I haven't been blogging much lately, I know. This blog was a lifeline back in Robert's first year, when I was totally cut off and needed any form of grownup contact, no matter how tenuous. Now that he's almost two years old, there's no time to sit down and write! Ah well, time marches on. I do want to pick up again, but I make no guarantees as to my reliability. I'll just have to make the entries I do post extra-good.
So lately I've been watching Hoarders and Hoarding: Buried Alive on Netflix. It's not for the schaenfreude, which is the reason I watch most reality shows, but because the problems these people have resonate with me. I don't have a houseful of cats or garbage piled to table level, but I am chronically disorganized and I recognize thought and behavior patterns in the people they profile that I see in myself. If you watch enough episodes, you start to realize how many normal people, people who like keepsakes and collectibles, may be just one tragedy, one dollop of despair away from hoarding. It often seems like there are one or two events that precipitate hoarding, and I know that feeling too. When I found I was pregnant with Robert, there was a period of time when I couldn't gather things fast enough. More food, more baby clothes, more blankets, more whatever, even though it was a time in our lives when we were trying to clear out our storage spaces and needed less, not more. I got over it, but I think it reveals a tendency.
That's not as depressing as it sounds, though. Watching these shows helps me, because I can take the coping skills, the decision-making skills that the folks on the show learn and apply it to my own stuff. And it's helping! Recognizing the problem and wanting to change is the biggest step to actually changing. These past couple weeks, I've been downing an episode or two, then attacking my kitchen. My kitchen is small, it's cramped, and it is full of stuff I love, which makes it a huge target for clutter and jumble and mess. I love cooking, and I especially love kitchen gadgets. Even if I haven't used it yet, the idea that I could use something to make a cool recipe or to make some task easier is just awesome to me. That makes collecting easy, and letting go hard.
In the kitchen, I started with my pantry. Since before Robert was born, we've had a cinderblock pantry against the living room wall, because I coupon and we have such limited cupboard and closet space. Our kitchen also has two doors, a normal size door to the hallway and a giant opening to the living room. Robert is not allowed in the kitchen (nothing in the world could make that space babyproof), since he became mobile we've blocked it off, first with the Pack 'n Play, more recently with random boxes and baskets and whatever is handy. It was messy and non-utilitarian and it blocked me from access to my pantry, so it kept things from getting put away. I decided to make a major change, and embarked on our biggest home improvement project in ages.
M and Robert and I went to the hardware store, which is always exciting. We got a 48x16 board to replace the top pantry shelf, where my Cansolidators sit. On the old shelf, the cansolidators didn't sit nicely, they hung off a bit at the front and the back, and I worried about loading them fully. The new board was wider, longer, and substantially stronger, so the Cansolidators could be fully assembled and loaded the way I'd always wanted them. At home, we totally emptied the pantry shelves, threw away anything that wasn't good anymore, and wiped down the shelves, then disassmbled it and reassembled it in the opening between the living room and the kitchen, to make a permanent barrier between the two rooms. The shelves open right onto the kitchen, so I have easy access, and Robert can't get into the kitchen.
The back of the unit was a problem, though. It used to be against the wall, and a block and board shelf typically doesn't have a back. Leaving the pantry shelves wide open and next to the toybox is asking for trouble, though. After talking with my mom, I had a brainstorm for Robert's birthday present. I went back to the hardware store, and this time got a sheet of plywood cut to order, some blackboard paint, a brush, and some nails. I painted the plywood with blackboard paint and nailed it to the back of the pantry. Voila! A back for the shelves, a giant chalkboard for Robert, who loves chalk drawing. With everything organized back into the pantry, I have never been happier with that part of our apartment.
I've done a lot more work as well, a lot of organizing and a lot of sometimes painful throwing away, but this entry is long enough. Anyway, here's a picture of the front and back of the new pantry.