Wednesday, July 26, 2017


I hate my basement, and everything about my basement. First of all, it's a basement. I don't like them. Never have, never will. They are so basementy. They are below. They tend to be dark, dank, spooky, even.

Secondly, my husband had the great idea of painting the concrete floor, red. I am not fond of red, as a rule, and the paint is chipped, dirty, uneven, and very, very red. You just can't forget for a minute that you are in a room with a red floor, and that alone is enough to make me scarcely venture in.

Ours is too hot in the summer, and too cold in the winter. At Christmastime I use ours to store, organize and wrap gifts. I have to use a space heater and wear a coat. In the summer it's sweltering. Fans are required, then they blow stuff around and that just makes me mad.

On top of the red floor, we have two hideous orange metal shelf thingies. They belonged to my dad. I didn't like them then, and my feelings haven't changed. Not sure what I was thinking when I arranged to haul them up from Eugene 21 years ago - probably in the midst of postpartum and who-knows-what-else. may have thought they were practical. Always fall for that one. Surely, I could forget they were orange. I could forget they used to hold all kinds of things I didn't want to be reminded of that they once held: dozens of used coffee cups, someone else's weird dental work, every cover/binder to every paper his students had ever turned in. I could forget he was a hoarder and those orange shelving units proved it.

But I haven't forgotten.

I think I have that hoarding tendency, but the neat freak in me wins out in the end. I hang onto things for sentimental reasons, and as though there will be a test someday, and I need to prove I was "there."

I haven't taught a day (strictly speaking) in 18 years. I gave away a ton of my teaching materials long ago, but held onto my faves. As all teachers know, you put a billion extra hours into creating meaningful lessons and activities for your kids, and to just dump them, ain't right. None-the-less, a lot has changed in education in the last 18 years, and my stuff - even the faves - are out-of-date. I pawned off what I could to a friend that still teaches, and the rest I've been going through. Can't just grab it all and throw it in the recycling bin, too many paper clips, overhead projector sheets, brads and clasps, things of the past.

My faves have amounted to two giant recycling bins worth of paper. One went out last week, one will go out this. I gave away three totes full of books at the neighborhood garage sales, and what wasn't taken, went into the various Free Little Libraries in my neighborhood. Those were just my young adult books that I could part with. Don't worry, I have more.

I've been stabbing at the orange shelving unit which held the teaching materials, all summer long. I'm done. The one next to it which houses way too many poorly organized photo albums, is mid-way through being dealt with.

In the basement is a ping-pong table wannabe. It's no good for playing ping-pong, but it's excellent for storing crap under, and sorting things on top of. We had a toilet flood in February, and in June we smelled something funny in the pantry... mold. The ping-pong table has held all the pantry items while the pantry got sledge hammered and re-built, after treating the mold.

As I put away the last of the pantry items and switched the table over to teaching material sorting, today, I thought how like our lives is that table. We all need a place to sort things out, spread them around, put them into piles and see what's what. The table can only really work best, when one mess is on it at a time. No room for both the pantry items and the teaching materials. No room for both the photo albums and the books.

For some of us, that "place" is meditation. For some, yoga. For some, time with a soulmate. For some, a combination or none of the above. Maybe it's solitude, or a long drive. We all have a "basement" and we all need to sort it out from time-to-time.


3oe4ka said...

I love your style, Carrie! Didn't notice how I've read it through and was pleasantly surprised with a twist you've made at the end. I do agree with that "basement- like- idea of sorting things out")

Jennifer Holcomb said...

Love this. But, I have to take issue with one sentence: "I haven't tought a day (strictly speaking) in 18 years." You missed the boat on that one - you have taught me more than you know over the past ten years. Xo

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