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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Exercise Essay: The Coffee Table

Draft 1.
Today: The Coffee Table
My big goal is to have a clean, tidy house. I have the week between Christmas and New Year's off from work. Today's microgoal: Clear off the coffee table. But upon regarding my coffee table, I think a better microgoal would be "Decide where to put the hand wipes."

That's the problem with decluttering. You have to decide where things belong. Where they live. Where they always will be found.

I didn't know until decluttering that I have a commitment problem.

How can it be so hard to decide where the hand wipes go? Logic dictates that they go close to where they will be used. But how will I know where my daughter's germ phobia will pop up? [research: how many people have phobias? phobias involving germs?] Our household has many moving parts—four adults, three cats, two dogs—that might track something in or, in the case of the pets, hack something up. And outside intruders such as arachnids show up. [research: how many people have arachnophobia? How many people can't spell it right the first time?]

Place the wipes in a central location? I don't want it on the coffee table or the middle of the dining room table. These places are supposed to be grown-up and reserved for decorative items. Target may be happy with its big pink-lidded tall tub design, but I'm not.

Executive decision: It's going in the kitchen by the paper towels. Decluttering that counter is another day's headache.

One item down. One.

The coffee table sits on top of the rug that needs to be vacuumed. It's in front of the sofa that needs to have excavated from bedding used by my daughter sleeping there while she recovered from a tonsillectomy; tablecloths not used at Thanksgiving (my husband promised weeks ago that he would do this); and dog hair.

Clearly it would be easy to get distracted into cleaning. Taking that path would be a classic move for a procrastinator. That I know this shows how self-aware I am and how much time I have devoted (at the expense of cleaning/decluttering) to the study of motivation, procrastination, and achievement.

Left on the coffee table is a box of presents I received for Christmas, a  6x10" white board my daughter used for communicating during aforementioned tonsillectomy, a cheap wooden 5x7" picture frame, a box holding the CD-receiver sound system for my daughter's car, a contact lens case, two wallet-size photos of a nephew, a small sample of embroidering on canvas, a magazine promising a list of the Best in Arlington, a package of flower seeds, a small clear plastic bag of what I think are car parts to a Saab we might have just sold for junk, and a Halloween-themed pencil with a candy corn eraser.

Here's where I might have thrown in a quip about getting one thing dealt with and that being enough, darn it! and ended the article. But a quip is the easy way out. One item is not really enough.
[Research: How many people think they have a problem with procrastination?]

The white board goes back on the refrigerator, where I plan to write errands or shopping lists on it.

The wooden (faux?) frame goes in the Goodwill box. Wait—I have to set up a Goodwill box. Quick, just pick one, before I can go down the rabbit hole of wondering how big it needs to be or if I need this box for something else.

The sound system can go into a bookcase in the kitchen, close to the door by the side of the house where my daughter's car is parked. Ditto with the bag of car parts. Note to self: Ask husband if we still need parts.

The contact lens goes into the understated linen box I picked up for half-price and placed in a corner of the dining room for Nora's flotsam, which drifts around the house throughout the week. [Research: how many people can spell flotsam correctly the first time?]

The magazine of "Bests" in the county is aspirational. How many of these places will I visit this year? I flip through the pages for two minutes and place it on the side table to look at while my husband hogs the desktop computer.

Nephew photos: a dilemma. Years from now, will I want photos of this child? Am I saying something about my relationship to family if I don't want the photos? Solve by placing them with other things that could go into a family album were I ever to create such a thing.

Embroidered canvas. It's a simple geometric design on white canvas. Crikey. I like it. My twenty-something son remarked that he liked it. Shocking. Do I give it to my son? Odds are he won't want it; his room is a carefully collected assortment that he doesn't like being touched. Hang it somewhere? That begats the question of where? Again, the where of things. [Research: Is that a book?]

Reluctantly, I place it in the Goodwill stack, consoling myself with the thought that I can make another easily and quickly if I want.

Where did the flower seeds even come from? I put them on the dining room table to ask my sister about.

The Halloween pencil. If I give it to Goodwill, do they save it until Halloween to put out? I meant to send it to a young friend. Saving it until the right season holds two options: add this to the Halloween box in the attic (requiring trip to attic) or establish a place for seasonal "to-do" items. And where would I put that?

I want to send the pencil to the kid. I have a lot of good intentions, evidenced by the pantry shelf half full of cute little items I meant to give out. Bookmarks, decorative soap, felt buckets perfect for holding treats. The pencil goes in the Goodwill box. If I were industrious, I would clear out my pantry shelf of those other good intentions too. Instead, I tackle finding places for my Christmas presents.

But first, I play some Candy Crush. Because I'm exhausted from all this thinking.


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