Monday, June 30, 2008

"Possessed" Short Documentary

Here is a very emotionally charged video made by Martin Hampton about people and their clutter. I almost wish it were longer.

POSSESSED from Martin Hampton on Vimeo.

Via BackGarage

What are your reactions? For those of you not affected by such clutter in your own lives, what were your thoughts as you saw and then heard about these people's struggles (assuming you watched it :P)? For those of you with clutter, did it hit home at all?

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Search and Destroy

Or: Search and De-clutter. That might work better for our purposes. Anyway, here's a technique I've found that helps me a lot in de-cluttering. I never really formed it as a complete thought until somebody posted about clutter in the Livejournal community ourbedrooms.

Tip: If your project seems overwhelming, take it one step at a time. This seems so basic, and it's hard to actually put into practice because you see the mess every day, and every time you think about it, it seems like this monster undertaking that could never possibly get done by doing small pieces of it. However, I find that I make a lot of progress by identifying a single area in a room that has been bothering me in particular, and tackling it.

For example, we couldn't open our front door all the way, like I mentioned the other day. That bugged me a lot. The door was blocked by my mom's wire shelving unit where we stored paper products. I looked around the living room, which has been my main de-cluttering project lately, to find a place I could relocate the shelves to. I cleared out a spot, then made the change. At the same time, I was organizing and not simply moving the clutter around, because I dumped all the paper stuff out and reordered it based on category.

Now our lovely door gets the swing space it needs and, while it still doesn't open all the way, it's a really nice and refreshing change. A helpful one, too, since I don't have to do acrobatics to get all my trash/recycling out the door anymore!

So try the "this bugs me" method and see how far you get! If you have any of your own techniques, feel free to comment and tell me about them!

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Friday, June 27, 2008


Tonight I saw Wall-E! I wish I could say everything about it that I want to, but I don't want to spoil it. Especially since I highly recommend it and I want you to see it for yourself! It was heart-wrenching in ways I did not expect, and, from my nerdy linguistic perspective, possibly involved some fun phonology and voice-recognition research on the sound guys' parts. Phonology is so far my least favorite sub-field because it makes no sense and all the experts on it seem to disagree, but voice-recognition is super interesting.

Anyway, for reasons I won't give away, the movie got me thinking about downward spirals.

Not only is it painfully easy to get into a rut with clutter, but it's even easier to dig yourself deeper into it as the problem gets worse. You delude yourself and run away from the problem whatever way you can - the movie has a very interesting portrayal of escapism - whether it's psychologically acclimating to the messy home or just physically spending less time in what should be your safe haven. Or, sometimes, despair wiggles its way in and masquerades as your solution, causing you to lose all hope and just live in a completely and unacceptably unhealthy situation.

For me, I suppose, this threat of impending hopelessness is what drives me to make my life better. I wish I could have something different to motivate me, something more positive, but it is what it is. And after all, if it gets me to clear out closets, clean under the bed, and pawn off my possessions to strangers, that's something.

Watch the trailer for Wall-E here.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Update on Freecycle

Lookee here for yesterday's post on Freecycle.

So today I released three of my clunky possessions to the wind that is one Ms. R.L., who had responded last night to my Freecycle post. And now I have one experience with Freecycle! Here is what I think.

  • I'm definitely glad that the Yahoo group has rules set down and tips for your freecycling needs. They're very concerned about your safety, which is great, considering that things are picked up from you by strangers and it's all done through the Internet up to that point. In fact, I felt a little relieved when R.L. e-mailed, because I recognized her last name as that of someone who currently goes to my old high school.

  • The community is the perfect size. There are about 5,000 members in my area, the East San Francisco Bay Area, so that's just enough to get a solid number of responses, but not too many that it's not overwhelming. I think I got a total of 6 or 7 offers to take the ab machine off my hands, and 2 for the pillows. Perfect! Also, I got absolutely no unsolicited e-mails from anyone about stupid, irrelevant things. I can't say the same for Craigslist, where I posted my resume the other day. :(

  • I expected the worst: a) R.L would be late/not show up; b) she would not be R.L. at all but a homicidal maniac who had been planning to kidnap me for months and was finally going to succeed; or c) some other bad thing. So I made sure to keep in contact with her (she was an hour late) over the phone (we only exchanged numbers over e-mail when the deal was confirmed), saying that I wanted to reschedule if she was going to be by after dark. Luckily, she arrived around 6:15, and it was not dark. Of course, it was smoky, but certainly light.
         She was a little weird, with a van packed full of clutter (see point below), some of which she had just bought. Her demeanor was friendly but definitely odd, and she struck up a conversation with me about her need to exercise, and whether I, since I'm "small" (I'm not), liked this little black PJ top she had just gotten. I scurried away and thanked her for taking the stuff off my hands. o.o

  • When I was telling my friend (tommykat39) about the site and deal this morning, she thought it wasn't a good idea because it essentially meant that clutter was just being passed around and around. I said that it wasn't the offerers' problem, just the takers' problem. Interesting that I got a fellow clutterer my first time. What do you think? Should transactions be better screened so that hoarders don't do themselves worse? Or is it solely their problem for indulging in more clutter?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sites I Like #6:

Ok I know I like JUST did a Site I Like, but this one is actually helping me in my progress! I'm giddy right now.

