Sunday, July 27, 2008

wasteland

It's a stupid chore, a pointless chore, but, in the end, it has to be done, so I push the clothes out of the closet and onto the bedroom floor. In theory, my closet should be beautifully organized all the time. There's plenty of room, and we had someone build shelves on both sides and install a second rod in the back. If the carpenter mismeasured and made the left shelves too narrow for anything bigger than a pair of socks, they still ought to be filled with tidy rows of useful things lined up like ducklings -- bottles of perfume, bottles of prozac, moisturizing creams with a specially formulated blend of hyaluronic acid, suntan lotion, sticks of antiperspirant, pink plastic razors, extra soap.

I spill the contents of my lingerie drawer, then pick them up one at a time, darks on the floor, lights on the bed. Is it really possible that I own twenty-seven bras? All the red clothes, every single one of them -- skirts, dresses, t-shirts and a pair of shorts -- go directly into the plastic bag of things to give away. I seem incapable of remembering that red isn't a good color for me. I find a dress, ridiculously short, ridiculously white, with circles of fabric cut out at the waistline. It must have been Patrick who picked this one out, I say to myself. It was. I'm sure it was.

I linger over every item, but, once I've started, it's almost as much fun to get rid of the clothes as it was to acquire them. And, now that I think about it, the process is almost the same: roll the fabric between thumb and forefinger, check the size, hold it up with both hands and consider. I button shirts onto hangers, fold tights into squares. The closet is almost empty, but there are clothes on the floor, on the bed, in the laundry basket, on the chair. I'm nowhere near done when I suddenly dredge up a few lines of poetry:

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow


I wonder what kind of grade I would have gotten if I'd written a paper comparing The Waste Land to cleaning out a closet. Not a very good one, I'm sure, but I start to map it out in my head anyway. Although Eliot is speaking in a different register and discussing the fate of Europe and the hopelessness of hope, his point can be given broader application. When you try to make something better, you almost always start by making it worse.

What does your closet look like?

38 comments:

Antigone said...

Boxes to move with me. Boxes to send to charity. A shoebox with the ceramic shards I scraped up off the floor after he threw my childhood piggy bank to the floor.

Aunt Becky said...

At the moment, it's overflowing with clothes. I've weeded out what I don't need, but since I'm between what I normally wear and what I wear now, it's a huge mess. A huge mess that makes me annoyed.

Rebeccah said...

I wish I could throw it all out and start over. The few things I love I can't fit into anymore, and I'm soooo bored with the rest of it. But at least I finally dug out those bags of wedding memorabilia and put it all into a scrapbook (only took me 3 years). Boxes of 10 years' worth of photos are still on the shelf, though.

slouching mom said...

my closet IS a wasteland. there are dresses in there that i haven't worn in fifteen years. no joke.

so, tell me. what am i waiting for? do i really think that i might wear those dresses one day? that a. i might actually fit into a size 6 at some future point in time; and b. those (late eighties/early nineties) styles will all of a sudden become fashionable?

sigh.

Betty M said...

Slightly better than it did this morning. Finally the to short t-shirts are in a pile for my sister to pick over before they head to the charity shop. I need to get rid of a lot more but I am still not ready to accept my shape is permanently changed by the fertility treatments and the children.

Which Box said...

As a packrat, I've got the worst of what anyone could type shoved into my closet. And the closet in the spare room. And the basement. And the rubbermaid boxes in the hall. But current joblessness gives me more time to sort through things. I've been making slow but incremental progress. Somehow I doubt anyone at Goodwill wants the late 80's style big shoulder pad jackets I just reluctantly (!) parted with. My sister wanted me to throw out my hot pink linen suit with matching fake chanel bag, brightly colored multicolored floral polyester scarf, and pink plastic (pleather?) pumps, but I couldn't. Maybe someday my daughter will want to play 80s dress up?? Can't I keep one outrageous thing?

Julia said...

A couple of years ago I finally talked JD into redoing the closet. We went with a very cool shelving system from the Co.nt.ainer St.ore. I designed the layout with the sales person. It took us an hour to pick up the parts, half a day for JD to take the old ugly useless shelves out, another day to paint the closet, and maybe 3 hours to put the new beauty together. It has drawers and shelves, and is very functional and even purty. I purged some when we moved our clothes back in, but I left a bunch of stuff for when (ha-ha) I lose weight. Now all of it seems impossibly small, but I figure I'll give it 6 months post-partum to see whether I need to bring out a big donations bag again (biiiiig odds on a yes for that one).
But I am still in love with the closet itself, and the way it really keeps us organized. Cause the old closet? It was a nightmare.

