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    Frumpy Mom: What do you do with all your stuff?
    • June 12, 2024

    Many moons ago, when I was still young and considered myself a hipster, I went to a party in the Hollywood Hills. This party was thrown by a good looking young architect who also considered himself hip, although in his case it was probably true.

    In my mind, I started calling him Mr. Cutie Pie.

    I only knew this guy slightly, so I was stunned when I walked into his ultra-modern house and looked around. His living room held a couple of stylish but uncomfortable looking chairs and sofa, and something glass I assumed was a coffee table.

    “That’s not weird,” you’re saying to yourself. But wait. Let me explain. That was all. The entire contents of the room, except for some smooth almost invisible cupboards against the walls.

    I walked over to Mr. Cutie Pie and asked him, “Where’s your stuff?”

    I mean, everyone cleans up before they have a party, right? To create the illusion that they’re not nearly as messy as they actually are. I’ve been known to throw things into the oven, if I weren’t planning to use it. One reason I still peer inside to this day before I make a pizza, just in case there’s a folded sweater in there.

    Nowadays, on the exceedingly rare occasions I entertain anyone, I’ve just started to toss tablecloths over anything that I’m too lazy to declutter, like my desk.

    Anyway, back to the party. Mr. Cutie Pie looked at me and said, “What do you mean, my stuff?”

    “Oh, c’mon,” I taunted him. I could get away with these borderline rude comments to men back then because I wore exceedingly low-cut blouses. “Where are your shelves of unread books? Your 30-foot-high pile of New Yorker magazines you intend to read someday?

    “Where is your television? Where is your television remote? Where’s your pen and note pad for when you finally get that call you’re expecting? Where’s your pile of unread mail? Where are the shoes you kicked off when you came home? Couch pillows? Snuggly velour throw blanket? Cases of stuff you bought at Costco? Dog leash? Dog?

    I could have kept going for a few more hours, but he interrupted me. “I don’t have any stuff,” he said.

    Now, I really just could not wrap my head around this. It seemed so blatantly untrue. Everyone has stuff, unless maybe if you’re in prison, but I think even prisoners are allowed to have a few things, right? Maybe there’s no stuff on the International Space Station. I think the guy was flat-out lying. Don’t you?

    I really wanted everyone to leave at this point, so I could dig through those almost invisible smooth cupboards and find all his stuff. (This is the type of curiosity that turns you into an underpaid journalist for life, by the way. Avoid if possible.)

    Sadly, though, the guy who brought me to the party came over and he wanted to leave, so I never got to find out.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working gradually to declutter my house, which was always packed with stuff. And it only got worse after I got cancer, because God forbid either of my young adult children would open that box from Sam’s Club in the foyer and put the contents away.  Or sort the mail and toss out the junk ads. No one in this house wants to go to a steak dinner hosted by Forest Lawn.

    The problem with decluttering is that the moment you get rid of something, you feel great, but then later there’s always that realization that you shouldn’t have let it go.

    When I took my fondue pot still in the box to the Salvation Army, did I know that fondue was once again going to become a thing? Of course not. It didn’t become a thing until the week after I donated it.

    Now, it is not my intention to encourage all you hoarders out there. No. There is no reason to keep that stack of newspapers you’ve had since 1993.

    Ooops, bad example, because I actually do have a stack like that. In my defense, they’re from newspapers where I worked containing my own front page and travel stories that maybe someday after I’m gone my kids might want to look at and keep. I doubt it, but stranger things have happened.

    Then, there’s the pasta rolling machine I bought decades ago, lost in the fantasy world where I was going to make my own pasta. (Tip: No, you won’t.) So, eventually, it finally went to charity.

    The next day, I read an article about how you could use a pasta roller to roll out your polymer clay for craft projects. Which I was doing at the time. Um, yeah. That was a good move.

    At this exact moment, I’m sitting at a cheap IKEA desk (I know that’s redundant) in a corner of my dining room, writing this on my laptop computer. This is my “office.” There’s tons of clutter here too.

    Because, guess what? I have stuff. And so do you. And so does Mr. Cutie Pie, where ever he is today. Especially if he had kids. And that’s OK.

    Related links

    Frumpy Mom: This is a real trashy column
    Letting go of my junky ways
    Frumpy Mom: Thanks, kids, for pointing out my faults
    Frumpy Mom: It’s time for Anti-Procrastination Day
    Frumpy Mom: Costco is forcing me to get another house

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    ​ Orange County Register