Weapon of mass construction

October 17th, 2007

Disclaimer: This post is not about my husband. He was simply cast in the role of an ordinary human being for the purpose of this retelling.

Last weekend we installed scads of scary decorations outside our house. The following conversation is recounted with complete accuracy.

Me: Honey, will you get me a hammer?
He: We don’t have one.

Me: I’m sure we do.

He: I can’t find it.

Me: Did you look in the junk drawer?

He: Yeah, that’s the problem.

Who doesn’t have one of these junk drawers? We had one that became two that became three. And when that happens, you’ve got a lot of junk but you no longer have a hammer. This is what it means to be human.

I thought to myself, “Somebody’s going to have to get in there and just throw stuff out.” But my husband did not easily accord with that approach. He went onto the computer and researched the precise kind of storage device that would fix our problem, retailed at the best upmarket specialty store, and set out to cover the distance in search of the solution.

Two hours and $108 later, he returned. I found him sitting spread eagled on the kitchen floor. He had begun to empty the drawers, and he looked discouragingly like someone who was going to have to get in there and just throw stuff out.

For the record, we no longer possess a dozen kitty toys for the 14-year-old cat who expired in 2006. We no longer have the unopened “Baby on Board” sign for the amazing disappearing baby. We no longer have a childproof VCR lock to protect the off-board baby from the nonexistent VCR. But we do have a hammer.

All of this brings me to the point of fearlessness about tackling a topic that I find truly horrifying: the rise of the junk-drawer industry – the gurus, books, seminars, coaches, the storage units, systems, devices, calendars, custom closets, the artifice, the edifice, the mountain of fluff being pedaled, the ton of money being amassed because no one will get in there and just throw stuff out.

In that spirit, there’s more to come!


  1. I have to admit, I’m in love with my storage bins and organized closets.
    It’s neurotic and I can’t help myself. A place for everything and everything in its place makes my heart pity-pat.
    To have clutter in my home makes me feel cluttered in my mind.
    If I keep things organized or put away or whatever you want to call it, I throw stuff out when I no longer need it, rather than finding it collecting piles and turning into junk.
    I await your further reflections.

    Comment by bella — October 17, 2007 @ 8:06 pm

  2. Absolutely not opposed to organization. Opposed to theories of organization. Be not confused or cluttered.

    Comment by Karen — October 17, 2007 @ 8:10 pm

  3. i’m all for the clearing out part.

    Comment by Wendy — October 17, 2007 @ 8:19 pm

  4. Like many men, I have a “guy drawer” that I among other things dump my pockets into each night when I’m saying farewell to the day’s pants. I had actually managed to get three drawers like this filled (my long suffering wife); a few weeks ago, I managed to get it back down to one not overstuffed drawer again.

    A big pile of recycling, a big pile of undeniable trash, and lots of trips to various bins of toys for the legos, binkies, and so forth. One set of lost keys found.

    For weeks, I smiled when I recalled the effort.

    I think I enjoy commenting here more than writing on my own blog.

    Comment by Chris Austin-Lane — October 17, 2007 @ 10:50 pm

  5. Episodes of purging have preceded many of the momentous decisions or events in my life. I get a thrill out of it. The junk-drawer industry just encourages dawdling and denial. Of course, my Achilles’ heel is that I dawdle too, just in different areas. I’m often tempted to read about or acquire a book about something (e.g., meditation, an art technique) rather than jumping in to just try it.

    Comment by Kathryn — October 17, 2007 @ 11:00 pm

  6. I love purging. My husband is always the “uh, well, are you SURE you want to throw it ALL away?” 🙂

    Comment by denise — October 18, 2007 @ 1:00 am

  7. I sold another item on Craigslist today …. feeling uber talented in this cleaning out department lately. In fact, I singlehandedly organized our very cluttered storage room over the past two weeks while my daughters were AWAKE. They played right along and stuff I thought was quirky fun, I gave to them to play with and the junk was tossed. Now, I’m selling anything that could find a new home some place else, and not in a landfill.

    Comment by Shawn — October 18, 2007 @ 2:04 am

  8. So, nirvana can’t be found at The Container Store?

    I’ve actually gotten much better at tossing things than I used to be. I still struggle a bit with “might need that someday” syndrome.

    Comment by Mama Zen — October 18, 2007 @ 2:15 am

  9. I’ve been purging a lot lately but still find that I have junk drawerS and junk closetS and a little bit of junk everything. Someday I will be out from under all of this and perfect feng shui-ed. But in the meantime… I’m pretty darn happy. 🙂

    Comment by Karen Beth — October 18, 2007 @ 3:24 am

  10. Well, on a super hot Texas day I used to take my son to The Container Store to play. Bad mom–but he entertained himself for 30 minutes at the garbage cans alone, and we always were careful and never damaged anything. Oh, and we’d buy something (for under $10.).

    But I’ve loved boxes since I was little too. What toddler doesn’t have more fun with the box a toy came in? And heck, cats love boxes. I certainly need to declutter my life, but this love of things to put things in seems deeply rooted.

    Comment by marta — October 18, 2007 @ 4:21 am

  11. Dear my slobby friends (joke),
    Clarification #2: It’s not the clutter, not the junk, not the box, not the container, it’s our attachment to all of the above. How far will we go for our attachments? We’ll find out!

    Chris: I thought this WAS your blog.
    Kathryn: I’m absolutely all FOR books on meditation by the dozens.
    Mama Z: Believe me, I’ve looked for nirvana at the Container Store and was willing pay at least $10 for it. I think Marta got the last one.

    Comment by Karen — October 18, 2007 @ 4:39 am

  12. If a human being has no stuff, is the human really there, um, when the tree falls, making no sound?

    Ok, it’s early. 🙂

    Comment by Moanna — October 18, 2007 @ 11:32 am

  13. consume. consume. consume.


    Comment by stella — October 18, 2007 @ 7:17 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

archives by month