Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Decluttering -- Other than the Closets and Drawers

Lately I have felt overwhelmed and I am not sure why.  Yes, looming health questions are playing havoc with my nerves but that isn't all of it.  I just feel overwhelmed.  Things are bothering me.

Noise bothers me.  When I was a child growing up we always had the radio or the television going.  My father kept late hours so when I went to bed it was never silent.  The day I got married and went to my apartment with my new husband was a day I will never forget -- for obvious reasons -- but some not very obvious ones as well.  As we retired for the night we shut down the apartment and I became very aware, disturbingly aware of how dark and quiet it was. I was almost frightened.  It was so different than what I was used to.  I remember childhood days with the windows open blowing the white organdy curtains.  I remember smelling the little wildflowers that grew in our unlandscaped back yard.  I remember the smell of the air after it rained.  I remember the jingle of the Tiner's ice cream truck and the kids playing in the yard.  When did these lovely sounds and smells get replaced with noise.  Just noise.  Traffic noise, electronic noise, white noise to sleep -- just nerve jangling noise.

Now, noise bothers me.  I crave silence.  We recently changed our television service -- we got rid of cable and went to an antenna, Roku, and Tivo.  It is wonderful.  I no longer have the urge to mindlessly flip through channels with the constant noise droning on and on. 

Darkness bothers me.  We have a very open floorplan house with many windows and I have to have those windows open.  Gone are the days of me wanting everything closed up tight with dim lighting and coziness all around.  I want it open.  And light.  And quiet.  I remember sleeping with the windows open and the curtains open.  I remember being able to hear my uncle, who was ill and lived across the street, coughing at night.  I remember being able to see the blinking red light on the tall building downtown where my father worked at night at the television station (yes, I could see it from my bedroom).  I remember things being open and not having to worry about having things locked up like a fortress.  I remember the screen door latch -- that was enough to keep intruders out.  First thing in the morning the door would come open and the screen latched and that is the way it stayed all day. 

Clutter bothers me.  I wasn't always that way.  My mother and I would have words over the state of my dresser when I was a teenager.  I had to have everything I owned on top of that dresser within view. That wasn't quite her idea.  She would clean it off and I would junk it up.  One day we actually had an argument over it.  She won.  Now ....  I can't stand stuff on the furniture. 

I want it quiet, open, and light without anything sitting around.

I am pretty much addicted to facebook.  It is not good for me.  I have always had a tendency to get "down in the dumps" -- not full-blown depressed (too busy for that) but moody.  I am finding myself to be that way more and more lately and I blame it on facebook.  So, recently, instead of just closing the computer only to come back a half hour later to see what is going on and who is on and who is saying what, I have started logging off because, basically, I am lazy and logging back on is just too much trouble.  Last night, however, I was looking critically at what I was actually paying attention to and there is no wonder I could be slightly moody.  The political posts, the prepper posts, the terrorist posts, the abused dog posts, the abused children posts, the critically ill children posts, the posts about all the dangers for the kids, the posts about how everything we eat and drink is killing us -- it is just too much.  I am getting too much of all of this stuff. It is so troubling and there isn't anything I can do about any of it. 

So, I decided to "declutter" my facebook account.  I deleted some people (sorry!).  I reduced contact with others.  Now the people that I will readily hear from are people that I actually know and have active communication with -- most of them are family.  I looked at the groups that I am a part of -- most of which I had no idea I was a part of.  I deleted almost all of them. One is particularly bothersome because the moderator is pretty much of a bully.  I deleted the game apps (except for Words with Friends that I play with my daughter).  I deleted all personal information although there wasn't much up there.  I breathed a sigh of relief and felt great accomplishment when I was done.  It is amazing how we get sucked into stuff like that and it is also amazing how we get into so many things on the internet without our knowledge.  It seems every time I do a search for something I am getting ads for that product or I am put on some sort of mail list.  I even get ads for things my husband searches for on HIS computer.  I don't especially like the feeling that everything is so incredibly "out there". I am not a particularly paranoid person but I don't doubt the existence of "big brother".

I have also had to come to terms with my 'thing' with technology.  I love it but it doesn't love me.  I find it frustrating.  I have had each generation of Nook and each one is different with good points and bad points.  My most recent acquisition of the Samsung Galaxy Nook blah blah from last Christmas is annoying.  It overheats, it runs out of memory even with an SD card and I basically put it in the drawer because it was too much trouble to deal with.  I still have my Nook HD that I like to play a couple of games on but not on a regular basis.  I love my little Nook Glowlight because I don't have to charge it every chapter or so.  And, I love my little Asus netbook.  I have been reading real books because you don't have to worry about them running out of charge in the middle of a chapter.  How could something so simple trump something so innovative, timely, and sophisticated?

Am I just getting old?  Is the world just moving too fast for me?  Am I slowing down?  Hopelessly out of touch?  I feel myself going backward in time -- I am creating my personal space -- the one I actually live in -- to be more like it was forty years ago.  I am not particularly happy in the here and now.  Now, don't get me wrong - I don't want to LEAVE the here and now -- I am having too much fun with my family and there are other aspects of my life where I feel energetic and young(er) and interested but there are too many things today that are too negative and too sinister -- has it always been that way and we didn't know about it?  Are we living on the information highway too much?

