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Spadina Literary Review  —  edition 7 page 09


I strode directly to the utility nook. I glared at the mop and broom I found idling there. I scowled at the cleaning fluids loitering on the shelf. None of them were close to repaying their original investment, and they knew it. But that was water under the bridge now. “Enough negativity!” I declared out loud. “It’s time for action!”

Mop leaning on wall

On the other hand, I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew. That would simply lead to the usual paralysis. The best thing was to start with the clothes closet which was two feet by four. I could accomplish that in a jiff. As an extra incentive, I promised to reward myself with a day off the next day.

I opened the closet door and out tumbled a mess of file holders and board games and shoes and a ton of other paraphernalia I was storing for possible future use and also my ex's electric juicer in its original box which landed on my foot.

That, in a nutshell, is how my project abruptly became bogged down in more bureacucracy. The problem was that, to do a thorough swab job, to reach all the hidden areas, I would have to shift various items out of the way, and that required logistics, because anyplace I wanted to move stuff to, other stuff was already there.

I had to develop a Getting Rid of Stuff Plan (GROSP), and quick!

By some people’s standards, I don’t have much in the way of possessions. In the suburbs, they have two-car garages that are so overflowing with junk that they have to leave their cars downtown. But everything’s relative. In my place, space is tight. I can’t access the fridge without banging a knee on the winerack. Every square inch of surface is cluttered with headphones, remotes, miniature illuminated globes, polo shirts, posters, iPads, glass fruit, you name it.

It was necessary to develop triage criteria to determine which items should remain in my life versus which ones should take a hike. These are stressful decisions, I'm sure you'll agree, because any time you toss something out, sure as shooting you discover next day that you need it.

There may have been a few occasions when I discarded items and never missed them, but I forget what they were.

By now, the calendar had marched relentlessly into 2012. The situation was becoming urgent. To speed things up, I resolved to interrogate each object in the place and if it lacked an immediate, unhesitant raison d’être, then sayonara!

A baggy sweater with snowflake patterns couldn’t explain on whose authority it entered my premises. Arrivederci! A set of plastic In and Out trays had no idea why they were lingering years after my home-office fantasy had crashed. Shalom!

Then I found an old bow tie. A genuine bow tie, not a clip-on or snap-on. Dodger blue with golden butterflies. I'd purchased it years ago, imagining it would make an extrovert of me, or that it would fool other people into imagining I was an extrovert. I don’t recall if I wore it even once. I never could get the knot right. You know, I never did that tie justice. Maybe, I wondered, maybe I should hang on to it, give it another chance.