We call my office space “the Nest.” It sits at one end of our apartment, ostensibly screened off by a Japanese shoji screen. It’s a mixture of high-tech and low-tech: two widescreen monitors sit on an L-shaped glass desk, under which are three desktop computers, a number of laptop computers (some decommissioned), piles of books and papers, tangles of cords, various bits of gadgetry and gear. I once hired a clutter expert to help me get things under control, but the imposed order didn’t last long and now things are worse than ever. The biggest problem, in my opinion, is the plethora of paper, most related to professional projects. Can’t bring myself just to chuck it all: need to sort it. And who has the time?
You’d think reading E. L. Doctorow’s most recent novel, Homer & Langley, would make me feel the necessity of mending my ways. It gave me pause. Just not enough pause.
Yesterday, I found a section of Thursday’s New York Times left in the middle of my desk chair by my wife. It was folded open not to the Personal Tech section but to an article called “Weighed Down by All the Memories.” The author, Michelle Slatalla, is appalled to be told by her brother Jack, a long-haul mover, that they had just moved 22,000 pounds out of her big house en route to her new cottage. 22,000 pounds, apparently, is twice what the average family has. “Your stuff is not going to fit in your new house,” her brother informed her.
Determined to reform, she consults Randy O. Frost, the author of Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, due out this spring.
I finish the article and think to myself, “I should probably get that book.” Except that … I’m not only out of bookshelf space, but also out of piling space. And my wife is just about out of patience.