2018-01-12 / Commentary

Trashy Cleansing

I’m just saying...
Julia Rogers Hook

“What’s all this?” My husband Marty was confused this past weekend when I walked downstairs hauling several trash bags filled to the brim.

“It’s stuff I’m throwing out Marty…one of my New Year’s resolutions is to begin the Swedish Death Cleansing, and this is just the stuff from my bedside table drawers.”

“Swedish WHAT?” He looked befuddled. “And how did all that junk FIT into three drawers? Seriously! Have you been out collecting trash from the neighbors?”

Aaah the trash catch!

You see, my husband takes his trash duty exceptionally seriously. He can’t stand for it to pile up and on trash days, he has been known to pace the yard and wait for the guys to show up and tip them to take away what could be thought of as “excessive” loads of our debris…especially after a party.

Marty will randomly toss his pocket change in jars, hang his clothes haphazardly and in NO order whatsoever in his closet, and after any given project, his tools can be found days later wherever he last used them, but when it comes to the household trash, the man is immaculate.

He has developed a “system” that is far beyond my understanding, but if there were awards for neat trash, Marty Hook would win them all. I never knew, before Marty, there was a right and wrong way to place a trash bag in a trash can and tie it.

So, as you might imagine, when he saw me bringing down trash he hadn’t yet inspected, he was a tad irked. I was, after all, messing with his method.

“What kind of ‘cleanse’ are you talking about Julia? Is this another one of those screwy diets you keep trying?”

“Now Marty…if I were talking about a diet, why would I be holding bags of trash?”

“That’s what I want to know…why ARE you holding bags of trash? I just took out the upstairs trash yesterday. Every single trashcan up there was EMPTY. Where did you get all this?”

“I TOLD you Marty…I’m doing the Swedish Death Cleanse…” I stood straight and tall and with my hand on my hip, and I told him “I’m going to start traveling lightly through life, and so are you.”

“So…I was right. This IS a new diet?”

“NOOO! It’s a new way of life! We have too much stuff, and we’re going to clear it out so if we die, then Van (our son) won’t have to deal with it.” I was practically beaming with pride.

“Are you sick or something?” His concern was touching.

“No. I’m fine. I just think it’s time to start winnowing down all the stuff we have we don’t use. The Swedes say you should start at about 45-50, but it’s never too late.”

The Swedish Death Cleansing is actually a very real thing. There’s a book about it, and it discusses how, when you rid yourself of all the clutter in your life, you live your life more fully, and you really appreciate the things you keep. It’s also a very nice thing to do for your children or family who will have to clean out your house when you die.

And as an only child, I can tell you from experience getting my own parents’ home cleaned out and ready to go on the market was no picnic!

And because people are typically clearing out family homes at a very vulnerable time after losing a loved one, they tend to have trouble letting things go.

Or I did. I was far too emotional while cleaning out Mama and Daddy’s home, so I boxed tons of things up to “deal with later.” Only “later” still hasn’t come. I have about two dozen boxes in our attic that came out of their house.

I haven’t looked in them since we put them there in 2004. I kept harboring the hope that one day those two “American Pickers” guys would show up and want to look through our attic, and they would find lots of valuable goodies that would allow us a very comfortable life in our “golden years,” but it’s been 14 years, and they haven’t called.

And it’s not just my parents’ things either. I have another bunch of boxes that have stuff from my California home.

That I moved out of to live down here. That was in 2003.

So…while it’s going to be a long, slow, and probably painful process, I’m going to do this Swedish Death Cleansing thing. I’m not expecting a lot of cooperation from Marty in the beginning, but I think when he realizes how it will affect his trash routine, he just might want to get involved.

I know my husband. Once he sees how I tie the trash bags incorrectly…he won’t be able to stand it.

I’m just saying…

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