I cleaned out my clothes hole…

First, I should explain the above reference. Moe, the bartender in the Simpsons, once referred to Homer as being “fancy” for calling his garage a … garage. When asked what it should be called, Moe responded “A car hole”. My closet has been the place I throw clothes I’m not currently wearing for the last several years, so calling it a “clothes hole” seemed appropriate.

The basic organization of my side of the closet hasn’t changed since we moved from Alberta. To be honest, there really wasn’t much organization to begin with: one small section for “work” clothes, one section for sweaters and shirts, and one section for “other”. Unfortunately, much of the space in this closet had become cluttered, confused, and generally unhelpful for the purpose of actually locating anything to wear. Golf shirts that I wear at work were mixed in on the shelf with T-Shirts I wear at home and not hanging on hangers where they belonged, because the hangers were all occupied by pants that hadn’t been worn in years. It was like someone had taken all the clothes from a Salvation Army drop box and thrown them willy-nilly onto various hangers, and then pushed me into the room and said “get dressed- you’ll look marvelous”.

There was one other set of factors that led me to the conclusion something needed to be done: much of the clothing in my closet was no longer something I would wear. “Stuff I wouldn’t wear” fell into two basic categories:

  • pants with waist sizes that mocked my now portly midsection
  • other clothes that I was keeping more because of fond memories than out of any expectation I was going to wear the item again

It was time to take action.

I decided some time ago that I was going to finally clean out my side of the closet during the Christmas holidays. Irene prodded me to get started a week or so ago, and I jumped in with my usual “I’ve delayed this so long it is now an emergency: get me the forklift!” attitude. I set a really simple rule: if I wasn’t going to wear the clothing within the next year, throw it in the discard pile for recycling. I would discard fanciful notions of losing weight soon enough to justify keeping the clothes, or perhaps substitute the idea that if I *did* manage to lose weight, I could always buy new clothing.

For several hours, Irene stood outside the closet saying things of the form “do you have any (shirts/socks/pants/etc) left to wear?” Any pants with waistlines of less than 38 inches: gone. Any socks that I didn’t like: gone. Shirts that I hadn’t worn in the last twelve months- gone. This includes things like the shirt I bought in South Africa when Irene and I went there a year or two after we married, or the T-Shirt I got from the one and only science fiction convention I ever attended. They might have sentimental value, but sentiment is what kept me from tossing old stuff out in the first place.

When I was done, I had restored order to my side of the closet. I had also built a four foot high pile of clothing to redistribute to less-stout relatives and/or the disadvantaged. This includes two hand-tailored cotton shirts from my suit-wearing days, several pairs of suit pants from that same era, and a double-handful of ties. Much of it was perfectly usable- some even barely worn. But I stuck to my rules.

A week later, and I still have space. I have decided I will add some new clothes to the closet early in the New Year. For now, I’m just happy to have space to hang my shirts that is actually clearly designated as “shirt hanging space”.

4 thoughts on “I cleaned out my clothes hole…”

  1. *lol* I went through the same exercise this holiday too. Thankfully for having moved so much I have been culling most of my crap regularly but stuff still creeps in.

    What amazed me is, somehow, I managed to find MORE room on my book case where none was before. This boggled me somewhat as I haven’t taken anything OFF the bookcase and have only added. Its magical… and I left it at that.

  2. Interesting that you went through this as well. I find it odd how the holiday season seems to make me “introspective”, reviewing all the little and big things I should get done/want to get done/dream of doing.

    I don’t really think in terms of “New Years Resolutions”, but I suppose this reviewing process is part of what leads to that behavior. I wonder what it is about this time of year that makes me and apparently others do this?

  3. Long before we had “Christmas” or chose this time to be “New Year” our ancestors, the northern European ones at any rate, marked the Solstice as a time of rebirth and time when the forces of light and dark were in balance, and thus easy to tip one way or the other.

    It’s the darkest time of the year, with the last of the previous season’s fresh food eaten and a long winter yet to come … a lot of people, including yourself, might not live to see spring. And at the same time, after the solstice, the Sun begins to come back. There *will* be a another summer, another time to have children, to sow crops to languish in the summer sunshine.

    After 10,000 years of that it is bred into our bones.

    And besides, there is nothing on TV over the holidays! 😉

  4. Hmmm: good point, Chris- it is a bronze age thing, at least, this “rethinking” or rebirth process.

    I’m still happy with my reorganized closet. I feel all giddy (okay, I’m exaggerating, but…) when I go to grab clothes and know where stuff is and that everything is suitable/not holey/still fits. I have another task on my “first quarter 2008” list which is to buy some new stuff, but I’m going to wait for a while and take comfort from the empty hangers I now possess 😉

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