I started with two drawers. I cleared out things I didn’t need form my little grey home office pedestal and the left side of my entertainment console (the right side already had my curated Blu-ray collection). I was surprised that I filled an entire 13-gallon trash bag. Then I fell into a cleaning/purging spiral. I don’t feel the immediate lightness of the result yet because I am exhausted, but I know I will soon.
The Tidying Up Craze
I did my organization-palooza over the weekend in bitesize sections instead of her suggested categories. I did living room, photography stuff, boxed stuff, clothes, then kitchen, bathroom and pantry together.
Hallway: Coat and (photography) Storage Closets
The living room was fairly easy. All my books and trinkets displayed all had a purpose so I only had to concentrate on the entertainment console and my office cabinet things. Most of the heavy work was taking out and going through all my gear that I managed to stuff into my hallway closets. That took most of night 1. Old bags, photography accessories that I might have used once, so many things that I didn’t even know I had and most of them I have no longer use for. So much dust too! I ended up with 13 bags full of junk and a slight fever due to dirt and exhaustion after the first major leg of organizing.
The Two Closets in the Bedroom
This was a lot harder. I had no problem letting go of clothes since I did want to switch to an all-black wardrobe anyway (a New Yorker’s uniform). I knew I might struggle a bit with the shoes because some of them were relatively expensive for me, but if I weren’t going to be wearing it again/in the near future, they have to go. Stuffed in my wardrobe closets however, are most of my sentimental items. I used to have them in cute boxes in the living room, but when a giant storm came through my life a few years ago, I hid every happy memory from every happy time I had.
I had all the farewell gifts and photos from when I left for New York from the Philippines almost a decade ago. I had little items and even more photos from my high school brothers and friends. There were even notes from so many loved ones I made since I got to New York. It’s been almost 10 years, Brooklyn is my new home, but I still bear a few scars from moving half a world away, leaving both my blood and chosen family behind. I still miss them. A lot. All the time. I miss so many things, birthdays, gatherings, sicknesses, arguments, warmth, beaches, smells, the warm breeze and a lot more…
I don’t mention this a lot anymore, but I was married, once upon a time. I carefully kept extra invitations, congratulatory cards, tickets and programs from shows we went to. There is a copy of our wedding album, my wedding band and even some studs from her old piercings. They were catalogued and organized for ease of view and remembrance, and that backfired when I had to sift through them. I had it really, really good back then and though I know everything that had happen was for the better, I do not wish upon my worst enemy the feeling I experienced throwing away some of those treasured items. I still kept a few, of course. There are just some memories that are just too joyful that it overwhelms the complete and utter sadness of not having that experience ever again. They also serve as reminders: Grow up. Do not take things for granted. Compromise little. Give fully. Never expect anything in return. And, most importantly, take and enjoy every drop of love that you can from everyone. I kept an invitation, the album and the ring.
Finally, feverish and also emotionally exhausted, night 2 was over.
In the end, what resulted were even more trash bags of clothes and shoes. I’ve always folded and color-coordinated my drawers neatly, but now they just have more space so it’s easier to see and use every article of clothing since I took out shirts, underwear and socks that I know just shouldn’t be worn anymore. Most items hung in my closets are clothes I am happy to use more often with exception of some button-downs that I need to replace (because I got fat and don’t fit in them comfortably) but can’t yet due to budgetary reasons. Every pair of shoe are the ones I not only like wearing, but also like caring for.
Full 13-gallon trash bags
Kitchen, Bathroom and Pantry Closets
I live in a 1-bedroom New York apartment. Even if my place is slightly above average in size, there is no reason for a single person to be carrying 19 trash bags full of unused/unusable things! That was the final tally after going through the pantry and kitchen (and I don’t even have a lot of kitchen stuff). I would have kept most items in the cupboards, but chipped plates, glasses and mugs need to be replaced anyway. Now I can actually see not only what I know I can use, but things I need to add.
Additional Organizational Items
I knew I needed things to make my tiny kitchen cabinets more efficient and luckily by night 3 the lazy Susans I ordered to manage my spice rack and other ingredients came. I took a few trips to the local dollar store to get plastic and woven baskets and that pretty much made organizing the kitchen and pantry spaces much quicker and easier. I still ordered a few more things to make the kitchen cabinets and fridge look prettier like a soda/drinks holder and a plastic bag organizer.
Just Additional Maintenance
I even organized the pantry and the bar, places that I thought was already pretty set. Boxes and baskets really do help. It just makes thing easier to get and put back. In the future, I might even get even more bins for bigger household stuff to be organized. I might even label. (Actualy, maybe not.) Seeing everything clearer and being able to pull things out easier without ruining the neatly made piles makes using the items more joyful (ew), prospectively making everything more productive.
This is the end of the major overhaul/organization. I know there are a few more things I can slowly improve and replace, but my space is now 90% better than ever. I didn’t fully follow the ‘spark joy’ method, but I want every single thing my eyes see to have purpose, and I think I’ve attained that in just under 4 days.
I did not hold each item in my hands and waited for a warmth to come over me to keep the item, nor thank every piece of thing I chucked. So it’s not 100% Konmari. What I did take to heart was seeing if that item has a place in your future. I have always been pragmatic in my outlook and rarely look forward to anything beyond the short term, but things have been okay lately… but still has room to be awesome. And to get to that state, I need to concentrate my utilization of things to the ones that have function and allow room for amazingness to fill all this new space.
One Last Thing: The Irony
The same night I finished organizing my apartment, there was a little fire in the building. Apparently someone threw their cigarette down the chute and the caused quite the (contained) fire. It would have been extremely ironic if my apartment burned down the same day I got it to its most functional form. Luckily, the great people of the FDNY was able to secure everything. We didn’t even have to evacuate or anything, I just went out to take photos of the firemen and firetrucks.