I Slay Garages, Crawlspaces and Basements

Before Loony went to Colombia for a ten-day birding vacation he said, “Could you take a break from all this purging business while I’m gone? I don’t want to worry about my stuff disappearing.”

For the record, I never said yes. I just gave him this look. This silent, un-confirming look.

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This is my frozen, non-committal face

But I already decided that I was going to do some purging because frankly, I was getting sick of Loony saying that he really needed to empty out the garage/crawlspace/basements, while knowing damn well that it would never happen. Not because he doesn’t want to, but because it is so overwhelming.

This project took ten days to do with abundant help and I’m the kind of person who gets all tingly down there when I get rid of stuff. Loony is the opposite of me.

I’ve seen him try to do this before, he picks at the pile for about ten minutes, gets overwhelmed, and goes off to the Salvation Army to shop because buying something for 99 cents is easy, letting go of stuff you bought a long time ago because you were convinced it was worth more is hard.

Far be it from me to ruin his vacay with anxiety, so I didn’t tell him because I’m cool like that.

I just got started when Chicky died and I decided that staying busy is the best way to cope with grief. I didn’t think I was going to go for the purging trifecta, but the pain of my loss required it. At least that’s what I’m telling Loony.

I miss his smooshy little snout.

But seriously, it gave me momentum and having so many people show up for me kept me going.

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I paid most of my helpers except for the ones who refused payment. My most unlikely helper was Joel Haertling, AKA The Mister.

If you’ve lived in Boulder for 20 years, you’ll know him. He cultivates a generally snooty and abrasive persona (being a self-proclaimed local celeb and all) but he showed up almost every day to help me sort records and look through books. He recently suffered a great loss and maybe it helped him to stay busy but I don’t think so. I think he really cares about me and my family.

“Don’t tell anyone that I helped you. I don’t want those fuckers thinking I’m a nice guy.”

Anyway, I could not have done this job without the strong backs, cheerful dispositions, playfulness, and enthusiasm of my helpers.

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Shareef modeling a little something he found in the basement

Bina (my newest friend) not only helped me do all the things, she gave me a massage when it was all over that changed my fucking life. AND her boyfriend took five loads of trash to the dump in his pick-up and refused money.

He said, “I love to organize and I’m so psyched to see you get rid of so much stuff. It must make you feel so good.”

Wow. He doesn’t even know me but he spent two days helping me just because it made him happy and he is the lighting designer for two major venues in Boulder and said he’d be happy to get me tickets to shows.

It’s amazing who you might find when you ask for something on Facebook.

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“Two consecutive days.” Har, such optimism.

My daily routine was to wake up before sunrise, get the kids ready for the day, tidy the house and start working. I put in 13 hour days, breaking only to buy lunch for everyone and then collapse into bed around 9:00.

Poor Blue was so upset by the death of Chicky and then the constant state of upheaval that he had non-stop diarrhea which meant the mornings usually started with me cleaning up a massive poopsplotion and the poopy pawprints of those fucking cats who are too stupid to not jump in it and run all over the goddamned house.

So I slept on the couch a lot with my shoes on just in case.

Did you know that I could never spell diarrhea without looking it up? Not anymore … because Great Dane and his delicate constitution.

Enough about poop. Rachel astutely pointed out that if this was going to cause a huge fucking fight, I might as well make it count. I decided to go for the trifecta of purging: the basement and crawlspace, laundry room, and garage.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words and a before and after photo is worth a million, here you go …

The basement. I’m going to put down new flooring and redo the ceilings. It will be a nice boy/man cave.

Basement

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This room has a full bath, albeit a strange one. It has a flagstone hip bath which was completely full of vintage Playboys.

Bathroom

The laundry room, also a basement but with the entrance from the sun room. It has lots of natural light and a half bath.

Laundry

The garage is still a little full, mostly of stuff I pulled out of the basements. But I intend to sort and get them out of here.

Garage

Here’s a pretty telling before video of the garage and shed.

And here’s one of the basement and crawlspace. Fucked up, n’est pas?

At least once a day my energy would flag and either Shawn or Bina would have to encourage/threaten me so I’d keep going. I was ready to close the door on these projects when I was 10% into them but they were like, “No! I’m psyched to get this done. Let’s do this!”

