Closet Madness

The person who uses my closet to store her clothes is a stranger to me.  She is smaller, has a bigger life, and cannot bear to part with any outfit that has an event attached to it.  She buys many things at TJ Maxx, but these items do not match any other items.  Many still have tags.  We both like purses and shoes, (they always fit) and never toss them.  Real world Janet has had an intervention with the fanciful Janet who filled up this space.  The result was my promise to take the closet to the walls, try on and evaluate everything, and purge.  I hate making such promises, but for once, I followed through.  I can call this the Lost Weekend, because the job expanded to cover 36 hours.  My wardrobe has narrowed significantly.  It is aligned with my narrow life.  A Martha would say, it's a good thing.


Typical "vintage" clothing from Janet's closet- I kept it

I am not a systems person, and I began this chore on Saturday without a plan.  That is typical, and tragic.  I rolled a rack into my bedroom and moved all the hanging stuff onto it. photo-3.jpg     photo-4.jpg

 Shoes, boots, purses and such went into laundry baskets.  I vacuumed the dust bunnies away, and cleaned off the shelves.  Once the closet was empty, I liked the way it looked, and didn't want to clutter it up again.  I also did not want to try on things that would mock my size.  I am not delusional:  I do not indulge in the "shrinking" notion- I have expanded since my knee rendered me inactive.  Did you hear the screaming as I tried to wriggle into jeans?  Did my wailing disturb you, as I contemplated muffin tops and back fat?  Did the earth rumble when my racked clothes tumbled to the ground, tangling my apparel and a hundred empty hangers?  The dogs were terrified by all of the preceding.  But I forged on.
Saturday night the stacks and racks made it hard to find a spot to sleep in. I had a philosophical debate with myself: sweaters, hangers or drawers?   I could not solve the sweater conundrum, so I slept on the issue...and the sweaters.  I awoke with delay tactics in mind: I gave myself 8am-12pm for coffee and newspapers, and then I would return to order my wardrobe.   I would celebrate my New Order with the Grammy Awards.  If only my timing coincided with reality.  I am in bed, finally,  as I type this.   It is midnight, and I have just completed the reinstatement.  
In the upstairs hall, there are 9 garbage bags, filled with my past life-shoes, purses, tote bags, clothing galore (many items with tags) which will soon be relocated to charity.  To be honest, some items received stays of execution because they are associated with really happy memories.  One or two outfits that tip toe toward "clown clothes"  were purchased in the company of my mom- who has been dead for 11 years.  I'm keeping them, despite the truth that these clothes were outdated even before Mom crossed over,   I also have a few items that were Mom's- I visit them, and remember her.  I can afford a few inches of space to keep Mom's spirit in the house.  photo-2.jpg
As the day wore on, and I tired of the job, I lost faith that I would ever lose weight, go to fancy places or have the ability to weave the orphan tops and bottoms into outfits.  I realized that high heels are incongruent with my imminent knee replacement.  Speaking of knees, skirts above the knee would showcase my impending scar.  That despair became the engine of change.  I detached from stuff I have gazed at for years. My remaining clothes are happily breathing and hanging freely.  I am determined to develop a uniform of dark pants and flowing tops- I think I am channeling Maude.  Tunics are my new mantra.  I have resolved to avoid TJ Maxx like the plague.  Well- I'll limit my visits, at least.
To keep things orderly, I have created rules.   For every new thing I bring home, I have to ditch something.  All hangers must be notched store hangers, or fuzzy flat hangers.  Skirts go on the waterfall skirt hangers.  Each pair of pants gets its own hanger- no doubling up.  Shoes are stored piggyback, and must be returned to their slot. 
 It is only a matter of time before my lack of discipline creeps back.  
In the mean time, I am feeling accomplished.  And chubby. I have winnowed my wardrobe down with such efficiency that I have enough hangers to open a store.  I do not want to fill them up...until I am a size 8.  And trust me, that will never happen.  Next:  drawers.  Inside them is my life in bathing suits.  This is destined to be another cruel journey.  


