April 22nd, 2005


Man, cleaning is a battle when you're against the Chinese!

I, Sammie, have a strong desire to declutter, throw things away, clean up my living space and my life. Unfortunately, the Dragon Lady - I described her once here several years ago, back in high school when I was insufferable - is constantly interfering. Of late she has appeared much older, and when she speaks she does not sound unlike my Popo, but she remains the representative of the Chinese influence in my life - its traditions, culture, habits and sensibilities.

I will be going through clothes, and there the Dragon Lady will be, hissing in my ear. "I can throw this away, I don't wear it," I will say, holding up an XL purple t-shirt with a picture of a kitten on it. It's huge and ugly; it was a gift years ago and I've kept it only out of guilt.
"But no, you cannot," Kwan-Yin will hiss, "You might need it some day! Look at it! There are no holes and no stains; it is practically new!"
"It's ugly and I shan't ever wear it!"
"You might! You never know when there will be a nuclear holocaust and t-shirts will be precious commodities!"
"But I already have dozens of shirts that I like better!"
"KEEP IT!" she will boom in a voice like thunder, and very reluctantly Ugly Shirt will be returned to the drawer.
It'd be one thing if I had no huge t-shirts like this, but this is only one of at least a dozen - maybe two dozen. I HAVE FAR TOO MANY CLOTHES AND I KNOW THIS. But years of 'saving for a rainy day' and 'waste not, want not' can't be shaken easily, and I have the hardest time throwing anything away.

Old school homework: "Look, while you've got notes on one side the other side is blank. Keep it for scratch paper!"
Fabric Scraps: "You never know, you might be able to use this half yard of fabric for a cool project someday!"
Nifty wrapping paper, used: "If you wrap another package at just the right angle, no one will ever know this is used! Besides, it might be useful in a nifty collage!"
Nearly spent/old art supplies: "There's a drop of paint at the bottom of that tube and WHO KNOWS? You may toss this and the burnt ochre tube, both purchased while you were still in junior high, and someday you will be painting (because someday you will be painting again!) and you will need that drop of aquamarine and ALAS ALACK you have thrown it away and won't that be tragedy?"
More Ugly Shirts: "You never know, one day you WILL BLOW UP LIKE A BALLOON and you will be sorry you didn't keep these, because you will have no clothes that fit."

My room is a cluttered disaster because of all the things I cannot throw away. Old stuffed animals (think of the memories!) pile high on a book case while actual books lay scattered on the floor. Bubble wrap and used bubble envelopes, to be reused at a future date, are crammed into a basket. Other baskets are full of scrap paper, old magazines (you might want the images for inspiration or reference!), and let us not even speak of all the half-completed art projects and journals scattered 'round. Hush! We mustn't speak of it, nor the clothes with the tiny hole that need only to be mended to be good! (Never mind that if I actually cared about the clothing it would have been mended in a heartbeat.)
In conclusion: Cleaning is not nearly as effective as it ought to be, man.