Re: A diary of sorts, an analogy ban violation, a ramble on habits: panama!


We cleaned out huge amounts of stuff this summer. My inner thought process was that the house was pooping.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 8:30 AM
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Anyway, it's a metaphor. But we still have way too much stuff that we not only never use but never could use.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 8:34 AM
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That's why we have kids. They can deal with it, someday. The problem is that we also have parents.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 8:41 AM
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Yes. That was awful.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 8:49 AM
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Ugh, clutter is the biggest source of stress in my life. (I mean, my job is a little uncertain and of course there's the pandemic, but clutter is the biggest proximate cause.) Cassandane keeps getting stuff and not letting me throw stuff away. I'm sorry, did I say throw it away? I meant recycle it, never mind if it's a 45-minute drive to the recycling facility for this particular type of electronic device, or donate it, never mind that it cost $30 when new and there's a worldwide surplus of these things. I'd admit that I have an old comic book collection and Magic card collection taking up space and maybe I should get rid of them. However, those are both in storage out of the way, whereas her clutter is taking up space on the kitchen counter or table.

A neighbor was out of town recently. Cassandane collected their mail while they were gone. She felt the need to tell me not to throw it away. Apparently I'm so obsessed with throwing things away she thought I was at risk of throwing away mail with other peoples' name on it, which I knew we were keeping for a limited time. I guess I'm the bad guy here.

Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 8:50 AM
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There's a reason "one weird trick" resonates with people. To the extent that I succeed at anything, it's through the method proposed here. Don't do difficult things; find ways to make things easier. As the OP says:

No white-knuckling anything.

Some people who get a lot done look like white-knucklers to me. I wonder if I sometimes look that way.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 8:57 AM
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There's also waiting for somebody else to do the hard part and then loudly doing the easy part after.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 8:59 AM
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I don't know which feature of capitalism to highlight as a joke to illustrate 7. There are too many.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 9:01 AM
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I was still on the topic of household chores.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 9:04 AM
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7: An important principle indeed. I'd add a corollary. Don't do the hard part. Don't do the easy part. Don't do anything. Let others take responsibility, and loudly hold them accountable when results fall short of some imagined perfect scenario. This method can literally make you president of the United States.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 9:34 AM
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I can not recommend moving to deal with clutter. You just put all the stuff in boxes and now you have boxes of stuff that you don't open to deal with but can't throw away.

I need to deal with the stories attached to everything. I didn't realize it was a family trait until dating my now husband and he said that everything we used we'd have to talk about where and when it was from. This means that everything is just loaded with symbolism and meaning and getting rid of it is breaking or disrespecting that memory. I guess Marie Kondo deals with this? But there are memories I will forget if I get rid of the objects. (My parents gave me a box full of junior high and I'm very tempted to chuck that sight unseen) I told my dad not to tell me about his beer can collection so I can get rid of it when he dies.

No piles yet but that doesn't count the boxes in the basement.

Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 9:39 AM
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I have a bunch of empty Straub bottles on the counter, but it's not a collection.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 9:40 AM
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11: have you tried blogging compulsively? I find that obsessive documentation helps with my fear of forgetting and death. I still can't throw things away but I can blog about that too.

Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 9:46 AM
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*looks at piles of clutter*

This speaks to me, and the OP sounds like a good way of thinking about it.

This year I have not been good at either maintaining my exercise goals or doing anything about clutter.

A while ago I tried to stir up interest in a reading group for Secondhand which is, among other things, about the sentimental attachment to stuff and gently and sympathetically in favor of getting rid of things.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 10:00 AM
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You just put all the stuff in boxes and now you have boxes of stuff that you don't open to deal with but can't throw away.

But it's all so much more manageable in boxes. There's also a Pavlovian reward system in play. I have four boxes of computer crap that's mostly useless, but every now and then I pull something great out -- like the keyboard that I'm typing on right now, which was original equipment on some long-forgotten machine. So I'm effectively on a variable reinforcement schedule.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 10:09 AM
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Oh, christ. I am being watched, as I write this, by four cases of un-unpacked books. I must now turn to face them and stare them down.

Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 10:22 AM
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Stacks of what?

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 10:26 AM
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photo contest.

My mom's place has decades old boxes blocking furniture which is filled with stuff from my childhood, which in fairness is basically a time of unhappy memories for her.

One of my elderly neighbors recently passed away. A swarm of their horrible descendants converged, removed some stuff from the house, left everything else in piles out front, placed a notice somewhere about free stuff 2 days before heavy rain. So blowing litter ( I picked up a poster with taped on photos of tons of kids snapshots, decayed couches, yard full of piles and a few sodden boxes. Yes one kid had a pickup, the dump is 5 minutes away. So there's that approach to consider as well. On the one hand I like the idea of neighborhood recycling-- after the stuff is cleaned up, I'll remember the surviving member of the couple, who I'd talk to, from one of the frames.

Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 10:41 AM
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Our piles are mostly made up of magazines which we periodically unload on a couple of friends who drop in from time to time for a beer and leave with a bag full of reading matter. Of course Covid has put a stop to this and by the time we're allowed to start the process again they'd need a 15 cwt truck each to clear the backlog. Not going to happen.

That sort of pile is different from the"we really need to file this stuff" kind of pile, which there is no known way of controlling.

Posted by: Chris Y | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 10:48 AM
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Hey this made me realize some categories of stuff I have: memories (will cause tears and feelings and I need to be in the proper headspace to deal with), packed stuff with no where to go (we need at least one more bookshelf), and crap with no place to go that continues to build (mail that's not unimportant enough to throw away but I don't need out). So that's me done one of your steps Heebie. It does make me feel a bit better. And I realized that yes, more storage will solve a couple of these issues. Also a shredder?

Baby stuff is basically 1 and 3 combined and that will be extra hard.

Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 10:55 AM
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hah! they have been defeated, gutted, their carcasses stacked in the yard and all their innards decoratively arranged around the walls. Only another 20 or so to go.

Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 11:05 AM
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We moved into a house with no bookshelves 8.5 years ago, and the boxes of books are in the basement. We open the one with kids books every year to give some to the grandkid, but that's about it.

We could have some shelves built, but what really is the point? Not going to be re-reading them, probably. So it's more a statement of some kind? Art?

Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 11:16 AM
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Insulation if on outside walls.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 11:18 AM
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Arranging books by colour makes a surprisingly pretty wall decoration. Assuming you either don't want to find books or can remember cover colours well.

Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 11:22 AM
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I've probably lost the ability from lack of use, but I used to be able to remember where pretty much any book on the shelf was. They were never arranged very carefully.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 11:23 AM
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This has been driving me nuts all year. We spent the spring on sabbatical at a rental house which meant it was relatively minimalistic, and coming back to a house that just has too much stuff in it, and then having to spend a lot of time in that house has been really tough for me. I've been trying to get to a point where everything in the house has a home. There's some similarity to 5, I just don't buy things but RWM does, and in the long run that's a good thing as often the things do improve life and the combination makes for a better balance, but this year it's driving me batty. (I'd thought about the analogy in OP independently this summer, but don't have anything particularly interesting to say about it. ) I do think a big part of it is that we've now lived in one place for 6 years, which is the longest I've lived in one place as an adult. Moving around to some extent means you don't need to worry so much about eliminating clutter because when you move you have to deal with a bunch of it. (My mother has serious issues around cleanliness, which means that living in one house for 8 years as a teenager isn't actually useful as a comparison point because it was literally impossible to build up any clutter even if you really put your mind to it.)

Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 11:26 AM
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I am very Jammies, mostly because I grew up with a Dad who would hold on to everything in case he needed it someday. All too often at the cost of being unable to find the useful things that had been buried, so buying another tool to replace the one that had vanished into the sinking surf of clutter. I have learned not to have advice on the topic.