Bottles of Prozac? In the back of the closet? Really? Or are they the backup, like the extra soap?

I want to read that paper!

Amy said...

A month ago, our closet was awful; tiny, cramped, his clothes overflowing so much that mine were wrinkled from the tight squeeze. Then, I bought these spacesaving hangers at Bed Bath and Beyond. Just by changing out the hangers, we got a ton of space! I was ridiculously impressed by said hangers.

luna said...

full of clothes I'll never wear again. they don't fit or don't look good or are way out of style. I love getting rid of bags at a time, it feels so cleansing. but it takes so much energy, and that is scarce around here...

Aurelia said...

Hey, to everyone with the eighties clothes--they ARE back in style. Seriously. If you won't wear them yourself, do give them to Goodwill and they will get worn.

27 bras? Good lord, I'm deprived. I need to buy some more stuff.

After I lose this weight, and figure out what my final body shape will be, that is. I have to get rid of a whole bunch of maternity clothes actually, and a whole bunch of other business type suits, etc, which I don't need since I'm not working.

So the closet I use, is a disaster, tiny and cramped and overstuffed with clothes.

Yolanda (the callipygian chronicle) said...

Right now, it is quite empty. Last Saturday, I took the plunge I pulled out every item that didn't fit my "new body," including a collection of work clothes I had been holding on to. Though some of them fit, they no longer fit "me." I won't be working in an office for a very long time. If I return to work any time soon, I'm certain I'll be wearing a uniform. I'm now down to one pair of jeans, four tops, two skirts, one dress, and about six sets of mommy loungewear that doesn't cross the precipice of my front door. Ever. At least not yet.

flutter said...

mine is spotless, but my bedroom? Nuclear explosion

Eva said...

I just cleaned out my closet, too! It was awesome! I still kept some stuff I won't/can't wear but mostly I pared down pretty well.

Rebecca said...

It's a wardrobe. My 2nd bedroom is probably about the size of some American closets. It doesn't hold a lot of stuff. I recently went through it all and got rid of what I don't love. It was part of the purging I did directly after my dad died.

Tash said...

The good news is that since I live in an old house, my "closet" is actually a nice-sized "room" connected by a series of doorways to my bedroom. A fucking room! With windows! It's a DRESSING ROOM for pete's sake!

The bad news is that since moving in 2 years ago this week, we've had no time to deal with it -- it's low on the priority list behind things like deadbabies and kitchens. And so my clothes, 2+ years old most of them, most likely too small, sit on their moving racks in cardboard boxes, there are t-shirts and pants on makeshift shelves, and way too much stuff on the floor. It's a freaking mess. And likely to remain that way until '09.

Smiling said...

Mine still looks strange to me.. there are SPACES between the hanging things. When we left America we left most of our stuff behind. I only had 2 suitcases of cloths and my husband is pretty happy with about 6 items of clothing most of the time. We both are happily sharing one double closet - after years of rentals with very very small closets that required yoga moves to reach into.

I love the line about making things worse before they get beter. As a child I was notorious for never cleaning my room - but when I did, I hauled everything into the living to sort. I mean everything, sometimes even the furniture. I always ended up too exausted to finish without lenthy breaks. I drove my family crazy. I would ponder each item, the most efficient way to store it, etc. I was all of 7 or 8 when I started doing this. It happened a few times a year.

Alice said...

I am currently leaving Belgium after living here fourteen years. You should see what is going out of our house - car loads and car loads. It's very painful but I know that, at some level, it's good. We need to start again.

Thanks for your comment on my blog.

Alice

cinnamon gurl said...

The question for me is not what do my closests look like (because they're reasonably organized since we pretty much never wear anything in them) but what do my drawers and laundry room look like: the drawers are empty, and there are piles and piles of clean, unfolded laundry in my laundry room though.

Monica H said...

Color coordinated all on nice wooden hangers, 3 wooden dressers and many many shoes all in their boxes, stacked neatly overhead.

I have shelves full of handbags, jewelry, dry clean and dirty laundry. It's prety organized, albeit full of stuff I no longer wear.

Magpie said...

you slay me.

my closet is a monochromatic sea, full of detritus that i will never wear again. i should be so organized as to dump it all out and purge.

i don't think i've owned 27 bras in my entire life.

sarabeth said...

