Saturday, October 20, 2012

Scared Clean



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SNL likes to parody a documentary that aired in the late 70's called "Scared Straight." Short and quick, Scared Straight was about a group of juvenile delinquents and their exposure, filmed, to actual convicts. Like, face to face close enough to get spit in your eye exposure.

The hope was that these prison guys with names like ChopChop, Jesus, Rodman, Gallo--would scream, berate, and terrify these tenderonies straight and away from a life of crime. Oh and there be swear words, along with lots of kissysmooch sounds out to the air.

Scary shiz and man oh man if I were 15-year-old Danny Levinger invited to spend the day with these lifers? Guaranteed I'd come back with a rewritten life plan in my notebook on the bus ride home, fully complete ten years out called "Scared Damn Right."

Well, I've just had my own Scared Straight revelation.

While flipping through talk show channels the other day, (I skipped out on AndersonLive, he keeps ignoring my on-air tweets so I got him back good by changing channels) I stopped on a show that was interviewing clutter control professionals. The segment was called Not Quite Hoarders. Oh and it was as valuable as Scared Straight to me.

Thirty minutes into the show, I became what Standolyn Roberston, star of A&E's popular series, Hoarders, calls "action prone." Action prone is a mental state where you need to STRIKE WHILE THE IRON'S HOT. When you're action prone, you are motivated--the Hoarders' version of Nike's Just Do it.

When I heard one of the clutter organizers say, "our children learn organization from us. Their response to an environment has to do with what is modeled at home. Living with disorganization and too many things will DESENSITIZE them to disarray in their future and they will have DIFFICULTY seeing chaos, where someone else who grew up in order and organization may recognize disorder much quicker. AND PLUS ALSO TOO these children of disorganiztion WILL NOT KNOW how to organize their future homes," my head popped up like the wounded gazelle at a watering hole when she senses danger.

The caps you see above may not have occurred but so what, that's how I heard it. So, basically, when my three boys go away to college, they'll be the ones falling asleep on top of a stack of books with socks hanging off their desk lamps while piles of underwear are what they use for a pillow.

Charming visual. I know. Because of me.

I can no longer call my stuff treasures, precious, semi-precious, valuable, antique, heirloom, generational, collectible, memorabilia, mementos, keepsakes, souvenirs. I can't keep the toothbrush they used when they first brushed their teeth by themselves.

I can no longer deny, procrastinate, avoid, be indecisive, feel overwhelmed, or unfocused. I can't say either I do it all today, or I don't do it all.

I need to decide, handle, toss out, spend time, give away, plan, be ruthless. I need to drop off five industrial strength bags of things at the family sharing store once a month.

I am going to clean up because I will in no way become that lady responsible for my three kids sitting on metal folding chairs in some church basement someday while busloads of young college-bound students are brought in to see them while my three whistle and cat call out to them, screaming, "Yeah?! Ya think ya all of a sudden one day wake up underneath a pile of 200 plastic Transformer cups?! Huh? Ya think we like being this way?!"

I'm so action prone right now that by the time I'm through with this place, I'll be written up in Destination Must Sees of Taoist Monthly.

***

41 comments:

  1. My kids are grown, if there's damage, it's done and I'M KEEPING MY STUFF! They're on their own and it's tough cookies! Plus, I wasn't this disorganized and cluttered when they were young, so they better not use me as an excuse. Every tub sits on it's own bottom.

    Good luck with your organizing! I'll root for ya!

    Oh yeah... just remember, your kids still live with you. Anything you do today, will likely be undone by tomorrow, so you might want to start cracking a whip and get them with the program. LOL!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes.

      That's it, too: they're supposed to see me de clutter.

      xo

      Delete
  2. haha use that energy....get it done...but so true as well on the kids modeling the things they see....they learn it all somewhere....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right, B?

      Scared the bejeebies out of me when I heard that.

      Delete
  3. Oh my G-d, "action prone." No kidding: I'm action prone enough to be up since 5am on a Saturday, cleaning and writing and being disgustingly fastidious under the cover of morning darkness, so as to keep my husband from seeing it all and wondering whether I finally fell out of the crazy tree.

    It's going to be an "action prone" weekend, I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You crack me up.

      I love the internet ... so many wonderful people I've met.

      xo

      Go, now, make Standolyn proud!!

      Delete
  4. On the one hand, all that certainly makes me nervous - I am cyclically disorganized. I get all action prone, clean everything, then everything falls apart for a few weeks until it gets bad enough to spin me up again. On the other hand, my parents were very clean and organized and I am not nearly as organized as they are. Punky also is more organized that both MacGyver and I - not that she has a choice.

