In a society where less is more, I’m not proud to admit that I’m a pack rat.
I don’t collect anything in particular, but you’d never know it from looking at my apartment, which has a lot of, well, everything.
But while I haven’t thrown away so much as a ticket stub in three years, I also cherish my living space, which is already at a premium in downtown Ottawa. So I decided to enlist the help of two professional organizers to pare down my possessions.
Love Your Space’s Angela Irvine is about as sweet a lady as they come. But the idea that she might toss my precious clutter made me want to punt her onto the street.
“You write for a paper, so I’d expect you to have things like that,” said Irvine, eyeing several large boxes brimming with newspapers clippings. “But you’re going to have to do something, or else you’ll need real estate to hold it all.”
She examines my closet, which I haven’t been able to close in weeks due to a three-foot stack of T-shirts.
“Most people wear 20 per cent of their clothes 80 per cent of the time,” she said. “On any given day, you should be able to purge half your closet.”
I gasp in horror. I can’t remember the last time I wore most of it, but I can’t imagine letting go of anything either. “I’ll do it later,” I lied.
She assesses my living room and suggests that I sell or give away two of my four kitchen chairs, a chair on castors that I never sit in but love and a rocking chair I’d painted Barbie pink.
Next are the stairs to the back door, which are piled with so much sports gear that I’m certain it’s violated some fire code.
“It’s probably bad Feng Shui,” Irvine said.
Debbie Matteis-Anderson, a professional organizer with Natural Order, finds a solution for my seven banana boxes full of fashion magazines.
“Decide on a date and donate everything before that,” she said.
I choked. “But I haven’t read any of them yet!” I said.
“If they’re work-related, take it to work and read it there,” she suggested.
I contemplated briefly what my boss would say should I move a decade worth of Vogues into our brand-new office.
The mugs in my kitchen cupboard — stacked three high and toppling over — are a safety issue, she said.
I try to pare them down, but somehow, all 62 mugs end up back in the cupboard with the exception of a chipped mug from a long-defunct radio station. I weaken and shove it under the bathroom sink, for guests.
By the end, I still haven’t parted with a thing. But Irvine said I’m still not as bad as some people she’s met.
“I’ve been in some rooms where I couldn’t see the floor,” she said.