Today's site:

This is a .org site, but the part of it that I'm making the best use out of is the Yahoo group for my area. Basically, it's a very well-run organization of people pawning off the crap they don't want, and for free. There's no trading, no adult themes, and no money involved. Also, there's no worries about clogging those landfills or making some epic trek to a specialty recycling center. If you've got something that works but that you no longer want, you send an e-mail to the list serve (with title tags such as OFFER, WANTED [they prefer you don't use this one much], TAKEN [for completed "offer" transactions], and RECEIVED [for completed "wanted" transactions]) and interested parties e-mail you back.

Around 5 p.m. today, I put up two posts: one offering this stupid old floor ab machine (like the one at the bottom of this picture), and one offering two body pillows I don't want anymore. By the time I got home from a crepe outing tonight at 9:30, I had four replies - one for both posts, two more for the ab machine, and one for the pillows (it read: "i am interested in your pillows." Nothing more.). As I type here, I'm simultaneously making arrangements with the first woman who replied to have the items picked up. She's the one who wanted everything, and I suspect she is a compulsive/impulsive shopper, but that is fine with me, since it gets rid of my stuff for me haha.

We'll see how it goes! I'm excited to get rid of more crap and brighten somebody else's day. :)

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Important News Break

Today: huge progress.

Front door opens all the way.


But more than before. !

Living room is looking better and better. Excited to have after pictures soon.

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.


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Monday, June 23, 2008

Sites I Like #5: Seven Dumpsters and a Corpse

As with most of the links I absorb into my bookmarks, I can't remember how I found this one. But the URL ( is extremely endearing, it's relevant, and it has a flash game!

Today's site: Seven Dumpsters and a Corpse

So one of the things I like about this is that it's German. The end! No, I'm just kidding. :) But German things really do entice me. Anyway this is the site for a documentary made by Thomas Haemmerli about his mother's death and the clutter at her house that he and his brother had to wade through in the ensuing month.

There are several things I particularly enjoy about the site:

  • The dumpster flash game (or muldenspiel)! I found it too hard because they make you take the wind direction into account! F that. But give it a try when you're taking a break from de-cluttering your own home. That guy down below makes a funny angry noise.

  • The family history twist of the film. The brothers find so many amazing relics of their family's past throughout their project; it's inspiring. I'd really like to see the film, and this aspect is actually more intriguing to me than the de-cluttering. I love finding old photos of my mom's past when I'm cleaning. They're like decades-old Easter eggs that don't smell half bad.

  • The film's relevance to my own fears. I sporadically get this feeling of dread that of my mother will let the clutter consume her again when I leave home for good and go make a life for myself. I don't want her to die alone in a sea of carelessness and disorder, despite how much I can dislike her (in times like this week, when she refuses to talk to me because of things I've said to her out of frustration and callousness brought on by the project).

As far as our own progress, we're a bit past the one-month mark and things are going ok, but not as good as those deutsche Brudern. We can actually sit (well, one of us can sit) on our couch in the living room! The ottoman has space to lie flat! WE USED THE CORNER OF THE COFFEE TABLE TO PLAY SCRABBLE (and I won 3/3). Contented sigh. Also, even in the face of our tiff (which is still going on because my mom is 5), my mother managed to cart off a carload of stuff to our standbys (Goodwill, Books for the Barrios, and her favorite used book store, Hooked on Books).

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Cluttering Blogosphere

So after a little jaunt to (which I believe I found through iCiNG, my newly budding obsession), I decided to take action in my blogging. ACTION! I gotta participate on other blogs, do some online bloggy networking and generally be a bit more awesomer. I warmed up by Googling "clutter blog" and found a slew of good stuff.

Here's what I noticed:

  • There are a lot of blogs out there done by professional organizers. Remember when I insulted them unintentionally? Well it's really too bad that I'll be remembered for that thoughtless phrase of mine because I really do respect them (and I have respected them! I never meant to insult anyone! I can tell I'll be apologizing for this for a while), especially now that I've seen some of their sites. There are really good tips out there, and I also found out you have to be certified to be part of the NAPO. Dang. Anyway there are a lot of sites I like which I may profile in a future Sites I Like post but for now here's a teaser, from a woman who commented on my controversial post: Clutter Diet Blog. She looks like a friendly lady. Shoot now I feel even more horrible for offending people.

  • There are, likewise, a lot of before and after photos online. But as I perused them, I found myself thinking many times, "Psh! They should see my apartment." And after a few instances of that, I realized, "Ferk I guess that's nothing to be proud of." But this means my before and after pictures will rock the internetzzz. Oh yeah. Expect it.

  • They're good at blogging but they get no props! I see very few comments on these clutter-related blogs but next to no comments. It's lurkers Batman!! I myself am guilty so whateva, we be changing that soon/already.

  • There are few (as in I haven't seen any yet but then again I'm only on the first page of Google results still so that doesn't really mean anything) blogs about people undertaking the de-cluttering process on their own. Maybe I win! Maybe people will discover me and someday I can make six figures blogging. Curse you Darren Rowse.

