Agnes Day

October 18th, 2005

So I got fed up with all the mess in our apartment -- most of it inflicted by my out-of-control paper stuff -- and I hired a professional organizer, named Agnes.

As I prepared for Agnes's arrival today (we had set aside seven straight hours to start digging through stuff), my stomach kept churning -- possibly because of last night's super burrito, but more likely due to the life-changing possibilities of getting my things in order.

It was pretty intense. I threw out nine or ten bags of garbage and recycling -- and that was just from one corner of the living room. I found my old cassette tape of the great soundtrack from John Waters's Hairspray movie -- and the software I bought over a year ago that supposedly converts cassette tapes and vinyl albums into mp3's. (The fact that I no longer have a cassette player and am afraid to open the software's packaging shouldn't take anything away from the magnitude of this find.) ... More discoveries: It turns out that behind all those boxes of books was ... a bookcase! Who knew? ... Also, apparently our living room has a floor -- in that corner, at least. ... Oh, the wonders I've seen today!

As our time was running out, Agnes sat me down at this computer and together we went to the Ikea website. I found out that at Ikea they give their furniture styles human names, like "Billy." Agnes asked me if I liked Billy. I said that I had no problem with Billy. And now, one day soon, heavily muscled Ikea workpeople will bring Billy to our little apartment. They will not assemble Billy, however. For that, I will have to hire a handyperson -- who will have to work quickly, by the way, or else risk being incorporated by the mold that's streaming in through the cracks between the window frame and the wall. (Come to think of it, the mold might get Billy, too. I sure hope Ikea doesn't send people over to pre-screen customers' living spaces.) ...

The prospect of all this change is exciting -- thrilling, even -- but I must admit that the old ways were simpler. You just threw stuff down in piles, then when the piles built up you put the stuff in boxes, then when there were too many boxes you got real sleepy. That lifestyle had much to recommend it. But on balance, I do feel that this new way -- a way that allows for, say, visitors -- will be an improvement.

Farewell, old, cluttered me! I mourn, and I organize.

Entry Filed under: getting organized


  • 1. Spot  |  October 20th, 2005 at 12:24 am

    Hooray for Agnes!

    Now, the secret to maintaing the new, clutterfree lifestyle is one simple rule:

    For every thing you bring into the house, something has to go out.

    So, next time you bring home a software package or bag of books or a ream of paper or a Billy, you’re going to look around for the thing it is going to replace and put it out.

    This rule works best if the things are of equivalent volume, of course. Putting one piece of paper in the recycling when you bring in the entire collection of Star Trek videos is not really going to work out for you in the end.

  • 2. Josh Kornbluth  |  October 23rd, 2005 at 8:05 pm

    Dang, Spot — you spotted my possible loophole even before I thought of it!

  • 3. smass  |  October 28th, 2005 at 9:40 am

    Actually, you can curb your cheating ways by promising to dump 10 things for every 1 thing you bring in the house… this always seems to set the balance in our pad.

  • 4. David  |  October 28th, 2005 at 4:13 pm

    Boy, can I relate to what you’re going through. I have the same problem. Instead of hiring a professional organizer, I took a “clutter-busting” class through the Learning Annex. Unfortunately, I have not mastered my clutter. I am somewhat its slave. However, I have high hopes of rising up against my paper oppressor. For example, I recently bought a paper shredder so that I can destroy all of the documentation that experts tell us can be used by thieves to steal our identity. (Shredding is kinda fun — but I digress.) “They” say that sometimes the only way to achieve a monumental goal is a little bit at a time. So, I’m going to try to take a bunch of clutter (e.g. a box or bag of it) and go through it, say, when I’m watching the news or, hey!, maybe even the Josh Kornbluth show. But, you probably would like my undivided attention so perhaps I’ll do it during the news. Anyway, congratulations on slaying the clutter monster. I hope to do the same soon!

  • 5. Josh Kornbluth  |  October 29th, 2005 at 2:42 pm

    smass: Yikes — 10 to 1??! The odds are turning even more against my clutter!

    David: I think your incremental idea is a great way to approach clutter, as well as many other monumental challenges. May we both continue slouching towards spareness.

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