The purge

by Lorin Michel Wednesday, August 17, 2011 7:55 PM

My office is probably like many offices. I have current client folders and past client folders; I have sample products and sample gifts, samples of printed pieces, books galore, a wooden duck, two computers, one portable DVD player, an intercom system, speakers, some toys, and a phone. And that’s just on the desk. Don’t even get me started on the floor around my desk or my closet. It is an unmitigated mess. My piles have piles, which I realize is a personal problem.

I try to keep it organized. I pretty much know where everything is in order to get my hands on it quickly, if I need to. Occasionally I get to the point where I just can’t stand it anymore and I go through the accumulated mess that sits underneath one of my computers and to the left and right of my main computer, my beloved Mac. Yes, that is his formal name. It’s usually right around the time when I can no longer see the wood of the desktop. Every day after Thanksgiving while much of the world goes shopping, I have my annual “Lorin cleans her office day” in which I go through everything on the desk and the floor around the desk, throwing out barrels full of stuff no longer needed and shredding that which can’t be thrown away. I dust everything including the shelf at the back of my desk, and all of the various other pieces of furniture in the office. I even vacuum. Then I stand in the doorway and feel very proud.

But lately, doing just enough to see the top of the desk and the annual Lorin cleans day isn’t cutting it. Maybe it’s delayed spring cleaning; maybe I’ve lost that nesting feeling. But I’ve decided that a person can’t live like this any longer. When one can’t even open the doors of one’s closet in order to extract whatever is needed without worrying about the entire contents of said closet falling down on one’s head, something needs to be done.

Let me say this now. I am not nor have I ever been a hoarder.

This is not my office

Now that that’s out of the way, let me explain further. As a writer, I have many written things. Some of them by me, many by others. Those ‘by others’ are usually in hard cover and stacked nicely in the book shelf behind my desk. In the closet, which makes me nearly break out in hives when I have to go inside, there are many, many, many boxes containing things I have written throughout my career. Hell, throughout my life. I’m fairly sure the notebooks that I used to scribble my stories after I’d climbed my favorite tree in order to gain some privacy are in there. Those stories, which may go back to when I was 6, were usually about a girl named Julie. I have no idea why. Evidently when I was 6, I thought Julie was about the coolest name a girl could have. Perhaps because of The Mod Squad. Those notebooks, small enough to fit into the back pocket of my overalls, were my lifeblood. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a writer.

I digress.

Yesterday I had an epiphany. The skies parted and the sun shone down, angels wept with astonishment over how incredibly brilliant I was. The epiphany? I could clean out my office a little bit at a time.

I’ll pause while you, dear reader, also bask in my brilliance.

Imagine the joy. I no longer had to spend an entire day going through one or two piles; I no longer had to quiver at the very thought of prying open the dreaded closet doors. Or tackling the mess that hides – very well, I might add – behind my door. I didn’t have to put the whole room off until I had time that would never manifest. I could simply start with one small section, clean it out, and then be done for the time being. I began with three of my desk drawers. I went through everything in them and discarded most of what resided there. I had date books from 1999. Yes, I am embarrassed.

But I’ve begun the purging process. I feel elevated. I feel strong. I feel that if I do this often enough, eventually, I’ll even get to the closet.

Then again…

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