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Saturday, June 21, 2008


Things I expected for today while attacking the living room anew:
- to get rid of the hideous bunny puzzle that's been sitting under the air conditioner for years (check)
- to find amusing tidbits from my childhood (double check)

Things I did not expect during the same period:
- SPIDER, whose filthy abdomen I heard go crunch beneath my Kleenex on the living room curtains. Sorry pal but u is gross (chchchchcheck)
- Sorta sad tidbits from my childhood (sad check):

From "My Autobiography" (by Xandi, age 6)
*This makes me smile: Funny telivision shows. Presents. My Birthday Party.

*I feel like crying when: my mom yells at me. When pepole call me names. When I get hurt. When I trip. When my mom leaves for work. When I am all alone.

Depressing how many more there are for sad, don't you think? Poor Xandi.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008


Something I find interesting about decluttering is that it's not simply a case of spring cleaning. It's a way to actually change your lifestyle in an attempt to lead a healthier and happier existence. That must be why it feels so good when you succeed at a project (for example, when I reorganized our linen closet - I guess that's the first thing I've really completed, but it was definitely rewarding!).

As much as I complain and whine about goings-on around my household, I think that my mother and I are taking some very healthy steps toward attaining this sort of happier lifestyle. Not only have we started decluttering and taking it seriously, but we have gotten gym memberships and, although we don't go every day, we do take advantage of the classes and equipment at the gym (we use 24Hour Fitness). Beginning last year, when we realized I would have to cook for myself at school because I would be in a dorm with a kitchen, we made a conscious effort to eat more nutritiously.

I think there are still some deep emotional and psychological problems in our family, and even though I reason that that's true for all families, to some extent, I think that taking these small steps in different areas will do a lot of necessary good. I've been reading through iCiNG, and the concept of living as someone truly happy with themself has struck me in the brain. On the surface, Gala Darling's site looks like a girly fashion blog, but it's actually very inspirational, positive and friendly. If you want to sample some of her best articles, she made a handy list of them here.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wishlist #three: Wallpaper

Unfortunately, living in an apartment, we are not allowed to do much in the ways of decorating. Consequently, all our rooms feature plain white walls and rather nondescript beige carpets. The kitchen and bathroom have totally fug yellowish-white-and-brown tiles. Bleh. Anyway, I found these awesome wallpapers linked from other sites and I would love to have them to ease the bore factor in our apartment, if we could afford luxuries like prettiness.

1. Heat-Sensitive Wallpaper by Shi Yuan. $?.??

This would be so pretty in a kitchen or bedroom! In fact, I think it would spark some good conversation in any room. The paint is sensitive to heat and gets progressively more colorful with hotter temperatures, "blooming" at 95ºF. I don't think it's on the market yet; it's just an idea by Shi Yuan, a creative and inspired designer, from the looks of that personal site. I think enough people online have expressed interest that it should definitely be considered as a consumer-geared product! I don't know the right term for that. My point is that I would buy it.

2. grow house grow! Christopher pattern in Cornflower. $150/roll.

These wallpapers are so cute! There are only a few options for sale on the site (which is also extremely cute), but they are all perfect. I can just picture them in my room, lending a quiet, subdued splash of color just detailed enough to catch the eye of visitors. The company is based in Brooklyn, which I really want to get to know more when I go back to New York, because it is definitely just as culture-rich as Manhattan but less hectic, at least to the outside observer's point of view.

Ok well my mind got sidetracked thinking about going back to New York, instead of about wallpaper, and these were really the only two links I had (wallpaper ain't that exciting, really), so the end!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Quick Update

I'm back from my trip! My friend and I drove to Monterey and had lots of fun kayaking and looking at otters (in the sea AND at the aquarium :D) and, for me, not worrying about decluttering.

Before I left, I put post-its on the boxes that had managed to stack up in my room during the decluttering process. On the post-its I wrote where I wanted the items to be donated, and asked my mom to take them to each place. I was pleasantly surprised when half the boxes were gone today when I returned.

However, it still gets me down that she acts like she has an excuse to not work on our apartment. Her reasoning is always, "You don't know what I'm going through psychologically and physically, so you need to stop talking about [decluttering]." Yeah, she actually emphasizes that I can't even talk about it. That's ridiculous, right? Even more so because she is not good at communicating and doesn't make an effort to tell me about her psychological problems (although she feels perfectly free to complain about the physical part). I think this is just because she wants to continue using her problems as an excuse and to keep saying I don't know "what she's going through." Telling me about it - making me understand - would make her excuse completely null, and that would suck, wouldn't it?

Oh well. I have a busy week this week (still not working... sigh) but I'm going to try to do some cleaning and continue posting of course! My next goal is to get rid of this horrid, dusty old puzzle of a rabbit OUT! Out out out because it's been sitting in the corner of the living room for about seven years and it's an eyesore.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sites I Like #4:

I just thought about it, and the idea of self-help is kind of interesting, in a way I never thought about before. The idea is that you help yourself, but the term itself implies/connotes that you're getting help for that from someone else. It's ingenious, really; stubborn as we are, how would we humans ever get anywhere if we didn't have that extra nudge? I found a site that embodies the general self-help message in several ways, so it's today's site I like!