27 bras?
I have only one, and it only has one working hook left.

Emily said...

I'm embarrassed to say what my closet looks like.

Perhaps I should go and buy myself some new red dresses...red is my color.

painted maypole said...

my closet is a disaster.

and red? i love red, and am often told it' "my color". are we the same size? ;)

xstardustedx said...

Filled with clothes that don't fit, that I hope to one day fit back into. And too many t-shirts, I'm sure, and lots of things too worn and dirty to ever wear again. Way too much black probably.

Caro said...

Full with far too many things that I'm not wearing. I got rid of a bunch of bras the other day though since my ribcage seems to be permanently bigger and I don't expect to ever fit into a size 32 bra again. As for the boobs themselves - did I really used to wear a C-cup - they look tiny!

Amelie said...

27 bras? I'm jealous. They don't take up much space, though.
My closed, which really is just half of two wardrobes, is full. Some things I wear, some things I don't want to throw out although it's unlikely that I'll wear them again. Sigh. I should clean it out, too.

MckMama said...

My closet? My 9 month old baby sleeps in there (yes, it's true!), so it kind of looks like a nursery in there, with lots of my husband's and my clothes hanging all around the crib (it's a big closet, no worries).

I have been reading your blog for ages, Niobe (I always find it fascinating to learn how people found my blog, so I will tell you that I found you when I clicked on a comment that you made on Adrienne's son Noah Steven's blog--I see you still have him linked on your sidebar, so I guess you know who I'm talking about--well over a year ago. I know Adrienne because she was my R.D. in college!), and I have loved reading what you write over here....but I have never been able to even remotely relate to any sort of unborn baby drama like you and many of your readers have been through.

Until now. I find myself, after having three healthy babies in the last three years, now hospitalized and my body being used as a vessel to get medication to our unborn fourth baby who has been hanging on while in heart failure for a few days now.

And a connection I never wanted has been created.

Thinking of you today and now thinking of my closet back home, too!

Andrea said...

My closet used to be neat. I don't have a lot of clothes and I live on my own, so it was easy to keep it tidy. Then my Mom gave me a few decades worth of cast-offs when she changed careers, and now it's not only packed but there are bags on the floor with all the clothes in them that are too nice to throw away but not the right size ....

I'd offer you the size 8P red silk jacket, but it's red.

niobe said...

xstardustedx: There's no such thing as too much black.

cinnamon gurl: I don't have a dresser, so my closet is pretty much the only place I store clothes.

which box: or you might be invited to a Back-to-the-80s party. In which case your pink suit would be perfect.

niobe said...

mckmama: I'm so sorry. The last thing I want is for anyone to be able to identify in any way with that kind of pain. I'll be thinking of you.

Katie said...

I just tagged you for a 6 quirky things meme. If you want to do it then details are on my blog.

Clementine said...

Our house is really old and doesn't have closets, so the three of us share one of those cheapo clothes rails. It's v. organized (it would have to be, right?); our off-season clothes live in rubbermaid bins in the shed. Petunia and I dream of closets sometimes...any closet is better than no closet!

c. said...

Simply put: Like Hell.

Beruriah said...

Well, it has a litter box on the floor of it so clearly it has no custom amenities. But at least that means I am incredibly grateful for my new closet which, while it is just a six foot long hole in the wall, will definitely not have a litter box in it.

Ahuva Batya said...

"When you try to make something better, you almost always start by making it worse." I have to dredge up this line very often in my life, especially when it comes to organizing or changing my environment.

My closet looks quite empty right now. I look all of my non-pregnanty clothes and stored them out of signt. I frequently wonder what I will think when I pull them out to try on again next year. Will I be a different person? Will I be shocked at some of the items, will my style have changed to "mom style?" God, I hope not.

Maggie said...

My closet is packed full in a way that you would have to see to believe. And it is organized in some unreal and freakish fashion. My Type A personality thanks you for not laughing too hard about that...

Jennifer said...

I have a garbage bag full of stuff my current bf gave me....he wants it all back....including the promise ring....I'll give it to him tomorrow I think...oh but he'll want the make up and perfume and lotions too. The blender and the shoes and clothes were easy enough to give back...it's the make up I want to keep.

Jennifer said...

I came back here to say I just remembered...the vibrator in the drawer was payed for by him too...he can have it batteries and all...*snort* aren't I generous?

Do I give back the things he bought my kids too?