Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Spare Room

I always think the best way to get myself out of a rut is to buy my way out of it. Some call it retail therapy, I like to look at it as investing in self-improvement. So in an effort to reclaim a room of my house, I dropped a bunch of cash on a scanner. Sure, I could have gone with paint and new furniture; and that would have been a wonderful idea. But my therapy typically comes in the form of consumer electronics.

This particular room doesn't really have a consistent name, it depends on the purpose it's currently serving. Sometimes "guest room", sometimes "office" and during the holidays, "gift wrapping room". Once or twice since moving in, it's even served as "Pac's dog house". But lately it's just known as "the junk room". With two people and at least as many cats in a 1,200 square-foot condo, it's not like we can spare an entire room just for junk.

How did it get so bad? I think part of the reason is that we haven't had house guests lately. It seems the only time I'm motivated to clean that room is when we're expecting an out-of-town friend or relative for the weekend. And even then only when their plane is on final approach. I'm sure I can dwell on the reasons for our lack of visitors, but I have enough insecurities at the moment.

I could blame JB's addiction to useless "stuff", but that wouldn't be the best argument to bring up when writing about how I self-soothe with gadgets. People who live in glass houses shouldn't have a dedicated "stone room".

Sure, there's stuff that legitimately belongs in a "spare" room. Two desks, each with an IKEA lamp and Herman Miller Aaron chair. You know, in case one of us actually needed to work and, in doing so, made the other feel left out and unimportant. In nine years we only occupied both desks once, the day we brought home the chairs. Which makes it even more ironic now that when JB wants to work on the computer, he asks me to set up the iMac on the dining room table.

Book shelves, a filing cabinet, a futon, one of those doorway chin-up racks that's never been used because it only fits one door in our place and no one wants to work out in a linen closet. There's the Cuisinart blender, KitchenAid mixer and Le Creuset cookware that never really found their place in the kitchen. Over there is JB's bike which he loves too much to keep in the garage, but not enough to ride.

And stacks upon stacks of paperwork waiting to be filed. Tax returns, receipts, statements, articles, medical records, etc. Granted, this one's all my fault. When it comes to record-keeping, I become an obsessive-compulsive hoarder. Whenever I try organizing my paperwork I break into a cold sweat, gripped with fear that I'll get audited and won't be able to show the IRS agent that lemon bar recipe I cut from the April '03 McCall's.

It's yet another personality aspect I inherited from my dad. When confronted about his stacks of trash, he would claim he not only needed every single sheet of paper, but that it was completely and systematically organized. He would take pride in being able to produce -- on a moment's notice -- a random dental record from 1978 just for the fun of it. Handy in case any of us kids went missing in the stacks.

But me? A hoarder? It's not quite how I expected to land a gig on A&E. Inside the Actor's Studio maybe, or Celebrity Ghost Stories. Sorry, Dad... This is one personality trait-slash-disorder I refuse to accept.

JB was skeptical at first that a four-hundred dollar document scanner was absolutely necessary. Did I say "skeptical"? I meant livid. But at 25 pages per minute, I was scanning old paperwork faster than my shredder could keep up. By the end of the weekend, my hoarding went 100% virtual. Unless they create a series about extreme hard drive fragmentation, you won't soon see me on TV getting extracted from my home by social workers in hazmat gear.

What a feeling to get an entire room back! It's like building an addition to my condo for the bargain price of $400. So now what? I could invite family to come visit I suppose. Or... a dungeon could be fun.


  1. I like dungeon... but my ass would likely make it an office or something practical...but maybe a dungeon could be practical...hmmmm

  2. Slings can become laptop workstations!