Today's site:

This site has so many resources and tools that it's a little overwhelming at first! From what I understand, a main message throughout the site is "start by shining your sink." There is even a little motivational video about it here (it's a little touchy-feely for my taste at the end, but it sends a good basic message: if you can keep your sink clean every day, you're off to a good start with keeping your life in line).

Another interesting part of the site is the concept of "baby steps" for beginners. They have full months planned out for you and things you can try to start to become more organized and healthy. For example, day one is shine your sink (naturally), day 15 is make your bed, and day 30 is check your calendar for next month's events. The emphasis in this monthly plan is to establish a routine, doing a new thing every day plus the things that came before it. I like that idea a lot, and what makes it really helpful is that the tips themselves stress that you're taking baby steps. I.e. don't wash every single duvet in your home, just make your bed. Simple!

This is just my personal opinion, but because I am not an extremely emotional person and have unearthed a lot of internal negativity in my own "motivational" encounters, I find the positivity of the site a little distracting. But I understand that that helps a lot of people, my mom in particular, who has found a very helpful community on to get on track with her health. FlyLady is a very nice lady, of course, and joining the site is free. So every opportunity like this is left up to you, if you want to take it or not. "FLY" stands for Finally Loving Yourself, so check out the site to see if it might be just what you need or if it's too much gush for your jaded self (i.e. me).

P.S. I'm going out of town for a couple days so I probably won't post till Tuesday or Wednesday. In the meantime, I encourage bored people to go to (ages 13+ for language I guess) because it is hilarious and I am obsessed with it. My favorite video on the site is New Apartment, but start with Cookies or Math and you'll probably be hooked. Ok this P.S. is like practically as long as the real entry, so I'm going to go pack.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008


For some strange reason, I get really tempted to post every time my mother goes crazy bipolar on me and freaks out about something decluttering-related. But if I posted every time that happened, well, it would be a lot.

Today is just one of those days that makes me think a lot. Not in any sort of poignant way, but a lot of things have sparked thoughts in my head today, and I don't like the trains they've become. Ideas like the ones I've been reflecting on today take me to a very depressed feeling, and while I can blame the stressful state of our apartment, because it's easy, unfortunately I think it's more my fault than anything else.

It's weird that I spent a lot of time laughing with friends in the middle of today but that the rest of the day has so far been bookended by irritability and sadness.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

Fancy Box How-To

After charging my camera batteries for around 815 hours, I have photos ready for a little tutorial. Keep in mind that I am only slightly creative at best, and my execution is kind of horrible. But the idea is what really counts: taking ugly old moving boxes from when you moved 13 years ago (hey hey) and making them look semi-decent so you can use them as storage anywhere in your house! This project is also good if you have over 50 rolls of wrapping paper that you need to use for something. Click the photos for bigger versions.

1. The box.

This is what my bedroom closet looked like before I cleared it out - I de-boxed the top shelf and I de-clothed about half the clothes rack, and I de-crapped the floor. The boxes were still hanging around after all that, somehow, so I came up with the project I will now demonstrate via pictures.

2. Wrap it like a present.

I estimate my boxes to be around 8x13x8, so the wrapping paper didn't quite fit perfectly on each side (you'll see this more in later pictures). But you can start by just laying the box on top of the unfurled roll and cutting it so that the paper covers each of the wide sides. I then folded the extra paper onto the inside of the box and taped it there.

3. Cut diagonally at the box corners for easy folding.

Just make little snippies at the inside corners of the box, so when you fold the paper up over the remaining sides of the box, you don't get paper bunchies. Have some yummies as a snack, maybe rub your tummy, listen to your munchies go crunchy. K I'm stopping.

4. Now fold the new extra paper in like before.

The remaining two sides of your box should now look like this on the inside. Keep in mind you can also use a square box or any other shaped box if that's what you have on hand and want to fancify.

5. When you fold up those two remaining sides of the paper, you should get a triangle-like shape down at the bottom.

This is a little tricky to explain, but hopefully you can use your present-wrapping skills, along with the photo, to figure out what I mean. If you need to, go back to where we made those snippies at the corners. Now pick up the tips of the paper that's hanging off the side of the box and bring them in to meet the center of the box side. Folding over the paper onto the inside, with the help of our snippied part, tape that extra paper down to secure it. Now smooth out the doors of paper you just made against the box; you should get something like the triangle I have here. If you're better at wrapping presents, then you'll get well I don't know what you'll get, just move on, you queen of present wrapping. Whateva.

6. Fold up that triangle.

Easy as pie. Now just tape that pie slice (the triangle) up to the side of the box. Smooth out any weird paper waves.

7. Be "creative" and cover any mistakes you made.

Since I'm not the queen of present or box wrapping, I had an ugly strip of my old box showing, and the triangle was shorter than I expected. So I took out some old poster board I've had since high school and made this little strip. I did it on both sides because I like symmetry. You don't have to like symmetry, but you also don't have to call me up in the middle of the night when your ugly box is haunting you from the closet.

