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Procrastination Can Lead to Massive Collections of Stuff We Later Want to Dump
After reading my New Year's column, an Irvington friend e-mailed me the words "Quit Procrastinating!" with a fancy border. Also, I visited Dr. Charles Ballard who gave me his round "tuit." I sent it to my nephew who wrote the poem about round-to-its that was in The Banner: "Dear David, I've made good use of this round tuit and am sending it to you in your hour of need. I note that you spell it "round-to-it"; whereas, mine is a round "tuit." I suspect that somewhere in their family tree the To-its changed their name to Tuit just as some of our ancestors changed theirs from Schwartz to Black. I trust that this updated version will prove to be efficacious. Now, just get busy and do it! Warmest regards, Aunt Rose Mary."
Confessions of a Packrat: Around Thanksgiving time, Bill said, "Our house needs an overhaul We've got too much stuff. We need to go through things and get rid of some of it. Let's start with the back closet and the office." The closet and office were absolutely crammed with an accumulation of many years of saving. Hoping that Bill would forget about it, I said, "O.K., but I'm not about to tackle this before Christmas." He didn't forget. Christmas has come and gone, and this is where the rubber hits the road as Father Tim, the protagonist of Jan Karon's Mitford books, said.
Our problem is that we're both savers. Perhaps it's in the genes. Bill's mother saved gift wrap, ironed it and re-used it. When Christine and I helped Mother pack to move to New Castle after her marriage to Edgar Wallace we counted 31 cream pitchers that she'd bought at garage sales and dozens of plastic margarine tubs. Oh how we laughed at Mother!
Monday: I'm better prepared to force myself to get rid of stuff than Bill. Giving most of my clothes to Vicki toughened me up so that I'm more willing to part with the accumulation that spans over 40 years. Armed with my "Quit Procrastinating" certificate and the round tuit, I set to work.
Friday: Oh, oh, oh! We've worked like donkeys, and we're still not done! The office and the family/room/dining room area where we do the sorting are a shambles. We're exhausted after five days of sorting, shredding, pitching stuff out and re-packing what we've agreed to keep - and this is just the back closet and the office, mind you. I said, "What would it have been like if we'd waited until we were 80?" "We'd just have had a path to walk through." At least we're not as bad as a woman on Oprah who was a compulsive shopper who stacked items several feet high to the point that her husband and she had to take turns using the bed.
We've discarded boxes and files of decades-old bank statements, bills, canceled checks, stubs of pencils, out-of-date travel guides, the text books that I used to teach French 40 years ago, insurance, computer, appliance and telephone manuals, guides to Medicare and various Medicare and health insurance documents, yellowed clippings of articles that we never got around to reading or intended to send to a friend, air mattresses that leak, old computer discs and more…
We hauled out about 20 bags of trash, and packed two boxes for Amvets. There was so much paper with our names, address and Social Security numbers that it would have taken ages to run it through our shredder, so I burned it in the fireplace. Some people become irritated when I say that in some ways the past was better, but you didn't have to shred your mail to keep crooks from stealing your identity.
This doesn't begin to include our personal memorabilia and treasured collection of recipes. Finally I wailed, "Why couldn't we have just waited until we were dead and left it all to Vicki?" Bill replied, "That's absolutely rotten of you. The poor thing's already going to have to bury us!" (That was a subtle dig about my stubborn procrastination about buying cemetery plots.)
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