Award-winning writer: Jackie Papandrew

Airing My Dirty Laundry!

Cleaning By Closet

Thereís a Nightmare in My Closet. Thatís the title of a beloved childrenís book. Itís also a reality in my bedroom. My closet has become like a Roach Motel Ė people go in, but they donít necessarily come back out.

I knew I had a problem when I couldnít get out of my closet once Iíd managed to fight my way in. It was kind of like that trash compactor scene in the first Star Wars movie where the heroes are about to be flattened by the moving walls. The stacks of stuff in my walk-in wardrobe holder seemed to be closing in on me. In order to get into my closet, I had raised my leg as high as a woman in my mediocre state of fitness can raise a leg, and Iíd hoisted it over the pile of debris closest to the closet door. Then I attempted to raise the other leg so I would find myself actually standing inside my closet.

If Iíd taken up yoga a year ago, as I had every intention of doing, I could have handled this simple feat of balance without any problem. Unfortunately, the only yoga position Iíve thus far mastered is the one where you lie on the floor with your eyes closed and breathe deeply. I love that position, and Iím extraordinarily good at it.

But that position didnít really help me in the closet when I fell over and landed on another mound of material Ė towels, toys, books, stuffed animals, vacuum cleaner parts, papers, puzzle pieces, sandals, a couple of squirt guns, and even, I noticed, Texas-sized dust bunnies. At least it broke my fall. I was lying there on the floor, hemmed in by all the mishmash and with a dogís slobbery chew toy pressed up against my face, when I realized I am a victim of closet clutter disorder. Itís not my fault.

I blame my kids. Over the years, in order to spend more time with my little darlings, Iíve developed the unfortunate habit of "cleaning by closet." It is so easy and quick to simply throw everything in there and close the door.

It wasnít always so. There was a time when my closet was under control. Shirts hung out with shirts. Pants clung crisply to trouser hangers. Skirts and dresses maintained a modest, well-organized appearance. Shoes faithfully resided with their mates and never strayed. Nothing that doesnít belong in a clothes closet would have dared show its face. You could see every inch of the floor.

But then I had children, and children are agents of chaos. Like staying in shape, keeping up a closet requires constant vigilance. I no longer had time for that. Soon, just as dogs and their owners come to resemble each other, my closet and I began to exhibit similar characteristics. We both became disheveled, disorganized, even downright dangerous.

Once, when the piles in my closet were perilously close to reaching the ceiling, one of my neighbors stopped by unexpectedly. This woman -- quite a bit older than me, with closet floors in her house that you could eat off Ė has a horrible habit of showing up without warning. Weíd just repainted our bedroom, and somehow she got wind of it and asked to see it. I readily agreed, smug in the knowledge that my closet doors were closed and by outward appearances anyway, my house was in order. I showed her the master bedroom, feeling pleased with myself because Iíd actually made the bed that day.

We were standing right in front of the closed closet, and I was about to triumphantly usher my guest out when my preschool-age daughter, wanting to be part of the tour, opened the closet door saying, ďAnd here is Mommyís closet.Ē

She barely got the words out before a tower of stuff literally poured out of the closet like a tsunami, some of it coming to rest on my astonished neighborís feet. She hasnít been back to my house since then.

For a while after that, I was ashamed enough to keep my closet reasonably tidy. But gradually, pieces of clothing deserted their hangers and ran rampant on the floor. Unauthorized objects crept back in, and soon the mess achieved a momentum of its own, spreading like a virulent virus to other parts of the house.

In the book Thereís a Nightmare in My Closet, a young boy confronts the monster in his closet and ends up making friends with it. I think he had the right idea and maybe Iíll do the same. That should help keep away nosy neighbors.

~ Jackie Papandrew ~
© 2008, All Rights Reserved

Jackie Papandrew is an award-winning writer, syndicated humor columnist, coffee addict and mom to a motley crew of children and pets who provide a steady stream of column ideas and dirt. She's also wife to a very patient man who had no idea, years ago when he still had time to escape, what he was getting himself into. Visit her website at:  JackiePapandrew.com

[ by Jackie Papandrew Copyright © 2008, (me@jackiepapandrew.com) -- submitted by: Jackie Papandrew ]


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