Posted by: Chelsea Novak | May 17, 2007

What lies behind closed doors

Every morning when I take the streetcar to work, I pass a series of houses that stress me out. It’s a bunch of row houses on College street between Lansdowne and Ossington. These houses are small and not in the best shape, but you can see that the people who live in them do their best to take care of them.

Because I’ve looked at them almost every day for the past four years or so, I’ve noticed that most of them have porches that have been closed off and turned into more living space. A totally understandable, albeit kind of ugly, home improvement in that part of town where space is a premium commodity. The thing is, many of these people have filled their covered over porches with crap. Crap that is piled ceiling high. Boxes, cookie tins, exercise equipment… I can only imagine what their closets and the basement might look like if the crap has made it out that far.

Each time I see it, I want to jump off the streetcar, run home and start throwing things out. That’s right. Other people’s junk makes me want to get rid of my own. I can’t very well bust down someone else’s front door and make them clean up their act, but I can make sure that I never suffer the same fate.

You see, clutter is like bacteria. Unless you’re on your game and you keep fighting the good fight against it, it will consume you and before you know it, you’ll be having to cut off a gangrenous limb. Okay, more accurately, you’ll find yourself living in a home where most of the good space has been overrun with kitsch and the more of it there is, the more painful and unappealing the clean up process is.

So why does it bother me so much? I like things being neat and tidy, that’s the primary reason, but sometimes, the times when I get a little manic about it and it’s going to sound crazy and more than a little dark, but I do it because of death.

“The hell?” you all say. Death. When I’m dead and people are going through my things (assuming there are people who are compelled to look), I want them to see that I had my shit together. Yes, I actually think like this. I think that someone is going to notice and reflect on the order that I’ve filed my books in.

I’ll be cleaning or organizing something and if I’m tired and want to stop I will actually say to myself “What will happen if you stop now and you die and the laundry isn’t done?” Any sane person would respond with “You’re dead! The laundry is irrelevant.” Me? All I think is “Oh no. That would be terrible. My loved ones will think about my death and it will always start with ‘the laundry wasn’t done’…”

All those who think I might want to take my morning tea with a side of SSRI, say “I.”



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