    I think chored plays a big role. My mom was very specific about how things had to be cleans, so she did most of that and our chores were other things where as Punky has a lot of cleaning chores so she is in that habit.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My parents were the epitome of organization. There was never one toy, one piece of clothing, one dish, one ANYTHING, not where it was "supposed" to be. My mother kept a spotless home, she even made our beds and vacuumed our rooms every day! (she also held down 2 jobs and cooked 3 meals a day)

    Fast forward to the present. My sister's place is as spotless and organized as our family home was. Mine is organized as well although I'm not the queen of spotless. I don't make my bed every day and there are dirty dishes but generally, my place always *looks* like it's spotless. So yeah, what my parents modeled became our life story.

    I think this post was beautifully written. Seriously, your writing has jumped into the stratosphere.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow. I can't say thank you enough for what this comment means to me, Suzy. You've been in the blogosphere before I even attempted to open an email account.

      Thank you, for this.

      Delete
  6. My oldest child is always running late, moves at one speed, and used to save candy wrappers because she was sure she could make something out of them. My youngest child rarely has anything tossed on the floor of her room and her drawers look straight out of The Container Store catalogue. The middle child is somewhere in the middle. They are all being raised in a somewhat organized but not spotless house. My point? "Nature" has to be playing a role here. "Nuture" can't be totally to blame. Right?

    ReplyDelete
  7. When? WHEN? When will my children start to learn what they live and be even a little bit organized? Is there an age? Will be it before I lose my mind? Yessssssssss, I keep many, MANY things, but in an organized fashion. This post of your is once again very timely as I "helped" my daughter's organize he storage bins this morning, and by helped I mean I held the garbage bag open. Her brother and I were frightened for her potential future as a hoarder. Gum wrappers are not treasures and do not increase in value...lesson for today!

    ReplyDelete
  8. My house is crazy organized. Labeled. It's bliss. But my wife has been living here with me for ages and still puts everything away in the wrong spots and my 3 year old still leaves her stuff everywhere (though she corrects her Mama if she puts something away incorrectly), so maybe it's not really learned. Maybe it's more about fear. And discipline. And a bit of learning that you like it that way.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Empress I may have to try and find this show on Youtube. I've secretly wondered if this were the case, although my mom was organized and I have three organized sisters. So I don't know what happened to me? I was hoping it was genetic. So it is true, I am ultimately responsible. Eldest is already a lost cause. I've decided if I just get rid of everything, then its impossible to be messy. That is my strategy. I'll let you know how it's going.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I say we all throw it in the yard and torch it.

      Whooooooosh!!

      Delete
  10. HA! I love it! Sadly, my boys will be the ones in therapy because they have nightmares of straightening rugs and tri folding their towels. Mom needs to loosen up and get scared crooked. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Scared Sloppy.

      A POST!! Make it a post!!

      Delete
  11. Hello There! I am supposed to be in my office using these two huge garbage bags to clean out my file cabinet. Instead I am reading your blog. Is there hope for me? I need to get some Action Prone.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Low gasping for air sound as I try to regain equilibrium after reading this (another) 'also too' hilarious post. "NOT QUITE HOARDERS" Yessss. :D meeee And I'll blame my poor old (late) mother with the top of her refrigerator stacked about 4 stories tall with things that didn't really 'have a home'... Oh I miss reading you. What's happened to time? Now it's just like going down the drain all day every day. XXOO

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You always make me feel ten feet tall, Anne.

      Just call me "Little Carla."

      LOVE YOU SO VERY MUCH.

      Delete
  13. Thank you. I'm going to go throw everything away now. It's time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I wish I could see you try: like you'd get rid of the little wooden ducks Vikki gifted you with.

      Like you would.

      xo

      Delete
  14. "Not Quite Hoarders"? (Hand raised, head hung down in shame.) And yes, there is a reason you never see pictures of my apartment in my blog posts. The iron is never quite hot enough around here, in spite of good intentions aplenty. sigh. You are now my hero.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Thank you SO much for writing this Alexandra -- because I am Scared S*****ss right now but in a good kick in the butt kind of way. I am the adult version of the quote you wrote; I CAN'T see clutter and it drives my husband crazy and I can attest to the fact that this is a huge problem in terms of relationships and personal mental health and even money (how much money have I lost because I couldn't get myself organized well enough to locate things or pay bills on time?). Now my 8 year old is taking after me, choosing to kick things around or step over them over simply putting them away. Like child abuse I am waking up to the call to end the cycle. So I know you wrote the post kind of tongue in cheek but you've literally just changed my life (and that of a very important and impressionable 8 year old).