8. Wrap the box top.

Pretty self-explanatory. I just barely had enough paper left on this dying roll to do each short side of the box top. My creativity knows no bounds, so for the top...

9. ...Be creative. Always.

I used more of that same poster paper to cover up the still-hideous top of the box. Got many different paper media used up that day! Success.

10. Labels!!

Labeling is important, as I've said before. So do something sorta makeshift or whateva. You can see how laughable my own writing and labeling is here (I didn't have enough room for the word "contents" so I cheated in a very erudite manner by making it French - "contenu"). Do your own thing. Or copy mine. Better, though. Of course.

Tell me your project ideas! And link me to photos (completed projects or incomplete, doesn't matter) if you want. I may even try them for myself. Better, though. Of course.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Panties in a Bunch

So, I originally wrote a very dry and sarcastic response to the comments on my previous post about professional organizers. But, since I decided I didn't want to anger anyone else via my supposed apology, I thought I'd be a little more polite.

I truly apologize if anyone found my phrasing or treatment of the organizing profession offensive. I hope you can re-read my post and find that I actually do support and praise those who offer their time and skills to de-clutter entire households, because clearly those people can do it better than I ever could.

But to be perfectly honest, the reason, other than finances, that we don't hire a professional is that this blog would have much less meat to it. I tried to make something fun out of our project, and I'm sorry if people who aren't accustomed to my sense of humor found it disparaging. I invite everyone to sample some of my other, hopefully less-offensive posts, rather than zeroing in on the one where I made a faux-pas.

P.S. iamanorganizer, the term you found offensive is really just my unfortunately put way of making a play on words. I apologize.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Professional Organizer Dilemma

Before this project, I had no idea there was such a thing as a professional organizer. It almost makes me want to choose that as my career, since I like organizing things, and it seems pretty lucrative. I mean, look at how happy this woman from GetOrganizedAndMore is. But I was browsing around a bunch of these people's sites, and while a lot of the tips were good, and they're good at selling themselves, just like any good decluttering prostitute should be, I started thinking about how much work my mom and I are actually taking on by ourselves like this.

One site said that it's basically pointless to attempt to declutter by yourself, because you're so invested in all the crap that needs to go that you'll never make any progress. Another good point was that third parties are a lot more objective and can also play the part of sympathizers where I, as the unfeeling child of the woman who owns most of the clutter, can hardly ever sympathize. Mostly I get impatient and angry faced. >:(

I'm sure that's all part of the professional organizer's clever ploys at money-getting, but it makes sense. The sites themselves are very convincing, as well. Look at the amazing before and after photos on this one! They truly give me hope.

However, the real problem is money, in that we have nay enough to afford such a professional. So we'll have to undergo this entire transformation on our own, and I get the feeling it will take months, especially with my mother's still-semi-mysterious-to-me health condition and unwillingness to put much effort into things I suggest. That could definitely be the old-person temperament that I chose to subject myself to in all this, but it sure is discouraging.

Thanks to:
- (catchy dialectical negation. Fans will understand.)

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Compulsive Hoarding on Wikipedia

Stupid stuff I found on Wikipedia! Everyone's favorite work cited.

This article on compulsive hoarding is actually seriously interesting. I would have never guessed that cluttering habits could be part of a bigger psychological disorder. Not that I'm one to diagnose based on the very limited perspective I get from online medical articles, but this would explain a lot about our family and household. I'm just saying.

Anyway, the disorder seems to be linked to OCD, and has real physiological effects to the brain. Stress, obviously, also plays a part in both the psychological and physiological elements of the disorder.

Keep in mind that this is Wikipedia, but I just thought it might be of interest.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Wishlist #two: Coffee Tables

Well, I was going to post a how-to tutorial on the wrapping paper box I made at 10 last night, but my frickin camera batteries are dead again. So instead, I will do another wishlist. Keep in mind that I dream these up pretty much on the spot as I noodle around the interwebs.

We currently can't even see our coffee table, but what I remember of it is that it's black and low, with a glass surface, and I don't like it much. None of the furniture in our apartment matches or goes with any sort of theme, so lately I've been dreaming up color schemes and themes for when we're organized enough to have them. I'm thinking black furnishings to complement our dirty-cream sofa (read: dirty and once-cream-colored sofa) and chairs in the living room.

1. Ikea Ramvik Coffee Table. $129.

Last time, the first item was the one to inspire the entire post. This time, this was just the most affordable/realistic item I happened upon first. Ikea always wins my heart. I like this black color and the rather inconspicuous design. It also has drawers and space inside for all the crap we would inevitably need to hide in it. (Given open surfaces, we tend to make chaos. You'll see when I post about the kitchen someday.) Plus, that little space on the bottom could be a nice spot for some well thought-out shelf design-ness, like trinkets or something kitschy like that. The only thing I don't like about it is its bulk, especially compared with some of the next few items.

