Tuesday, September 27, 2016


I ventured into the attic a couple of months ago in search of school books I needed for Helen's fall semester.

Normally, I don't go into the attic. I send one of the kids. Climbing up and down the ladder hurts my knees, and walking stooped over in the narrow corridor beneath the roof hurts my back.

I can't even remember the last time I went over-ceiling before my recent ascent up the rickety pull-down ladder. Whenever I last went up, it was way too long ago.

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who clean up/clean out, and those who stack up/move piles. (Actually, there are more than two kinds of people in the world, but right now, I'm thinking about cleaners and pilers.)

Contrary to what you might think when you first walk into my house, I am not a piler. I am a clean-out-er. However, I live among a great and glorious company of pilers, and, although they appreciate being able to find clean underwear in the morning ("Thanks, Mom!"), they do not typically appreciate my urge to try to keep things tidy ("Who moved that stack of papers I set right here on the end of the kitchen counter last October?!").

But, back to the attic.


You know that scene in Going Postal where Moist Von Lipwig gets sucked down and buried alive by the mountains of mail piled ceiling-high in the post office? My attic could very well have been Terry Pratchett's inspiration for that terrifying scene. Stephen King could make my attic the setting for his next best-selling horror novel.

When I first poked my head through the attic opening, I was a bit overwhelmed by the mounds of clutter. Overwhelmed, as in, I had to sit down and do Lamaze breathing to avert a panic attack. When I finally climbed back down the ladder, the invisible weight of all that clutter pressed down on me.

There was no way I could clean out the attic. The mess was too big. My knees and my back would never survive. But I knew there was also no way I could carry on here below with the knowledge of all that weighty chaos threatening to crash through the ceiling.

So I came up with a plan: when the temperature cooled down outside, I would haul one bag/box out of the attic per week.

Today, there is a slight nip of fall in the air outside. Today, I ventured up into the attic again.


Breathe in, hold it...focus...FOCUS!...breathe out, slowly...

I actually hauled out TWO bags of trash before my knees made my jaw clench and my eyes water. Not that you would be able to tell, though - two bags of trash made no noticeable dint in the clutter.

I am not discouraged, though. I know that if I haul down another bag of trash next week, and another the week after that, and then another...if I persevere and keep cleaning out the junk a little at a time...gradually, eventually, perhaps by the time I turn eighty-five, I will finish this task. I will!

(WARNING: If you are the stack up/move piles type, a ghoul will eat you alive if you stick so much as one hairy toe into the attic before I am done. And if you somehow survive the ghoul, I will whistle for Cujo. Love you! - Mom)


Cindy Riley said...

This sounds like our attic. We have sports trophies, Christmas, christmas, Christmas stuff, canning supplies, clothes, cemetery flowers to change every season, hunting stuff, luggage, empty boxes for stuff in case something happens and we have to take it back! (How long should a person keep those empty boxes???) and just a bunch of other random stuff that probably serves no purpose! Come do mine when you finish with yours!

Camille said...

Cindy, if I can still get up and down the attic stairs/ladder when I'm 85, and if your attic still needs cleaning out, I'll head right over! :)