De-clutter your fridge door, de-clutter your life 2015.01.14


I cleaned off the front of my refrigerator Sunday afternoon. I wasn’t sure what possessed me since there were a million other things I could and should have been doing. 

But it was an itch I couldn’t stop scratching. Off went all the letter magnets and all the Caroline and Ryland hand tracings and artwork. Into a pile went the wedding invitations and baby announcements, the photographs, the postcards, the Christmas cards from years past. Even the old birthday card picturing three nuns and the inside message—“The good news is they’re praying for you. The bad news is there’s only three of them”—bit the dust.

I was a woman on a mission. I told myself I was going to put all these treasures into a scrapbook (I know me; I won’t), and I scrubbed that naked fridge until it shined. And then I selectively replaced this year’s photo Christmas cards of the grandkids, a couple old photos of my kids, and my prettiest magnets arranged just so. 

Later I added a page ripped out of last year’s calendar so I could more easily take a picture of it to send to Maddie—just for the Tallulah Bankhead quote: “It’s the good girls who keep diaries. The bad girls never have time.” I am always harping on Maddie to keep a journal of her travels and experiences. 

“Does this mean you’re a bad girl?” I asked when I sent the photo.

“Must be,” she replied.

I took that to mean she didn’t want to engage in a discussion (a/k/a harangue) in which I urge her to write about her life experiences. Maddie has somewhat settled down on a little farm near San Francisco, working as assistant manager at Heart of the City Farmers Market and helping to grow organic food for a three-Michelin-stars restaurant, where dinner starts at $250 per person (not including wine pairings), lasts three hours and consists of 12 courses, unless you choose the more expansive 20-course tasting starting at $400.

“I help feed the richest and poorest of San Francisco,” she says.

She’s coming home for her Aunt Diane’s memorial service this weekend so I leave the calendar page on the fridge. Already it’s looking cluttered again. Clutter! I remember what drove me to clear the decks.

I was going to go to the basketball game a couple of Friday nights ago, but stayed home instead to eat chocolate. Kym Ries had given us a beautiful little box of dark chocolates from around the world and it seemed a perfect time to indulge.

Soon after, I found myself on the couch catching up on Facebook. I admonished (and promptly ignored) myself several times—to get up and pay the American Express bill, to pay Observer bills, to get a jump on all the tax reporting for the year, to run upstairs and get the library book on Machu Picchu, but I just kept scrolling through my newsfeed—until I got to the post about clutter, “The Link Between Clutter and Depression.”

The story was old news—from back in August of 2012—about the book, “Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century.” The book, apparently, doesn’t give solutions, just documents the clutter problem in America. The article, though, provided seven simple things to de-clutter your life. 

I read number one, “Rule of Five”—and immediately came to attention, jumped up, yelled “Rule of Five!” and, ready to begin chucking stuff, grabbed the nearest thing—and then immediately sat back down. It was a map of Kentucky...which I began to open...and then laughed at myself because I knew I’d be too distracted by this map to continue the Rule of Five challenge: “Every time you get up from your desk or walk through a room, put away five things. Or, each hour, devote five minutes to de-cluttering. At the end of the day, you’ve cleaned for an hour.”

I’d been wanting to look at a map of Kentucky for ages—Lexington, to be specific—because I never know where I am in Rosie’s town. There’s a ring around the city, New Circle Road, which is just that—a circle—and it throws me for a loop every time we go to her house. I have been eager to look at a proper map, not the kind on my skinny little iPhone.

But back to the clutter article. It was simple thing number four that lingered with me: “Unburden your refrigerator door. Researchers found a correlation between the number of items stuck to the fridge door and the amount of clutter throughout the house. Toss extra magnets, file restaurant menus, and place calendars in less conspicuous places.”

I just know that lurking in my subconscious on Sunday was the reverse logic: If I clean off my fridge door, the amount of clutter throughout my house will be reduced. I’ll let you know how that goes.