Despite that, your approach has a lot to recommend it heebie. Just thinking about it--noticing the piles--is such an important first step. That's often where trouble crops up for me--after I've ignored it for a while, I stop seeing it altogether. Which can be particularly bad when I indulge my wife's spreading stacks and begin leaving clutter out on the kitchen table too... that's all too prone to send her into feeling overwhelmed and hopeless about tackling it.

I've learned not to clean too much, and learned that I'll take the heat forever for her being unable to find things because I couldn't let the stack go a third month and finally break down and sort things.

5.2: I've gotten similar warnings. The hardest part is biting your tongue--if they would resolve their stacks in a timely fashion, you wouldn't have to break down and do THEIR work, misplacing the thing that is so precious that it must be buried under 3" of paper clutter.

19: I've found that having a container for it just about solves the problem. So by the front door I have two mail catching bins--his & hers. Stuff hangs out there until I write the check or otherwise deal with it, usually within a few days. The bills then go into my office, in a "file later" bin, which I can tackle every six months or so without the file later bin overflowing. It really helps paperflow to have a recycling basket right next to the mailbins, for all of the junk mail, envelopes, etc.

21: Congratulations!

Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 11:27 AM
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For me it's not even the clutter that bothers me, it's that I want everything to have a well-defined home that it could go back to if it were to be cleaned, and I want everything to fit in its home. But you can't actually fit all the pots and pans into the pots and pans cupboard, so some of them have to be drying or being used for cooking or else they wouldn't have anywhere to go. And it's this for everything, lots of situations where there's like 10% too much stuff to fit into where it's supposed to fit. I spent a couple weeks attacking the pantry and cupboards this summer to try to do with this and it was manageable for a while, but it's slowly creeping up from filling 90% of the space to 95% to 100% to 105% and now it's bothering me again. Currently the thing that's really killing me is the freezer which is always completely packed and has no organization. I need to buy some cubbyholes or something. Buying little shelves for the spices/tea and drawer dividers for the big drawer of kitchen implements improved my life immeasurably.

Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 11:31 AM
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Stacks of what?

Mostly paper. Mail, sentimental odds and ends, things associated with kids. It would be much much worse if e-bills didn't exist. Odd forms and things that come home from the kids' schools. There are specific stacks of things that aren't paper, but they tend to be one-off: the surface where I stash jewelry is a disaster. Unfinished projects. That kind of thing.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 11:41 AM
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I was like 30 before I realized that the size of the storage has to match the size of the thing being stored. Before that, I just thought of storage solutions as always covering 80% of what you need, and then you just sort of cram or place the rest of the item close by. Whereas Jammies would say something like, "We either need to get rid of some of X, or get additional storage for it" and it just had never occurred to me that there was a different way to approach the problem.

I distinctly remember cleaning up with Hawaii when she was maybe 2. We were putting some pile of little pieces into a container, which was almost full. There was ~20% more stuff to put in there. For some reason I paused to see what she'd do. What she did is pause, and look at me and say, "I need another jar." I was just blown away that she automatically thought that way. It was like staring at the soul of genius.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 11:52 AM
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Oh man. I moved houses on Dec 5th. I started on October 5th and thought that with two straight months of pre-work and getting rid of stuff, I'd be able to carefully move only the stuff I wanted. Then I got here and realized that I couldn't anticipate the criteria for acceptance without living it. I am still dramatically purging. Give-away day was yesterday, the most magical day of the year.

It helps that there is very little more satisfying to me than "something with mass and volume leaving my house". Imagine my voice getting very intense as I say the last part. I love when circumstances change the criteria for throwing things out. Under the old criteria (kid will grow into this) I had to keep it; under the new criteria (will it fit in new place?) I can trash it. I LOVE that.

For books? Just this last fall I did as much Kondo-like sorting as I ever have. For books, I pared it down to stuff I really do love. Not stuff that makes me look smart or stuff that a relative wrote. It left me with a lot of beloved light reading. Turns out that's what I like. After that, I did pull books off my shelf frequently and I love my shelves.

