Excavation 2012 – Day #2 – I Fought the Junk Drawer and…I Won

After getting sidetracked by the bag-o-coupons yesterday, it was time to get down and dirty with the dreaded junk drawer. But, before I could really give it the attention it needed, I knew I was going to need a system. After all, we do have a lot of things in the drawer that are useful (really, I’m not lying), and I needed a way to make sure things stayed organized after the decluttering.

Armed with one of our Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons that was due to expire today, Steven and I hit the store to see if we could find something that would work. While it may seem a little counterproductive to bring something new into the house when the whole goal of this project is to get rid of things, we were actually successful in finding something that worked.

But first, the junk…

Okay, so we’re suckers for rewards cards at the stores we frequent. Promise us a $5 gift certificate for every $50 we spend and you’ll have no trouble getting us to sign up. Steven’s BestBuy and my Barnes & Noble and Borders rewards alone have yielded us hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars of merchandise over the years.

Neither of us is really keen on carrying a thick, heavy wallet (and those who know me well know that the one time I ever carried a purse was to sneak snacks into a movie, and I had to borrow the purse), so we were excited when stores started offering these nifty little keychain cards instead.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for the excitement to wear off.

See, these cards are great in theory, but they are just as annoying as the actual wallet size cards. They clutter up your keychain. Add more than three or four of them, and they are not longer comfortable to carry around in your pocket. The worst part though, is that it took all of nine days for the barcode to wear off.

Luckily, stores just let the cashiers key in customers’ phone numbers, which is how we’ve been racking up the rewards for the past, oh, five or six years now. So, why are we still carrying these useless pieces of plastic around? Good question.

Goodbye.

Digging a little deeper, Steven and I discovered that, somehow, we have become the proud owners of 17 pairs of scissors. Neither of us remember ever buying a pair of scissors, but nevertheless, there they are. My theory is that the sock fairy has finally begun feeling guilty about leaving us with half-pairs of socks, so she decided to make up for it by leaving behind stray scissors as collateral.

It’s either that, or one of us is a kleptomaniac.

As of today, we are officially down to 16 pairs, since we decided to toss this one. We figured between them being dull and rusty enough to require a tetanus shot in the event of an accident, we could probably do without them.

Like most people, (except maybe the Iphone users who should just go ahead and have the damn things surgically attached to their hands once and for all), I have a love/hate relationship with cell phones. I enjoy the convenience of being able to send random text messages to my husband to please pick up more diapers on his way home, and love the fact that I can check my email, my Facebook, and keep more than a dozen games of Words with Friends going at a time.

What I hate though, is the way the damn things seem to be on a self-destruct timer that begins counting down the moment your sign your new 2-year contract and leave the store. I also hate the fact that I am never able to just get rid of the old phone when I get a new one. Somehow the phone or the case or the chargers just seem to hang around.

Well, hang around no more. Goodbye old Samsung charger and cheap cell phone case. You’ve served your time well, now get out of my junk drawer!

So, this is only hitting the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things that I have held onto longer than I should have for nothing more than sentimentality (just wait until I start tackling the boxes in the basement). I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for hanging onto little trinkets that have certain memories attached to them. I guess I’m a bit of a tactile person in that way. I like to have a little thing that I can actually pick up and hold in my hand, a little thing that helps me hold onto the memory.

While this isn’t necessarily a bad trait, I do think that I am guilty of holding onto things that that I really don’t need, even for the memories. I’ll set something aside, simply because I want to look at it one more time, or because I don’t want to throw it away right at that moment, and then it just gets shuffled off or misplaced or tossed in a pile and suddenly becomes just one more piece of clutter.

Case in point–Cadence’s 1st birthday candle.

Yes, Cadence’s birthday candle. It’s been hanging around for almost a year now. I’ve taken it out of the drawer a few times, telling myself that it’s time to get rid of it. I’ve got dozens of photos of her first birthday. I’ve got the memory of her first (and now most of the 2nd) year of her life burned into my brain. I’ve got a whole year of stories written about her, and videos shot of her doing the crazy cute things she does. Throwing away a candle that burned for less than a minute on her first birthday cake is not going to erase all of that. So, into the trash it goes.

You might think it’s a bit cliche that a writer has a pen fetish. But I do, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I love pens, pencils, markers, writing utensils of any kind. I’m super picky though, and I tend to hoard my favorites, squirreling them away where no one else will find and use them (in my backpack, tucked into my notebooks). I leave the ones I don’t like as well out where Steven and I can use them to write shopping lists or address envelopes.

This pen, in particular, was not one of my favorites, and has been hanging out in the junk drawer for about two years now. We noticed it leaking about three months ago, after Cadence decided she wanted to draw with it, and ended up with ink all over her face. Still, it took this long for us to finally say sayonara.

Okay, so normally I hold onto instruction manuals, especially for things that require assembly because there’s nothing quite as frustrating as taking something apart to store it for awhile, or move it, and then not being able to figure out how to put the darn thing back together again. Right now, we have a file cabinet drawer full of instruction manuals, many of which I’m sure will be showing up on this blog at some point in the coming months, because I’ve come to a couple of realizations…

1. Most products are pretty darn foolproof. Unless there are secret compartments or self-destruct modes, it’s probably okay to just press the buttons and figure it out for yourself.

2. Like my husband says, most product manuals are either available online, or can be scanned ourselves and saved as digital copies. While the writer in me will never embrace my husband’s ideal paperless lifestyle, I think he might be onto something with ridding ourselves of these useless manuals once and for all.