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I didn’t stop much to take pictures because I was in a good groove, but I did take a good look at everything I threw out/kept/moved because even though it might not seem this way, I did want to respect Loony’s stuff. I just wanted to get rid of all the filler crap.

Like this album, I call it “Things That Suck”

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This one is called “Things That Rule” which may or may not mean they made the cut.

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I posted a lot of these on FB which inspired a pretty fun drunk text …

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I call this one “Why?” Seeing as how Loony went out of his way to acquire all these things, I just have to wonder, what the fuck?

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In the spirit of completionism, here are pictures of the piles I got rid of.

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I went to be each night dead tired and aching. I’ve done zero self-care in the last three weeks, eating mostly burritos because I could pound some Illegal Pete’s and be good the whole day. But my body is sore and covered with bruises.

The hardest part was wondering how Loony would take it the news.

I left the stack of money I made on top of the remaining 5000 records to help ease the blow.

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$$ from selling records

I worked on my arguments for getting rid of stuff.

  1.  I could either get rid of his stuff now (when we both can enjoy the space) or after he dies (hopefully not for a long time) and he won’t be able to enjoy the space.
  2. People pay GOOD MONEY for professional organizers to do this shit so basically, you’re welcome.
  3. We live on some of the most valuable real estate in the country so why are we wasting it on storing shit we never look at or use?
  4. The garage would make a darling pottery studio (hint, hint)
  5. I needed to stay busy after Chicky died to help with the grief (appealing to his softer side)
  6. It was either purge or bang my yoga teacher (not that he’d go for it but still, one can dream). Loony should be thankful that I chose the sanctity of marriage although when I floated it by him he looked like he might have minded me and the yoga instructor less than selling a bunch of records. Imma keep that one in my pocket.

Tabby was very worried for me.

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So yes, Loony took it okay. He had a stunned look on his face. The records were the worst part and I will probably be catching shit for it for a while BUT IT WAS WORTH IT! And I know who bought the records (just one guy) so Loony could go visit if he really wanted to but let’s be real, he never listened to those records when he had them. The end.

Loony’s a garage sale hunter. I daresay that 99% of his pleasure comes from finding something and buying it. After that it just turns into forgotten junk with emotional baggage.

I have plans for the spaces, plans that will benefit the entire family and not in a hypothetical “This might be worth a lot” kind of way.

I feel like I have finally closed the book on the house purging project that started years ago when I started this blog. The basements and garage were the final frontier, seemingly impossible, but I did it with a lot of help from my friends.

I’m glad I got it done all at once because Loony will probably never go out of town again. Fortunately he said, unprompted, “Don’t worry, I won’t divorce you.”

Whew.

Now I can go back to posting shit like this …

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6 thoughts on “I Slay Garages, Crawlspaces and Basements

  1. Oh…My…God! Even though your described your process day by day (which I so looked forward to hearing), I HAD NO IDEA of the enormity of you were up against until I saw the pictures. Just one of those piles would have stopped me in my tracks. What you accomplished is absolutely amazing. I can’t wait to see your beautiful home, now that I can actually see it! And I hope I can meet the Saints who helped you through the ordeal. Love to all.

  2. Glad I wasn’t in town to help. I wouldn’t have sex as a sop for L’s wrath.

    Side note: I have known L & V since V was a teen, L had lots of hair and the house was in brother David’s name, been a very, very regular visitor, and have NEV-VER, EVER seen the floors, walls or surfaces in the basement, laundry room, garage.

    This puts you in a class with Hercules at the Augean stables, seriously. Heroic!

    • We had very good sex last night. So good that Scratchy came pounding up the stairs to make sure I wasn’t being killed. That said, the atmosphere is still a little tense.

  3. I am such a minimalist that I’d have lost even more dead weight, I suppose it goes with condo living (or should anyway). You did a phenomenal job Viv! You look extra sexy after shedding so much of that excess scary stuff! Enjoy your future “nesting” projects 😀

  4. Pingback: Blood Sucking Vampires and Cannibal Chickens | Vivienne's Process of Elimination

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