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The Clutter Stutter

clutter stutter {This is not our place. Our messes are legendary, but not this bad. Usually. And, no, I'm not making fun of stutters. Just commenting on my fragmented conversation with myself, on the domestic paralysis that grips me sometimes.}

I love our apartment. It is beautiful and unique and ours. But these days it is hidden under a thick layer of clutter. Part of me revels in this rainbow of chaos, in the ubiquitous evidence of vitality and family and life. Part of me loves how lived in our home looks. But part of me thinks the disorganization it is affecting me. Part of me thinks the clutter is more than clutter. That it is a symbol of something, a curious choice, a frenzied mind, a split focus, an alarming void of control.

Last night, I couldn't sleep. I tossed and turned, wrestled with sheets, and had a silent and staccato conversation with myself. I kept interrupting myself. I opened my eyes. In the darkness, I scanned the silhouettes of laundry piles. The tangled necklaces dangling off my nightstand. The lineup of half-finished water bottles. For a few moments, I felt a surge of claustrophobia, of being buried. In stuff. In that moment, I chided myself for letting this happen. For not fulfilling a role I'm culturally and historically meant to fulfill. In that moment, I felt low. I felt that I'd been letting myself down, letting Husband down, letting kids down.

This morning, I woke up and zigzagged through the strewn shoes and damp towels to the bathroom. As I splashed water on my face, I noted the bottle of Nyquil still on the edge of the basin from weeks ago. The topless bottle of my favorite perfume. The piles of bath toys. I looked at myself in the mirror. At the mussed hair and sad eyes, and I said to myself: Something must change. This is no way to live.

And words are just words. But in that moment, they were my words, honestly felt, passionately uttered. These words were empowering, a timely promise. Because we can choose to change. Right? Right? I told Husband of my middle-of-the-night musings, of my frantic conversation with myself, of my clutter stutter. I told him about how I want to get better and cleaner and more domestic and more responsible. I told him that I crave clean lines and empty counters and peace. And sitting there, in between his giggling girls and the trappings of family life, he looked at me and smiled and nodded.

"I'll be back in a minute!" I proclaimed, grabbed my coffee cup, and disappeared to the dining table. Furiously, I flipped open Laptop and Googled organization, declutter, clean. And, within moments, the answers were there. A lovely list. Bold names. Phone numbers to call. Fees to pay. For a split second, a sublime but fleeting second, I felt invigorated. But this feeling faded and fast.

Something occurred to me. Something sad and true. The answers to questions about clutter and chaos and change, in the mind and in the home and in the life, if they exist, are not hanging out in cyberspace.

Do you live amidst clutter? Do you think clutter is a choice, or something that just happens? Can we ever really change or are these patterns entrenched in who we are? Give me some hope. Pretty please.

Wired and Inspired

Daily Charms 08.12.09