2. Room and Board Nelson Bench. $629-$764.

I love this! Room and Board was the sponsor of Apartment Therapy's "Small is Cool" contest that I mentioned last time, and the winners received prizes from them, which is so so lucky. I think this "bench" coffee table is a little too cutting edge for our apartment's motif, but I still love it, and would love to ogle it in someone else's house, even. That's how selfless I am! I accept the fact that I can't afford (both stylistically and financially) certain things, but I allow others to purchase them so I can admire the dreams I gave up.

3. Room and Board Halo Cocktail Table. $330-$1479.

First I have to wtf at their listed price. How does that variance happen? I may be confused by the fact that this link lists the item as the "base" of the table, but still. Anyway, I think glass always looks classy (if done right I guess), and tends to go with whatever decor you already have. Honestly I have no idea what I'm saying; I've never furnished a home. Don't listen to me. I just think this Halo table is really pretty, and I love the name. It's like angels are resting their heads beneath your living room floor. And who doesn't want that? Unless you've got some real assfaces living downstairs.

4. Spacify Arena Coffe Table. $1870.

Annnd absurd item of the post. This beautiful cylindery table is just so... shiny. It comes in black, too, but I couldn't find a picture. This price is so insane, though! Do people really spend that much on a big white slab of table? I guess they do if they're concerned with buying products that are made in Italy. Italy is sooo romantic blah blah blah. It's a table! It doesn't know where it was born! I could put my butt on it and it wouldn't care! Is that really worth $1870? Whateva. The point is, I actually really want this piece of crap.

Thanks to:
- DesignBloggers (Arena)

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Sunday, June 8, 2008

Sites I Like #3: Apartment Therapy "Small is Cool"

For many eons (at least 24 months - hey, you gotta admit, that's a lot of months) I've been unearthing an interior design fetish of mine. I prowl the internets in search of what a friend of mine once accurately dubbed "real estate p." You can guess what the "p" means. Google cannot. Take that, dirty old men on the internet at work.

Anyway, I somehow came across this gem, our Site I Like #3.

Today's site: Apartment Therapy's "Small is Cool" Contest 2008

All my obsessing is a little on the easy-to-decipher side if we're talking Freudian: clearly, these spaces inspire me and my grand plans for the day that I am rich enough to move out and live in a real-estate-candy big city like San Francisco (home to the insane kitchen at right, here) or New York. Ok, maybe I'm just biased in favor of those two cities. But to be fair, Apartment Therapy's contest site has some great entries from all across the nation, all respectable and even drool-worthy.

The main idea of the site's contest was to show just how much you can do with a small place. It gives me hope, because our apartment is definitely the definition of that. And some of these people have risen to the challenge of such small quarters in ridiculous, awesome ways. Look at this incredibly ace loft from Seattle. I don't know about you guys, but I've wanted a loft ever since I knew what it was. Maybe I'm naive, but I think it would be so fun.

I do understand that it takes patience and a plan to decorate and design the way these people do, but I'm hoping to steal some inspiration from their lovely, Internet-published homes and make ours just as great. It's certainly going to be a lot of work, since my mom hasn't done a whole lot of her own part around her for several days. Guys, you should all understand that this is a very difficult task. It's easy enough to start a blog and say that, but to look around at your messy digs every day and know that you and one other person have to undo all the years of laziness you put on yourself... that is tough.

Luckily, I spend all my time gazing at photos of beautiful homes for inspiration. Shoot. Back to work...

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Bay Area Awesomeness

Today we went to the Alameda County Computer Resource Center to drop off a box of jewel cases. I am proud to say I now have no more commercial jewel cases in my room (by that I mean cases that came with CDs I purchased; I have a few of the slim ones for CDs I'm going to use to back up my computer before we take its half-dead self into the Geek Squad)! Next is to donate our now-superfluous CD storage.

I've had the site for the jewel case recycling place up here on my "resources list" since the first day, but we hadn't made the trek out there till today. Turns out they take much more than jewel cases; just check out the site. I'm very pleased in general that it's so easy to find sustainable solutions around the Bay Area. Maybe it's because I haven't lived in New York long enough to understand all their environmental workings, but it seems like a less progressive place than the Bay. I constantly see people in New York toting their plastic bags, often throwing them out, and the littering is a huge problem, even though it's improved a lot over the past decade (I hear). San Francisco, on the other hand, made the decision last year to ban non-biodegradable plastic bags, which I appreciate. When I'm home, I love the fact that I see so many people whip out their canvas or other eco-friendly bags, not only at the grocery store, but many other places too.

This past year, after my suitemates and I quickly amassed a collection of plastic bags by the end of the first month of school, I grew to hate the plastic bag. But I found a way to take advantage of it: Tip: Keep one plastic bag in each of your purses or bags (yes men you can do it, too), so that when you're out and buy crap on an impulse, you don't have to consume more plastic bags and realize later you have no idea what to do with them. Another nice option for around the home is the Cole Hardware Biobag (an SF-based company :D), which my mom told me about.

