Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Road To Happiness -- Step One

I have decided that the time has finally come to find my own personal Nirvana (no, not the band) and I believe the path to happiness is to start by totally organizing my house, my life, et al. Not to get too ambitious, we’re going to start kind of small. I think my purse is as good a place as any to begin, after all, it’s with me every time I leave the house. Over the years, mainly since the birth of my now 13 year old son, I have noticed a disturbing trend in the size of my purses. They’ve grown exponentially with every new one I’ve purchased. When I was young, carefree and childless, all I needed to leave the house was a set of keys (more on that later), my license, money and MAYBE some lip stuff. Now days, a division of army infantry moves with less. I have a girlfriend who somehow managed to escape this trap and, despite having three children, has never ended up carrying an overnight bag and calling it a purse. I have no earthly idea how she managed it. So this is it! The purse, starting with the wallet, will be the first organizational obstacle to overcome.

At first glance, the thick black wallet looks fairly benign, this won’t be a problem at all! The outside pocket yields two gum wrappers, a paper clip and forty-nine cents. Opening the wallet proper and onto the first little slot for credit cards and such I realize I am in possession of the library cards of every member of the household. Okay, that’s a little weird, but I can understand my logic on that one, the kids would lose them in record time. I have absolutely no idea why my husband’s is residing here. I’ll set that aside to give to him later. Next slot, a proof of insurance card for the car we drove three vehicles ago, I think I can toss that. A Blockbuster member card, that can go since the nearest Blockbuster is roughly 30 miles away and I have no idea when I was there last. A gift card from Barnes and Noble, if I recall correctly, with $1.37 remaining on it. This is the first item I have to think about…it DOES have money left on it, but what could I possibly get for $1.37? No, no, no! That goes into the throw pile. Right now. I mean it. That hurdle overcome, I move on to the main compartment of the wallet to find a sheet of stamps that I’m fairly certain I got two rate hikes ago. That’s fine, I’ll just go and get some 2 or 3 cent stamps and we’ll be good. My checkbook, desperately in need of balancing, is peeking up from the depths along with a ticket stub from a production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” five years ago which can probably go into the throw pile.

My little plastic flip book for pictures resides behind the 29 dollars in cash, three deposit slips and 11 coupons that expired over a year ago. I have to pause and look through the pictures, looks like it might be time to update the photos. My toothless infant second son grins up at me from the first photo, he’s in third grade now. My curly haired niece gives me a gap toothed smile from her second grade photo, shame on me as she’s graduating college soon. I know my sisters have been sending me pictures of their kids and I always set them carefully out so I remember to put them in my wallet but they never seem to get in there. Now is the time! I have weeded out the terribly outdated photos and everyone in my wallet now looks as they do today. Yay! This organization thing is going to be a snap! An hour later, the wallet is done and I realize just how much crap I’ve been carrying around without even knowing it, the wallet’s roughly three inches thinner than it was when I started.

The rest of the purse yields mysteries one would never dare imagine:
Five earrings (only one actual pair)
Three tampons (wrappers compromised…better toss)
Dried out marker (green Sharpie)
Marker cap (purple Crayola, go figure)
354 gum wrappers (some with discarded gum in them, yuck!)
Unmarked CD (either music or missing data from Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Two claim slips from the dry cleaner (that’s worth exploring)
Disposable camera with three pictures left (no idea what the pictures are)
Seven ponytail holders (not needed since I cut all my hair off two years ago)
Deck of cards (ace of diamonds and seven of clubs missing)
Four Legos (might need to build somthing)
Two Life Savers stuck to the bottom of the purse (Butter Rum, I think)
A tube of lipstick that lost its cap (covered with lint, tobacco and other rubble, gross)
522 receipts from grocery stores (I really need to start making lists)
An alarming variety of action figures (Happy Meal toys, I suspect)
The watch I’ve been looking for since September (battery now dead)
Six lighters (only one still works)
Mints from every restaurant I’ve ever visited (and some I haven’t, I don't know why)
Toothpicks, matchbooks and wet-naps from above
Two magnets (why aren’t they on the fridge???)
431 receipts from gas stations (why don’t I grab bottles of water and gum from home?)
Sample bottle of bath gel (empty, seems to have leaked into bottom of purse)
$6.89 in bath gel covered change (no quarters though, that’s odd)
14 Business cards (I have no idea who any of these people are)

The biggest mystery is why I have been carrying a half jar of eyebrow/facial hair wax for an indeterminate length of time without even knowing it. The microwaveable kind, I’m serious. I’m sure at the time I put it in my purse, there was a perfectly logical and even sensible reason, but it escapes me now. What, I was going to wax my eyebrows in the car?? My sister Melissa has a much easier solution to the overflowing, weight-restriction violating purse problem: when they get full, take the top layer of stuff out and throw the purse away. After all, the really important stuff is probably on top, right? Now the big quandary, what to keep and what goes into the waiting trash bag? I should really just close my eyes and toss it all, but something compels me to give this process some real thought. I might need the wet-naps, I should save those. The mints are still good and I’ll probably find the mates to all those earrings somewhere in the house. You never know when you might need a ponytail holder for something so I better keep at least a couple of those. The bottle the shower gel came in is the right size for my purse, I can just put lotion or hand sanitizer in it. I might need some of the receipts at some point so I should go through those and decide which ones to keep. I think I have another partial deck of the same cards so I’ll grab the ace and the seven I need to make a complete deck. I might actually need to contact the septic tank pumping service whose business card resides in the stack… NO! This is the path to the Dark Side! One sweep of my arm and everything but the watch, the pair of earrings, the dry cleaner’s stubs, the camera and the CD go into the trash bag. The change goes into bowl in the sink to soak the congealed shower gel off them and I have done it!

What was I worried about, this is going to be easy!