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  • There are few things in life that cause me to feel jeolous, but your clean closet has set off this emotion. Congratulations and would you consider hiring out to do mine?

  • Good for you Janet. There is not a more miserable job, and the older we get the worse it gets. I have a month and a half left to merge what I've stored in the guest room closet into the others to make room for a boomerang son's arrival. I'm dreading it - mostly because of the trying on of long unworn items. I now vow to follow your example - be merciless and don't torture myself. Thanks for the incentive. Next weekend it's my turn!

  • In reply to Mardon:

    Mary- You do not want my special brand of chaos in your airspace, and Madron- good luck. Build in some kind of reward- and I suggest something bigger than the Grammys- because it is a sad duty! I am cheering for you!

  • In reply to Mardon:

    That was very inspiring Janet....and as much as I would love to walk into my closet this minute to begin the same pathetic task, I have the added dread of going down to my basement to begin organizing the Christmas shelving units and storage boxes have arrived on my doorstep. I was excited when I ordered I find myself wanting to flee the house !!!!! Reality [ the basement] is calling my name........

  • In reply to Mardon:

    Janet, You might want to think about taking some of those things that are dear to you, perhaps from your Mom, and making them into special quilts for the grandchildren your sons will bless you with.... eventually.

  • In reply to Mardon:

    Hi Janet-Great blog! There must be something in the air...I started the New Year dedicated to doing the exact same thing with Christmas stuff, did the kitchen cabinents/office area then moved on to closets. So far so good. Motivation is holding. End each weekend with a trunck full and trip to the Good Will Store which is conveniently located next to Culvers...can you say Chocolate Malt Concrete, I am on to painting, then the garage...

  • In reply to MsJill:

    Hi Janet, You are getting me motivated to do my basement my last project for winter. Your closets look nice! Have a great day!

  • In reply to MsJill:

    You write with such humor and intelligence, but I did have to laugh out loud about the channeling of Maude. Why is it at 53 (me) that the empire waist, flowing tops have become a staple in our wardrobe. I am an Old Navy addict, and at one point last winter, I think I owned every shirt they sold, and most of them flowing- LOL-
    but I am motivated to keep my wardrobe current, i only hope that my organization skills can keep up.

  • In reply to MsJill:

    Janet, you make me laugh. I know that if you lived out in St. Charles we would be girlfriends. I have been going through everything in my house since the New Year. Whenever a charity calls for a pickup, I work like crazy to get things cleaned out so all I have to do is put them in shopping bags on my front porch and they pick it all up, much easier than loading the car and taking them somewhere. I just don't understand where all this stuff comes from. I have a problem of when I like a certain shirt, sweater, or jacket, I buy it in every color and end up only wearing 1 or 2 of the colors. It gets harder and harder to see all this stuff with price tags still on going to charity. I would have rather given the money to charity. I think this economy has all given us a wake up call that some of us have led excessive lives in accumulating things. I am so over it. I think cleaning out closets reminds that we don't need all these things. It is not what life is about. Spending quality time with my daughters is so much more rewarding than getting the latest Coach handbag or clothes that I will never wear. I love your blog. I look forward to grabbing my coffee every morning to see what you are up to. My husband travels a lot so I am always getting into projects, it is much easier when
    they are out of town. I also try to build in reward time with my girlfriends, be it a happy hour or
    seeing a movie. The problem for me is there is so much I always want to get accomplished and sometimes am easily sidetracked. My goal is to get everything cleaned out and organized so that I have time to get some scrapbooking done and take some photography classes. But like you I am in a book club and lately I have had to cram for our book club discussion as I am waiting until the last minute to read the book club book. Other stuff to read. We are such busy girls. Keep writing, you have a gift, you make us readers feel like we know you, you tell it like it is. Love your dog stories,
    we have a spoiled little schnauzer who pulls a lot of the stuff your dogs do. Thanks for sharing.

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