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Column: Changing interests in life make keeping neat tough

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We don’t watch much television at our house. We don’t have cable or a satellite dish. We keep it simple and make do with the “rabbit ears” perched atop our set.

This situation limits our choices of programs, which we consider a good thing in that it gives us one more reason to do something else rather than watch TV. This is not to say we are anti-TV; we both agree the medium has its uses.

As a matter of fact, recently Becky and I have been tuning in to a show which has inspired us to get busy changing our house and, in some sense, our lives.

It is a syndicated series out of Canada called “Neat.” We pick it up from our limited over-the-air choices on ION Life. It is not groundbreaking or innovative, just one of many makeover-type shows, but it has captured our attention. Although Becky and I individually go though periods where we get annoyed by the clutter and disorganization around us, we aren’t always motivated to do something about it at the same time.


Currently, however, we are on the same let’s-get-organized page. It seems like “Neat” appeared at just the right moment in our lives.

Each episode Hellen Buttigieg, the show’s host, goes into a home that is cluttered and chaotic to the extreme. Her particular skill set is in convincing the sometimes resistant homeowner that steps must be taken to part with long-held objects that no longer have any real value other than perhaps some vague sentimental attachment. Hellen’s ruthlessness when it comes to “purging” (a favorite catchword of the show) has become our guiding ideal as Becky and I seek to simplify.

My biggest problem is paper. I snip out columns and stories from newspapers and magazines and stack them on top of other stacks. I keep ticket stubs and greeting cards; instruction manuals and guide maps of museums. I have done this for practically my entire life.

On occasion I will attempt to put this mess into some kind of order. That is why I am currently surrounded by stacks of file folders and piles of papers I retrieved from the desk, table and chairs in my personal corners of our house. I have spread them out all over the living room floor so I can more easily divide what to purge from what to keep.

Here is a file I have labeled “Health.” In it I find an article from Longevity Magazine about lower back problems — from 1991. The folder also contains an undated yellowed newspaper article about lower back problems and a medical-looking poster I picked up from somewhere about lower back problems. I’m probably covered when it comes to information about my lower back especially since I would probably Google “lower back” if I were seeking information about that area. I think I can safely assign these to the purge pile.

The “Politics” file is bulging with papers. A quick look through shows that I must have been very interested in the 2004 presidential election as well as some parts of the Clinton presidency and, hey, here is a column explaining why President Reagan is likely to institute a quasi-fascist regime if he is elected for a second term. I’m not sure I even want to keep a “Politics” file these days. Into the purge pile with the lot of you.

I continue my browse through my old files — “Environment,” “Pop Music,” “Writers and Writing.” It is a stroll through my past. I keep a few things from the “Writers and Writing” and “Poetry” folders; several pieces on language and words; some music articles stay; miscellaneous others from different folders; but soon I have quite a substantial purge pile and a much smaller keep pile.

I realize my interests and needs have changed. My life has changed. I may have to make some new folders.

Hellen would be proud.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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