Thursday, January 6, 2011

What is Clutter?


My Neat

Chris's Neat

I never thought such a simple question could turn into an exestential conversation about the reality of our world and the things we choose to fill our lives with, but the simple word "clutter" can strike fear in the hearts of the OCD and questions in those who are sentimental. Unlike many couples, my husband and I are slightly reverse. I must say, I count myself hugely lucky that Chris likes to keep things neat and tidy as I have seen the other side with other men and it can be ugly. That being said, I need a place where I can be messy. I need a place where I can keep one or two pieces of paper out without being scolded. More importantly I need those things to stay where I leave them because what seems disorganized is logged in my head. But my personal filing system is an entirely different issue for which I should probably seek counseling.

I do not like lots of nick-nacks that must be dusted and cleaned, so I feel like this is a good thing. Those would be considered "clutter" in my mind. That being said, if someone has given me something, such as a ring holder, shot glass, or random decoration, I do sometimes have a hard time getting rid of it. I don't want to offend anyone, plus it means something to me. I have purged many such items in a desire to rid myself of things I do not need. I feel as though I am down to the bare minimum of such "cluttery" things, but Chris would beg to differ. He feels like any of these things are too many, with the exception of candles, anything that sits on a surface is clutter.

Many might agree with the assessment but I now reach out to other fellow readers. In Chris's mind, books are clutter. I'm sorry what? I have boxed up, sold or stored two bookshelves worth of books and only have one left. If he had his way the entire thing would be given to charity. I have tried to keep out only my list of books I must read, cook books, and the favorites you turn to when you just need some fluff. Apparently, still clutter. We agree to disagree and I put my one allowed bookshelf in the corner of the living room. On top of that, I try to keep all my "clutter" items on the same book shelf so he does not have to deal with it. It now simply elicits a sigh as he walks to our bedroom and must pass the dusty objects ranging as reminders of family, friends, and random events in my life.

Now we are onto the table and the counter. Things are not to be left in either place. I can accept this. I put out a "mail basket" where I place the mail I have not had time to deal with yet and I use my desk for storage of anything else. BUT, in typical hypocritical fashion, there has been a Sirus Satellite Radio manual on our counter for a week. Chris needs to call and find out why it isn't working. His work schedule is also on the counter. Oh, and he left out a small stack of DVDs that he wants to watch as well as a kite manual he wants to look through. All of these things have been out for multiple days because they are reminders for HIM. Had I left any such thing on the counter it would have been moved and when I asked where to he may or may not remember where he put it "away." If clutter is a reminder, how come I can't have reminders too? Why is my stuff "clutter" and "mess" and his stuff "reminders?" And the most important question, if you put it away and you can't remember where "away" is so you have to re-purchase things, how good is "away?" Sure it is out of sight, but it can no longer be used...what good is that to anyone?

Final sidebar...just because a piece of paper is left out does not make it a coaster. Anything that can remotely absorb water is apparently for use with a glass whether it destroys the thing or not. I personally think this is his own little way to keep me from leaving important papers out as he will use everything from a note to our marriage license as a place to put a glass. Somehow cup rings on our certificate of marriage are less offensive than on a table. I guess I am just too sentimental.

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