So, the only way I know to deal with things is to limit my exposure to all the negativity -- less FB reading and more blog reading.  Less news coverage and more book reading.  Maybe that is putting myself in a bubble -- ostrich, head, sand sort of thing but I am afraid that is what I am going to have to do or my head is going to explode.

I Get It

I arose this morning before the sun.  I opened the curtain hoping to see some sort of wildlife.  There was none.   It is still after the windy "cold front" that moved through yesterday threatening the never-ending summer.  It isn't cold but a change in the air is detectable.  It is thoughtful sort of morning, misty memories floating through my consciousness.  Somehow, in an instant, I understand. 

When I was growing up I lived a different sort of life from my peers.  My father was "famous".  He was a local newscaster for the CBS affiliate station.  He expected us to adhere to certain standards.  We had to look the part.  I am not sure why, we were just plain people from south Texas.  So, from a young age I went to the beauty shop.  When I was about 12 I insisted that that little ritual stop when the beautician wouldn't quit doing my hair in Shirley Temple curls.  It was the 60's for goodness sake.  Our house was post-World War II tract housing but my mother furnished it in the latest trends.  I remember it well -- blond, limed oak furniture, a sophisticated tweed, one armed sofa, a black soapstone lamp that you could actually plant ivy in.  Somehow I never thought that was a good idea -- water, electricity - yeah, not a good idea.  I remember the kitchen -- blue and while tile counters (called drain boards, back then) and my mother had this lovely speckled linoleum (I purchased the same thing, twice, for various houses) and she painted the walls parchment beige and cabinets a lovely mocha shade.  A woman ahead of her time, clearly. 

In the mid 50's we lost the tweed sofa and tubby occasional chairs -- replaced with a t-seat sofa and matching chairs.  I loved that set and have, in fact, purchased something quite similar for my own home. Mother was a mover and a shaker -- didn't like to settle in on something for too long -- when a style changed, so did she.  I can sort of understand my father's dismay for this constant updating.

At some point in the early 60's my mother decided we should move to a larger house -- one she knew well because it belonged to a friend.  We moved.  This necessitated a change in furniture.  Out went the lovely mid-century modern and t-seat suite and in came the Early American trend, so popular at that time.  Larger house meant larger furniture.  It was lovely but oh, my, what a pain to dust.  All those little turned legs and nooks and crannies.   She decorated and polished.  It looked like a department store. 

Around 1967 we made another move -- back to the original home which they still had.  Hmmm....smaller house (a tiny house by today's "tiny house movement" standard) and large furniture.  Large, heavy, dark furniture.  I missed the mid-century modern but it wasn't my call.  Mom still polished and hung colonial decorations asymetrically on the walls.  We lived in a harvest gold and avocado green world -- colors I never particularly liked but carried on into my own home due to popularity.

In 1969 our version of the tiny house burned down.  We were in it.  We got out.  Everybody was ok -- even the dog.  However, something happpened to my mother.  Not physically.  Emotionally the desire to be house proud left her in an instant. 

We moved back into the house after the rebuiltd  It looked the same -- sort of -- but it was missing some of the charming things that made it nice in spite of its' tiny footprint.  The faceted glass doorknobs were gone as were the lovely paneled doors -- replaced with brass hardware and slab doors.  Not the same.  The tile in the kitchen with the site-built cabinets were gone and replaced with stock, ready to hang, cabinets and formica.  Ok, no grout to bleach on a regular basis but---- there was no grout to bleach -- the routine was broken.

As was my mother.  From that point on, my mother didn't hang on to anything material.  There was minimal decoration, things that were lost from the fire weren't replaced, There was nothing sitting around, no knick-knacks, no plants, nothing.  She didn't care.  I didn't get it.  Home was different.  My mother was different.  What had happened to my life?

Yesterday, I got it.  I believe my mother had reached the time in her life that I have reached now although she was considerably younger at the time.  It is the realization that material things just don't make you happy.  Material things are clutter.  Material things are things to be dusted, and cleaned and moved around and shifted and clearly things to multiply in the night.  I have heard other people say, after fires and other natural disasters, that material goods just didn't have the same impact on them as they used to.  Some people, in fact, look at it as a blessing.  I wouldn't wish any sort of a natural disaster on anybody anywhere under any circumstances but there is something about starting over that is cathartic.

Yesterday I walked through my house and I looked at it, critically, from the front door and tried to see what others see when they walk in.  It is crowded.  There is too much stuff.  It grates on my nerves. It makes me tired.  I think that is where my mother's head was -- she was just tired.  Granted, she was only 46 years old at that time but she was tired.  I am tired.  I don't wish to spend my time dusting spindly little legs on furniture.  I don't wish to spend my money on decorations that need to be stored or dusted or washed (thank you Hobby Lobby for all the lovely seasonal decorations that I won't be buying).  I understand where my mother's head was when she would clean the house (always smelled like Pine-sol and lemon oil) and then just want to sit down with a book. 

I get it.  It has taken me longer than her but -- I get it.