Thanks to for today's image. You can buy the print, by artist Daniel Menchaca, at that link. P.S. for the non-natives, that's the Bay Bridge, not the Golden Gate. :)

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Friday, June 6, 2008

All Quiet on the Wrapping Paper Front

I had an idea for the wrapping paper that was so controversial in our house before. I'm beginning to free up space in my bedroom closet (we left Barbie Double Skatin' Fun in the capable hands of Books for the Barrios today - I don't know if that's the kind of toy they want, but it's the kind of toy they got today), and I want to start migrating the crap from my bedroom itself in there.

The problem is, the boxes I have to store my stuff are mostly horrible old moving boxes - cardboardy and belabeled (now incorrectly) in bright red marker. So I was thinking of how I could make my closet storage prettier. While I first thought of buying some classy boxes like these ones from Ikea (in red, because I think it looks so impressive and bold, and I'm formulating a color scheme plan for my room involving white, brown and red), I had a better, more sustainable idea.

Since my good friend, who has been posting very helpful suggestions and feedback here, reminded me of the importance of reusing, I thought I would take some of our wrapping paper and use it to cover my moving boxes. I'm thinking I'll use one paper for a few boxes on the floor of my closet, and maybe a couple different ones for the boxes that will sit on the top shelf I have. Labeling is of course necessary, so I think I'll concoct some sort of handwritten, concise labels out of paper lying around, backed perhaps by construction paper. I do enjoy construction paper (it makes me feel like the kindergarteners I work with during the school year :D)! I'll be sure to post photos when they're completed. (Sadly, there are no real before pictures of my closet, because my stinking rechargeable batteries die if I don't use them within 24 hours of charging them. Any tips?)

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Wishlist #one: Bookcases

I have big dreams. Big dreams of my dream house. Dreamy dreams about my dream house of dreams. Since that's a pretty big dream, I often settle for having small dreams, too. Things I want include storage units, aesthetically pleasing decorative objects, and better, sleeker appliances/electronics. I guess when you add all that up, it turns into just another big fat dream. Whatever! Here's a book storage wishlist.

1. Bruno Rainaldi Sapen Bookcase, Design Within Reach. $220 small, $330 large.

I saw this in a post on OurBedrooms, a Livejournal community, and it looked so amazing that I knew I had to have it. One day my vertebral book heaven will come. When you fill it up completely, the shelf seems to be invisible, and it looks like you just stacked all your books (up to 70) all neat and tidy on your own. Very impressive. I definitely prefer this over my current bedroom bookcase situation: a white two-shelfer as old as I am, in an ugly white plastic-feeling adfljlkj I need to stop describing it because it sounds as awful as it is.

2. Brave Space Tetrad Bamboo Set. $1,000 for 5-piece set; $2,000 for 10-piece set.

This one is completely unrealistic for me, but everyone loves Tetris. And, most people like books (maybe the two exceptions are struggling Kindergarteners and the boy from my high school who listed his favorite books as "I don't like to read" on Facebook). So what better idea than to combine them? The z-shaped ones seem a little impractical to me, but I bet books look awesome in them. You can stack the individual shapes however you like!

3. Ikea Linnarp Glass Door Bookcase. $100 per 2-piece set. Black, red, or pine.

Ikea - affordable, chic sellers of home furnishings and hot dogs. I like this style for many reasons other than the price: it keeps your books dust free while also hiding them slightly (books are still visible) from the sight of critical dinner guests. Also, I just find this incredibly classy - I picture a sophisticated British surgeon opening the Linnarp bookcase in a white sitting room, looking over his wire-rimmed glasses to find Gray's Anatomy, shutting the door with a gallant click, and raising his finger, ready to explain the workings of the liver. Yummy.

4. Nils Holger Moormann Bookinist book chair. 2.187€ (about $3,407 and yes I used the European currency notation used in France and Germany. I think.)

I wanted to slap on a completely tacky bookcase as the final item in my list, but Google kind of failed me people are probably too embarrassed to post such things on the Internet, and everything I found while searching for "tacky bookcase" was utterly awesome. This thing looks horribly uncomfortable, but it has a wheel for reclining (label: "Not for highway use" - those Germans crack me up) and a place to store your Moleskine! So freaking European. I love it.

Thanks to:
- Design*Sponge book storage roundup (Sapien, Tetrad)
- BoingBoing archives (Bookinist)

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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Reasons It's Hard

It's funny how "cleaning out the closet" can stir up so much nostalgia. Today it was a file cabinet, rather than a closet, that did it for me. I was rifling through a bunch of random papers and came across all my old college application documents. Essay drafts, pamphlets and acceptance letters (with that one nasty rejection letter, but we don't think about that one). They really made me think for a while, about whether or not I regretted my decision to attend NYU. I decided I don't regret it, but it took some convincing myself.

I think the nostalgia is a big part of why decluttering is so hard. Maybe for some people it's not hard at all, but maybe those people are heartless jerks. Because I'll tell you, I kept all those letters, even the rejection one, because it was a big part of my life. I'll never forget slaving away on endless paperwork and paying stupid application fees and pouring out my manufactured soul to these colleges like I was worth something more awesome than they could ever dream. So yeah, for the memories, I'll keep those papers. But the important part of going through all the past that has piled up over the years is to draw the line between milestones and mess.