I am still defeated by paper. Need to work on that.

I saw somewhere or other that 'clutter is unmade decisions'. That's been really helpful, because I can identify the decision I am not yet making.

Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 12:12 PM
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30: That is brilliance! Hopefully Hawaii is continuing to keep contents in line with storage.

The last few years, I wound up buying several bookshelves and file drawers to get a bit closer to most things having a place. It makes things so much better-- cleaning when there is no right/complete place to put things is so frustrating. If it's just going to end up piled somewhere different, because there's no right place, then there's not much reason to waste time knocking down piles in the meantime.

Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 12:14 PM
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I'm about to take down the Christmas tree and then I can remove it from my house and I suspect it will be the very best part of the first Christmas I held at my own house. The rest was good, but this is a large object leaving my house and that is sublime.

Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 12:14 PM
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Thank you for this post. In my comprehensively failed efforts to reduce or stop drinking this year, I subscribed to a newsletter that mentioned a 2009 study of how long it takes to firmly establish a new habit. The takeaway number they give is 66 days, but this other random page I found (no endorsement!) while searching for the study qualifies it:

on the average, a plateau in automaticity for a new habit . . . was reached after 66 days, although it varied from 18 days up to 254 days in the habits examined in this study.

So maybe the correct mindset is "see if you can beat 18 days!" I don't know. In theory I have much more to say about all this, but I'm doing too many things simultaneously...

Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 12:25 PM
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uhhh is there an unwritten update lurking in 31 & 33? if so, condolences, congratulations & solidarity in whatever admixture is most helpful, megan.

Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 1:16 PM
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We could have some shelves built, but what really is the point? Not going to be re-reading them, probably.

I used to reread books fairly often, but not so much lately. Too many other pastimes, not enough books that are dense or exciting enough to make that fun anyway.

27: oh, I rarely clean up her stuff and she rarely cleans up mine. If one of us is cleaning and the other isn't around to deal with a heap of theirs, then it just gets put to the side more or less undisturbed. It's still frustrating to have heaps of stuff around for no apparently good reason.

Part of the problem is the small house. Much smaller than where either of us grew up. We've been here long enough that I feel like we should be used to it, but then again it's much worse this year for pandemic-related reasons.

Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 1:34 PM
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I guess there is an unwritten update in 31 & 33. A couple years back, Steady's dad and I realized that we were roommates and co-parents but not romantic. But we're mostly considerate roommates and Steady was real little and we didn't change our living situation. Then came the COVID reassessment and (related to the OP) his online buying habits and by September I'd had it. We've moved to an up and down duplex (I'm upstairs, back with Ali, my adored roommates of my thirties). Steady goes between the apartments at will. Not sure he's realized the separation. Anyway, it is great. All upside except that I miss my sweet little house of 20 years.

Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 2:21 PM
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37: Thanks for the update, Megan. I think congratulations are in order!

Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 3:03 PM
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Congratulations on getting the part of the duplex where clogging is a weapon.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 3:08 PM
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Of my friends who have broken up with small children, I've encouraged ALL of them to be open to an arrangement like that - two parts of a duplex, or apartments near each other in the same complex, or whatever. I'm so delighted that you're implementing it! Congrats on navigating this so wisely and I'm glad you're in a good place.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 3:26 PM
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Congrats on creating your own village in missing middle housing!

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 3:43 PM
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37: Is Ali a person or a pet? A romantic interest or just a friend?

Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 4:16 PM
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That sounds like a really lovely arrangement for Steady, glad to hear it's working out well!

Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 5:42 PM
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That does sound good.

Spending 10 years office-sharing with a divorce lawyer makes a person pretty jaded, but of course he was spending most of his time with people not as articulate and considerate.

Just keeping the books in boxes doesn't solve everything -- the pace of acquisition has slowed considerably, but we still have books coming in. (I just today got a copy of my brother's newly published epic poem about Alfred the Great. I have an appropriate pile of clutter where it can stay until I'm ready to admit I'm not going to read it.)

Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 5:55 PM
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What about free-standing bookshelves? That's all we have.

Posted by: heebie | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 6:07 PM
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37: wonderful! :)

Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 6:08 PM
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It helps that the duplex belongs to my mom. We are going to build an ADU in the backyard and hopefully add to intentional community. The whole downstairs will be a pretty serious kitchen and I'm hoping to find someone to live upstairs and run a smallish boarding situation for dinner. Maybe a caterer or cottage food operator, who can use the kitchen during the day and will also cook dinners.

Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 6:36 PM
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Ali (Alexandra) is a friend. We met at Ultimate. It is the closest thing to love at first sight I've ever experienced. We looked at each other and just knew we were going to be super good friends*. We've lived together off and on for years. I'm delighted to be living with her again. She is so great at making art projects and doing adventures. She was my roommate in much of my old blog, for those of you who remember that.

*The oddest thing happened to me years later. I was in Paris with my cousin, picking her kids up from school. There was a French woman there who instantly strongly reminded me of Ali, enough that I thought it was she at first. I kept looking at her, seeing flashes of Ali, and then realizing again that it wasn't Ali. But the odd thing was that she was checking me out as strongly as I was looking at her. She gave me serious hawkeye for a bit. (I mean, the obvious explanation is that she didn't know why the American woman was staring at her, but that's not what it seemed like.) Could it be that the French Ali-doppelganger had a French Megan-doppelganger? I didn't get a chance to ask and my French isn't good enough anyway.

Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 6:47 PM
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Anyway, the COVID reassessment is a real thing and I expect a lot of people to be rearranging their lives this and next year.

Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 6:49 PM
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True story. I thought frisbee golf and ultimate were the same sport until like two years ago.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 6:53 PM
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When Ultimate players get too old to play, they switch to frisbee golf.

Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 6:56 PM
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Ordinarily, I get the tree down and out of the house by New Year's Eve. Once Boxing Day is over, a live tree in my living room no longer looks festive, it just looks sad and incongruous...

But this year, and thanks to COVID-19 and etc., I've decided to go all 'twelve days of Christmas.' Christmas ain't over until we've celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany (6 January), and that tree's not coming down until at least the 7th of January ...

Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 7:37 PM
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Then they should call it penultimate.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-28-20 7:48 PM
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Yes. Congratulations, Megan. You seem to have shot the rapids at shit creek without capsizing at all.

Posted by: NW | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 12:10 AM
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52: We always waited, and I don't think tree collection day is until then, but we didn't put it up early... sometimes not until the 23rd and still finishing the decorations on Christmas Eve afternoon.

Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 4:41 AM
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A few days ago I got a notice from the electric company here that they were going to shut my power off due to non payment. I contacted the super as they are supposed to be responsible for paying all the utilities. My first contract here they were responsible for utilities but I had to pay anything over 250 a month. My subsequent contracts (effected as addenda to the first) have utilities all inclusive with that specific language. So yesterday the super contacts me and insists I pay the overage and that the terms of the original contract are still in force. I said that was outrageous and noted the specific "all inclusive" language whose meaning is plain as day and that I wouldn't be paying it. And that they are going to lose a good tenant over what probably amounts to no more than a couple of hundred (rent here is 6,750) He kept insisting and I kept resisting till he finally said he will speak to the manager. Nothing since. He tried this last year too, unsuccessfully. I'm half suspicious that he's scamming me. If he does get back to me I'm going to insist on an official email from the manager or even his boss. Do not fuck with a NYer in matters of rent.

Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 6:28 AM
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Oops, meant that for the check-in thread.

Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 6:38 AM
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I cannot tell you how glad I am that we never married. I should switch this to the check-ins thread because decluttering and weight loss are far more interesting.

Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 8:08 AM
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If you switch threads, I'll pester you with nosy questions. Threat or carrot? You be the judge.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 9:18 AM
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I checked in on unfogged today (I still lurk somewhat regularly) and noticed you mentioned taking ADHD meds as a new thing, which led to me learning a bit about the saga with some googling.

