The sister whose apartment I appropriated for Found Cat has decided to motivate herself to clean her by now very cluttered apartment by throwing one of those Tupperware-style parties on Saturday. It’s for luggage or something, I don’t know. Anyway.
The apartment’s a disaster; when she moved in, she filled the large closet in the entryway with huge rubbermaid bins full of shit she hasn’t looked at in the four years since (and, I might mention, shit she’s hauled from Cortland to Buffalo to Denver to Troy to across-Troy). And then she had bad depression, and then she went through grad school, and then she had roof leaks that meant she had to pile everything she owned into different rooms in the rather small sort of railroad-style apartment (buildings in old Troy are like fifteen feet wide for real), and it happened like three times that the lighting fixture in her bedroom crashed down amid filthy water all over her bed at three in the morning, but the landlord (a good dude don’t get me wrong the building’s from 1831 and shit happens) finally fixed it, and then she came home once and her living room was full of water on a sunny day and it turned out someone’s garden hose next door had burst and sprayed straight in her window for hours, warping her floor and damaging a lot of her belongings (the mortified neighbor paid, but, the damage was impressive).
Anyway. This place is to put it mildly a disaster area. I’ve hauled furniture out, in the last couple of months I’ve spent several days here mostly cleaning out bags full of old mail and shit she threw in there to hide it when someone came over and she was “tidying”– but today I promised her several hours, and showed up with a half-assembled quiche Farmsister had prepared for the occasion, and threw it in the oven and we started to clear out the Dreaded Closet.
She insisted, see, that if we just got the shit out of the closet, the stuff she cares about can go in there, and then she’ll go through those boxes and throw away most of what’s in them.
But like. The closet was stuffed full. The rest of the apartment is also stuffed full. So we pulled out a filing cabinet yesterday, and put it into my car, and Farmsister now has a second filing cabinet for her office, which doesn’t fit but that’s her problem, not Middle-Little’s and thankfully, not mine.
And it’s going to take weeks to go through the contents of these boxes. We moved the remaining filing cabinet into the closet, but that now means we can’t put even a single one of these totes or boxes back in– and some of them might be things she wanted to keep after all, so…
We hit on a daring plan. Earlier, Farmsister had expressed to me that she worries about Middle-Little, and thinks she should probably make a standing dinner date with her once a week going forward, it’d be good to see her and make sure she’s eating properly and also, Farmbaby loves her and listens to her and wants to see her all the time.
So I said, we take all the boxes over to the farm, and then you have a deal: Once a week, you come to dinner, and the first thing you do on arrival is take a box. That box comes back to your apartment. You know you have now one (1) week to get through that box. And Farmsister isn’t going to let you not take a box next week. You’ve got to get this one put away and sorted out and gone, in your apartment that is already cleaned and organized with your current belongings. You start from a baseline of your currently-used belongings are present and accounted for. And then you go through your old shit and either make it fit, or throw it out. Instead of binging, it’s regularly-scheduled.
This, unlike many plans– which Middle-Little excels at making and literally never sticks to– will work, because Farmsister is really good at sticking to a fucking plan, ok, and she’ll do it, and she doesn’t understand Middle-Little’s total lack of executive function but she does love her and want to help, and this way she won’t be too mean, but she also won’t let her slide.
So we called Farmsister and she agreed to this. It’s probably five carloads of stuff, which will fill about half of one of the empty grain bins up in the granary.
This all is very good, because our poor mother has awful PTSD, of sorts, about cluttered apartments in Troy– when her brother, her only brother, her baby brother, died very suddenly a couple of years back, he left her a three-story townhouse in Troy absolutely stuffed fucking full of cats, their vomit and shit, tuna cans, old clothes, books and books and books, garbage, and priceless antiques, and she and Dad had to clean it out alone. Well, they had the help of the homeless man who was living in the garbage-filled basement apartment. I’m not kidding, there really was a homeless dude in there. My uncle knew he was there and had decided he was cool with it. The dude was… not really… okay, but Mom and Dad gave him actual money to keep the house from burning down while they were cleaning it out, and they all parted friends, sort of, in the end. Which is better than you’d expect a story like that to go.
Anyway. Mom cries sometimes because she’s worried about Middle-Little’s apartment. It’s good she hasn’t seen my house in six or seven years. Though, she wants to visit. Yikes.
Hey, I got like six huge totes full of fabric and old drapes out of my basement to make yurt quilts so that’s a start.
And if I can save Middle-Little’s apartment– she’s lived here exactly four years as of last week, by the way. Yiiiiikes.
I took a break and let Middle-Little have some time to herself to go through her shit, and instead deep-cleaned her bathroom, which was cathartic as fuck and rewarding. It’s a lovely little tile joint and I Magic Erasered the fuck out of it and it’s literally never been that clean, so I feel really good.
The other thing I did today was clean out half the granary’s second floor, and inventory all the Christmas ribbon, and go through the dried flowers from last year and cut down all of the statice and sort it by color. Then I spent the afternoon entertaining Farmbaby, whose cooperation was easily bought by the promise of a single candy bar. She’s wonderfully bribeable and it’s great.