I think my mom and I both have a problem recognizing that line, and the only reason we're getting so much done is that I've become sufficiently more heartless than I used to be, so my cold, bitter tendencies to re-cycle rather than re-member have cleared us of a lot of our paper weight. And I do admit that I'm heartless for some of it! My mom, though, has said that it's been very difficult to let go of my childhood toys and stuffed animals and some of the books I donated.

But in the end, when all's said and done, there's a time when you need to just get rid of your shit.

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Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Sites I Like #2: Green Upgrader

Something I've been thinking about lately is the recycling chain. We've recycled a lot of things in our project, and it's felt really good. But that twingey guilt still sets in occasionally. Why? I think it's because I realized that, to actually be green, we need to complete the circle - not only should we recycle, but we should, as consumers, buy green materials. For example, we're doing ok (but not awesome) if we recycle our old paper and then buy new paper that was created from recently killed trees. Buying recycled paper is really the way to go, even if it's a little more expensive.

Being green is a big part of our changing lifestyle here at the house of declutter-in-progress. A great site that's green is today's Site I Like!

Today's site: greenUPGRADER

This site is amazing. They post helpful links about everything environmental, ranging from "return to waster" junk mail stamps (I never realized just how much paper those stupid companies are wasting!) to scientific articles on global warming and green inventions. This graphic about the world "greendex" shows the alarmingly bad habits of the U.S. in comparison to 13 other countries. It's pretty much horrifying.

The site has a great organization and navigation, with sections from DIY Green projects to a fun and games section with comics and videos. From the DIY section, I love this idea of an invisible book shelf! That might segue nicely into a post I'll do later on book storage. :)

Credit to today's picture, oddly enough, to, not our featured site.

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Decluttering is Happy Business

Today was a pretty low-key day on the decluttering front. My mom and I had a bunch of other stuff to do (one of which we thought was going to be coming home to an empty carport where our old decrepit second car usually sits - it was supposed to be finally towed, but whatever), but we did manage to procure for ourselves some fresh juicy apartment air by getting rid of stuff. Dang that was so many words I just wrote.

Anyway, I found this place ERecycle On Us through a Google search (Lord I love Google!), and it was so close to our apartment it was tickling us. Anyway, they take all e-waste you could think of but just no appliances. Luckily the e-waste part was what we needed, so we loaded up with VHS tapes, taking two trips when that darned Mercury wasn't gone the first time (the tow notice said 12 noon, come on tow guys! Forget your bootless pastrami, there's TOWING TO BE DONE). The staff wasn't in the office when we arrived, but they had friendly notes and a great big box for our dumping pleasure. What? Either way, out went our tapes and memories of my irrational admiration of the 90s Mickey Mouseketeers.

My mom was so happy that we had found a close place like this that she gushed about it in that gleeful old person way (no offense Mom!) and I was glad too. Google saves the earth! In roundabout, sorta indirect ways like this and probably others!

So my unabashed promotion of Google and finding local resources for your decluttering needs continues! I probably could have skipped the story to wiggle out that public announcement, but who cares! You're entertained! I love laughing.

I'll try not to post about irrelevant life details most of the time, but can I just say it is ridiculous trying to find a summer job right now?! It's always hard, but I went to five places in downtown Walnut Creek today and only one even offered me an application. Guess I'll make my millions elsehow.

And since you're probably still wondering: yeah, I said bootless. Dictionary it!

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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Linen Closet - Before and After!

Today I started on my closet goal! I'm so proud. My mom said she wanted me to start with the linen closet, which disappointed me because I thought it was the one that needed the least work. But ohoho was I wrong. Man.

Since we have such little space around here, the linen closet hosted not only linens but a lot of random toiletries like TP, tissues, little paper cups, bars of soap, uhh girly things (we ARE girls after all), and laundry supplies. I found no less than 9 boxes of Kleenex, to give you an idea of what went on in that disaster of a closet! So I spent a good amount of time rooting through all the duplicates of things we had in the closet and reorganizing/folding our towels and bedding.

I realized that one big problem we have as pack rats is that all the mess gets so hidden by the rest of the new messes that are constantly piling up, that we often profess things we can't find as lost forever and just buy new ones. The Kleenex for instance. So think of it this way, if you're facing a massive decluttering and just can't get yourself started: you may save money! Tip: Organize your supplies, whatever they may be, in a way that helps you see all of them all the time. That way, there's never any confusion about what you have enough of.

All in all, I'm still sure we have way too many freaking towels (most of them pink - why??), and in retrospect I didn't follow my own advice about stuff's visibility, but here are the before and afters anyway! Since this is an ongoing project, I'll probably redo everything later; this is just the first step. Also, keep in mind that I did this one on my own! So it's not neat as a pin, per se. The before pictures are inaccurate, because I forgot to take them before I started! They were taken about halfway through, when I had thrown a bunch of crap out into the hallway.

Click each photo to view a much bigger version.



As you can tell, I ended up a little pressed for space in the end. My Space Bags have holes in them. :( So I couldn't vacuum the linens up to save space like my mom suggested. Hopefully the comforters crammed at the top of this closet can go somewhere else once we, uh, have space somewhere else.

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