So my mother is finally on board with the great clean up project. I can't imagine how far we'll get. I'd like to think we'll make a good dent, but I don't hold out high hopes. So the plan is such: Labor Day we go for just the weekend to do front yard chores such as raking, tearing down a wall and cactus pruning. In March, during Spring Break, we go again to focus on the indoors. My goal is to get three rooms cleared out and detrashed. That might be too ambitious a goal. We'll see. I will imagine that my mother (and quite possibly on some level my father) will fight us tooth and nail over her 'treasures.' As my sister and I have both pointed out to her - if it is damaged due to neglect then it isn't a treasure anymore. For example, she has a headboard and footboard in the front yard. According to my father she has this whole image for my nephew's old bedroom (and before that it was Mandy's bedroom and before that it was Mandy & my bedroom together). It involves that bed. Well I'm not sure when the bed was purchased, but in Arizona they are now in monsoon season. While for many, monsoon season means heavy torrential rains for days and days like in the Phillipines. In Arizona this means that the heat and humidity build and the ground bakes and this continues for many tortorous hours until about 2 - 3 pm. Then it pours down rain like a maniac for maybe 1/2 an hour. Then the rain stops and the sun comes out and the baking process begins again. Not so good for a 'wrought iron' bed frame. (I don't know what it is made out of. She claims wrought iron, my father claims "wrought iron." Who knows.)
The hard part is how much these kinds of habits can impact your whole life. I've spent about 1/2 of today purging my extra crap. And most of what has been purged is trash or recycling. (Not gross trash, let me clarify that right away). But I just dumped a bunch of old magazines. I'm chucking my ancient green bag that I used to use when I was a LITTLE girl for sleep overs. The oddly hardest thing to get rid of - shoe boxes. My mother is a big believer in shoe boxes. As children they were always kept because you can put stuff into them. Little things or slightly bigger things. Anything really. My mother used many of hers for old bills and paystubs. It took me several years to sink in that nobody gives a rat's ass about my pay stub from 1997 or that I paid my electric bill on time in 2002. My mother saved all of that stuff for YEARS. Somewhere in the 90s we were throwing away bills she had paid in the 80s. Why would you need to prove you paid the water bill from 1985? Obviously the water is still on therefore the bill has been paid. The hoarder's mantra is "you never know when this will come in handy." I confess this is a struggle for me. And yet, in the storage unit there are probably three or more boxes that I sort of know what is in them, but if I were to donate the box contents unreviewed to charity I probably would have no idea what is missing. And thereby wouldn't miss it. Baby steps. If it ever gets to be under 100 I will pare the storage space again. And again until it can be pared no more.
One of the other things I struggle with is what exactly to do with the junk. For example, I have a broken rice cooker. I doubt it can be fixed. Is this something you can throw away? Do I have to take it to the dump myself? Is it going to fill a landfill and thereby cause problems for future generations? Can it be recycled? (Notice I get this hung up on a freaking rice cooker yet every day at work I throw a pepsi can in the trash because it is my own ridiculous mini rebellion since we do not have recycling in the building.) I have at least 3 ugly yellow plastic cups from Dickie's barbecue restaurant. What to do with them? I feel like donating them is shitty since honestly, what charity really benefits from them? They are the Top Ramen of donations. Currently they get used around the house, but really there are other things in my apartment that could do what they currently do. And since I have to take the recyclables to the center myself there are the bags of newspaper that fill the front closet and the bags of cans that fill the storage unit until I have enough to make the trek.
This and much much more will be the fun of doing my parents' house. Worse because I've gotten pretty good at paring down the things I don't need. They have a lot of stuff.