    ReplyDelete
  16. black hefty bags. black so that your kids can't see what you're throwing away and say "waaaaaaiiiiiiitttt." Throw away enough stuff of theirs and you've got plenty of room for your all-important collection of...whatever it is. I'm not a terribly tidy person myself but I live with a person--okay, I MARRIED a person--who thinks it's important to save his 10th grade chemistry notes because "one day our kids might want to read them." I mean, what do you say to that? "Uh...you're nuts? Uh...science has changed a bit since you were a boy?" So in response to that behavior, I've become a bit of a nazi, if only to prevent us all from being buried alive. Can I get me some of that "Action Prone" in a spray form, and spritz my darling husband with it while he's sleeping?

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is totally me! Everyone once in a while I will watch an episode of Hoarders and I swear it’s the shot in the arm I need to get up and start decluttering. It’s kind of a running joke with us. Everyone knows that if I’m watching it I will soon be up on my feet throwing whatever is in my path into a big black trash bag.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I watch hoarders to feel good about myself. THERE! I said it... please don't judge me.

    ReplyDelete
  19. What synchronicity! I was reading a book about this topic, from a guy on the show "Clean Sweep?" Have you ever seen that? They clear out not-quite-hoarders homes and transform their lives. My post today was on one room in this process for me.

    ReplyDelete
  20. My son told me he doesn't want to move again because every time we move we get rid of lots of stuff. I told him if that is all it takes to get rid of what we don't need I want to do it once a week.

    Great googly moogly, my stuff has figured out how to reproduce. I think two lamps have been getting it on at night and now there are more of them than before.

    Damn bulbs are like eggs or something that hatch.

    Some of this may be an exaggeration but every week I make a point to go through our stuff and try to remove the things we don't really need.

    ReplyDelete
  21. i keep a pretty organized house. but every drawer is a junk drawer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See? me too. And I am mortified if my sisters or a neighbor open a drawer to look for something and there it is ... an open window into my disheveled self.

      I can't stand it. In my mother's house, while growing up, every drawer for us was a junk drawer.

      And here I am ...

      Delete
  22. I go through phases every so often where I want to clear everything out because I decide that I just have too much stuff (specifically clothes), but when I actually get to the task I quickly become overwhelmed and somehow unable to part with anything. Unfortunately, I am in no danger of being on hoarders, but I would still like to be scared clean to get rid of some stuff that is just taking up space!

    ReplyDelete
  23. We did a lot of cleaning, and organizing, and putting in piles for donating last week. It felt good....but there is probably still more to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does feel so good, Tracie, but it's so hard when you have other what seem like more immediate needs, right?

      Like the regular cleaning, and grocery shopping, etc: but this here, the foundation of our home, makes us feel the peace that comes from getting away from the material.

      xo ALWAYS so good to see your face, T. xo

      Delete
  24. Oooooooh Nooooooo -- I like to pride myself on the fact that while my house may be cluttered, it is clean (well...kind of). You just scared the PJ pants off of me! Now I know that my kids are going to be THOSE people when they grow up -- ack! Gotta run and figure out how to get organized now...

    ReplyDelete
  25. Oh yes, this. I get this.

    I pile (a lot) and sort (a lot) but alwaysAlwaysALWAYS reach a point when I have to really get in there and organize/clean.

    (It feels so good and calm and peaceful once its done, doesn't it?)

    ReplyDelete
  26. I don't even have kids yet, but I'm already a bit worried about their future organization. Excuse me, I have to go and clean all of the boxes out of my basement.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Baahahahaha!

    Action prone, indeed.

    We once walked into a hotel room and my 5yo said, "this is a lot more clean than our house, Mom." I tried not to bristle and asked what was cleaner.

    "There's just less stuff everywhere."

    True that, little man.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Is this going to be like giving up coffee?

    Just kidding. You're perfect just the way you are - you know I love you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Coffee.

      Oh, yeah> I've tried.

      So many times.
      xo

      Delete
  29. Is it insulting that all I got out of this was that it would be a good idea to save the toothbrushes they use by themselves the firs time? Was this supposed to be a how-to on pre-hoarding? No? Sorry. Carry on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right?

      That's what I'm like.

      Oh. oooh. Yah. That's, NOW THAT'S, a good idea.

      xo

      Delete

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