19 For 2019: Clean The Garage

Stuff, possessions, and consumerism generally have long weighed heavily on my mind. I grew up in a large family where garage sales, thrift stores, and collecting were practically a competitive sport. While it was especially on my mind every time I moved as a young adult, I got downright existential about it in the year or two preceding my departure for the Peace Corps, which you can read at my blog from a former life, Blind Broad Abroad.

When I put most of my life in a 5X12 storage unit at the beginning of 2009, I could have never imagined it would be nearly nine years before I liberated its contents. Finally achieving that little slice of the American Dream, having a mortgage, meant that at long last, I had my own private storage unit–the 500 or so square feet of garage below our cozy little townhouse. Over a short period of time, most of it found a home in our living space–clothes, dishes and other kitchen items, a small amount of furniture, my record collection, and a number of sentimental knickknacks. Then we started accumulating stuff that is logically stored in a garage–camping gear, tools, a vacuum cleaner, bikes (yes, multiple), and more structures intended to organize the lot.

All the while, we know that we will probably not get a car, and the garage is this awesome bonus space that we want to be usable. And the stuff piles up.

Though Marie Kondo’s book was recommended to me long ago, I’ve still not read it (that’s #12), I definitely appreciate the spirit of it. While I don’t see myself as a strict minimalist, I lean strongly in that direction and #2 on my 19 for 2019 is to sort and purge the items in the garage and get them organized and to transform the garage into the usable space I desire and not let it slip into a wasteland of precariously stacked boxes containing unknown items that you constantly have to squeeze around to find anything else.

The good news is that I entered 2019 with this on my mind–the large dresser finally made it upstairs to the bedroom after a long linger down there and this weekend I tackled the three storage bins I had affectionately dubbed “daddy boxes,” containing items that belonged to my father, a large bulk of which was clothing that I needn’t keep and have consolidated down to one bin.A bunch of other loose items awaiting organization went into those bins, and I’m working at sorting much of the remaining storage unit items into new homes in the dressers and bookshelves I acquired from local legendary woodworker, Gil Johnson, into secure tubs and not decomposing cardboard boxes, and onto racks to better utilize vertical space. In fact, a single project will be going through the many boxes of print books I’ve collected over the years, looking for more accessible, electronic versions, and passing along unnecessary print to someone who will actually use it.

The longterm goal is to have the space organized so that stored items are organized with known whereabouts and are readily accessible and the majority of the space is organized for general hanging out and working on projects of all kinds.

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