Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Nothing to Worry About, Just Having a Little Bit of a Breakdown

Well, you know it's bad when the Emu song on the Wiggles video makes you cry. First of all, I think it is just nostalgia. That Wiggles video was Amabel's when she was Elspeth's age, so that alone is kind of sad. Also, it's from the Crocodile Hunter Wiggles video. Also sad. I loved the Crocodile Hunter. I felt so silly for being sad when he died. But he was so endearing and energetic. And I think of his family and feel so much for them. But honestly, I am not that selfless. No, my friends, I am just having a bad day.

First of all, have you ever heard of the cold water not working? Sure, the hot water heater breaking or something like that has happened before, but it's kind of bizarre not having cold water. And cold water is what tempers hot water, as in if you don't have cold water, you only have the very very hottest water. So that puts a damper on things. It's only in the kitchen, which is why George says it's a hose. But who knows when we'll get a new hose. Because these are new hoses actually, which George installed, so now he thinks he should get someone else to install them. I think? Anyway, the water is boiling hot. And I'm having a cleaning attack. When you can't get to temperate water, it does put a damper on the scrubbing and cleaning aspect of a cleaning attack. So I decided to straighten. I don't have a space for everything. It was already a problem, but it became compounded with the arrival of five boxes via UPS at Christmas. And that was just from one family member. With all the other family members' contributions, our home is exploding. I know I should be grateful. And I am. I just get overwhelmed. I still have wedding gifts I never use. And while all gifts are well meant, what do you do if you just can't use them or have too much of one thing (toys, for example!)? I feel so bad because it's people's money and time that they spent on me and my family. And then there is the environmental issue of how in our country we just throw stuff out. Yikes. While we were in Alabama, I saw a picture in a National Geographic where old computers are just dumped in third world countries. So even if I give everything I don't need to a charity, what's to say it doesn't go to a third world country's beaches or into a landfill? Meanwhile, my home is becoming a landfill!

I often think of selling these things on ebay or in a garage sale. But what a hassle! Be gone, unwanted stuff! Even as I sit at the computer, I am looking at ten boxes of books still packed from our last move. My feeling is that if these books have not been wanted in a year and a half, we do not need them. But, two things, first, my husband is a pack rat. He comes by it honestly, his mother is the queen of pack rats. She never knows when she will need something and swears by "it's still perfectly good," so she never throws anything out. I admire that she does not buy into the idea that everything is disposable, but I don't have a three bedroom house with a full basement all to myself to store things in. My Nannie, former queen of pack rats, died last year with a house full to the brim of every picture or newspaper clipping that ever caught her eye, every sweater or blanket she ever owned, the remnants of paper products from every party she ever had (we found some really cute 60s looking cowboy paper placemats!), etc. And we're talking every drawer so full it almost wouldn't open, every cabinet, every chest, every purse, and on and on. Okay, so George's mom isn't that way, but George may be on his way! Anyway, the point is, that everything just got thrown out. No one had the patience for it. I am so sad to think of what treasures may have been tossed or even where it all ended up, but I was not allowed to be part of the process, so I had no hand in the matter. Anyway, it does no good to save things you will never use, because in the end, it will just get thrown out anyway. So why not have a pleasant clutter free life until then?

The second thing is the money. I mean, I almost never want to throw out stuff I bought myself. It is usually a gift that I didn't need in the first place but either felt guilty to return it or didn't know where to return it. I feel guilty even saying that I wanted to return things. I'm afraid it sounds snobby. Besides the fact that so often when I return something, I know the person has lost money. They say, "well this was just marked down to $3.99 and you know it cost ten times that!"So they have lost money and in a way I have too, and I have certainly lost time in running around town returning things. But I feel rude to point this out. It was a gift, so what am I complaining about? But you know, there is a reason why people register for things! They know what they need! And I would guess that we got about 30% of what was on our wedding registry. We got loads of other things, but none of the mundane stuff. And there you have it. No one wants to give the mundane stuff. I know I don't. So you find that you are in need of the mundane stuff. For example, we didn't get any sheets when we got married. So what we have are my parents' old sheets that they didn't use anymore. We're talking 20 year old sheets by now! But I don't want to tell anyone I need sheets because they will want to pick them out. And I don't want them to pick them out. This is my problem. People want to give you what they want to give you. But you want them to give you what you want them to give you. And it rarely works out. So then you are stuck with 20 year old sheets, but nine different picture frames that don't match your decor; 10 year old dingy towels with holes but the most unique looking pewter tray; threadbare pjs for the kids, but eleven brand new never played with (nor will be played with) build-a-bears. You know. Do you? Does anyone else have this problem?

