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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

04.14.2003

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DigsMagazine.com.

the packrat's 
g
uide to a 

happy home 
by Hilary Emmons |
1 2 3

If youíre like me, youíve read Ė

Wait.  Start over.

If youíre like me, youíve pulled twenty-five pairs of shoes out of your closet to get at your ďto be filedĒ boxes, and then spent hours sifting through your piles of receipts, old Christmas cards, miscellaneous scraps of paper, and grade school homework, in order to find those magazines youíve been meaning to look at.

Then youíve read article after article purporting to give advice on how to organize, streamline your housekeeping, and deal with all that stuff.

As one of two packrats sharing a one-bedroom apartment, Iím always on the lookout for help with my ďstuff problem.Ē  The expert neatniks who pen this advice are full of ideas on what to do with your belongings, but they all start with the assumption that what you really want is to reform your packrat ways.  Sternly, they admonish that the first step in any neatness campaign is to throw out as much stuff as you can.  After all, you donít need most of it; itís just an obstacle to their prescribed housekeeping plans.  Being a packrat is looked upon as a personality flaw, an illness to be cured.

I donít know about you, but I donít want to stop being a packrat.  Itís who I am.  And the narrow interpretation of what people ďneedĒ doesnít cover me.  Sure, a lot of my stuff serves no practical purpose, but thatís not the only kind of need.  Some of my stuff has sentimental value.  Some of it ensures that Iím never lacking a Halloween costume.  Some of it is just, well, neat.  I donít want to reform; I want to manage the stuff I have, without judgments about whether itís too much.

With that in mind, Iím going to share some tips on how I coexist happily with my stuff Ė a guilt-free lesson in how to be a happy, healthy packrat.

step one:  take inventory.
If your closets are crammed, your cabinets are bursting and your floor was last seen in 1998, donít despair.  Your first step is to take stock of your stuff and see, once and for all, what youíve got.  We packrats tend to hide our stuff away, either as a quick fix for messes or because weíre embarrassed at the sheer amount of stuff we own.  This habit makes it difficult for us to create a real, lasting storage plan for our stuff.  So get it all out in the open.

keep on wandering this way

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