Posted by: cassymuronaka | January 24, 2011

Storming the gates

My son and I are spending quality time together this week tearing his bedroom apart.

We are loading up boxes for the Salvation Army, storing for posterity great works of art and writing he composed when he was a Tween, rearranging furniture, and picking up giant tufts of dog hair that probably date back to when our two canines actually were young.

Like so many other Baby Boomer touchy-feely parents, I more or less allowed him “his space,” and trusted his instincts to regulate the flow of trash and memorabilia for several years. This turned out to be a giant mistake on my part, and I stormed his gates this week, armed with two vacuum cleaners and a very expensive ionic air purifier.

Just getting rid of the empty Doritos bags, chewed Tootsie Roll Pop sticks and old wads of gum took me a day of trudging back and forth to the trash cans at the back of the house.

My son’s cooperation level currently is fairly high, partly because, as a college student, he no longer wishes to live in a waste dump, and partly because my timing was excellent. He recently visited the university dorm room of one of his cousins, an even more slovenly human being than himself.  The cousin lives in a self-created environment that my son described as so toxic that when one of the cousin’s hallmates dropped by, the visitor immediately gasped, “DUDE, OPEN A WINDOW!”

My son, who resembles his father in appearance, is wired more like his mother.  He is visually acute on every level except for the ability to find objects that are lying right in front of his nose (see last week’s cellphone post). I learned long ago the practicality of keeping a room relatively neat and organized.  Don’t get me wrong: I lack the power to do this on a regular basis. I just know that if I do make the effort to regularly shovel through the clutter that I will actually know where the items that I own are located.

My husband, on the other hand, reminds me of Charlie Brown’s Pigpen, constantly moving around with a little cloud of dust floating over his head.  My spouse is quite clean, but the objects in his cosmos perpetually shift, float and change. He works in an office stacked with papers and boxes, but somehow, he knows where everything lives.  He is your go-to guy when you have been fallen back on the ropes through an utter inability find something. As a result of this defining personality characteristic, I never buy him birthday or Christmas presents very far in advance of a holiday.  Like a homing pigeon with built-in sonar, he’ll spontaneously and involuntarily go right to it, no matter where you have stashed it.

Cleaning and rearranging my son’s room has created a new problem for me.  As the clutter in his room decreases, the clutter in my studio proportionately has increased. Some of the books he no longer needs originally belonged to me.  And a lot of the art supplies he was using when he was taking animation classes during his Middle School years have found their way into my stash. There is no place to put them.  So when I finish one room, I’ve got another to tackle.



  1. Been there, done that.

  2. This is a great post and a good reminder for me to get myself in gear so I can actually locate stuff….

    • You office isn’t too bad. Or did you clean it up for the New Year’s Party? 🙂

      • It’s not as clean as it was back then, that’s for sure

  3. I once lived with someone whose workbench was close to spotless. He rarely created anything. I, on the other hand, have a large work table that is overflowing and I seem to do fine with only about a square foot upon which I do my creating. For years I beat myself up over the state of my house, workshop etc. until I finally decided to do something about it. Today, I no longer beat myself up.

    • There you go.

  4. Not quite an episode from “Hoarders: Buried Alive”

  5. Cassy, I was actually really glad to see this post. For a lot of different reasons.
    Not the least of which is that I’ve been there, my husband’s been there. And parts of my house are still there…

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