Monday, June 05, 2006

Slaying the Clutter Demon

My cleaning mission is starting to show results. I now have the downstairs more or less straightened, except for a couple of clutter hot spots that will have to be tackled in smaller increments. Even the staircase is now clear. I now just need to straighten the upstairs loft. I'm afraid the office is beyond mere "straightening" and will be the first target for the more intense bit-by-bit organizing. The office is also the source for most of the clutter that spills over into the rest of the house, so I'm hoping that once I get the office entirely together, it will be easier to keep the whole house clean. I'd been hoping to finish the straightening yesterday, but I ran out of steam. That makes sense, considering that I'd done so much work in what was supposed to be my first weekend off in ages.

I've even managed to maintain the stuff I've already cleaned. Yeah, it's only been a few days, but that's still doing well for me. Maybe by posting about this stuff, I'll hold myself accountable to all the thousands of readers (okay, maybe hundreds. Or tens) who read this. It should be pretty obvious by now what inspired Owen's organizational/housekeeping style.

I've discovered while doing the sorting and tossing that I have a habit of hoarding odd things. I can't seem to bring myself to throw away a nice shopping bag -- the kind you get from stores where they're made of laminated heavy paper or even a sort of translucent stiff plastic, with cord or ribbon handles. I especially love Ann Taylor Loft bags, and considering how much of my wardrobe comes from there, I have a lot of those bags. But now that I think about it, those bags in particular (they're a bit translucent) would be a great way to organize t-shirts on my closet shelf, so I may not trash them all.

I also can't seem to bring myself to throw away a good, sturdy shipping/mailing box. I think I got the habit of keeping those back when I always seemed to be in need of a box to ship something or to put a gift in. But now that I'm getting lots of book shipments from my publisher or from my online book buying habit, I could probably pack my entire book collection in all the boxes I've got lying around. I may use them to organize the to-be-read pile and keep it from spilling all over the loft.

My other weakness seems to be bath and body products (bubble bath, shower gel, exfoliating scrubs, lotions, face masks, etc.). That seems to be my retail therapy of choice. Shopping for clothes actually requires a certain level of self esteem and can make me even more depressed than when I started, and my budget can't handle much shoe shopping. But I can generally afford a sample or travel size of a Bath & Bodyworks product or two, and that along with a book or magazine is enough to lift my mood on a bad day. Meanwhile, hair product advertising seems to be the only advertising that is nearly 100-percent effective on me. If I see an ad for something that's supposed to make curly hair non-frizzy, with smooth, glossy curls, I turn into a zombie that has to get up and immediately head to the nearest store to buy it. As a result, I have tons of these products that I've maybe used once or twice (the hair stuff never works as advertised, and only new bath products seem to have the required mood-lifting effect, so I keep buying them instead of using them up). I could open a spa.

I'm planning to do my pre-book retreat in the latter half of this week, so I think part of that will be a big, self-indulgent spa day, playing with all that stuff and pampering myself silly. And it would count as house cleaning because I'm using up stuff that's cluttering my bathroom!

Best find during the straightening process: I found my stash of dark chocolate M&Ms. I'd totally forgotten where I put them and thought I only had one bag left. I have a bit more than that, it turns out.

You can see what inspired this housecleaning binge at Julie Kenner's Slay Your Demons site, where I'm guest blogger this week. When Julie said she needed guests, I tried to think of the biggest "demon" in my life right now, and my house won. Writing that entry inspired me to slay that demon (and Carpe Demon was one of the books I found in the bedroom TBR pile under a pile of mateless socks, so now that I've found it again, it's high on my summer reading list).

In other news, I've been answering questions and discussing the books over at the Fox Firefly message board, and that's been a lot of fun. That's made me wonder if there's any interest in a more general discussion forum for readers. I've had someone mention that a Yahoo list would be nice, so people could either read messages online or get them in e-mail. I don't really have the time or energy to start and maintain another mailing list, but if someone wants to take the initiative to do so, let me know and I'll post links here and on my site. I may even pop in (time permitting) and answer questions. I just have one request: if I'm going to read messages and participate, there can't be any fanfic on the list. That's not just because I'm a bit squeamish about other people playing with my people. It's for legal reasons. I've heard about authors having to scrap book ideas because of fanfic posted in forums they were known to frequent. Their publishers were worried about possible legal action if a published novel had too many similarities to a posted fanfic and the fanfic author sued the author for stealing the idea. I'd like to hope that my readers would be too upstanding to do something wacky like sue me, but in this day and time, you never know and I can't take the risk. If there's going to be fanfic (and I realize it's a compliment and probably inevitable), I don't want to know about it or where it is.

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