So anyway, that's the straightening thing. It's just being overwhelmed with a lot of stuff I don't want or need, but feeling guilty because I should be thankful, but also running through my mental "we need__" list, wondering how we'll ever get those things, and feeling that if only I could sell what I do have for what we need, it would be so nice, except that you only get a fraction of what someone paid when you resell. And of course, I don't have time to do that. And this is what plagues me. Having so much that I don't want and wanting so much that I don't have.

All of that, I just run myself down with it while going about my day. And then in two weeks, I have pulled five pairs of pants out of the dryer with holes in them. And my sixteen month old is a little like a tornado that blows through my house every twenty minutes, destroying any amount of straightening I may have been able to accomplish in spite of my mental guilt attack. And the cold water. And the dryer. And well, that's about it. But I am not handling it well. As you can see.


Jessie said...

You can use my dryer if you need to. Also, Brian works on the dryers on campus, so he could possibly tell you guys what it needs (if George doesn't already know, which he may). Also, I was thinking and I am willing to bet the reason your 6 year old said what she said regarding me is because she heard you say something like it. I am sorry for all the clutter - I understand! I do have some great places I can take toy donations for you, though if you want. And, lastly, its okay to have a bad day...can I help in any way?

Wrights said...

I am so sorry about your dryer and your water. Those things are just never convenient and especially not when you have small children and have the need to clean. I completely can relate to that and I have become very OCD about my need to clean and de-clutter since having children. I guess it's because there always is clutter and I am constantly trying to straighten and I am always out for the best ways to organize all the toys and kid stuff that overtakes our house...but to organize costs money too because you need the shelves and the bins....I do understand. I am sorry you are having a bad day. I really hope you get your dryer and water working again soon! Oh, yeah, and we didn't get everyday glasses when we got married! I think no one wanted to buy that gift. We had some super fancy (not my style) crystal goblets that my Grandmother and her friends insisted we needed but no glasses to just drink a glass of juice out of!

RHB said...

Wish I could offer you a dryer or some water - bummer dude! My dryer takes forever too if that is of any consolation. It literally condenses the water out of the clothes and then I have to dump out the water. Needless to say, everything shrinks big time and it takes hours. I have actually started hanging some things on a drying rack. Maybe you will start washing and drying less and be freed from the 24 hour clean towel rule. :)

I can relate to your stuff issues and wanting everything to have a place. I am working on that too- I think we got that desire from Daddy, but unfortunately I inherited Nanny's tendancy to be a pack rat too. Help!

The Rays said...

I feel your pain about trying to sell stuff on ebay. i just have no motivation for that but would love to have the extra money. have you thought about one of those places, like Sold Online. You just take your stuff there and they sell it for you- all for a few of course. we have taken some things there and it works pretty well.

good luck!!

lauren said...

i can chime in here! i have had about 10 giant tupperware bins full of CRAP that i had refused to let my husband throw away for the last 5 years because i kept saying, "do you know how much i could get on ebay for that?" to which he usually grumbled, "ebay is not paying us to store it in the garage or move it to the next house!"

so i finally decided to tackle it when the xmas season ended. my goal? to declutter and to take a spring break trip with my family. we have not been on a family vacation since ellie was 18 months old. :( so i am super motivated. so far i've made $400 and i'm probably only 1/3 through my stuff. you just have to get in a habit of taking 10-15 photos on saturday, putting them up online sunday night(best night for auctions ending) and watching with excitement like a little kid as money adds up in your paypal account!

maybe if you decide on a wonderful treat that you wouldn't normally buy for yourself-that piece of furniture you've always wanted, a vacation, etc., it might motivate you? i promise that's the only thing keeping me going...laying on the beach watching my little ones play together in the sand and eating fresh seafood all week long!

Lori Shaffer said...

Lauren, what a great idea! I too have tons of stuff too nice to dump at Goodwill, but too overwhelming to think of selling it all at once. I love the idea of selling a few a week and using the money for a particular purpose! I think that's how I'm gonna get that Oreck XL I've been wanting! Yea!

Sorry, Abby...the loss of those daily conveniences can be surprisingly difficult!

Abby said...

so lauren, what are you selling? i just don't know if my market is out there. but go you!

Olive said...

I know I'm late to the party on this one, but I once saw a picture in a magazie of painted red- all differeint kids- picture frames. It was cool. I don't know what your decor it (I'm thinking you maybe once mentioned a shabby chic "motif" once, maybe I jsut made that up) but you could do something liek that, with all of your picture frames. I have a TON of fun picture frames from my Goodwill travels and want to do something like that someday, but alas can't right now. I saved the picture and can find it for you, if you'd like.

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