I actually went on them myself last December after seeing a psychiatrist for the first time. It was basically life-changing and I noticed some of the things you mentioned being surprised by, like that the persistent trouble I had always had sleeping went away. I can even enjoy afternoon naps from time to time now. I haven't had any real side effects from them; they're basically wonder drugs for me.
One of the most profound changes for me was that it completely revamped how I saw myself. To professors and managers, undiagnosed ADHD symptoms can easily make people look brilliant but arrogant and lazy. This was something I was chastised for sometimes during undergrad, because my attendance in class was poor and because I'd fail to turn in homework assignments, but then I'd do very well on tests and display lots of interest otherwise. It was so bad that when the time came to apply to graduate school, I was just too ashamed of myself to even ask for letters of recommendation, which is really the reason I didn't even try for graduate school until 27. It just doesn't look good to professors when someone skips class, doesn't turn in homework or is constantly turning it in late, and then does very well the exams.

What they didn't see, and I guess what I ignored about myself, is that I was working incredibly hard to stay afloat. The real reasons I didn't go to class were an ADHD-related sleep disorder that kept me from falling asleep at all on many nights, and that I was just completely lost (and restless) in lectures unless I had more or less already taught myself the material completely. And so when I really started acing exams and doing well in upper division math classes, it was because I'd find a syllabus ahead of time, buy the textbook, work through all of the material line-by-line ahead of time, and even do a lot of the problems. I would usually do this over summer or Christmas break, and then once I was ahead enough I would just do it during the semesters since homework wasn't too difficult. Of course, having done this, class was usually boring, so then I had another reason not to show up. 

Obviously, none of these things are things that someone does when they're lazy and don't give a shit. But somehow I think I internalized this about myself, because it's hard not to when it's what you hear about yourself -- especially in America where we have the idea that no obstacle can be overcome by working sufficiently hard. In hindsight, it's ridiculous how often I would think to myself "oh well, I guess since I skipped class again and I won't be able to sleep anyway I'll just have to work line-by-line through this real analysis book chapter because I'm so lazy, but if I get started now I can probably finish the homework I was supposed to turn in today by dawn and maybe get the professor to accept it late."

And so in the last year, I've gone from seeing myself as the brilliant but lazy person to seeing myself as someone who actually does not have so very much intrinsic ability, but who has always worked very, very hard -- often to the point of burnout. And so oddly, over the last year, even though I've been doing much better than ever professionally thanks to medication, therapy, and general awareness of myself, I've also been feeling more burnt-out than I ever have, and a lot more doubtful of myself, and especially of my ability to have any kind of career in science. Some of this is probably burn-out due to lockdown, but even before that it felt so strange to be 30 years old, and to wake up and feel like I had just kind of watched a lot of my adulthood pass by without a whole lot of ability to exercise control over it.

Posted by: trivers | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 10:45 AM
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That sounds good, overall. Anyway, I found not being in graduate school a huge boost to my sense of being in control as well as not having to work so hard.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 11:40 AM
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Not being in grad school is great. Ditto not being in academia. Turns out that I am still pretty bright and have an interest in many things. And I can use those skills to do well at my job. But only during the hours of 8:30-4:30. Then I'm done. It's still science (sometimes), just well contained.

Posted by: hydrobatidae | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 11:54 AM
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Moby- I think you are kidding yourself in 25. I used to know where all my books were regardless of order, when I was younger. I can't do it now that I'm older because my memory simply isn't as quick and reliable.

I liked this:

Found at Obsidian Wings. I think the discussion there is good too.

Posted by: Roger the cabin boy | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 12:19 PM
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Glad to hear things are working out well, Megan. We've been planning to buy the other half of our duplex-style building as an investment property when the current owners move. We hadn't been thinking of it as a breakup-contingency plan, but that makes it an even more attractive idea.

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 12:31 PM
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We hadn't been thinking of it as a breakup-contingency plan, but that makes it an even more attractive idea.

You may be overthinking this.

Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 12:35 PM
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Trivers, that's so great. For whatever reason, classes in school worked well for me - an organized syllabus that I could grab on to or whatever - and the rest of my life was an incomprehensibly disorganized mess. But I related to the skeleton of what you describe.

Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 12:44 PM
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Anyway, my point isn't that nobody should go to graduate school. Rather, it's that nobody should expect to be mentally unscathed by it.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 12:48 PM
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Law school! Only takes three years, can be fun if you enjoy that sort of thing, and produces what is technically a terminal degree, which may turn out to be important many plot twists later.

Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 12:50 PM
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63.1: I've thought of that too.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 12:50 PM
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68: The downside is that when you finish you're a lawyer. Drop out of graduate school and you can be anything except for a professor.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 12:53 PM
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I feel like one of the things that tricky for me about being an advisor is that I fucking loved being a graduate student. It can make it a little difficult for me to understand what it's like for some of my students.

Posted by: Unfoggetarian: “Pause endlessly, then go in” (9) | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 1:06 PM
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You may be overthinking this.

Someone in the household is definitely overthinking this, but it isn't me. I'm not actually going to bring up this new angle.

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 1:18 PM
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71: It's all fun and games until you get stuck in a little room trying to write a dissertation.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 2:13 PM
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72: Best wishes for the best possible outcome, whatever that may turn out to be.

Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 2:23 PM
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I'm glad I was a grad student in non-pandemic times. I don't know if I could have written a dissertation without having regular coffee shop dissertation-writing appointments with a friend.

Posted by: Ponder Stibbons | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 2:23 PM
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And on 70: you can actually avoid being a lawyer by flunking, or not taking, the bar. I don't recommend that approach, but it's possible. (Years ago, a semi-colleague used "JD, PhD (ABD)" in her email signature; she was every bit the annoying wannabe you'd expect from that.)

Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 2:32 PM
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'Ph.D. (ABD)' isn't a thing as far as I've ever heard.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 2:48 PM
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74: Thanks, but we're doing fine, really. No breakup on the horizon.

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 2:54 PM
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Russia is on the horizon.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 2:54 PM
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77: Also my view, and "JD" in that context means "went to law school but hasn't passed the bar," which, ok, whatever, have a cookie.

Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 3:50 PM
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AIHMB, my dad had an LL.B., which they offered to convert to a J.D. for the price of a new diploma. He declined as he had no other degree.

Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 3:54 PM
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IIRC, an LL.B. is also considered a terminal degree, since it is (was?) the degree granted by some of America's finest purveyors of legal education.

Posted by: DaveLHI | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 6:41 PM
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Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-29-20 6:44 PM
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Way late, re: the original cleanup thread but for most of the year I had a very satisfying practice of throwing out at least on "substantive" item each week through the better part of this year. Motivated in part by experience with our parents (especially mine*), but also because I am Megan in 31, delighted when things leave**. It has tailed off because of cold weather and the fact that my wife--although more annoyed at clutter than I-- is less willing to make snap decision as to the probable lack of future desirability of an item. Local elderly couple*** has far too much shit and knows it but struggle with response.

*In their case, they went from (modest-sized) suburban home to condo to independent living apartment to assisted-living and at every transition I think I rented at least one U-Haul**** and at least once had to bring in one of those "we take everything" outfits (they're fucking great although I basically had to do it behind my siblings' backs who were more of a mind of finding the perfect recipient for every fucking item--I exulted in my decisiveness and the irreversibility of the result).

**AIMHMHB one of the great days in my life was when I finally got rid of a monster of a sleeper couch that I had gotten from my parents and which had followed me through several cross-country moves. we put it out on the curb ibn Houston (which had a very liberal trash-hauling policy) and I lurked at the side of my window half expecting them to shout up something like "We're not taking this!" and was jubilant when they did not.

***This past week or so watching the dynamic between us and our two adult children staying in the house has made inescapable the appropriateness of that description.

****For the results of this see 84.1.last.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-31-20 5:40 AM
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