Clutter as a Lifestyle


Company was coming.  A group of kids from school were driving up from town to visit their old teacher–me. The idea that they cared enough to make the hour-plus journey was nice.  However, our house is small and very difficult to keep tidy.  And the worst part of trying to apply order is my propensity for little piles of clutter.

Okay, not so little piles of clutter, and they have many brothers and sisters.

A person with a properly wired brain would probably not have allowed the paper nests to have materialized in the first place. In that same thinking, the stacks would have been sorted into some order and stored properly for later use. Yet, for me, that’s too hard.  It is much more efficient to hoist the mess up, plopping the stack alongside the others in my room from earlier projects. After all, bedroom doors close nicely.

I am not a lone offender.  My husband’s “office” is on our dining room table. He has important crap lying there.  And if I even look like I am contemplating a drive-by hoist he nearly dives on to the tabletop to protect his domain. The combination of two clutter-ers in one little cabin equals double the upheaval and chaos.

So, as I began, company was coming.  We had a stage to set.  And it’s tricky to negotiate the exact re-settlement for my husband’s “important” stuff. For me, the shove and run is efficient and fast. For him, if a paper is one inch from where he left it, the poop hits the prop. “I can’t find that list of passwords. Where did you hide it this time!”

“Look over to the right,” I holler back.

“Oh. Okay. Quit moving my stuff, Gail!”

“Where we going to put plates, Chad?”

And so on. At least with my system, the formidable heap makes the hunt more exciting. Finding that precise paper far more gratifying.

I worked with a woman years ago who gave me another useful hint. The ironing moves easily from the couch to the dishwasher if there’s a knock on the door. Good to know.

Concerning the visit from town, that went well. These were my students, and they had survived the catacombs of junk in my  old classroom. From our slight of hands, they most likely saw the house as clean. 

We clutter-ers are misunderstood people. Unlike hoarders, we can see the mess, and are sensitive to public opinion. My guilt is ever-present. The pressure becomes so unbearable at times, that I succumb and clean something.

Oh, and one more thing–River of January is ready for pre-order.  Go to


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