So, we’ll begin our anti-manual campaign with this one. After all, I think we’ve mastered the intricacies of Cadence’s favorite Busy Ball Popper toy–turn on, push button, giggle like crazy and chase errant balls, repeat, and replace batteries when necessary. Piece of cake.

And once the trash was hauled away, we were able to get ourselves and our junk drawer organized. Hell yeah! I fought the junk drawer and…

I won! 🙂

Excavation 2012 – Day #1 – Couponing Fail

I decided I would start my daily decluttering by tackling the dreaded junk drawer.  I’ve written about it before (click HERE to read the previous post), and you would think that the problem might have been solved when we moved last month. Really, the easiest way to do away with a junk drawer when you’re moving is just to keep the essentials, trash the rest, and keep yourself from tossing stuff in a drawer in the new house.

Oh, it sounds so easy.

I think we were in the new house all of six hours when I started tossing random odds and ends and small semi-important items into an unused drawer in the kitchen–you know, things like sunglasses and car keys and cell phone chargers and postage stamps. I’m not quite sure what happened next, but things began to multiply.

One pair of scissors became three pair. One roll of half-used scotch tape grew into two large rolls of clear packing tape. Need a pen? You’ll find six that work, three that don’t, and a mechanical pencil with just enough lead left to piss you off as it slides back up inside the pencil when you try to write with it.

So, I rolled up my sleeves today and decided to officially end the tyrannical reign of the junk drawer.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it past the coupons.

Steven and I have the best of intentions when it comes to coupons. Okay, maybe that’s a lie. We like to save money when we can, and we like the idea of coupons. Unfortunately, neither of us really likes the reality of coupons. We won’t buy something just because we have a coupon for it. And, most of the time, we don’t have coupons for the things we actually need. Or, we forget them at home and then scold ourselves when we get to the checkout line, saying that we’ll just have to remember to bring them next time. But then they expire and we’re just out of luck.

Funny how that happens.

I have some friends that are into couponing, and I definitely feel a twinge of jealous admiration when I see them post on Facebook how they managed to buy $138.32 worth of stuff at their local Walgreen’s for just $12.50. I mean, how the hell do they do that? How many coupons did they clip? How much prep work did this entail? That is some crazy ninja couponing madness. Lord, it gives me agita just thinking about it.

Here’s how couponing usually turns out for Steven and I…

In this pile, there are maybe four coupons that are still good. Two expire tomorrow, and we can’t decide if we actually need the items or not. The rest, expired last year.

Goodbye old coupons. Your days of cluttering my junk drawer are over.

365 Project – Day 222 – Beware the Junk Drawer

We all have one–the dreaded junk drawer, that catchall for all the crap that you have that you just don’t know what to do with. It’s the place where you hurry up and hide things when unexpected visitors drop in and you need to clean up in a hurry. It’s the place you stash all the stuff that you don’t really need, but that you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of.

Every time I open the drawer I think today’s the day I’m going to clean it out and sort through all the stuff and throw all the useless junk in the garbage. But I just haven’t been able to bring myself to tackle it just yet. Instead, I’ll probably wait until the drawer is overflowing and can’t be closed anymore, or until something in there gets jammed and the drawer won’t open and I can’t get to the car keys. Of course, at that point what would have been a simple ten minutes of organizing will turn into an hour-long rescue mission requiring surgical tools and several well-placed explosives.

It really shouldn’t be such a chore. I mean, it’s not that hard to distinguish between the useful and the useless. For instance, in the Keep pile we have the lint brush, a pair of scissors, Electra’s leashes, our cell phone chargers, a padlock for our lockers at the YMCA, my jumpdrive, our car and house keys, stamps, crayons, a candle that smells like an Entenmenn’s cake, a package of flexi-straws, and a cheap pair of sunglasses.

And in the Why the Hell Do We Still Have This Crap pile we have Steven’s old cell phone case (which does not fit any working phone we have in the house), an old wine bottle cork (that I actually saved so I would remember the name of the yummy wine it came from), a pile of crumpled napkins from various restaurants, a local phone book still in the wrapper (because really, who uses phone books anymore?), old cell phone chargers and an old cassette adapter that no longer works.

Funny thing about the junk drawer though, exactly 20 minutes after you clean it out, it fills up again. Somehow, all the odds and ends from around the house show up there, as if notified of the vacancy. If the junk drawer could somehow summon all the socks that go missing between the washing machine and the laundry basket, I just might be impressed.

The worst part of the whole situation is that we had a rather large junk drawer when we lived in Arizona. Of course, in the last minute moving frenzy–when we were just tired and frustrated and trying to figure out how the hell we were going to get all of our stuff in the moving truck before it left–the junk drawer did not get the attention it deserved. Instead, it simply got dumped in a box full of miscellaneous odds and ends from other rooms in the house, taped shut and packed in the truck. I’m pretty sure at that point, we weren’t even putting much effort into labeling the boxes anymore.

So, right now, in our basement storage room, we have a box full of junk that we moved halfway across the country. And one of these days, when we buy a house and decide to really unpack everything and get settled, we just might stumble across this unlabeled box and get excited, like children on Christmas morning, thinking that there just might be some amazing treasures inside that we forgot we even had. And we’ll tear at the tape and pull the flaps open with a flourish and peer anxiously inside and say…

“Awww, shit! Where did this crap come from?”

Tonight’s 365 Project entry is dedicated to the mysteries of the junk drawer. Tell me, what sort of treasures are you stashing?

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