Attack the Clutterlicious Attic - Who Needs It? Start Small

Attacking the attic really doesn't seem like starting small does it?  It's not like cleaning out a junk drawer or filing the months of bills that have piled up on the desk, it's 400 square feet of crap thrown willy-nilly.

But, it can be attacked in small chunks of time.  Well, smallish chunks of time, because once I'm up there with the electric heat on, I better be up there for a while.  That damn heat is expensive.  Might as well make it worthwhile.

In the name of starting small, my parents came over to watch X while I locked myself in the attic, and S locked himself in the office to work.  While they happily played with his train set and generally provided the kind of attention that only grandparents can, I plugged in Aisha Tyler's podcast Girl on Guy and got to work.  side note:  I loooove that podcast, I love listening to long format interviews, and she's so damn funny while she conducts them.

I started on one corner of the attic.  It's the corner that houses old computers, empty boxes and holiday decorations.  In that corner I found some surprising things:

  • A bunch of 3.5-inch floppy disks
  • A bunch of data cds
  • S's notes from studying for the Professional Engineering Exam
  • My notes from a graduate level project management class
  • My high school year books
  • 3 old photo albums including S's trip to the Soviet Union when he was 19
  • A shitload of various sized cardboard boxes that are ostensibly being saved for gift wrapping. 
  • A modem from a long cancelled DSL account
  • And the holiday stuff, but at least that's pretty much contained in boxes
  • Paperwork from my condo and S's house.  Well over 10 years old at this point.  I'm guessing we don't need it?
Where it all went:
  • Broke down what seemed like an endless pile of cardboard boxes for recycling.  Still saved some, but I'm willing to bet that the others won't be missed
  • Took all the notes out of the 3-ring binders and recycled those
  • Tossed the 3-ring binders in my car.  They'll find a new home at work.  Maybe someone will use them there?  They won't be used here.
  • Piled up the electronics to be recycled at some point.  Better keep my eye out for recycling days at work.
  • Also noted that I need to destroy whatever I can out of the laptop (hard drive, memory).  It won't boot anymore, but I should probably take a hammer to the hard drive anyway.  I don't have a clue what's on it.  It's been living in the attic for like 5 years now.
  • Tossed some of the cds and the floppy disks
  • The paperwork I don't know what to do with.  I think we're comfortable getting rid of it, so we'll probably shred and recycle 
  • Brought the photo albums and yearbooks downstairs to be housed with the rest of our photo albums
  • Holiday stuff all put away in it's corner and wrapping paper organized.
When I came downstairs, S asked me if I had cleaned up the pile of clothes that need to be put away (clothes that X has grown out of).  hahaha.  That's still there!  I had to explain to him that I only concentrated on one corner of the attic and those will be dealt with on my next go-round.

It may not seem like this was starting small, but when I look at the magnitude of what has to be done up in the attic, it's actually very small.  One corner at a time, I'm going through everything and deciding whether it stays or goes.  Normally to clean the attic, we just throw stuff in their respective piles and congratulated ourselves that we can walk around without stepping on crap.  This particular project isn't a normal cleaning.  It's a cleaning and purging so I'll be taking it one step at a time.

It felt liberating and frustrating all at the same time.  Liberating to bring down 3 boxes of junk to get rid of.  Frustrating because I'm just getting started, and I started on the easy stuff that doesn't have much emotion behind it.

As far as the little things to give me a break?  I'm pretty good at asking for the breaks.  There's always a little guilt since I go to work and teach Jazzercise and sometimes I feel like that's supposed to be my "break".  Despite the annoying voice in in my head that accuses me of not wanting to spend time with my kid, I plan girls nights with friends, and ask grandparents to watch X so that S and I can go do something together.  It's all part of my personal village.  I need all aspects of it to feel whole, my family, time with X, time with S, my work, exercise, and connection with friends.  It's hard to strike the balance, and sometimes trying to work it all in makes me exhausted.