, Another Pile of Childhood

Now that I have braved the horrors of dust, mice, and attacking toys, what else can possibly await me in the closet of horrors? Tune in next week to find out! 😀

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