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Wednesday, February 04, 2009


A Place for Our Stuff...All of It

We live in New York. Living here, specifically in Manhattan, you need to accept certain facts about your day-to-day existence. There will be odors you will find unpleasant. Drug stores will invariably have long, long lines and the clerks will be disinterested in customer service, at best. You will have to deal with all the fucking Yankee fans (*shudder*). And, unless you make an assload of money, your apartment will be small.

Our apartment is small. For this town, its size is not bad. It's not as utterly shoeboxish as other places I've seen, especially considering what we pay for it. I don't have any real complaints about the apartment in and of itself, which explains, in part, why I've now lived here longer than I've lived anyplace in my entire life, ever.

The problem, you see, is that darned baby. Oh, he doesn't take up all that much room himself. Yet. But there's all this other crap that comes with him. The strollers and the playmats and the swings and the Shetland pony.

We had, to be honest, way too much stuff even before the baby. But it was manageable. When someone came for a visit, we could throw all the excess crap in our bedroom and close the door. Now, though, there's no space in there. If we tried to throw all the excess crap in our bedroom, the door would not close. It is exceedingly difficult for me to even walk through the apartment without stepping on/tripping over something.

Let me pause here for a moment to put my aggravation over this situation into perspective. When I worked in nursing homes while living in Seattle, I had numerous occasions to take residents back to their apartments to pick up this or that item they'd left behind when they were rushed in the ambulence to the hospital.

It was almost always a depressing experience. (Who likes to be reminded that we can be living independently, in the style to which we've become accustomed, one day and the next day we'll find pureed yams on the menu, fed to us by someone making slightly over minimum wage?) But one apartment stands out in particular.

There was this woman who'd lived on her own in an apartment downtown for a long, long time. I was asked to take her to her place for some reason or another. (Let's go ahead and say it was because she needed her Pan flute.) I drove her downtown, walked her up to her door and, when she opened it, I got a whole new respect for rat warrens.

The woman's place was utterly filled with stuff. Piles of paper that came up to my chin. Stacks of magazines dating, I can guess with some assurance, from the Eisenhower administration. Her kitchen cabinets were overflowing with cans. The overflow completely covered her countertops. Towers of crap filled the entire place. She'd literally left narrow passageways to walk through and the rest of the apartment was jammed with stuff.

I'm not claustrophobic by any means. But this just creeped me out. I need space in which to move. I don't mind a little clutter. In fact, I find it homey. I don't require a stark, barely-furnished cavern in which my voice can echo off artless walls. But I can't stand not being able to walk a straight line through a room; stepping on something every time I put my foot down; having to move five things out of my way before I can even get in the goddamn front door.

And so, my wife and I came to the same, sad two-word conclusion this week: storage unit. God help us. Seriously, it'd be great if God could help us find a cheap storage unit.

*NOTE: Randomly Googled picture. Not my family. Seriously not my family.

Oh, dear. I hate to say this but once you have kids you will always be trying to stem the tide of "stuff". I just got rid of a 1/2 ton of stuffed animals. Seriously, they were all "gifts". I didn't buy them—they just came in of their own accord with ribbons on their necks.

Quite a while ago we were renting a dinky duplex while building our home and stored a bunch of stuff for a year. I forgot about ALL of it except for a coocoo clock we got in Bavaria. We didn't need anything but what we were using and we were perfectly happy. So before you store stuff ask yourself if you want to 'pitch it' or 'pay for it'.

Hang in there. I'm still pitching stuff (Goodwill, recycling, dump, book sale, ad naseum...) because I don't want to be that lady in Seattle either.
It will definitely be an ongoing culling process for, um, forever. I hope you got your prayers answered.

And I didn't think for one second that pic was your family. I recognize my inlaws when I see them.
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