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Sugar House Journal

Making a Clean Sweep

Jan 04, 2016 14h52 ● By Bryan Scott

By Peri Kinder

As long as everything stays the same, I’m super cool with change. So when January rolls around with all its high-pressure resolutions and soul-destroying goals, I choose to decline. After years of making unobtainable promises, I know I won’t learn a new language, acquire the ability to run marathons or stop eating candy by the pound.

But this year I decided it was time to get rid of the clutter that had infiltrated my home when I wasn’t looking. On January 1, my house seemed as organized as the shelves at Dollar Tree the day after Christmas, so I thought maybe it was time to clean things up. (FYI: Because Americans have so much junk, there’s a store that sells only containers to store our stuff. There are even boxes to store our boxes. Crazy, I know.)

I’ve heard when you’re organized, you can be lazy. That was incentive enough to get started. Once my mess was stashed away in designer bins, I’d have more time for napping, Pinteresting or sitting on the porch with a cold drink. (Well, not in January, but at some point this year.)

My kitchen was the first place I tackled. I thought it would go quickly until I started throwing out cans of soup that had expired in 2009, quinoa I bought during my whole-grain phase and bags of organic kelp that were never opened. That’s when I realized this project could take longer than I anticipated. 

The freezer was next. I tossed out Ziplocs filled with frozen flesh from indeterminate sources (could be salmon, could be sausage) and Fudgsicles coated with ice crystals. Healthy Habit Tofu Extravaganza meals I couldn’t choke down were sent to the trash bin.

After taking a breather to eat a bag of Almond Roca (Christmas clearance!), I headed to the bedroom to sort through my clothes. Cleaning the closet is difficult, because I’m pretty sure I wear all my clothes every day. But I found the dress I wore to my mom’s second wedding, ballet shoes from dance class 35 years ago, the sequined skirt I swore I’d wear once I lost 25 pounds and a ketchup-stained T-shirt from my first major league ballgame. 


Then I attacked the bathroom. I thought it might be easier to throw a grenade into the bathtub, shut the door and walk away action-hero style, in slow motion. 

I’m truly not a hoarder. I just figure at some point I will use the dozens of hotel shampoos and travel-sized body washes I’ve saved for emergencies. 

I dug into my drawers (so to speak) and purged almost-empty hair spray bottles, dried-up face masks, greasy lotions and anti-aging creams that did not work. I tossed cold tablets from the 1980s, stretched-out hair elastics and a tube of ... something unidentifiable. 

Then I turned to my desk where office products go to die. I found a roll of two-cent stamps, dried up pens that were too far from the garbage can to throw out, tons of cable connectors (although I’m not sure what they connect), enough Post-it notes to write a novel and several used gift cards with a total balance of $1.57. 

I finally collapsed on the couch, reveling in the afterglow of a job well done. My house felt lighter, like it had gone on a green juice cleanse, and I was pleased with my Zen-like non-attachment to material possessions. 

That’s when I realized I had room for new stuff! And there were New Year’s sales! Maybe next year I’ll add, “Don’t buy more junk” to my list of soul-crushing resolutions.