Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Dilemma

“#$@%.  It’s still there. Damn it all to hell you %^$#.  I know you’re there.  **%$#@….go away!”
As my kids faced an imaginary monster, named Chunky, in our basement several times a year, many years ago, I face this very real monster several times a day, every day. I have survived raising six kids, the deaths of loved ones, giant jackasses in the workplace, two great recessions, two terms of “W”, the promised rapture a few years ago and the recent Mayan end of days.  Why then, is this a challenge?
I’m a procrastinator by nature and a terrible housekeeper.  That being said, I am amazed that since emptying a big house – garage – attic – basement and all, and downsizing to a condo, I have managed to limit the amount of clutter that surrounds me.  The one exception is my monster… the bedroom closet.  Every day it confronts me with its ugly disorder and forces me to grab my clothes and run. Because of its size, this closet has become the repository for all things labeled “I’ll deal with that later”.
 It is the boxes of photographs, including the ones I salvaged from my mother’s own closet when she died over a decade ago.  I really ought to throw them out because once I am gone nobody else will care about them – they’re not digital. Both of my aunts who could help me identify long gone relatives have macular degeneration – so I can no longer ask them to help.
  It is also the assorted paperwork that was so darned important to keep, that I don’t even remember what it is.  Then there are the boxes of mementos that I’ve set aside for my kids and will one day really ship out to them.  I want to relieve the sense of loss they are suffering without their old little league shirts and their 3rd grade class photos.
 Did I mention the 20 years of tax returns?  And the documentation to back them up?
            I am holding on to a pair of shoes with high heels that I can’t wear now – high heels always make your legs look great – and who cares?  Add a Pendleton suit that I just know I will need on that someday when an old colleague calls on me to impart my banking knowledge as a paid consultant. Banking has changed and so has my body.  I cannot bear to face trying on that slim, fitted suit to discover that it can no longer be buttoned and is wildly outdated.
Gaze upon my colorful supply of gift wrapping paraphernalia that I should give away.  We no longer shop for gifts – we write checks.  Ditto what’s left of the box of sand dollars that I collected from the Gulf of Mexico and lovingly bleached and polished for my grandchildren?  I have a few that have not been distributed – and keep meaning to pack and ship the rest of them.  They were little kids when I collected them and now they’re college kids whose friends would LOL were I to actually deliver them.
Glance through the box of assorted items that really need repair at a jewelers.  The bullet that came through my office window that I want to make into a pendant, one of the kids’ baby cups that needs the handle re-attached and the one I am saving for the first grandchild of my oldest daughter. My favorite bracelet needs the clasp fixed. I also have the costume jewelry – both mine and my mothers, that I was going to divide among my granddaughters to use to “play grown up”. You guessed it – they’re all grown up.

Need medical supplies?  I have two back bolsters that helped me through a herniated disk, assorted bottles of crap that I ordered from the TV – all guaranteed to make me live longer- and a lifetime supply of diabetic testing needles.  I had forgotten I had a heart monitor and a pedometer for my walking and treadmill days.  Somehow they got on the same shelf with the heating pad, the incontinence aids from the hospital, a navy blue arm sling  and three old Mickey Mouse watches that need new batteries and resetting.  Rolled up in the corner of that shelf is the Velcro fitted heavy weight belt that was supposed to be worn while active to restore my waistline to 21 inches.
Whatever messy picture you are getting of this closet is absolutely correct, and then some.  I know that with a scanner, a box of big garbage bags and a shredder I could knock this sucker out in a few days.  I really want to.  This is not procrastination – this is the dilemma.
I keep saying to myself, “I really need to clean this closet out before I die.  I don’t want to be embarrassed. And… I don’t want my kids embarrassed when they have to sort through this stuff.”
 Therein lies the problem:
 If I don’t clean it out, I will  have this  closet as a future project and final embarrssment.
If I do clean it out,  the powers that be might take it as a sign that I’m ready to die.

What do I do?