I’ve read that 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. That’s it? Fewer than half of us? I admit I’m not as formal about resolution-making as I once was. As a kid U made a list of resolutions every year. I have absolutely no recollection of what those resolutions were, year after year, or how actively I set about meeting them, or if I meet any of them. They were probably boringly benign, like “Get better at ballet,” or “Write Grammy more often”—the kind of stuff that would withstand an accidental parental reading. I wouldn’t be fool enough to put in writing anything I desperately hoped for, like “Get a boyfriend,” the one wish that would consume my adolescence.(I was finally able to check that off the mental list when I was seventeen).
But writing something down can be powerful, and I’ve realized that years of not making formal resolutions have left me in a state of severe disorganization. In the interest of clearing my head for the important stuff (like being able to concentrate on becoming a better writer) I have to clear out the clutter that’s taken over every surface in my immediate vicinity. Piles of papers—clippings, financial statements, manuscript pages, old bills that need filing. It’s a morass I have been avoiding for… umm…years? I can hardly bear to acknowledge how long these piles have been accumulating! I have to get rid of them—asap! I can’t possibly take all year, or even all month.
Resolution #1: Read and file papers on chest of drawers. (Yes, it’s gotten so bad I have a pile next to my jewelry box.) Alternatively: Read and throw out papers on bureau.
Resolution #2: Throw away or do something with the stacks of papers, binders and books on the floor of my office. I’m super bored at the idea of going through them—but I’ve got to do it!
And then there’s the issue of the clothes clogging my side of the closet. Button-downs that seemed so useful at first and now look kind of dorky. (I think my shoulders are too rounded, or something). Sleeveless summer blouses that are too…sleeveless. The dress I bought online that is too revealing and I never got around to returning. (Originally I thought it might not be too revealing. Then I realized I couldn’t possibly wear it ANYWHERE unless I went into the escort business.) What’s the rule of thumb: Throw away anything you haven’t worn in two years? I’m paralyzed by the thought I will then have very few clothes—which is irrational, since I wear tend to wear the same jeans and t-shirts over and over again.
But there’s the question of sentimental value. What to do with that dress I wore at my sister’s wedding sixteen years ago but haven’t worn since? Wouldn’t it be a sort of betrayal to give it away? How about the red linen skirt that was part of my going-away outfit after my own marriage, twenty years ago?
The wheels are turning, rational arguments coming to the fore. It’s not like I’m throwing away my wedding dress—my modest New Year’s goals do not hide marital disarray. (Now that’s an interesting premise for a story, isn’t it? Under what circumstances—other than divorce—would a woman toss her wedding dress?)
Resolution #3: Throw out clothes not worn for two years. (Or most of them.)