After the Storm: Tidying the Scattered Pieces

During yesterday’s Tropical Storm, Isaias, our condo lost power three times and only regained it twice.

Our power has been out since around 12:30pm eastern time yesterday. Throughout the day, we darted many a subconscious glance at where the stove and microwave clocks usually passed the time, but found the digital displays dark.  We slept unsoundly in sweltering stickiness and have since resigned ourselves to the reality that our perishables have long since perished after many hours of being uncool.

Having no power, internet, or cell service makes it very difficult to work and stay in the loop about what’s going on so today we drove about an hour and thirty minutes to mooch off of my parents’ still functioning electricity and internet supply for the day. (Thank you, Mom and Dad!)

Coming to my parents’ house, I had a personal goal in mind to minimize some of my belongings that I have been storing here for many years. I didn’t know exactly what I’d find, but knew that whatever was in my room lacked my TLC and the ruthless practicality of my tidying eye. I also decided to bring home any hidden treasures that could be stored with better preservation measures.

The key spaces that require attention are the underbed storage drawers (two twin beds-four drawers), closet, bookcase, and dresser top and drawers.

I began with the dresser drawers and packed up my old childhood and college sheets for recycling. They were pilled and had gotten many years of use. I started a clothing donation bag and a keep bag for clothing items to bring home.

The dresser clean-out actually went pretty quickly. It was mostly full of mementos which I plan to keep and store at home and the top held my old jewelry box, mostly full of costume jewelry from Claire’s and Icing (oh yeah- all the preteen sparkles!). I will keep some of the handmade items and items gifted for important life milestones, but plan to donate the stuff I have outgrown, am allergic to, or do not wear.

I emptied four out of five of the dresser drawers, but ended up using the dresser to store some other sentimental items that I rediscovered throughout the rest of today’s tidying process. I will deal with my sentimental items another time and may even keep a lot of them, but need to think of a better way to store them or document them to be able to enjoy those memories in a more accessible way.

Next, I tackled items I was storing in the closet. My parents store some clothes in my closet, but unless an item belongs to me, I do not touch it, so the closet was only partially mine to tackle. I collected my rolled-up acrylic canvases from college, my middle school clarinet, miscellaneous art supplies, old video camera and carry bag, and my old Casio piano keyboard and stand (not a full set of keys). I am bringing these items home as some of them I’ll keep and some I will try to sell or donate.

Having made some room in the closet, I turned my attention to the bookcase, which I partially cleared off just about a week ago, taking most of the books home, some of which I kept and many of which I have since donated. Earlier today, the bookshelf still held my elementary, middle, and high school yearbooks. I have now moved these items to the shelf in the closet since today’s tidying spree created ample storage there. Earlier today, the bookcase also held my old TV from college, which we never use and which, since Mike is working from home for the foreseeable future, we figure he can use at home as an additional monitor for work.

I feel a wave of accomplishment looking at the now empty bookshelf. Little wins!

Okay what’s next?

Oh right, the underbed storage drawers-eek!

I emptied two clear plastic storage drawers under one of the beds which mostly held CDs and electronics to be recycled properly. One of the plastic drawers held my pared down collection of Beanie Babies. I am considering these as sentimental items for now and stored them in the dresser to allow myself more time to figure out how to store, sell, or donate them in the future.

The two wooden drawers under my other bed were FULL of artwork, art paper, and my old schoolwork from through the years. Welcome to sentimental city!

I sat on the floor for a while, smiling, laughing, and demanding Mike’s attention as I thumbed through writing assignments from the first and second grade. We shared a hearty laugh when I showed him a “self-portrait” I made in the second grade that depicted me as a very stern-looking flower with stubby braids glued to the sides of my very two-dimensional face. I told him he married a delicate flower.

I made it through one of the two drawers-victory! I kept all of the schoolwork for now which I plan to photograph at home so it lasts and tossed some empty notebooks and sketch pads that were in poor shape or that have fulfilled their purpose and value to me.

I stumbled upon my old collection of Broadway Playbills (which is probably better classified as a hoard since I do not preserve them well.) They were strewn all around inside the drawer and were incredibly dusty. Maybe I’ll save those for another post, so back in the drawer they are going for now.

I did not go through the artwork drawer today as it is difficult to open since the nightstand is currently blocking it. Next time, I’ll rearrange some furniture to really dig in and “unpack” that drawer.

I feel a sense of calm and success having gone through these belongings and taken the time to really sort through them today.  The room feels a little larger and brighter. There is still more to do to complete the tidying process in here, as well as for the belongings I am removing from the house today, but I will save that for another day.