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Kansas City MO 64131

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GARBAGE

Cindy Maddera

Saturday morning, I returned from grocery shopping and went straight to work in the basement. I organized the totes that had been pulled from the shelves and riffled through. Michael, when he's on the hunt for something, will open up totes and rummage through them and then just walk away. For ever. I put totes back together, organized old camp gear into one spot, took loads and loads of just plain garbage and placed them in my Bagster bag. When I'd done as much as I could in the basement, I moved to the garage, systematically moving from shelf to shelf and tossing things into a garbage bag. I organized gardening stuff like seeds and bags of potting mix. The animals at one time had nocked over a bag of grass seed and a bag of pebbles. I swept all of this up. Michael showed up just in time to help me haul out the garage garbage pile I had built near the door and to clean off a shelf containing random tools. 

There were two contractor bags full of stuff from our last basement clean out. One of them had stayed down there for so long because it was too heavy for our trash dumpster. It sat there for over a year. Every time I walked down to the basement, my eyes landed right on that bag. It was hard to miss since it was right at the bottom of the stairs. That was the first thing I hauled up the stairs. When I say 'hauled', I really mean hauled because that bag was HEAVY. There was a lot of me talking out loud to myself, counting steps, grunting and sweating, but I got that bag out of the basement and into the dumpster bag. After that, the rest was easy. Suddenly, getting rid of trash, didn't seem so overwhelming. It didn't take long for me to fill up my Bagster bag. The garage is now neatly organized and things are easier to get to without stepping on the wrong end of a shovel or falling into a pile of chicken feed bags. I also have a legitimate laundry space in the basement, where I can walk through with a basket of clothes without bumping into a stack of boxes and trash. The basement floor is clean, so when I drop an article of clothing while moving it from the washer to the dryer, I don't have to re-wash it or throw it away or burn it. The basement floor does not have a five second rule for anything. Now, at least in the area where the washer and dryer are, the floor is clean.

There's still things I need to get rid of, but they are all things that I don't want to throw away. They are things that need to be sold or donated or gifted away. My goal for the weekend was to get rid of the garbage and that is exactly what I did. My goal for the rest of this year and the following year is to remove unwanted and unused things from the house, clean out catch all drawers and never let any of those things make it to the basement. Because if it ends up in the basement, it will be there for the rest of my life. Someday, someone's going to have to come clean out my house when I die or get too old to live there on my own. I want to make things easy for that person. I think of the stuff that accumulated in just the attic of my childhood home. Boxes of papers from our school days, old clothing patterns, wrapping paper, things that had sat up there for so many years that it was now warped from heat and unrecognizable. So much of it was unsalvageable. At the very least I'd like to leave behind a good estate sale and not boxes of useless old mail with mouse chewed edges or carpenter bags of garbage.

At the end of the day, all that will be left to be dealt with will be the furniture, a small closet of clothes, small kitchen appliances, some art work and some nicknacks. All of this makes it sound like I'm planning for my death. I guess, in a way, I am, but really I'm planning for living. I am always thinking about the dirty garage or the gross basement. These things take up brain space whenever I am out doing fun things or sitting still on the couch. I am always thinking "I really should do something about the trash in the basement." Then I let myself get overwhelmed by the amount of work that is going to be involved and I do nothing. So now the filth and grossness has just become a guilt loop that plays always in the back of my mind. Instead of fully just being present in something, I am eighty something percent present and the rest percent thinking about the mess and being overwhelmed by the mess. 

I am stronger than that! I am a doer! When did I forget that? I do not shy from hard work. I tackle. Cleaning out the garbage is just one step towards reclaiming bits of myself that I've hidden away for some reason. It's like I've been in hiding and I don't even know why. Now I'm thinking about the next project that I've been putting off because it seems overwhelming and I'm totally ready to take it on. Look out hedges and over grown vegetation. I'm coming for you next.